I recently purchased the album According to Gordieby Canadian accordionist Gordie Fleming. Gordie began playing at the age of five, toured extensively throughout his life, and became esteemed for his mastery of jazz accordion. During his career, he played with several famous jazz musicians and recorded songs for radio and film. He played his accordion to the end, and after his death in 2002, his daughter, Heidi Fleming, compiled and produced his album from historical recordings and radio performances.
All of the songs on this album are delightful, ranging from mellow and contemplative to upbeat and lively. Fleming is an amazing musician and his command of the accordion is superb. My favorite songs are ‘Parisian Thoroughfare’ and ‘Sunnyside Beach,’ which paint fantastic musical landscapes with nimbly-fingered melodies.
Anyone who’s ever been to Battista’s Hole in the Wall in Las Vegas knows Gordy, the wise-cracking accordionist who roams the old Italian restaurant belting out tunes at every table. We ate at Battista’s earlier this year and, true to form, Gordy asked where we were from and launched right into a geographically-appropriate tune (“California, Here I Come”).
After trying in vain to describe him, I found a great video profile of Gordy from KTNV-TV in Las Vegas, recorded last summer after he had recovered from hip surgery:
Were you at the Accordion Invasion at Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, California on September 20, 1998? We had a huge group of accordionists gathered, playing ‘Lady of Spain’ in an attempt to be the Guinness Book’s largest accordion band.
I am looking for documentation of the event: photos, news clippings, or a copy of the news story that was on the local news that evening. If you were there and took photos, or if you recorded the news story off TV, please let me know! Thank you.
Henri Ducharme is offering some of his accordion arrangements of punk/alternative rock songs for download. These are the same arrangements Henri used while teaching his workshops at Smythe’s Accordion Center in Oakland, CA. We went to one last year and learned a Dead Kennedys tune. (Few things sound more beautiful than a roomful of accordionists belting out “California Uber Alles”.)
Arrangements include songs by The Ramones, The Clash, and They Might Be Giants. Each piece costs $5 and includes both beginner and intermediate arrangements. Check out the site for sample clips of his arrangements for “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
While most of the attention focused on this month’s Grammy Awards revolved around artists like U2, Green Day, and Kanye West, most people missed that Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra won in the Polka Album category for “Shake, Rattle, and Polka!” The polka category has only been around for 20 years, but Jimmy holds an iron grip on it — winning an astounding 15 times. You can check out a clip from the album, “Detour” (performed with Duane Eddy), on the NPR website.
Welcome to Let’s Polka, our new weblog devoted to all things accordion. We’re Chris and Anna, and in the coming months, you’ll find us writing about:
Worldwide accordion news and events
New music releases and reviews
Photos, videos, and audio clips of accordions in action
And a whole lot more!
Of course, we’ll be looking to you — the smart, savvy, accordion-loving reader — to let us know when there’s squeezebox news in your neighborhood. Just put a note in our Suggestion Box and we’ll share your news with the world!