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-- The First Decade --

1999 Group Photo

Pictured here are many of the 150+ celebrants at our 10th annual shindig held at Bucksteep Manor in the hills of western Massachusetts. The 1999 Squeeze-In, marking the culmination of our first decade of autumnal squeezemongery, was brimming over with activity - including the limerick contest, concert, dance, workshops, and ever-changing informal sessions - all to the tune of a pervasive conviviality in the early foliage beauty of the Berkshires.

WorkshopsFriday got off to a busy but cheerful start with the Button Box staff setting up to the strains of the first arrivals squeezing away. In fact, the earliest arrivals managed to have a full day's head start by getting to Bucksteep on Thursday! Friday evening was a free-reed free-for-all with tunes and songs in every quarter. Hobnobbery, ogling other's instruments and scanning over the Button Box's wares was fair game too. The hot tub provided an ongoing venue for relaxed socializing after the rigors of the Manor House scene. The participant workshop schedule filled quickly, promising a diversity of experiences for the next day.

Worrisome forecasts notwithstanding, Saturday turned out to be a splendidly bright, clear and crisp day. Many of the workshops slated for inside spaces moved out, filling the porch, gazebo and fields about the Manor House were with the sounds of David Vallelunga's Alphabet Waltz workshop, Quebecois Tunes with Raynald Ouellet, New England Jam with Bob McQuillen and Deanna, David Cornell's Duet Issues and Techniques, Ken Sweeney's Tunology and "Anglo" Approach to English workshops, Michael Reed's Intro to ABC, several varieties of band workshops and lots of impromptu sessions - Quebecois, Irish, Scottish, Playford, Balkan, Morris and more.

Repairs WorkshopsThere were also a number of hands-on repairs going on beyond the well-attended Dr. Bob's Free-Reed Clinic workshop.

Saturday night's concert, a melange of entertainment provided by veteran and newcomers alike continued the Squeeze-In open-stage tradition and confirmed yet again our long-standing conviction that talent and ability lurk in the shy as well as the bold. This is as congenial bunch of folks to play in front of that one could wish! Emcee extraordinaire Lynn Hughes deftly  balanced the "acts" with renderings of submissions to this year's Limerick Contest, the winners of which were announced concurrently with the arrival of the appropriately-shaped (hexagonal) and appropriately-sized (extra large) Chocolate Raspberry Tenth Anniversary Cake which was devoured in jig time during the concert break.

A few of the many performers at the Saturday night concert:

Lynn and Tony David Cornell is forte again.... Reed the Washington Post! Reynald Ouillette Key Sweeney on several harmonicas

and a few of the very numerous limerick entries:

There was once a very fine fellow,
All square 'til you pulled on his bellows.
    He'd whistle and wheeze
    when you gave him a squeeze,
And out pushed a tune oh so mellow.
An accordion player named Dowd
Of his prowess was terribly proud.
    My secret is clear,"
    He said with a sneer,
"If you can't play it well play it loud."
A bridegroom who came to the Squeeze-In
Had an instrument large beyond reason.
    As he moved in and out
    His young bride did shout
"I really insist that you ease in."

The contradance following the concert, featuring caller Kathy Torrey and the Reed Heavy Regulars lead by Craig Hollingsworth, was a lively and well gender-ballanced affair which went on considerably longer than in past years, a testimony to the stamina and good spirits of dancers and musicians alike. Meanwhile, for those not inclined to dance off their cake and sherbet, sessions at the Manor House provided and alternative. The intensity of their playing was much appreciated when the returning dancers fell upon the still laden snacks table! I guess it is difficult to play and eat at the same time.... Such choices!

Squeeze-In t-shirtsLike the previous day, Sunday was gloriously clear and crisp. The extended brunch accommodated both early risers and those late night sessioners who tried to sleep in. Mid morning the Button Box presented a slide show and Q&A session on the making of the R. Morse & Co. brand of anglo concertinas for those curious on building a concertina from scratch. Nearing noon all that were willing and able congregated in front of the inn for our annual photo thereby documenting yet another successful weekend.

The tone of the day was relaxed with events consisting of mostly of jamming, tinkering with boxes, a few how-to's here and there, and of course - the checking out at the Button Box's "weekend" store. One of the hottest items was a special commemorative t-shirt (design pictured adjacent) sporting a composite picture of most of the folks who had attended in previous years. Maybe you're in there? Okay, so a few of you are in there several times... it was a rush job. If you would like one (or several - they make great gifts!) of these gems please call or e-mail the Button Box for more information.

So much for the crass commercial message.... We're all looking forward to seeing you again next year!

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