French Music Jam
Mitch Gordon & Gary Breitbard

This workshop demonstrates the traditional dance music from the mountains and farmlands in the center of France: the regions of Auvergne, Berry, and Bourbonnais. It is absolutely delightful and little-encountered stuff. The Central France music tradition goes back hundreds of years, and primarily features the hurdy-gurdy, the French bagpipes (somewhat quieter and sweeter than their Scottish counterpart), the fiddle, and in more recent centuries, the diatonic button accordion and clarinet. This is not the music that most people think of when you say "French music", which is the "cafe music" (bal-musette) played on modern accordions and is much more recent. Central France music is lively, stirring, raw, sometimes a touch dark, but mostly just plain FUN!

We will have an ensemble of experienced players who will play central France tunes for you and describe the music and dances and instruments. We will also teach some tunes, for attendees who bring instruments.

Gary Breitbard and his partner Jena Rauti have been teaching French Dance in the Bay Area for many years. Gary also is a fine player of piano accordion in both the central France and bal-musette styles.

Mitch Gordon plays button accordion, hurdy-gurdy and French bagpipe, both in a duo with his hurdy-gurdy player wife Roz Reynolds and in the band Avocet. He publishes books of French dance tunes and out-of-print CDs of classic central France recordings on his website