Musical Activities

Performance Instruction Composition Instrument Repair/Buy/Sell

To contact Jim Lucas, click here.


Over more than 30 years Jim has performed on stages around America and in several European countries. He carefully tailors his performance to suit his audience, whether an intimate group in a cafe, a group of school children, or a festival audience of 10 thousand. Over the years, Jim has built a musical repertoire that includes not only well-worn standards, but also many wonderful pieces that you've probably not heard before. If you listen closely, you're sure to add some of the latter to your own list of "familiar favorites".

Though also admired for his work on both concertina and whistle, Jim is first and foremost a singer, with an especial fondness for both chorus songs and songs that tell stories. He does many songs without instrumental accompaniment, using voice alone to convey the emotion as he musically "tells" the tale, whether it be a comic misadventure or a tragic ballad. But he also makes good use of tasteful accompaniment, provided by his own concertina or by a friend on guitar, piano, flute, or other instrument.

Jim is an experienced solo performer, but he also loves singing together with others. To this end he enjoys performing with other singers, but he also has a large repertoire of songs with easy-to-learn choruses, so that his audience can join in the fun.

Instrumental Music
After his voice, Jim's main instruments are English concertina and whistle, and he is particularly admired for his renditions of both dance tunes and slow airs. He plays Irish music, "Celtic" music, music from New England (the American northeast) and "old" England, but also from other traditions, these days including Denmark and Sweden. He also includes occasional tunes of his own composition, which range from sensitive slow airs to waltzes, jigs, and polkas, and a few with the taste of jazz, blues, or the baroque.

Solo and in groups of two to five musicians, Jim Lucas has done special performances of:

  • Shanties and sea songs
  • Irish songs and tunes
    • including special programs for St. Patrick's Day
  • Scottish songs and tunes
    • including special programs for Robert Burns Night
  • English traditional songs and dance music
  • English music hall repertoire

An unrestricted program might include, in addition to the above,

  • Songs & tunes from New England & the Appalachians (eastern USA)
  • Songs & tunes from 18th & 19th Century America
  • Songs & tunes from Russia and the Balkans
  • Original compositions
  • Renaissance and classical music repertoires
  • Recitations and other spoken stories

Jim has been a musician for several different Morris teams, and has played in bands for New England contra dances, English country dances, and square dances.

He also does special workshops in sea shanties, traditional song styles (especially Irish and English), concertina, tin whistle, and tune composition.


Jim Lucas is available for workshops, individual instruction, and classes in the following

Songs & Singing  -  Learn How

  • Sea Shanties
    • Shantyman - leading shanties, with emphasis on
      • Repertoire
        • different rhythms for different tasks
        • different melodic and rhythmic styles
        • the words & tunes: "floating" verses, improvisation, and so many songs!
      • Singing style
        • vocal production
        • rhythmic emphasis
        • harmony
    • Crew - singing together, for work or for fun
      • "Not a good singer"? -- neither were sailors
      • Choruses for "dummies"
      • Don't practice; just sing!
  • Irish songs - with emphasis on
    • phrasing
    • ornamentation
    • repertoire
  • English songs - with emphasis on
    • refrains & choruses
    • harmonies
    • repertoire
  • Stylistic variations
    • vocal production
    • harmonies
    • ornamentation

Instruments  -  Learn to Play

  • Whistle (also known as tin whistle, pennywhistle, flageolet, etc.)
    • Beginning
    • Intermediate
    • Advanced
  • Tabor pipe (3-hole whistle)
    • Beginning level
  • English concertina
    • Beginning
    • Intermediate
    • Advanced
  • anglo concertina (known to some as "Irish concertina")
    • Beginning level -- both "Irish" and "English" styles
    • Intermediate level -- exploring different techniques to get the sound you want
  • duet concertinas
    • Beginning level
  • Bones
    • Beginning
    • Intermediate

Composition  -  Learn to Do Your Own Composing

  • Tunesmithing
    • Techniques you can use to compose your kind(s) of tunes, even if they're not my kind(s)
  • Accompaniment
    • Learn to use different styles of accompaniment for different types of songs.
    • Arrangement
      • Learn to arrange pieces for a single instrument, or for a small group.


Over time, Jim has written more than 300 pieces of original music in various styles. They range from haunting slow airs and dance tunes in the Irish tradition to pieces with the flavor of blues, Bulgarian dance, or the baroque. He is currently working on projects to record and publish these works, and a notice will be placed here when these become available.

His compositions are mostly spontaneous expressions of his own emotions and love of music, but he has been known to accept special commissions.

He also composes his own song accompaniments.

Instrument Repair/Buy/Sell

The above heading is slightly misleading. In each of these activities, Jim is only an occasional participant. Nevertheless, he maintains an interest and is willing to advise others on a non-professional basis.

Concertina Repair
Jim taught himself the art of concertina repair at a time when there was no one else available to do the work, and he did work for both himself and others. Because he now knows several competent professional concertina repairers in different parts of the world, and because he currently has neither the space nor the tools for a full workshop, he will instead refer you to those he trusts. Of course, if only a minor adjustment or temporary repair is needed, he may still be willing to do an on-the-spot fix, since he doesn't like to see a good instrument -- or player -- go idle unnecessarily.

Jim Lucas is not a dealer in musical instruments. He is, nevertheless, always on the lookout for special instruments for himself or for his students and musician friends.

  • Concertinas
    • As has been noted several times on this web site, Jim Lucas loves concertinas. His special interest is in the various concertinas of English make, and he's always hoping to find an instrument with greater sensitivity, wider range, or "that special sound" to use in making his music.
    • He is also happy to put those with instruments to sell in touch with those in need of an instrument. He doesn't do this as a business, and his main purpose is to see that playable instruments get into the hands of persons who will appreciate them and play them.
  • Other instruments
    • Nothing else is likely to interest Jim as much as concertinas, but if just the right flute, bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, or other instrument were to come along, Jim would probably want to get it and learn to play it.
    • As with concertinas, given the opportunity he'll do his best to put a good instrument -- be it mandolin, jews harp, bagpipe, or "even" accordion -- together with a deserving musician.