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August 12, 2004


Notes from the President

We had not scheduled a workshop for the August 10 meeting, but we were treated to three! Several new people came just to listen and we gained a couple of new members!

Mike Surratt started us off with the Christmas song "Do You Hear What I Hear," which he had arranged for us in three parts. As Paul Przedpelski and Phil Fox joined in, the song echoed beautifully, the three instruments answering each other's question.

Gratified, Mike asked which other pieces we would like arranged. We shouted out our favorite songs and together agreed that he should be our group arranger.

Next, Mike performed some songs from his CD, including "I'm In the Mood for Love." With the ability to tell jokes, sing and play at the same time, he entertained us and also provided some tips. For example, he would stop in the middle of a song to explain how to "use all your fingers at the same time." As Mike put it, "Why let your finger stick out there doing nothing, just waiting for a bird to land on it; use it to enhance your song and play the complete chord." It was a great little show/workshop. While he didn't have time to stay and sell his CDs, Mike agreed to come back and do a workshop for us in January or February. It's something to look forward to.

Then, in walked our beloved Merv Conn with the smallest accordion I have ever seen in my life: only eight bass buttons. He played a really sweet song on it, showing that, no matter how small the accordion, it can make beautiful music.

In his part of the program, Merv played and sang, and also discussed how the bass "counterpoint" works to enhance a song such as "Old Man River." With "Cheek to Cheek," he demonstrated the right-hand technique of holding one note while playing other keys. Merv also told us how much he enjoys our meetings, and mentioned that he used to be president of a former Washington accordion organization.

Next, Joan Grauman played Ashokan Farewell in duet with Phil Fox and demonstrated various types of Balkan music. She discussed the rhythm of some of the dances and passed out music to people who expressed an interest in playing in a mini accordion band that she is organizing. The first meeting will be held at her home in Potomac, Md., on Tuesday, August 24, at 7:30. Contact Joan at (301) 279-8716 or squznart@erols.com if you would like to participate, and contact Karen at (703) 671-5393 or wmas2002@cox.net to arrange a car pool.

Following her performance, Joan conducted us as a band as we practiced for the December 12 holiday concert. Dale Wise will be conducting the concert itself, but Joan has volunteered to take over during the rehearsals that Dale can't make.

Next Meeting

At the September 14 meeting, Peter DiGiovanni will be doing a workshop on playing by ear. We look forward to that, as well as the other events that are coming up (see below). By the way, Joan and Dan Grauman will be bringing a large assortment of SqueezinArt accordion-related items to the September meeting, so start putting together your holiday shopping list.

Upcoming Events

This Saturday, August 14, is the picnic at Dale and DeAnn Wise's place in Burr Hill, Va., from 10:30 am to 5 pm. Details can be found in the News Archive. Please respond to Dale at accordionplus@aol.com as to whether you're attending. Hamburgers, hotdogs and beverages will be supplied, but otherwise it's potluck. Also bring your accordion and music stand.

Saturday, August 28, Brave Combo is playing at Blob's in Jessup, Md. Contact Dave Ball at PolkaDave@msn.com if you'd like to join the WMAS group going up there.

September 2 is the season's first Brat Night at the Del Ray Dreamery on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria. Paul Przedpelski provides the music, but the Dreamery has offered to let WMAS members play on an open-mike basis during Paul's breaks. Contact him at accordion@verizon.net if you'd like to sign up. Brat Nights will continue on the first Thursday of the month through April, from 6 to 9 pm.

A September 28 concert in Danville, Va., featuring Tony Lovello, aka the Liberace of the Accordion, will benefit the Danville Life Saving Crew.

Details on these events are on the Calendar.