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November 30, 2011


Meeting Notes

As has become our custom over the past several years, WMAS celebrated the advent of the holiday season with a concert by Jim Vandelly during our November meeting. We were lucky the church allowed us to use the sanctuary for this event on the 20th, as they had set up a flea market in the community hall. It is always a treat to hear Jim, and he gave us our favorites, including Russian folk songs and his gorgeous medley built around “Amazing Grace.”

Joanna and Stanley Darrow paid us a surprise visit, and this was fitting because Jim has studied with them and usually plays at the festivals they organize most years in the late winter.

Some of Jim’s comments during his concert:

  • Play with your accordion and make up songs, starting with a riff and playing variations on that riff.
  • Even seasoned performers can always learn something new.
  • Resist the urge to play so fast and furiously that people can’t hear what you’re doing. Slow down when you’re playing more complicated runs.
  • When you listen to records pay attention to the bass and chord progressions. Then try to imitate them.
  • Use the bellows shake not to show off but to enhance a song. For example, Jim uses it to imitate the sound of the balalaika on Russian songs.

Holiday Concert

Joan Grauman reminded everyone of the holiday concert and potluck on Sunday, December 11, and of the orchestra rehearsal following Jim’s November 20 performance.

Only a few people have signed up so far to play a solo (or duo, etc.) in the holiday concert, so please reply to this email as soon as possible if you would like to participate. [Dec. 1 update: We now have a full program.]

The next orchestra rehearsals are at 4 pm on Sunday, December 4, and at 2 pm on December 11, just before the concert. These rehearsals are obligatory for those who plan to play with the orchestra.

Please also let us know what you plan to bring to the potluck. Main dishes are especially welcome. We will also need help in setting up – and, of course, in cleaning up afterwards.

Nonmembers will be asked for a $7 donation at the door, so if you haven’t renewed or joined, December 11 will be a good time to do that.


Potomac Ensemble Performance December 3

Joan invited everyone to a performance by her Potomac Accordion Ensemble at Dublin Roasters in Frederick between 2 and 4 pm on Saturday, December 3.


News on Merv Conn

Mara announced that she and Jeff Krulik, the author of a film documentary on Merv Conn, had visited Merv at Holy Cross Hospital on November 13 and then at Casey House hospice in Rockville on November 19. Sadly, Merv’s prostate cancer seems to have gotten the better of him, and the doctors are now treating him only for pain. However, he improved after arriving at the hospice and was lucid enough to criticize – quite vehemently -- the music that his visitors attempted to make. He even seemed to be trying to get out of bed and leave the room. Merv’s family had brought a little, old 12-bass accordion to the hospice, and they urged Mara to play it to entertain Merv. Against her better judgment she tried some Christmas songs on it, as the visitors sang along. (The presence in the room of Merv’s son and daughter, one of his friends from the Masons, and another who brought his guitar, plus a hospice volunteer who provided hand massages to any taker, added to the circus atmosphere.) Mara had printed out the words to “You Made Me Love You,” Merv’s theme song, so the group sang that and also “Love Me Tender,” as Jeff called out the words, reading them from his SmartPhone. Ever the teacher, Merv directed the singers to repeat certain lines before he finally declared himself satisfied with the renditions. Good old Merv. We will miss him at this year’s holiday concert.

UPDATE: As of November 30 Merv was in the hospital but expected to be transferred to a nursing home. Watch this space for more information.

Click here for photos of the 90th birthday party WMAS threw for Merv in February 2010.





Accordionist Needed

Singer Robin Phillips is looking for an accordionist to accompany her. One who sings would be even better. Robin worked with Carmelo Pino for years. Please contact her at 703-288-9243.


Accordionists Needed for First Night Raleigh (NC)

I produce First Night Raleigh and am looking to hire some accordion players for our event New Year’s Eve. Let me know if you may be available/interested.

Terri Dollar
Program Director
Artsplosure/First Night® Raleigh/Arts Alive Raleigh
919.832.8699 X 802 (office)
919.832.0890 (fax)