The Northeast Squeeze-In is a
weekend-long gathering of free-reed players, mostly from the
northeastern USA but some who come from a much greater distance.
Located in the scenic Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts,
it’s a relaxing retreat from daily life and a day-into-night
opportunity to learn new tunes, improve your skills, share what you
know, sing, dance, and play with an eclectic bunch of friendly
musicians. It’s not a music festival. It’s not an instructional (though
there are a ton of free-form workshops) weekend. It’s just a lot of
fun, run entirely by volunteers, and organized as a not-for-profit
event by musicians like you.
Things start around the
middle of Friday afternoon
as the first of us begin to arrive. On
arrival, you’ll be given your room assignment, a site map, and other
essential bits of information. Jamming starts almost as soon as the
cars come to a halt. Most people have signed up for meals, and a
buffet-style dinner is served in the dining room, augmented by wine or
beer brought by participants. By Friday night, most of the participants
are in attendance. There’s probably a pubtype sing somewhere, and lots
and lots of players are squeezing out tunes in every available space.
breakfast on Saturday morning
Sunday morning is
for winding down
(did the jamming ever stop?), people
begin drifting off to the workshops, and some sign up to perform in the
concert. (See Activities
below.) Lunch brings most of us together again, then off to more
workshops and informal playing. After dinner, we march in ragged
procession to the performance space near the dining room while playing
the designated processional tune, and the evening concert starts. After
an amazingly varied performance of tunes and songs, the chairs get
cleared away and the pick-up band takes its place on-stage for the
contra dance. Some folks go off to play some more or join the pub sing
instead. When the dance ends, there are snacks in the dining room
available to everyone. Some dancers join up with the singers or
players. Some stagger off to bed. This can be a very late night for the
hardy types. Please make sure that your late-night activities are not
taking place in a lodge.There are lots of public spaces available
throughout the night.
more workshops, and, of course,
more jamming. Enjoy the breakfast, consider that instrument
purchase one more time, track down the person with the funny song from
last night and get the words . . . and by noon you’re back in the
dining room for the last meal of the weekend. Sometime later, the cars
roll away and NESI has come to an end for another year. Although it’s
possible to come for just part of the weekend, it’s really a 3-day
event and is at its best if you are there in residence for the whole
What do I need to do?
Can I pay by credit
Download the registration form from our
website. You also need to print out and sign the “Health and Liability
Form” that is required by Chimney Corners. Send both forms with your
check or money order made out to NESI to the address on the form.
Everything to do that is here...
Sorry, but we aren’t set up for that.
Why is there a "early
bird" discount period?
The event is entirely run by volunteers
who have day jobs. The sooner we can get people signed up, the easier
it is to do all of the behind-the-scenes paperwork and database
management...and avoid a last minute avalanche. The discount is
intended to motivate you to commit early.
Is admission to the event a separate
No. Admission is included in each
option: lodge, cabin, camping, and attending but staying off-site.
What if I register ahead and then am unable
There is a cancellation and refund
policy published on our registration form.
What workshops are
we’ve said, this is a free-form gathering of players of all levels.
People post workshop offerings on a event board located in the
registration room off the north end of the dining hall. More
about the event board can be found here.
People also post requests
for things they hope someone else
might agree to lead. Some “workshops” are
really tune swaps, often focused on a particular genre, such as Morris
tunes or Scandinavian waltzes. Some are for specific instruments,
such as Hayden duet concertinas. Sometimes there is a “slow jam” for
people who are just learning the tunes or their instrument. There is
usually one that is a rehearsal for the pick-up band that plays for
Saturday night’s contra dance. It all depends . . .
Do I have
to go to the workshops?
not. Some people never go to any and just join in the many jam sessions
that spring up in every available corner. This is a weekend for fun and
camaraderie, and nothing is required except your presence.
I’m a first-timer.
Can I offer a workshop?
course. All you have to do, as noted above about the event board in the registration
room, is write a brief
description on a post-it (provided on the table) and put it in an
available location and time slot on the schedule on the bulletin board.
You don’t necessarily need to be a teacher, as such – you might just
want to be a facilitator for something that interests you, such as an
Irish tune seisiún. Post it, and they will probably come.
I’m a first-timer.
There's something I need to learn; is there a workshop for that?
Maybe not, but if not you can post a
request on the event board and likely one will occur or someone will
give you a one-on-one to help you.
I don’t play a free-reed instrument
yet but I’m interested in starting. Will there be anything for me to do?
First, you’ll be able to hear, see, and try out everything from big
piano accordions down to a 20-key Anglo concertina. New and used
instruments are offered for sale
by the Button Box (Sunderland, MA) in the south room off the dining
hall and attendees have a private sale table.
You’ll be able to find people who will talk with you about what they
play and why. You’ll hear all kinds of music being played on free-reed
instruments and consider which ones seem to relate best to your own
musical interests. You might be able to find a teacher who lives in
your area. Some workshops are quite suitable for absolute beginners.
This is an excellent way to take the first steps toward becoming a
player. You can arrange for a rental instrument from the Button Box. Contact them ahead of time and
work out the details.
I have an old free-reed
instrument that needs to be fixed. Is there someone there that
Yes, again see the
Button Box shop or just ask around.
My partner plays the fiddle (guitar,
ocarina, nose flute, etc.) – can (s)he take part?
workshops, it would be good manners to ask the workshop leader.
Generally, there will be no objection as long as your partner is aware
that the activity is primarily for the free-reeders and is probably not
the time to ask for advice on bowing technique. Finding a jamming
session to join is often a better option. All instruments are welcome
in those, and they happen just about continuously.
How does the Saturday Night concert get organized, how do I sign up to
a lot like the workshops. There will be a sign-up sheet near the
workshop bulletin board. Sign up. You don’t need to be an expert
or professional, just willing to share what you do with the friendliest
and most supportive audience you’re likely ever to find. Because of the
large number of people who usually participate, performers are limited
to one song or one SHORT set of tunes. And you don’t need to play a
free-reed instrument to perform. We’ve had fiddles, clogging, a
hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, and unaccompanied singers, among others. There
are often ensembles that have connected by means of a workshop, so you
might want to join one of those earlier in the day. And, just
between you and me, if you're not a strong or accurate player, the rest
of the workshop players will carry things along and you'll the thrill
of being on stage all the same!
Should my non-playing partner/spouse come along?
your partner likes music, there is a lot to listen to, and some
non-players decide to take up an instrument after a weekend of
free-reed saturation. There are lovely wooded trails for walking on the
extensive Berkshire Outdoor Center grounds, a large pond with canoes
and kayaks available, a wood-fired sauna, shopping in nearby Lee and
Lenox as well as in a large outlet center on Route 20 at the exit from
the MA Turnpike, and lots of places to curl up with a book (to say
nothing of a cozy library...with
fireplace...stuffed with Nancy Drew and Lassie of
SunnyBrook Farms novels...real comfort reading). The
cabin/camping area has tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts. The
Saturday night concert and contra dance are fun for just about everyone.
Housing & Site Rules
You can find Chimney Corner housing information here from our Chimney
Corner webpage that lays things
out from the NESI persepctive. There is also Chimney
Corners' own website
which contains further photos of facility and descriptions of typical
rooms in lodges and cabins, as well as a campus map. We usually use the
Ina Gibson and Manor lodges, which have been renovated, and the
“Junior” cabin area, which is near the camping ground.
Towels and bed linens are not provided in any of the accommodations.
Please bring your own sleeping bag, towels, etc. All beds are single
beds. None of the lodge rooms or cabins have locks.
What are the lodges
lodges are heated, multi-bunk spaces used by the YMCA girls’ camp in
the summer and countless corporate retreats, youth groups, and
common-interest groups like ourselves the rest of the year. Although
most of the lodge rooms have beds for more than 2 people, we will be
assigning rooms to just two people unless you are a family group with
one or more children. There are no private baths or bathrooms en
suite. However, there are plenty of shared ones on every floor.
What are the cabins like?
cabins are definitely rustic. Unlike the lodges, there is no heat and
no electricity, so you should bring a battery-powered lantern and/or
flashlight for the weekend. There is a central shower/toilet facility.
What are the campsites like?
It’s a large patch of
open groundI which slopes a bit and is used during summer camps for soccer and the like.
Campers share the wash-houses with the cabins. There are no grills or
fire pits. If you plan to cook, you should bring a propane grill. You
can’t build a fire except in designated fire pits, which are not
located near the field used for camping. (Camping is not usually an
option offered to groups, so there is no permanent camping area. NESI
campers are actually on one of their ball fields. You Must Not Drive On
the Field. You can stop temporarily on the side road (not the
field) to unload and walk your gear to your campsite. You cannot
leave you car/truck/RV on this side road; you must park it on one of
the approve parking sites, see the map where parking is shown by big blue P symbols.
I’m coming alone. Do I still need to
share my room?
prices for accommodation (except camping) are based on 2 people per
room. If you know that there is someone else coming that you would like
to have for a roommate, note it on your registration form. Otherwise,
we’ll set it up, and you’ll have a chance to make a new friend.
I bring my RV?
can locate it in one of the parking areas (paying the same registration
fee as for camping), but there are no hookups. NO vehicles – including
a car you intend to sleep in – can be parked on the grass in the
designated camping area, but you can temporarily park on the camping field side road to unload your
I bring my dog (cat, tiger, boa constrictor, wombat)?
but the answer is no. Absolutely no. Not even if you’re camping, not
even if you have the Most Well-Behaved Dog In The World, The Berkshire
Environment Center is very
concerned about protecting its wildlife. There are local boarding
kennels if you want to bring your dog along for the ride – check the
internet for possibilities.
I bring fireworks and things that go bang?
also can’t bring fireworks, firearms, air rifles, tactical nukes or
weapons of mass destruction (other than free-reed instruments).
I bring my own canoe/kayak/boat/cruise ship?
but the boating equipment owned by Chimney Corners will be
available (for free) when the waterfront is open and supervised by
Do I have to sign up for meals?
for camping, the rates for accommodation include all meals from Friday
dinner through Sunday lunch (six meals in all). Campers have the option
of signing up for meals or fending for themselves. If you don’t want to
stay on-site, there are two options. There is a threeday full-event
package that includes all six meals from Friday dinner through Sunday
lunch, and there
is one that offers admission for the 3 days but includes no meals.
allergic to [peanuts, strawberries, shellfish, etc.]. Will I be able to
eat the meals?
is a wide variety of food served at each buffet-style meal: salads,
fresh fruit, bread, and vegetarian/vegan entrees as well as ones for
carnivores. Most people can find plenty to enjoy. Note any food
allergies or other serious dietary restrictions on your registration
form and we will alert the kitchen staff. If we think we can’t meet
your dietary needs, we’ll let you know.
planning to camp and cook for myself. Can I buy a meal there if I
change my mind?
food is ordered and planned well in advance. The kitchen can handle a
few extra people who decide on arrival to get the 3-day meal deal, but
we may not be able to fit you in. It would be wise to make the food
decision when you register.
Can I put my food in a refrigerator
and/or get ice for my cooler from the kitchen?
are shared refrigerators in various locations in the lodges. There is
an ice machine in the dining room. Please make sure your name is on
anything you put into the refrigerator.
like to sell my old concertina, tune books, brother-in-law, whatever.
How does that work?
will be one or more tables set up at the back of the dining room for
private sales. You place your item on the table with a description,
selling price, and contact information. Some people who are selling
such things as CDs and tunebooks choose to put a box out for payment on
the honor system. We can’t be responsible for things that disappear,
but nothing has vanished yet, as far as we know.
there any internet service available?
is free Wi-Fi available in the dining room. In 2012, it worked some of
the time, but definitely not all of the time. There are no wired
connections. We make no guarantees, and the organizers will be more
interested in making music, song and libations than messing around
trying to improve the connection or bandwidth
are no telephones in any of the rooms. Cell phones generally work
there, but it is mountainous, so we can’t promise yours will work.
To get a good informal look at what NESIs about, take an amble through
past NESIs as recorded, photographed and scribed in the Goodies section