When it comes to the accordion, I try to keep an open mind. I’ll listen to virtually any type of music if I’m told there’s an accordion involved. Polka? Naturally. Tex-Mex punk? ¡Sí! Finnish folk-metal? Sign me up… IN BLOOD.
Same goes for reading articles or books about the accordion. But when it comes to the written word, there is one thing that will stop me dead in my tracks every time. It’s something tiny, but it absolutely drives me up the wall:
That’s right—accordion misspelled with “an” at the end, instead of “on”. Whenever I see that horrible, misshapen word, I want to bellows shake some sense into the author’s head. And, unfortunately, it happens all too often. What gives? No one goes around misspelling “guitar” or “piano” and gets away with it.
To combat the continued spread of this atrocious misspelling, we’ve created a very simple site: a-c-c-o-r-d-i-o-n.com. So the next time you see someone misspell the name of our favorite instrument in an article, tweet, or Craigslist ad, gently refer them to a-c-c-o-r-d-i-o-n.com. And remind them to use a spell-checker, for goodness sake.
Longtime readers won’t be surprised to hear it often takes us a while to write new posts for the site. Yet even when we’re quiet, the accordion world continues to spin — there’s always an article, a concert, or a great new band to share.
That’s why we’re now using Twitter and Facebook to post shorter, more frequent updates in between posts on the main site. Use the buttons below to “follow” us on Twitter or “like” us on Facebook and get a steady stream of squeezin’:
(If the buttons aren’t working for you, visit twitter.com/letspolka or facebook.com/letspolka instead.)
In the past week, people already following us on Twitter and Facebook have learned about the growing bandoneon crisis in Argentina, seen some cool vinyl accordion album covers, and received alerts about some excellent accordion concerts. (You can also see these posts in the sidebar of the main site.)
And, as always, if there’s a squeezebox gathering in your area, a hot new band to promote, or some wacky accordion link, let us know about it and we’ll help spread the word!
We know, we know… things have been awfully quiet around here lately. We’ve been taking time off to focus on other projects — most notably, a new addition to the Let’s Polka family named Paul Huckleberry. He was born about 10 days ago, weighing in at 8 pounds and 1 ounce, and has already shown a healthy interest in our accordion collection. Mom is doing great and big sister is warming up to the idea of having a little bother, er, brother.
We’d like to apologize to everyone who’s emailed us during the past couple months (and received no response) or visited the site only to see that damn iPad article stuck at the top of the home page. We’re getting back into the swing of things here, so you should start to see a steady stream of accordion news, reviews, and other goodies headed your way.
Every day, we receive emails from people looking for an accordion teacher, a repair shop, or an accordion club in their area. We try to answer these questions as best we can — usually with information cobbled together from abandoned pages across the web — but it’d be much easier if there was a thorough, up-to-date, searchable list we could point people towards.
So today, we’re launching the Let’s Polka accordion directory, a catalog of accordion teachers, repair shops, and clubs across North America. Just visit the directory, type in your city, hit “Go!”, and you’ll see a list of accordion resources in your immediate area. You can also browse each category — teachers, shops, and clubs — individually.
We’ve gone ahead and added a bunch of listings already, but we know there are a lot more out there. That’s where you come in! If you want to add (or edit) a listing in our directory, just contact us and we’ll take care of the rest. (Listings are entirely free.) We know there are a lot of clubs and teachers that don’t have websites that we’ve probably missed, so hopefully we can work together to get them publicized online.
We have a lot of ideas for improving and expanding the directory, but we hope this is a useful first step towards making this information more readily available. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop us a line or leave a comment on this post. Happy searching!
I’m always curious to hear what gear “professional” accordion players are carrying around — and it’s even better to hear the stories behind their choices. Franz Nicolay, keyboard/accordion player for The Hold Steady, recently posted on the band’s message board in response to a question asking what kind of accordion he plays. Turns out he currently has three: a red 72-bass Hohner Concerto II, a full-size 120-bass Galanti, and a ladies-size 120-bass Iorio Candido. I liked the bittersweet story behind the Galanti:
“The really good one is a full-size 120-bass Galanti, an Italian beast I bought off a Bulgarian fellow named Sergio in Forest Hills about five years ago. I found him on Yahoo Classifieds; it’s kind of a sad story: he’d emigrated with his brother fifty years earlier, and they’d always lived together, worked together, never married, and after work they’d play accordion duets in the basement. When his brother died, he couldn’t bring himself to play alone. So he gave me an incredible deal, because, he said, ‘I can tell you’re a musician and I want it to go to someone who’ll play it.'”
In addition to The Hold Steady, Franz plays with a number of other groups, including the World/Inferno Friendship Society, Anti-Social Music, and Guignol, and he just released his solo debut, Major General.
Do you have a question for Blair Kilpatrick, author of Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music? Would you like to win a free, signed copy of her book? Read on!
Blair has kindly offered to answer a handful of questions from our readers about her story, her music, or whatever else sparks your curiosity. Just submit your question here before next Monday (January 26th) and we’ll forward your questions to Blair for her to answer in a future post. Then we’ll choose one lucky, random question-asker and they’ll receive a free, signed copy of her excellent new book.
In the meantime, Bay Area accordion aficionados can catch Blair at one of these upcoming author events:
In addition to a reading, book signing, and Q&A, these events will also include live Cajun-Creole music.
We have some big plans for 2009 — more music, more interviews, more uses for moldy bellows — and we don’t want anyone to be left out. So here are a few ways to stay on top of our steady stream of accordion news and views:
Why visit the site when it can visit you? Sign up below to get our latest news emailed to you daily. No spam or chain mail — just pure, squeezy goodness.
If you prefer perusing your news from the comfort of an RSS reader — Google Reader, My Yahoo, etc. — just point it to this address and you’re all set:
For those who like their updates in bite-size, 140-character chunks, you can follow us on Twitter. Our Twitter stream includes links to our latest posts, plus occasional bonus links that we don’t have time to post on our site.
And, finally, for any completists out there, you can also become our friend on MySpace or a fan on Facebook. (If you’re a band or solo artist and you post your gigs on MySpace, you should definitely add us. Our MySpace friends list is the first place we look when adding events to our calendar.)
With any luck, later this year you’ll be able to receive Let’s Polka news by telegram, carrier pigeon, and telepathy.
I’ve always loved maps; as a kid, I spent hours poring over National Geographic maps at my grandparents’ house. So I’ve combined two of my favorite hobbies into our new map of accordion events across North America. The map includes all of the events currently listed on our accordion events calendar, from Arcata to Wausau. Just zoom in on your area and click on a pin to get details about a particular event.
Of course, some squeezebox hotspots (New York, San Francisco, New Orleans) have more activities listed than others, and that’s where you come in. If there’s an event in your area missing from our list — your band is touring, your accordion club is meeting, etc. — let us know. With your help, we can build the most complete list of accordion events anywhere!
Grab your accordion identification toolkit… it’s time for another round of “Name That Accordion.” Today, reader Sherri B. has sent us some photos of an old Wurlitzer that once belonged to her great-grandfather. It’s an ornately decorated 120 bass, with a “Made in Germany” label on the back. Sherri thinks it’s from the turn of the (last) century, but that’s about all the information we have to go on. Have you seen a Wurlitzer like this one? How old is it really?
Name That Accordion
We often link to profiles of accordionists in newspapers around the globe, but today we’re linking to something a bit closer to home. In our own house, actually. This weekend’s issue of the Palo Alto Weekly has a very flattering cover story on our family and how accordion music brought Anna and I together (and inspired this site):
“Fast forward to 2003… A girl named Anna messaged Saccheri on Friendster. She said she liked accordions too, that she’d been playing since high school. After exchanging a few e-mails, the couple started dating. The end of the story is the stuff of fairy tales: They’re now living happily ever after in accordion-playing bliss with their 6-month-old daughter Sarah in a little house near the Stanford campus.”
Thanks to Jill Kimball, Marjan Sadoughi, Karla Kane, and everyone else at the Weekly for the excellent article!