CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
I like Tracy Schwarz' way of playing a lot! You're right. Not too fast. And what a singer! When he sings J'ai Pleurer by Dewey Balfa, it's handkerchief time.
I have no technical knowledge of how to get "that chanky chank sound," but I love it. I like some of the slower/mid-tempo players like Ambrose Thibodeaux and Bois Sec Ardoin. Is that what you mean by chanky chank?
In my mind I have an idea of what chanky chank sounds like. I don't mean it in a pejorative way at all! The chanky chank on the fiddle is Dennis McGee, Sady Courville, and some others. Wade Fruge. Mitch Reed and Ed Poullard can do it. Louie Michot. I also like the fiddle that is not chanky chank, like Cheese Read, Varise Conner, Dewey Balfa, etc.
I haven't listened to any recordings by Tracy Schwartz, but I learned from Ray Abshire that you should always use "the seventh button" for the "connection licks" between the melody notes. You use it push - pull or pull - push. Then you get the chank-a-chank rhythm. I've worked hard on the seventh button for a few months now, and my playing has improved greatly. Ray thought it's a weakness of all the instruction videos that they don't teach the technique and importance of "the seventh button".
BTW all chrome had worn out on the seventh button of Ray's Falcon. He said the worn out seventh button was the trademark of the traditional cajun accordionists.
But you could also use sand paper
Great explanation. I have been working on the same thing by playing the Ardoin Two Step over and over trying to do it a little different each time but using the 7 button transition. I think Steve Riley and Wayne Toups use that technique to get their signature sounds too.
Thanks for the tip, Gunnar! I've been listening to and playing with Ray's new CD "Arrete Pas la Musique" for just over a week now. Along with his first CD "Pour les Bons Vieux Temps," this new CD will probably get the most use of any of the Louisiana French music CDs in my collection with the possible exceptions being Octa Clark and Hector Duhon's CD with Michael Doucet and any CD by Canray Fontenot. I really like Ray's accordion style. I'm doing my best to emulate it. And I have noticed the grace or connecting notes on many of his tunes but did not realize they concentrated on the seventh button. This should make things a lot easier for me. I love the Canray Fontenot song called "Tes Parents Veulent P'us Me Voir" (Your Parents Don't Want to See Me Anymore). It's song no. 11 on "Arrete Pas la Musique." Ray connects the sustained notes in the song with a little collection of grace notes. I can't wait to get to my accordion this evening and see if the notes resolve around the seventh button. Steve
This sounds really useful. I have had a listen to a couple of Ray Abshire tracks and can hear the sound but I am still struggling as to how it is played. Could someone possibly explain in a bit more detail how the 7 button is worked into a melody.
Is it every melody note or only when there is a gap in the melody?
Which finger are you using on the 7 button, are you bouncing between the melody and the 7 or using a different finger?
I use the seventh mostly to fill the gaps in the melody. A good song to practice using the seventh button is Flammes d'Enfer, where you have the basic melody combined with '7787'778. You can also use the seventh to avoid stretching the bellows to far or run out of air on the push.
I went to see Tracy and Ginny Hawker about a month ago at a house concert in Austin. He didn't bring along a squeezebox, and wouldn't take me up on my offer to lend him the John Doucet box I had in the car. I was pretty disappointed, as my main reason for going to the concert was to hear him play some Cajun squeeze. Oh, well. The music was good, anyway.
I've got an interesting story about Tracy and one of his accordions.
About a year ago my Irish band was playing at the most traditional Irish pub in Baltimore, called J. Patricks. I started talking to this guy who bought me a drink and I started telling him about Cajun music. Apparently he had bought an accordion at a pawn shop. The accordion had the name "Tracy Schwartz" engraved on the face plate. He knew of Tracy Schwartz, however, and wondered why in the hell his accordion would be in a pawn shop. So eventually he contacted Tracy and talked to him about the issue. Tracy actually travled to Maryland and got his accordion back. Unfortunately for the guy I met, he lost money, but willingly gave back the accordion
Shouldn't that be the pawn broker's responsibility for selling stolen goods? Even if he didn't know it was stolen when he took it in, he should have the identity of the person who pawned it.
It was a very brief conversation with Danny. If you see Tracy ask him about it. I heard the story after Augusta, or else I would have asked Tracy about it.
That was more or a rhetorical question. I didn't expect an answer. I've heard stories like this before, and I always wonder how the guy at the end of the line always gets stuck when they did no wrong that they knew of.