First-timer Robin Russell: As a first-timer at this event, I was surprisingly at ease from beginning to end. Moving around in an attempt to get the big overview, I was impressed by the congeniality of the large and small groups. I was also thrilled to meet so many female accordionists! There was a strong sense of tradition provided by the folks who had attended in years past – obviously with fond memories and an intent to share the making of new memories this time around with whomever was there. As Doug Creighton (NESI organizer) explained later, there is just enough of a structure to keep the flow going, but also a lot of room for those who want to initiate, take charge, lead and organize whatever they would like to. This atmosphere of low pressure, fun, passion and common interest characterizes the Squeeze-In. For those who wanted it, there was high quality instruction – and for others, space and time to do whatever might spontaneously inspire you, including the beauty of the natural world.
Though the flow of activities was smooth and simple for all – from workshops, to meals, to evening events of concert, dance and jamming, I do confess taking a break by curling up for a nap by the fireplace in the manor after the concert (during the contradance), uncertain of my options for accommodations for the night – chilled to the bone and sleepy from the combination of long day and excitement. Quiet and warm there in the big wing-backed chair, however, I dreamed of accordions and awoke when the dancing was finished, renewed for the jam session which would go on until 1:30am back upstairs in the parlor. Someone had covered me with a blanket – how wonderful is that!
Other jam sessions went late into the night downstairs as well, and I wandered between these and the singing session in the dining room. This “Pub Sing”, I am told, is also a Squeeze In tradition. It’s a potpourri of sea chanties and other songs and stories from near and far.
Veteran Animatera: My highpoints include the wonderful songs Saturday night (although I'll never think of moose in quite the same way again...), workshops with the likes of Jody Kruskal, Rachel Hall, and Bob MacQuillen, stellar entertainment at the concert, the euphoria of the processional on Saturday night, falling asleep to the sounds of accordions and concertinas right outside my door, and especially this year, really warm and substantial conversations with all sorts of folks. Weekends like NESI give us all a chance to be our best selves and open ourselves to people we may not see more than once a year- if that.
Veteran Perry Werner: This was the best one yet for me too after three NESI's. I finally felt much better about my own playing, playing in groups and starting tunes. I also had a great time playing in Rachel's Concertina Band and being part of concertina history when we performed at the concert with the ever knowledgable and "monster-in-a-box bass concertina" creator and virtuoso, Bob Snope. Amazing performances and song selections by David Cornell. I never laughed so much during his masterful performances. I want to learn all of those songs. And the hilarious performance by Howie Leifer! I was rolling while swigging. Beautifully sung songs by Robin and my roomate Bob Beemer, who evidently paid the big price that morning for knocking off the better part of a jug of Tallumore Dew mixed with available stomach rumbling snacks. Man, there was some talented and funny music there that night. I loved it!!!!!!!! I want to learn how to do all of it (except the Bob Beemer part). Great weather, great venue, great food, great weather, great times and great music and talent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wish they could figure out a way to turn this place into a retirement home for squeezers when my time comes.
Robin Beech: As always I had a wonderful time at the squeeze-in. Had a great time in the workshops run by Moche, one on Quebec tunes, the other on Jigs in minor keys. Now I have the Wren's Nest running around in my head. Highlights for me were: listening to Rachel Hall playing solo in the concert, normally she plays in a group but having the chance to listen to her by herself was wonderful; meeting all the wonderful people I run into every year; meeting all kinds of new folks who are new to the concertina. Lovely to catch up with Tony and Lynne again, great job as compare for the concert too Lynne. And Perry - your victory in the first ever squeeze-in haiku competition! And who knew that Jody Kruskal could be induced to sing Uncle Tom Cobley's after so much inebriation and so early in the morning? Bellowbelle's footbass accompaniment in the singing session was fantastic. I must confess my voice was a little rough for teaching my class the day after staying up until 4 am for the singing on Saturday night....
Very Veteran David Barnert: Well, we can't put it off any longer. It's about time someone mentioned the elephant in the room, what was undoubtedly the talk of the event. Bob Snope's Frankentina .As I understand it, just a day before the weekend Bob had finished putting it together from reeds and bellows from an old Italian accordion, end plates from a Lachenal concertina and an action that he made himself. It is a bass instrument, with a low E equivalent to the open low E string on a string bass. Bone-chilling, but a big hit in the concertina band.
Newbie Dave Silver: I just want to thank everyone for a very ecstatic weekend. I've been playing the concertina for only a few weeks and the support from all you talented folks was priceless. I even tried contra dancing for the 1st time (what a workout!) I wish I could take you all home with me (I did buy a lot of CD's and instruction books). Hope to see some of you in the near future. Can't wait till the next "Squeeze".
| Charlie Wheatstone's box.
Twenty four buttons each side.
What was he thinking?
by Perry Werner
| Hexagonal box,
Come, let me push your buttons.
by Steve Johnson
| Concertina Zen:
Playing is meditation ~
Breathe in, breathe out.
by Alison Aldrich
| Lawrence Welk once gave
lessons for free
to some girls with the same name from Lee.
Lest they bother and fuss
He referred to them thus:
Anna one, Anna two, Anna three!
| A musician who came from
Says his squeezebox had just one big aggra-
vation - the bellows
were limp.. 'til some fellows
said, "Rub it with Oil of Viagra!"
by Lynn Hughes
| While playing concertina we
At nothing, blank walls or thin air.
When starting to play
My mind slips away...
I'm sure it's here somewhere, but where?
by Jody Kruskal