Bob, one of the filmmakers on this project, suggested we film Bob Tedrow. It was in the early days of the project, and he had described Bob as one of only 8 concertina makers in the world. Wow, I'm thinking, there's only 8 of them?! Then, what the heck is a concertina?
A concertina is a bellows driven free-reed instrument that looks like a tiny handheld accordion. It was invented in the 1830s and never gained much popularity beyond the British Isles. "If Britney Spears started playing one, it might become popular, but that's not gonna happen," Bob said. "One of the seven dwarves played one. And Pinocchio, but I had never seen one before I traded an old fiddle for one in the 90s."
I asked him why he tried to become an expert in something so unpopular. "I think that every person should leave their ink stain on the world. Anytime you want a niche to call your own, choose something that is hard to do, takes a lot of time, earns very little money, and that niche is all yours. Not a good reason other than hubris. If you look up hubris in the dictionary my photo is right there."
It took a decade to become an authority. "There might be more [concertina makers] out there in the woodwork but there are probably ten of us that I know of."
If you pick up one of Bob's business cards it reads, "Homewood Instruments – fifty years behind the times." And then there's the clothes he wears, the vests of a different era. His pocket watch. He has a clear aesthetic. He knows who he is. I think it's neat to be so grounded in stuff so analog.
Some people are really at ease with our camera, and Bob seemed like one of those people. He came off as totally comfortable, cracking jokes throughout the shoot. It went smoothly. Jason, Bob's colleague, was doing his thing, fixing a guitar in the background. The setting of the shop was beautiful.
Bob was a great person to have worked with at the start of this project. He helped breathe life into it. After we filmed him and looked at the footage, I was encouraged. Like, this project can actually happen. It became more than just an idea at that point. We had the beginnings of our work, proof we could keep going.
by filmmaker Jenn Crandall as told to writer Liz Hildreth