THE CHIFF & FIPPLE GREETING
November 23, 2003:
Adventures on DaleForce One
This issue is overdue and jam-packed with whistle related late-breaking news--so no time for one of my lame, satirical introductions.
I. FLOOK PLAY USA DATES IN JANUARY
“Four brilliant musicians. Four times as much brilliant music” Time Out
“A sensational live act.... in the front rank of the innovators” The Rough Guide to Irish Music
“Folk musicians for people who don’t like folk music” London Evening Standard
“Multi-layered, rhythmically sophisticated and meltingly beautiful.” Glasgow Sunday Herald
"Flook is my favorite band, not counting Kajagoogoo" Dale Wisely, Chiff & Fipple.
FLOOK US TOUR DATES are posted on their website http://www.flook.co.uk
II. The Department of Miss Mira Sorvino.Hey, Dale.I just wanted to say that I really miss the department of Mira Sorvino.Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.Sincerely,Tom
III. CHIFF & FIPPLE ROCKS ACADEMIA
Hello, Dr. Wisely. It was great revisiting your site again after a while and getting back into the whistle community. Anyway, I found an old limerick I wrote for sophomore English a while back, and thought I'd submit it to your site. Please use it if you like.
"My Obsessive Compulsive Whistle Disorder"
by Danny Nicholes, UT
Sweetones are fine for beginners.
I prefer a reliable Clarke.
But have it your way
Play Feadog or Mel Bay
Generation might shoot past the mark.
I love the haunting low whistle.
It requires more air and more lip.
A master I'd be
On my Ralph Cook Low D
If I could just handle the grip.
Kay, that's it. Thanks for reading and whatnot. I gotta run to class, so until later!
IV. POSITIVELY TESTCARD Update
A quick note to say - the Positively Testcard are dusting off their instruments for a Christmas Kwela Frenzy (hmmm...that sounds familiar..) at the National Theatre (on London's South Bank) on Saturday December 20th at 5.30pm. It's Free!
We'll be playing in the foyer (possibly in the upstairs foyer so either look or listen for us if you are wondering around downstairs and wondering where we are).
Hope to see you there - and if you don't live in South London (and why on earth not?) - why not use this gig as light relief from shopping in London's busy West End? Or tell someone you know that they should go?
As Bart Simpson points out - "We mustn't forget the true significance of Christmas. The birth of Santa."
Positively Testcard is my favorite band, besides The Divinyls.
V. 2003 North Central Alabama
Fan Club Parade & Gathering
Turn out for the parade was rather low, but full of enthusiasm! You people don't know what you're missing.
President and Treasurer, Dale Wisely
Photos by Claire Wisely
Links to the Morris Open website German English
Morris Open is my favorite band, not counting Bananarama!
VI. Bill Ochs' Clarke Tin Whistle Book
Just so you know, the Clarke Tin Whistle Book & CD w/Whistle on blister card is now being offered by Amazon.
Interested parties can find the set in Amazon's book section by entering amazon.com through this link (the chiff & fipple kick-back link) and the entering the ISBN number in the Amazon search field: 0972751602.
Amazon also carries our "deluxe" 9 x 12 Clarke book w/CD. This can be found by entering amazon.com through the above link and then the following ISBN in the search field: 0962345679.
BillVII. BEN FRANKLIN UPDATE (He's still dead).
Howdy Dale - I forwarded the Ben Franklin tale to a couple of Internet acquaintances, including someone who recently inquired with me about a concertina I had for sale and who has become a friend. Anyway, here is his response, and I'm inclined to agree. We could do with more fiddlin' grasshoppers and whistlin' politicians:
From: Greg J
To: Danny Hathaway
Subject: Re: Once Upon a Time - - -
I love Ben Franklin, but he may have gotten this one wrong. If he was happy with his whistle and satisfied with the price, why let others' opinions influence his pleasure and enjoyment. And if he gave up a lifetime of music because of someone else's ridicule....What a tragedy!
I'm playing devil's advocate here, but like the "Ants and the Grasshopper" story the power and importance of music is often given short shrift even if the intent is to teach a practical lesson.
I guess I'd like more fiddle playing grasshoppers just getting by and making the world a happier, more joyous place than a nation of prosperous, nuke building ants that think they have a moral imperative.
VIII. Debbie Quigley
Bloomfield, frequent C&F contributor, writes:
I had the great privilege and pleasure of taking a workshop in Montreal with Debbie Quigley last weekend. At some point she asked me if I played with others, and I replied that I did go to what sessions I felt comfortable playing in, but that I particularly enjoyed listening the
acoustic sessions in New York with Patrick Ourceau and Eamonn O'Leary, which I liked for the style: slow and steady and no hype.
She laughed and said: "Slow and steady wins the race every time as far as I'm concerned. You don't have to be playing like a bat out of hell. Just nice steady, rhythmic, flowing.... Don't let anybody push you, because you know what: they're just missing so much of the beauty of the melody. And that's what I love about Patrick's playing, he's just so gentle and so... you know, everything is in it: everything is in it. So picking up tunes from him would be amazing."
It was a wonderful afternoon, soaking up Debbie's gorgeous playing and hints & tips. (If you're interested in hearing some of Patrick Ourceau's music, pick up the CD Tracin' by Geraoid O hAllmhurain and Patrick Ourceau: highly recommended.)
IX. COOPERMAN WHISTLES
I am a fifer by trade, but a whistle player at heart. I have worked in
National Historic Park Bookstores where The Cooperman "Tin" Whistles is
sold as a means of torturing parents who pack there kids into mini-vans for
family vacations, or teachers daring enough to take their classroom on a field trip.
To understand the Cooperman whistle, one must understand that the Cooperman Fife & Drum Company. COOPERMAN makes first and foremost rope-tension drums, secondly wooden fifes, and finally knick-knacks and trinkets for historic site gift shops. Their tin whistles fall into the last category.
The fipple is created by an ill fitting wooden softwood plug that is held in place by being jammed into the end of the tube and the wood general sticks out a good 1/4 inch past the end of the mouth piece itself. There is no attempt to make the metal of the fipple close around the wooden plug, which results in rather sharp metal edges sticking out on either side of the plug by a 1/16 of an inch.
I have been able to by dumb luck modify some of their whistles to sound passable. By means of squeezing together the metal sides of the fipple to
more snuggly fit the wooden plug -primarily a safety concern so as not to slice my lips open while playing it - and then holding the fipple end of the whistle and banging it repeatedly against the edge of a desk or counter, I have been able to make the whistle sound halfway passable. (BTW- Do not try the previously stated alteration on any whistle you actually care about).
Another thing I'd mention about the Cooperman Whistle is that I have never seen one for sale in a music store.
As to you comment about the quiet volume being a marriage saving device, my wife prefers that I play my O'Riordans or even my Shaw over a Cooperman, the sound quality is worth the difference in volume.
Norman Mailer (Name Withheld By Request)
X. UNDISPUTED MAKES SURPRISE INSPECTION OF CLARKE TINWHISTLE COMPANY'S FACTORY IN KENT, ENGLAND
This month, Mrs. Undisputed and I were able to fly to England to conduct some business with Mr. Tony Blair, in advance of the state visit by President George (I'd-rather-be-in-Crawford-clearing-brush) Bush. After a bit of a problem related to security measures necessary for our visit, we conducted a surprise visit of the Clarke Tinwhistle manufacturing facility in Kent. Here's a little photo essay.
Here are the Undisputed and his friend Norman Dannatt, musical consultant for the Clarke Company, at London-Gatwick. I had been on DaleForce One for nine hours and was badly roughed up by customs agents at Gatwick because of some suspicious looking long-metal tubes in my luggage. That's why I look so damn puffy.
Here I am with Norman and Jim Weedon. Jim is a lovely guy who owns the company, the birthplace of Chiff & Fipple, in a sense, because my first whistle was made there. We had a fine chat with Jim and Norman about whistles. I also took some photos of the inner workings of the factory, including the actual crafting of whistles in the "clean room." I had to pass through four levels of decontamination (each floor was a different color), including standing naked in a booth that flashed an intense light that burned off all of my body hair and the outer layers of my skin. After all of that, Clarke's security goons took the pictures from me and beat me senseless. That's why I look so puffy! Joke was on them, though. If you look closely, you'll see a couple of whistles I lifted sticking out of my jacket. HAH! Weedon never suspected a thing.
The Clarke factory did, I'm happy to report, pass inspection with a score of 99. (The only thing that kept them from getting a perfect 100 was a suspicious container of yogurt in the fridge.)
Afterwards we had a wonderful lunch at the George & Dragon pub. I had my first real English beer. Or at least a few sips of it. (Thereafter, I ordered lager.) Mrs. Undisputed had a steak & kidney pie and really enjoyed it. Except the kidneys. She also drank three of the big English stouts and ended up making a bit of a scene on the Underground later. I'm not giving details, but let's just say that the woman knows a bunch of bawdy saloon songs I've never heard her sing in the 25 years we've been married. (I'd also like to thank, at this time, the representatives from Scotland Yard who could not have been more courteous and understanding).
This is a whistle shown to me by Norman's friend (and now my friend) Goretti Anglin, a fine whistle & flute player from Ireland. This whistle will be discussed in a future issue. In all seriousness, it is one of the most fascinating whistle finds I've ever seen. More about this later.
The Undisputed and Mrs. Undisputed got to do some serious sightseeing, thanks to our infinitely generous, tireless, and vastly intelligent host & guide, Norman Dannatt and his wonderful wife Marjorie. We had a fabulous time. Note: They were planning to tear down that structure in the background sometime late this month. During one of the many phone calls I received from Her Majesty the Queen during our brief visit, I asked her to save the Tower Bridge and she reluctantly agreed. (I also had to ask her to stop calling me on my cell phone. Typical call: Queen: "Hey, what'cha doing?" Dale: "Oh, nothing, Your Majesty.") Hopefully, President Bush hasn't said something to her to make her irritable and squirrel the whole deal.
This photo symbolizes the staggering scope of Chiff & Fipple worldwide. Here's me at the Royal Observatory, standing in both world hemispheres. (The weird gravitational effects have me looking a little puffy.) This is, of course, the home of Greenwich Mean time and, according to my Timex, their clock was only 14 seconds slow. Not bad, considering how old the observatory is.
And, finally our dear friend Norman, with his new Chiff & Fipple hat.
We hope to return to the UK soon. Circumstances prevented us from meeting with C&F members there. We shall have to remedy that.
We had a wonderful time and we want to thank Jim Weedon at Clarke and, especially Norman and Marjorie Dannatt, who took us into their home and treated us like honored guests.
Our visit coincided with Remembrance Day in England. We are so glad it did. The USA, and much of the rest of the world, can learn something of great value from how people in the UK honor their military veterans. The ceremonies and festivities were among the most inspiring and moving we have ever experienced. Marilyn and I are so grateful for the opportunity. Norman is a veteran and invited us to attend the Garden of Remembrance ceremony, at Westminster Abbey, for his regimental association. We stood with these men and their families during the ceremony and Marilyn and I have not had such an honor in our lives. Then, we were invited to dine with these wonderful people at their reunion dinner in the Buckingham Palace Guard barracks. A enjoyable and moving experience!
XI. TO BE CONTINUED
Well, I have a lot more to cover, including a review of Robert Tipple's inexpensive flutes. Also, in the flute corner, we have news about a new beginner's Irish flute by the fine maker Casey Burns. And, I want to do a Whistle Tweaking issue, to recognize the growing industry of craftsmen taking stock inexpensive whistles and making them better. But, right now I'm due to fly to L.A. for a meeting with my new attorney, Mark Geragos. Back to DaleForce One...
So long for now. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you geologically and culturally located to celebrate it.
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Lord, help us see how near is your kingdom.