San Francisco Main Squeeze Pageant

Tom Torriglia wanted us to spread the word about the 16th Annual San Francisco Accordion Festival — Saturday, June 4th from noon to 6pm at the Cannery (at Fisherman’s Wharf). It’s a fun, free event held to celebrate National Accordion Awareness Month, with numerous accordion-based bands performing and a raffle to raise money for Music in Schools Today.

One of the festival highlights is the Main Squeeze Pageant, where contestants are judged based on talent, costume, and the answer to the question “Why should you be San Francisco’s Main Squeeze?” Last year’s winner, Kielbasia, wowed the crowd with her spunky “Pierogi Polka.” To enter this year?s pageant, contact Tom and start working on your costume!

Accordion Hero Post-Mortem

Following up on our Accordion Hero post, the game’s developers have written a post-mortem on its creation, entitled “A Tight Squeeze: The Making of Accordion Hero”. As you might expect, it’s filled with more Hasselhoff and umlaut jokes than the original parody, but it’s worth checking out just for the photo of their “prototype” accordion controller.

Circus Music Class in Oakland

Have you always wanted to run away and join the circus? If you’re in the SF Bay Area this weekend, you can take a step towards that dream with the circus music class offered at Smythe’s Accordion Center in Oakland. Accordionist Nada Lewis will be teaching the class, which starts at 10:45am on Saturday, costs $20, and is open to all musicians (not just accordions). There will be another session next weekend (March 25th) with different music, so you can build your repertoire for that Ringling Brothers audition.

State of the Polka 2006

As if our site alone isn’t enough to keep polka at the center of America’s collective consciousness, here’s a news story from the AP: “Enthusiasts Trying to Revive Polka”. The article begins with Art Altenburg’s desire to sell his Milwaukee concertina bar (“The Only Concertina Bar in the USA”) and then covers how polka fans from coast-to-coast are keeping the polka tradition alive.

Ray Zalokar, who runs and Ken Irwin of Rounder Records (home of Brave Combo and Jimmy Sturr), are both quoted and talk about promoting the polka to younger audiences.

“Irwin said the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou changed people’s attitudes about bluegrass. Polka needs something similar that shows the music and culture in a positive light, he said. ‘I think it is really infectious music… There is a great amount of talent out there. People, when exposed to it, seem to really enjoy it.'”

That got me thinking — isn’t it time for Hollywood to make a blockbuster polka/accordion movie? With the success of Ray and Walk the Line, America’s clearly hungry for a Frankie Yankovic biopic. Come on, Spielberg, give the Polka King his due!

Guy Klucevsek Interview

Following up on our Vancouver Squeezefest post, I found a new interview with Guy Klucevsek where he discusses his compositions, his work as part of the Accordion Tribe, and his upcoming performances this weekend at the big ‘Fest. He mentions why he thinks people are continually drawn to the accordion’s unique sound:

“I think it has sort of a connection with memory and nostalgia and melancholy… and, unfortunately, melancholy is something that never seems to go out of style. We always seem to have more and more occasions to be melancholy, the way the world is going.”

Need more accordion? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Vancouver Squeezefest, March 10-12

Vancouver Squeezefest posterLooking for accordion excitement in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area this weekend? Check out Vancouver Squeezefest, held this Friday through Sunday at Rime. Guy Klucevsek is headlining and will be playing a solo set each night; other perfomers include Amy Denio, David P. Smith, and the Jessica Lurie Ensemble.

Drop us a line if you go and we’ll post your review here next week. We’ll also appoint you as Let’s Polka’s Vancouver bureau chief.

High School Pep Band Accordionist

Maybe I’m just nostalgic about my marching band days, but I’m a sucker for this story about a girl who’s playing accordion in her high school pep band. Shandra Korbelik, 16, of Exeter-Milligan High School in Exeter, Nebraska, has been sitting in with the woodwinds and belting out “classics” like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Hawaii Five-O” on her button accordion. It sounds like she’s having a blast, and I love her description of picking up her current, rhinestone-studded accordion:

“It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got heaven in my arms.'”

Do you know of any proud pep/marching band accordionists in your area? Let us know and we’ll give ’em the attention they deserve.

Be An Accordion Hero

Accordion Hero LogoLately, I’ve been spending way too much time playing Guitar Hero, a video game that turns your air guitar dreams into reality. Just strap on the Gibson SG-shaped controller (complete with whammy bar) and you can shred your way through well-known rock anthems. It’s ridiculously fun and completely addictive.

So imagine my excitement when world-famous (and fictitious) German game developers Schadenfreude Interactive announced their latest title: Accordion Hero. Here’s their description:

“Hit all the right notes and get the crowd on their feet waving their beer steins in unison — you are an accordion hero! Includes all the great accordion melodies you’ve ever gotten really, really drunk to… from Ein Munchen Steht Ein Hofbrauhaus to Rock You Like A Hurricane.”

Don’t forget to check out the “screenshots” — I love the Squeeze-O-Meter and the cuckoo clocks in the background. [Found via GameSetWatch]

Don’t Shoot the Accordion Player

This brief interview with Matt Hensley, the accordion player for punk/Irish band Flogging Molly, is worth reading just for his story of nearly being shot for playing the accordion:

“I was in an English pub, and this band that was playing saw that I had an accordion with me and wanted to see what it sounded like. So we went out to the parking lot after the pub was closed, and I was a little intoxicated, but I started playing some music. Well, this guy comes out of I don’t know where, in his underpants, and he’s tapping my accordion… and he’s half-naked, telling me to shut it. So I tell him to stick it… [and] he turned around and he had a 9 mm in his hand. I thought he was poking me with his finger, but I couldn’t see because the accordion is like being pregnant. It sticks way out over me, and I couldn’t see it, but he was pointing a gun at me. Had I known, I would have shut up and told him, ‘Yes, sir.'”

Just something to keep in mind next time someone pokes you in your “bellows blind spot.”

Post-Mardi Gras Link Jambalaya

Just because Mardi Gras is over, it doesn’t mean les bon temps have to stop rolling. Here are some cajun/zydeco music links to keep the party going while you recover from that hangover:

  • Big Nick & The Cydeco’s Cajun Button Box Seminar is a fantastic introduction to cajun accordion and includes both audio and video lessons. Nick covers the basics, from scales and melodies to trills and rhythm techniques and, best of all, the lessons are free!
  • Clarence’s Cajun & Zydeco Radio Guide is probably the most comprehensive list of cajun and zydeco radio programs that broadcast online. KBON from Eunice, LA, is one I enjoy, and they focus heavily on local/Louisiana artists.
  • And if you’re into podcasts, ZydecoRoad “On the Air” features music, interviews (including Buckwheat Zydeco, the Neville Brothers, and more), and even gumbo recipes. You can subscribe to it through iTunes, Odeo, or wherever you get your podcast fix.

« Newer posts