We consider ourselves lucky if there’s one accordion festival going on during a given weekend; two festivals is practically an embarrassment of riches. And yet, that was the case last weekend. While the International Accordion Festival took over rainy San Antonio, some trailblazers in Southern California hosted the first-ever Orange County Accordion Festival.
It may seem quiet around here lately, but we’ve actually been working feverishly behind the scenes on a new Let’s Polka project. We’re still applying the finishing touches but, in the meantime, here are a few links for those in need of an accordion fix:
- Video: Big Lou and the MAP Marimba Band
Brace yourself for a culture clash of epic proportions as Big Lou, the accordion princess, takes her polka show on the road to Gaborone, Botswana, where she performs the “Chicken Dance” with the help of the Maru a Pula Marimba band.
- Hold Steady! Nicolay Breaks Out on Solo Adventures
Best known for his work with The Hold Stead and the World/Inferno Friendship Society, the impeccably mustachioed Franz Nicolay is stepping out on a solo tour with his accordion (and banjo) in tow. This interview gives some good insight into his solo work.
- NPR: The Accordion: Your New Beach Music
Can’t believe I missed this, but the theme of last month’s Wassermusik festival in Berlin was “The Caribbean and the Accordion.” Performers included Chango Spasiuk, coba, Ray Abshire, and more.
- Decemberists Busted for Busking
Not even a major label deal can prevent the Decemberists from getting a warning for busking on the streets of Royal Oak, Michigan. Judging from the photo, it looks like Jenny Conlee is playing a Weltmeister Rubin 60 bass.
You know how on Jeopardy they occasionally have a category called “Potpourri,” which is just a random collection of answers that don’t fit together at all? Every now and again, I’ll end up with a similar smorgasbord of interesting accordion links that don’t really fit together, but I still want to share. Well, today, I’m Alex Trebek and this is my “Potpourri”…
- Concert Review: Main Squeeze Accordion Festival
If you missed the 4th annual Main Squeeze festival in New York earlier this month, this detailed review is the next best thing. Includes recaps of performances by Musette Explosion, Eternal Tango, Liony Parra y la Mega Mafia Tipica, and more.
- WNYU Radio: Angry Accordion Shout Alongs
The title is a little misleading — a few tracks are fairly mellow, and others don’t actually have an accordion — but this recent radio show from WNYU features some great gypsy punk, gypsy electronica, and Eastern European rock. You can listen to the full two-hour program online (click “Play Now”).
- Lady Accordion
Here’s a fun website premise: Heidi is learning to play the accordion and, along the way, she’s holding “Name That Tune”-style contests using videos of herself playing. Great inspiration for anyone who’s been thinking of picking up the accordion.
- The “No Accordions” Sign
From Toronto’s Accordion Guy comes this bone-chilling sign, apparently posted by a Dutch cafe owner to keep accordion-playing gypsies away.
Last week’s news about the elimination of the polka Grammy brought the polka sympathizers out of the woodwork…
- The Grammys Bite Polka
Humorist Barry Mitchell (“Accordion Guy” on ABC’s World News Now) takes to the streets with this bouncy rant against the Grammys.
- Is Polka Out of Step?
Nice editorial from the LA Times: “The Grammy snobs might think that polka’s three-quarter time is up. But this is a genre that’s been around for more than a century longer than rock ‘n’ roll… it will proudly waltz on.”
- Defending the Polka
Great interview with Mark Halata of Houston polka band Texavia about Texas Czech polka, its origins and influences, and its place in the 21st century.
- Polka Grammy Outrage
Entertainment Weekly interviews 18-time polka Grammy winner Jimmy Sturr, who explains why the Grammys have made a terrible mistake.
Once again, we spotlight our hockey and accordion-lovin’ neighbors:
- Accordion Revolution
Great pair of interviews that focus almost entirely on accordion-playing. One with our old favorite Geoff Berner (touring in support of his new album, Klezmer Mongrels) and the other with Felicity Hamer of the United Steelworkers of Montreal.
- Joanna Chapman-Smith
Like Geoff Berner, Joanna is another klezmer-influenced accordionist from Vancouver. She combines jazzy vocal stylings with acoustic roots instrumentation, killer clarinet lines and accordion flourishes, a touch of modern jazz and a touch of cabaret.
- Walter Ostanek Band
Canada’s Polka King finally has a website (and blog) worthy of his title. I really like the videos — Walter is warm, genuine, and, of course, an incredible accordion player.
No unifying theme for today’s Quick Links, except that they’ve all been kicking around my inbox since the holidays…
- Player/Repairman Tom Bruno Passes Away
Sad news about the sudden death of Tom Bruno, owner of Bruno Accordions in New Kensington, PA. Not only was Bruno an expert craftsman and one of the nation’s finest accordion repairmen, but he was a fantastic player, renowned for his renditions of Charles Magnante’s works. He was just 36 years old.
- From Berlin’s Hole of Forgottenness, a Spell of Songs
The curious story of Bruno S., who flirted with German movie stardom in the early 1970s and is now playing accordion on the streets of Berlin. (Don’t miss the video on the article’s second page.)
- Spektrum Lab: “Outside the Box”
“Put away any pre-conceived notions of what an accordion album might sound like.” Samples and loops abound on a unique album from Spektrum Lab that could easily have been titled “MIDI Accordions Gone Wild.”
And one quick Let’s Polka note — after making some behind-the-scenes improvements to our accordion events calendar, we now have over 250 events posted nationwide and the list is growing daily. Have an accordion concert, festival, or gathering to add? Want your band’s gigs listed? Let us know!