About the RootsWorld Free Reed Festival
from festival editor/producer Cliff Furnald
I produce this festival each year as a way of focusing attention not on the machinery of music, but on the artists from around the world who use the machines. I suppose I could just as easily have chosen the hurdy-gurdy, the vocorder or the basson, but the accordion just seems so right. The accordion acts as an interesting focal point, because although it is a rather new instrument (patented in the 1820's), it is a part of the "tradition" in many parts of the world. Few people think of Irish, Scandinavian or klezmer music without thinking of the accordion as a vital part of the music even though all of these regions have histories that extend back well before the instrument was concocted. And because of its ubiquitous nature, it is now an essential part of jazz, folk and dance music, and even the avant garde has embraced it for its unique qualities.
Tomorrow & Tomorrow
A lot of folks are afraid they may have missed something in the fest. In a few cases, this is true. We do have some special material that is only available on the day it is scheduled. But a great number of the festival artists 'hang around' to be heard again. Find them in the
So what can you expect at an online, virtual "festival" of the accordion? In some ways, much the same as what you would encounter at any music festival, and perhaps a lot more. Yes, the "live" edge is a bit different, because the web exists everywhere and nowhere, in and out of time. Perhaps it is better compared to an art festival, where the artists' work is on display, and you can wander through the festival site and pick and choose where to linger, what to listen to, who to find out more about.
The festival will feature individual songs from many artists from all over the world in the course of the month, including material recorded especially for the festival. There will also be print interviews, recording reviews and a jukebox full of music that comes from so many directions you are liable to get lost, stumbling over a Finnish master as you seek out a familiar Irish accordionist. This is my biggest hope, that even though you may have come here for a dose of the Cajun music you love, we might guide you to one of the great Swedish melodeon or English concertina players and give you a chance to find a new passion.
Mostly, I hope you will be surprised, by the wide range of music the accordion world (and therefore, the whole world) has to offer, from the challenging improvisations on a Finnish chromatic accordion to the unexpected harmonica music of Ireland and Africa. Don't be afraid to go into an unexpected doorway and see what's going on in there!
- Cliff Furnald, editor of RootsWorld, the online magazine of the world's music
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