It can be tough to shop for an accordion lover. You won’t find a custom-made Petosa accordion at Wal-Mart, Martha Stewart hasn’t published a magazine on making your own accordion straps, and most music stores don’t carry much beyond The Best of Lawrence Welk.
Luckily, Let’s Polka is here to help. We’ve put together our 2006 Accordion Gift Guide — gift ideas for the budding accordionist (or enthusiast) on your holiday list. And everything on our list is $50 or less (usually much less), so there’s money leftover for lessons.
For me, record-buying is a very personal activity, so I tend to give gift cards/certificates instead of trying to guess someone’s musical tastes.
- Those Darn Accordions Holiday Pack
Okay, this isn’t a gift certificate, but I couldn’t resist. For a limited time, you can get all five CDs (“Squeeze This!”, “No Strings Attached”, “Clownhead”, “Amped”, and “Lawnball”) from America’s favorite rock-and-roll accordion band for just $50. Worth it just for Clyde Forsman’s renditions of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
- Calabash Music Gift Certificate
Calabash Music offers a vast downloadable catalog of hard-to-find music from all over the globe, at just 99 cents a pop (gift certificates for 20 songs are just $14.99). And there’s plenty of accordion music to discover, including albums from Chango Spasiuk, Amestoy Trio, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Geno Delafose, and more.
- PolkaMart Gift Certificate
Shopping for a polkaholic? PolkaMart has albums in every polka style imaginable — from Chicago style to Cleveland style, with a stop at Nebraska Czech in-between.
- iTunes Gift Card
At this point, you’d be hard-pressed to find an album that isn’t on iTunes. And now with iTunes Latino, their selection stretches well south of the border, too. Best of all, you can pick up iTunes gift cards at practically any corner store these days (perfect for last-minute shoppers).
- Schultze Gets the Blues
When Schultze is forced into early retirement, he falls into a rut, napping on the sofa and playing his same old polkas day in and day out. Then, one night, he hears zydeco music on the radio and is completely entranced. He starts playing his old polkas in a new style and the result is an adventure that leads him into the heart of the bayou. (Watch the trailer.)
- It’s Happiness: A Polka Documentary
Craig DiBiase’s funny and heartwarming documentary takes a look at the enthusiastic musicians, dancers, and fans who keep the polka world turning. The film does a great job of showing polka’s power, its happiness, and the euphoria it brings people. Required viewing for all polkaphiles, as well as potential converts. (Watch the trailer.)
- Accordion Tribe: Music Travels
What happens when five world-renowned, but individualistic, accordionists get together? This documentary follows the Accordion Tribe as they compose, improvise, rehearse, and perform together and bring accordion music into the 21st century. (Note: Ian points out that this is a Region 2 DVD, which won’t be playable in most North American DVD players. Check your DVD player before ordering.)
- America’s Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic and His Music
Mentioned here just last week, this new biography by Bob Dolgan is an honest look at the life and times of the man who put Cleveland-style polka on the map — his triumphs, defeats, crises, and controversies. A must-have for any polka fan.
Recently reviewed by Anna, this novel by Victoria Miles tells the story of an Italian immigrant family during the Great Depression through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl named Mariangela. She receives her late grandfather’s accordion as a gift and, while she hates it at first, she is eventually inspired by her accordion teacher, Gioseff. Recommended for accordion lovers of all ages.
- How to Be an Accordion Player
This fun and quirky “instructional” booklet from Vancouver accordionist Geoff Berner won’t necessarily teach you to play accordion, but does impart some invaluable tips, including what factors to weigh when choosing an accordion (“Shininess is a primary factor, second only to prettiness and sparkliness”) and how to choose an accordion based on your nationality.
- Texas Zydeco
Author Roger Wood argues that it’s Houston, not New Orleans, that played the most crucial role in the development of modern zydeco. He explores the “zydeco corridor” between Houston and Lafayette, Louisiana, through interviews with hundreds of musicians, club owners, and fans.
Worthy of a place on the coffee table, this book is filled with photos of conjunto’s most influential performers and venues. Alongside the photos are mini-biographies and essays on the origins and importance of conjunto music.
- Accordion-Playing Reindeer T-Shirt
I’m a proud owner of this shirt and wrote about it back in July. It makes even more sense in December. You can also get it as a onesie for your little squeeze.
- Jason Webley T-Shirts
Even if you aren’t a fan of his music, you’ve gotta love his shirts — check out the balloon guy and black angel. You can buy a shirt + CD package (choose any CD and shirt) for just $20.
- Accordions Rock T-Shirts
I saw these shirts back in August at the Cotati Accordion Festival. Let people know that accordions rock and you’re not afraid to show it.
- “Dogs Playing Polka” Poster
A polka-themed take on Cassius Coolidge’s paintings of dogs playing poker. This is a poster-sized version of the artwork that graced the cover of Big Lou’s album, Dogs Playing Polka. Fine art for just $8!
- Leon the Accordion-Playing Gnome
We have this guy on some small cups and a bowl, but apparently you can get him on a variety of items. There’s even a stand-up version for your garden, just $39.
- Accordion Supplies
If you don’t have an accordion store in your area, there are a handful you can order from online. Accordion Heaven offers a wide selection of accordions, accessories, lesson books, and more. If you’re into Tex-Mex, Reyes Accordions has new and used accordions, as well as CDs. You can also buy online from The Button Box (Sunderland, MA) or Castle Accordion (Minneapolis, MN). I wouldn’t recommend buying any accordion without seeing and playing it in person first, but if you need new straps or a songbook, all of these places can help.
- Let’s Polka Stickers
They’re shiny, they’re free… what more could you ask for? If you want a handful to use as stocking stuffers, just drop us a line (include your mailing address) and we’ll send some your way.
Do you have accordion gift ideas to share? Leave a comment and let us know what we missed!