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From the Northwest to the heartland of the United States; through the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands this issue of your Pluck-n-Post covers music festivals from around the world. We get caught up on the 2006 International Jew’s Harp Festival with a report from Ingrid Berkout who, along with Joan Broughton complete the Photo Essay of the 2006 North American Jew’s Harp Festival (from last issue). Ingrid, Joan, Amber Stiles and Jim Nelson round out the NAJHF(2007) coverage with photos from this past years’ fest. JHG Board member, Ralph Christensen, fills us in on the happenings at the 36th Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas (where I hear a lot of J-harpist attend as they can).
From across the big-pond, IJHS newsletter editor Michael Wright brings us news of the Whitby Folk Week and Oxford Folk Festival as well as the formation of the Islands of the North Atlantic Jew’s Harp Association (IoNAJHA). We also include a bit of news about 1st International [German] Maultrommel Festival and the (we’re sad to hear) cancellation of the 6th IJHF that was scheduled in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan.
I personally wish to thank all the contributors to this newsletter for their articles and photographs. Sometimes the Jew’s Harp world is full of wonderful, exciting events. At other times there seems to be a “news drought.” I urge anyone with a relative tidbit will write it up, or simply send it on to me so we can all share the experience. (Send items to the masthead address or email: newsletter at jewsharpguild.org)
All the best in 2008! Mark— editor, Pluck-n-Post
A Word from the Executive Director
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Bob Feltz, Beavercreek, OR (Jew's harp) - Bruce Hodges, Portland, OR (Jew's harp) - Charles Davis, Vernonia, OR (Bones, Autoharp, Tin Whistle, Jew's harp) - Dan Gossi, Garden Valley, ID (Didj, Clackamore, Nose Flute, Jew's harp) - Deirdre Morgan, Maple Ridge, BC, Canada (piano, banjo, Jew's harps of the world, kazoo, Balinese Gamelan) - Denise Harrington, Garibaldi, OR (Jew's harp) - Eldorado Gene Ralph, North Plains, OR (Guitar, Jew's Harp, Synth, vocals) - Eric Cronk, Bay City, OR (Simple Drums) - Gordon Frazier, Seattle, WA (Jew's harp, Clackamore, Kazoo) - Ingrid Berkhout, Seattle, WA (Jew's harp, rhythm instruments) - Jack Roberts, Carson, WA (guitar, banjo, mandolin, vocals, Jew's harp, and other funny little noise making devices) - Jerry Stutzman, Hillsboro, OR (drums, musical saw, clacker bangers, vocals) - Joan Broughton, Seattle, WA (gut bucket, Jew's harp, percussion) - John Palmes, Juneau, AK (Twangy Stringy ones, mouth bow, Jew's harp, fiddle) - Larry Hanks, Berkeley, CA (Jew's harp, guitar) - Marcus Tenaglia, Portland, OR (Jew's harp, banjo) - Martin Nelson Harrington, Garibaldi, OR (Jew's harp) - Neptune Chapotin, Laytonville, CA (Jew's harp) - Ralph Christensen, Eureka, CA (Kubing) - Rick Meyers, Portland, OR (Banjo, guitar, autoharp, mandolin, Jew's harp, spoons, musical saw) - Rob Hoffman, Portland, OR (Celtic harp, Autoharp, Jew's harp) - Roger Tendick, Veneta, OR (Jew's harp, Harmonica) - Terence Hughes, Portland, OR (guitar, mandolin, vocals) - Wayland Harman, Springfield, MO (inventor of the Clackamore, Jew's harp, Guitar, vocals) - Wendy Carson, Council, ID (guitar, piano)
Devil's Walking Stick - Rochelle Feltz
Glass Pen - Lizzie Harrington-Nelson
Gordon Frazier CD - Jim Nelson
|Soundings explores the new world of Jew’s Harp related audio and video files available on the internet, new CDs and recordings, or historical recordings of days past. Please let us know of any special trinkets you find and include performer comments or background if possible.|
There has been an explosion of Jew’s Harp videos on YouTube lately displaying a wide variety of instruments, styles, and levels of ability. Many are worth checking out.
My thanks to Andy Rix of San Diego, CA for these links. [Ed]
Simple yet hypnotizing. Harder than he makes it look. (Rix)
One of the sickest harp solos I have ever witnessed and the reason I
bought the Morchang. (Rix)
Good technique, bad audio… (Rix)
Holy Mouth Harp!!! (Rix)
Please submit your own!
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Years ago my friend Dees, who had introduced me to the Jew’s harp, and I planned to attend the International Jew’s harp Festival in Amsterdam together. We had never been to any of the other International ones and it was going to be in the city in which she was living and where I was born and raised. It took so many years, while the music hall was being built, that sadly Dees, my friend and percussionist extra-ordinaire, passed on. With Dees in my heart, we made the trip to attend the 5th International. And what an incredible inspiring experience that turned out to be.
All of the past festivals have been in more rural settings; this one was the first in a major European City. There were concerts every day and evening and a lively marketplace where I purchased several new harps: a Japanese Mukkuri, an Indonesian bamboo frog caller; A five in one Chinese Kouxian (mouth string) Also a book written and compiled by Spiridon from Yakutia, Russia.
My personal goal for this festival was to meet and hear other women Jews harp players.
The first woman made an appearance at the opening concert. She is from South Africa and her name is Mandosini, the Veteran as she is known in the Bandu communities of Mpondoland. She is a story teller and musician, plays the Uhadi (Berimbau), the Umrhubhe (mouth bow) and the Isitlotplo (Jews harp).
Beautifully dressed in a native costume she came smiling and dancing onto the stage, accompanied by another fabulously dressed younger woman from the same tribe, who makes Holland her home now and functioned as her interpreter. Mandosini played the mouth bow and proceeded to pull the Isitlopo out of her turban like hat to play a song for the packed theatre. This is the first time I heard that some tribes in South Africa play the Jews Harp.
The next group I was interested in and had heard about were the Ainu women, who live in the far north of Japan. These women use their Mukkuri’s made from bamboo to contact the gods of their strongly animist religion, which is the bear cult. The bear is the transcendental messenger of their bear god, who guarantees the everyday well being of the race. A Mukkuri is an idioglot Jews harp; actually the group from Indonesia used the same type, where the frame and tongue are cut from a single piece of bamboo. It has a short string attached on the left side to hold on to and a long string on the right. Sounds are produced by pulling hard on the long string to produce vibrations in the central located tongue. Not an easy feat and Imai Noriko had to show me several times for me to get some sound out of it. She was very outgoing but did not speak much English and came barely to my shoulder. We exchanged small gifts, and would greet and hug each other every time we met. I purchased a CD of their music as well.
More incredible talented women playing in different groups. Two of these are daughters with Jews harp fathers. The Irish Lucy Wright who also sings and plays a mean violin, together with her famous father and uncle. The Wrights, from North Umbia (North-East England), who are famous for their traditional English and Scottish music.
The other one was Bhagyalakshmi Mural Krishna. Her father Lingachar Bhirmachar an enthusiastic, very friendly and extremely expressive Jews harp player from India. At the opening reception, he and my friend Joan were playing together, which was very exciting to see and hear. This very musical family is one of the few who can still interpret the old traditional Carnatic music on the Indian harp, named Morching. Now there is another harp which is not very accessible for me. It is made of a weird tasting metal with a very stiff lamel and not easy on the fingers. These folks were virtuosos.
The ones Joan and I were enchanted by were the women from Shaka-Yakoetsk, Siberia. Kim Borisov, Albina Degtareva, Yana Krivoshapkina and Ana Zirkova.
Truly powerful Shamanic women, the hair on my arms stood straight up when I first heard them. While these women were playing the khumous, generally with the elbow at shoulder height and a loose dangling hand, they were singing and making nature sounds: The wind, water, wolves, galloping horses, owls etc. Their costumes were phenomenal, long white or blue dresses lined with fur.
We have played their music over and over. It sounds haunting and feels very spiritual with a lot of singing. I would love to see and hear these women again.
This 5th international Jews harp festival was very exciting and extremely inspiring.
To be able to hear and learn more about our beloved little instrument from the different corners of the world. And see all the famous players in person is very inspiring in the new architectural, beautiful theater like the Muziek gebouw aan t´IJ (The Music building on the river IJ) reachable by a long pedestrian bridge over the street and water, towards the entrance, where a large welcoming banner included a photo of our Gordon.
It also housed a bar, two restaurants and a big terrace overlooking the water and Central Station in the center of Amsterdam. One day instead of taking the light rail, our friends brought us to the theater in their little blue boat, the best way to see the city. We picnicked on the way and ordered a round of beer from a terrace on the side of the canal. Amsterdam is a very fun city with lots of excitement and things to do.
It was a great experience which I did not want to have missed for anything.
And as for my friend Dees van Dijk, several of her friends attended the festival. On the last evening at the American concert Gordon, Joan and I played an Ode to Dees on our meditation harps. It had all come full circle.
The next: Jews harpers of the world unite, will be in Hungary[?]. Let’s go…..
A performer who took me by surprise and I loved was Li Wang from Shandong China with his five piece Kou Xian ( aka HoHos) made by the Yi people from Southern China. His music mesmerized me. He was raised in a military family. He did not know what direction to study in and started wandering. He ended up in a music conservatorium in Paris, where he picked up the Jews harp. I liked his musical pieces which were stories with names like: “Conversations with my father”. I enjoy playing with this five piece Jews harp, and totally dig his music.
The Dan Moi Jews harps, similar to the Kou Xian’s, are constructed and played by the H’Mong, and are made from thin brass plate. The Dan Moi is mainly used for courtship, thru which love poems are song.
For instance: “ I love you I want you to be with you. I’ll jump in the river for you…” Anyway the elder H´Mongs do not want to play these love songs anymore as they are getting too old for that.. Gordon and I found that out when we went to one of the M’hong New Year Celebrations, in Seattle. The Dan Moi´s are also associated with occult natural forces. To give them protection against evil spirits they have their own bamboo home, and are often adorned with talismans and fetishes..
Ingrid and Joan’s photo essay of the IJHF 2006 appeared in the last issue of the
You can still see it at:
See Slide Shows of past North American and International Jew’s Harp Festivals at:
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Please note: To protect our posters from spam attacks the @ sign in email addresses have been replaced with the word "at."
The 1st International [German] Maultrommel Festival
(Jew's Harp Festival) which took part 23rd-25th Nov in Leipzig, Germany was
exiting experience. We met a lot of enthusiastic people who loves this
little instrument! They came from all over the world: Canada, Japan, Norway,
Switzerland, Israel and of course Germany.
Read the entire Vladiswar Nadishana Festival report at:
We also have news about the 6th International Festival. Franz sends
We tried hard to get the 6th IJHF happening in Kushiro,
Hokkaido, Japan. For several months we discussed budget and
organizational issues. When we first learned about the concrete
budget limitations we recommended going for a regional South East
Asian festival in Japan. After Leo succeeded to increase the budget,
the Program Committee, consisting of Michael Wright, Aron Szilagy
and Luca Recupero, started to finalize the participants' list, but
on 9 November Leo informed us that the responsible Japanese
organizer "Mr Fujita has reported me that he cannot organize the 6th
IJHF in Kushiro next year."
Jim Nelson has posted several videos of the 2007 North American
Jew’s Harp Festival on YouTube.com
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by Michael Wright
Michael, (left) at the Holywell Music Room with Ric
|While the JHG has been promoting the
Jew’s harp for many the year, getting some sort of acknowledgement
here in the UK that the instrument is worth bothering with has been
somewhat difficult. Brother John might have started things off in
the ‘60s, but moving to France forty years ago left Lindsay Porteous
performing regularly and encouraging players pretty much on his own
until the mid-late ‘90s when I got interested in playing again after
a break of some fifteen years. Lindsay now has his regular
competition and a volume of recorded work, while I’ve been plugging
away running workshops, giving talks, writing articles for magazines
and generally exploiting any and every opportunity to talk about
things Jew’s harpish to anyone willing to listen.
This year has been a particularly good one for me. Brother David is keen to get back in the saddle, so to speak, and the Wrights have been joined by David’s daughter, Lucy – who made her debut at the Amsterdam Congress. Lucy came with me early in the year to the Morpeth Gathering, a delightful event in Northumberland, where there are competitions, dances and concerts, all with a local flavour, though they invite outsiders like me to provide something a bit different.
In March we were involved in a fundraising concert for the Oxford Folk Festival at the Holywell Music Room, said to be the oldest, purpose built music room in Europe and hence England’s first concert hall. Built in 1742 many musicians, including Handel, have performed classical music in its superb surroundings, so no pressure there, then. Lucy was with me for the performance, but, sadly, missed the jam session with members of Fairport Convention. A terrific venue and a great experience.
The big event was the first conference and concert held in Oxford in April that featured the Jew’s harp, ‘Oxford Firsts’. Nothing like this had ever been held in the UK, so we were delighted when Spiridon Shishigin, Leo Tadagawa, John Wright, Lindsay Porteous and the rest of the Wrights, came, plus speakers with an ethnomusicology, archaeology or curator background, talking on subjects as diverse as the KwaZulu Natal people, 13th century finds and the Pitt Rivers Jew’s harp collection. Co-organised by the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments of the University of Oxford the event, though small, did show what can be done. My main contribution, apart from organising it, was to perform Albrechtsberger’s Concerto in D, again never performed live in the UK, hence ‘Oxford Firsts’. Both BBC Radio Oxford and the regional BBCTV ‘South Today’ covered the event.
Following on BBC Radio Oxford interviewed me as part of a series ‘Global voices’, which was positively edited and broadcast in July.
Our holiday was spent at the Whitby Folk Week, held at the end of August. WFW have been one of the few festivals that regularly invite me to give workshops and talks, though this year I decided to take a break and just enjoy the performances. I discovered this is not possible, and was on stage six out of the seven evenings – though I’m not complaining. Highlights were being on stage dueting with Jeff Davis of the US, Lucy joining me for a set at the Wednesday traditional night and my accompaniment of a fine young London singer, Sam Lee on a piece that had the audience totally enraptured – I’ve rarely been in such a moment, and we were both drained at the end. Sadly, no one recorded it!
Lucy has just started an MMus at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) studying ethnomusicology, but focussing on the khomus. This is the first academic establishment in the UK to recognise the value of our instrument, so we’re all delighted. I’m now busy preparing a talk for the Elphinstone Institute in Scotland on the history of the Jew’s harp in Scotland, and have just received the proof of an article for the Folk Music Journal to be published in December called ‘The Jew’s Harp in the Law’.
There is also talk of the Wrights recording for the first time since 1974. Whether this becomes the finale of a great year, or the beginning of what we hope will be another one, we’ll have to wait and see. Can one year of the harper become two?
Convener of IoNAJHA
(Islands of the North Atlantic Jew’s harp Association)
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The Jews Harp Guild Pictorial Archive needs photos of your favorite harps. Send (non-returnable) pics and info to:
The Jew's Harp Guild
508 2nd. St.
Cove, OR 97824
Or submit them now at: http://jewsharpguild.org/picsubmit.html
“Show-N-Tell” is a recurring feature of
Pluck-N-Post.. Please submit you own photos and stories. Do you have an unusual Jew’s Harp, or one with an unusual history? We’d love to hear about them.
It is called Mukhchow, in India, Its made of Steel. Its very old Indian stuff, For any other query please be in touch.
Geddam Ravi ( geddamravi at gmail.com )
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In My Own Words
|The Jew's Harp Guild has been around for over ten years now, and has a constantly changing membership made up of players and other interested parties from around the world. But who, exactly, are they? In an attempt to address that question, this column will feature a Guild member or two each issue. As always, your contributions and suggestions are welcome.|
What can I
say… I love this instrument! And I really care about the Guild and its
mission. Since being introduced to the ‘harp by Wayland… and hence the
festival, I quickly absorbed the history from Fred Crane’s VIM journals
and instantly made international contacts with others that shared the
interest. So many revelations in so short a time! How could such a
small… such a berated music maker be so prevalent through so many
cultures? The whole idea tickled my curiosity.
Since that time I’ve totally immersed myself in the instrument. Being part of the JHG, The OddTones and Mouthmusic.com has brought great joy to my life. Being an instrument of education of the facets of this wonderful instrument to an ill-informed world is a never ending calling… a life-long pursuit. The hope is to correct the old mind set and promote a positive, more inclusive, future. It’s a thrill to re-connect someone to their grandfather through the ‘harp; To introduce a beginner to keyed ‘harps and playing techniques; To turn on a movie sound designer to a NAJHF artist or recording; To be a connection point of players around the world. All these are missions of the Guild and I’m very proud to be part of it.
Mark D. Poss—
Webmaster & Editor the Jew’s Harp Guild
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36th Walnut Valley Festival
The International Convention for Acoustic String Musicians
Hi, I'm Ralph Christensen,
I would like to tell you about my recent travel to Winfield, Kansas, USA for the 36th Walnut Valley Festival, The International Convention for Acoustic String Musicians. It is usually attended by anywhere from 11,000 to 15,000 people. Many people arrive a week ahead to camp and get reacquainted with old friends, meet new ones, and play music. We arrived 4 days before the Festival to set up camp and play music.
Ralph Christensen (L ) & Tom Bogardas
|My friend Judy has been attending for 24 years and
has been a great help in meeting and playing with some of the
musicians. The Festival is a good mix of international performers,
and jamming with people from all over. It’s not uncommon to have
some of the performers to sit in on some of the jams. Almost every
day there was a constant array of musicians dropping by to jam with
our host, and my friend Judy. Both are accomplished musicians. On
occasion I was able to sit in on the music.
In the evening we would attend the "Fiddle Fest", anywhere from 8 to 24 fiddlers accompanied by guitarists, banjo, dulcimer, bass, saw, players and other instrumentalists including the occasional Jew's Harp player. The fiddlers ranged from beginners to professionals, a very mixed group. We would start at 10:00PM and end at 12:00AM, playing a great variety of tunes. I was the only Jew's Harp player until about the 3rd night when three autoharp players came forward, two of them played Jew's Harp, and one a nose flute; the first harp players I'd gotten to know in the 2 years I'd attended the Festival. The next night someone from the "audience," Gene, came up to me and said he played. I met with him the next day and shared some of my Jew's Harp literature; news letters of the North American Jew's Harp Guild and International Jew's Harp Society, and Frederick Crane's "History of the Trump In Pictures: Europe and America". He and his wife were impressed how prevalent the harp is. I joined them in their mountain dulcimer group a couple of times in the next few nights (finally an instrument that doesn't droned out my Jew's Harp). The next day I was talking to one of the other campers about his camp trailer that was almost the same make and year as one I had bought a few months ago,' 68 Starcraft. It turned out he and a friend were both Harp players.
With this many Harp players and a new convert that I had just made a Kubing for, I thought that we should get together and share our common interest so I arranged for us to meet. I couldn't get in touch with Gene (sorry, I'll try next year) but Tom (new convert), Mike (15 to 20 yr. player), Bruce (30 yr. player), Les (20+ yr. player), Glen (15 yr. player), and I (38 yr. player), had a great time comparing instruments, techniques, the literature and playing some music together. It was great to meet with fellow players in this setting. Hopefully this "Jew's Harp Convergence" will be a annual occurrence at the Festival and perhaps we’ll be able to get a segment on the radio station they have set up there.
That night at the Fiddle Fest, the last of the Festival, three young boys and there father were interested in my playing so I let them try a Kubing, gave them some ideas on where they could get some, and told them I hoped to see them playing next year.
Sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to all of them before I left. It was really hectic. But I hope to meet up with them next year.
Winfield Aerial Photo during the Festival.
JEW'S HARP GUILD
|Send check or money order to:
Jews Harp Guild/Festival
508 2nd Street
Cove, OR 97824
Highlights 1998 - 2000
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Allow 4-8 weeks for delivery. Sorry no CODs.
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