It’s June 1st and that can only mean one thing… it’s the start of Accordion Awareness Month! Established in 1989 by our pal Tom Torriglia — formerly of Those Darn Accordions, now with retro-Italiano band Bella Ciao — Accordion Awareness Month was created to spread the word about the accordion’s resurgence in popularity and to educate people about the accordion’s true musical potential. Basically, the same mission we’ve adopted at Let’s Polka, except we do it year-round!
This year, we want you — our humble, accordion-loving readers — to help promote the virtues of our favorite instrument. Sit on your porch and play some tunes for your neighbors, attend a show on our accordion event calendar, fill up your coworker’s iPod with Flaco Jimenez songs when he isn’t looking, tell all your friends about Let’s Polka… the possibilities are limitless. Me, I’m going to sit on my balcony every night, directly above a pizzeria, and serenade patrons.
To encourage you, we’re giving away over $100 worth of accordion-related goodies to readers who pledge to promote the accordion this month. To make your pledge, write a comment on this post and tell us how you plan to celebrate Accordion Awareness Month — doesn’t matter if it’s something small (making a YouTube video) or big (writing an accordion concerto). One lucky, randomly-chosen pledger will receive a prize package stuffed with accordion CDs, books, and more. Contents include:
Geoff Berner’s indispensible how-to book, How to Be An Accordion Player
I haven’t seen an accordion player on American Idol yet, but Eurovision — Europe’s annual song contest that pits nation against nation — rarely disappoints. Serbia just selected its representative for this year’s competition: “Cipela” (“The Shoe”) performed by Marko Kon and accordionist Milan Nikolic. According to Nikolic, the song was “based on an idea to bring the accordion back to the place it deserves. First in Serbia, then in the whole world as well.” That’s certainly an idea I can get behind.
Are you ready to put your squeezebox skills to the test? Texas Folklife is looking for the most amazing young accordion players in Texas and Louisiana for its annual Big Squeeze accordion contest. You could win cash, a trip for two to play in Germany (courtesy of Hohner), and a day of recording at SugarHill Studios in Houston. Finalists will battle it out before a huge crowd on June 6th at the 20th Annual Accordion Kings & Queens festival. Contestants must be age 25 or younger and the entry deadline is March 1st; check the Texas Folklife site for details.
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:
Texas Folklife has extended the deadline for its second annual Big Squeeze contest until next Friday, April 19. The contest is open to accordion players under 25 who will compete for a $500 prize and a day of recording time at the historic SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston. Four semi-finalists will be chosen to perform live on May 11 at Austin’s new Mexican American Cultural Center. Two finalists will then perform at the 19th annual Accordion Kings & Queens concert featuring Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws and La Tropa F.
As an accordion player, you’ve heard your fair share of ’em — today is the day to give back. In honor of April Fools Day, we’re opening the floodgates and holding an accordion joke contest. Share your favorite groaner and you could win something in the process.
To enter: Write a comment on this post and tell us your favorite accordion joke. One lucky joker — chosen at random — will receive a grab bag of Let’s Polka goodies. We can’t make any promises, but the package will likely include a mix of Let’s Polka stickers, albums from our collection, and whatever other squeeze-worthy goodies we have on hand.
The contest ends tonight at midnight, so start posting your jokes!
Update: Congratulations to our lucky winner, Ed Ploski! Thanks to everyone who contributed a joke!
Thanks to everyone who entered and recommended an artist/album (either here or on our MySpace); we got some great suggestions. If you entered, but didn’t win, drop us a line with your mailing address and we’ll send you some Let’s Polka stickers. Everyone’s a winner!
How to enter: post a comment on this entry and recommend an accordion album you’ve been listening to lately. That’s it! It can be something old, something new, something borrowed… you get the picture. You’ll have until Friday at midnight to post your entry; then we’ll pick a random winner and send out the prize next week.
Good luck! We’re looking forward to your recommendations!
Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next accordion king or queen? If you’re a young (under 28), talented Texan accordion player — or know someone who is — visit the Texas Folklife website to learn more about their upcoming Big Squeeze competition.
The top prize is $1,000 ($500 and $250 to 2nd and 3rd place winners) and famed Texas director Hector Galán will film the competition for a documentary. The top three finalists will also squeeze their stuff in front of thousands at the 18th annual Accordion Kings & Queens concert on June 2nd at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre. If you’re interested, hurry — entries are due by April 16th.
To celebrate the occasion, we’re engaging in our favorite hobby: giving away free stuff! But first, you have to give us something in return.
Your mission:Write a comment on this post and tell us about an accordion artist (solo or group) that we should hear. It could be a musette accordion player from the 1930s, your cousin’s conjunto band, or a punk/polka combo you found on MySpace. If there’s an accordion involved, we want to know about it!
We’ll send a handful of Let’s Polka stickers (see photo above) to everyone who posts a comment. Three lucky, randomly-chosen commenters will also receive one of these items from our holiday gift guide:
We’ll hold the drawing for those three prizes next Monday, so you have one week to post your comment. (If you comment after Monday, you can still get stickers but you won’t win one of the three prizes.)
Sound good? Then start posting — and winning — today!