eBay Find: Magnante Comic Book (and More)

Charles Magnante Comic BookOnce again, we’ve been cruising the world’s greatest garage sale for unique accordion-related goodies. Here are some highlights:

  • Charles Magnante Comic Book
    Part of the “Famous Men of Music Series”, this comic book (circa 1953) depicts the life and times of accordionist Charles Magnante. Watch the mighty Magnante as he fights for truth, justice, and the accordion way. Pow! Biff! Squeeze!
  • German Accordion Coin Bank
    A cute little accordion-shaped coin bank from Germany (probably 1930s/40s), emblazoned with the words “Gruss Aus Dem Aschberggebiet”. I’d like to think this was given away with bank accounts or home loans (more practical than a toaster, if you ask me), but I’m sure I’m wrong.
  • Lawrence Welk Letter Opener/Nail File
    Finally, for those of you who couldn’t get enough of the Lawrence Welk collectibles from last time, there’s this little gem: one side is smooth and the other side is a cross-marked nail file. The handle is brass and depicts Lawrence playing his accordion while standing in a champagne glass.

That’s it for this week — happy bidding!

National Polka Festival This Weekend

If you’re near Ennis, TX, (outside Dallas/Ft. Worth) this weekend, get your dancing shoes on and head down to the 40th annual National Polka Festival. The festival started as a way for the people of Ennis to celebrate their Czechoslovakian heritage, and that proud tradition continues to this day — all parade entries, street dancing, and bands performing must have Czech themes and play Czech music. The festival is the largest of its kind in the United States and attracts up to 50,000 people. Bands playing this weekend include Brave Combo, the Dujka Brothers, and many more.

Ed Fallon’s Squeezebox Politics

You can feel it in the air — the sound of attack ads, the smell of mud slinging, the sight of old men kissing babies — it’s political primary season! In Iowa, though, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon is spreading his message while accompanied by his own accordion soundtrack. Fallon has been playing since he was seven (taught by his grandmother) and even took 2nd place at the 2005 Iowa State Fair accordion competition (he’s actually won twice before). Of course, we at Let’s Polka don’t generally endorse political candidates, but having an accordion-playing governor couldn’t be all bad, could it?

Eurovision 2006: Mostly Accordion-Free

I was hoping there would be at least one solid accordion act at the annual Eurovision finals, but it looks like only the performers from Bosnia & Herzegovina (Hari Mata Hari, who took 3rd place) brought along an accordionist (see photo). I didn’t get a chance to watch the entire show, so let me know if there were others I missed.

Even without accordions, though, the winning act — Finnish heavy-metal rockers Lordi, who dress like orcs that have wandered off the set of Lord of the Rings — was certainly impressive. Watch the video of their anthem, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”; it’s almost Spinal Tap-worthy. (And further proof that no one in Europe takes Eurovision seriously anymore.)

Jason Webley: Live in Davis Videos

Surfing YouTube has become one of my favorite pasttimes and yesterday it paid off when I found a handful of video clips from manic accordionist Jason Webley‘s recent appearance (May 11) in Davis, CA. In this clip, he’s playing “May Day”, though he takes a break in the middle to teach the audience how to dance the “Gnomie” (and play a snippet of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”):

In other Jason Webley news, his new vinyl EP/bonus CD, “Eleven Saints”, comes out on June 2nd and it’s a collaborative songwriting effort with Seattle poet Jay Thompson. Jason’s also holding his 2nd annual Camp Tomato — a one-day smorgasbord of tomato-themed fun and activities — at Seattle’s Woodland Park on June 3rd.

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Dan Chouinard’s Mambo Italiano

Accordionist Dan Chouinard is hosting “Mambo Italiano”, an exploration of the Italian roots of American popular music, tomorrow (Saturday) night at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN. Inspired by the summer Chouinard spent biking across Europe with his accordion, the show features Italian music ranging from peasant songs and opera to postwar hits from the likes of Louis Prima, Antonio Bennett and Concetta Francis. Even if you can’t make it to the show, there’s an excellent preview and interview with some of the performers on the Minnesota Public Radio website. You can also read a review of “Cafe Europa”, a similar (but more autobiographical) show that Chouinard put on last year.

Myron Floren’s Disco Polka

Disco Polka album coverWhen I think back on the golden age of disco, I automatically think of Saturday Night Fever, The Hustle, polyester shirts, Myron Floren, Studio 54… wait a second, back up… Myron Floren?

That’s right — in 1977, Lawrence Welk’s squeezin’ sideman released “Disco Polka”, an album that brought oompah polka rhythms and over-the-top disco strings together for perhaps the first (and last?) time. Tracks included “How High the Moon”, “Love is Blue”, and, of course, “Beer Barrel Polka.” But did these two great tastes really taste great together? Listen to a clip from the record and decide for yourself:

[Found via hopstetter.com]

Flickr Find: Mother’s Day Morgani

Mother's Day Morgani
Mother’s Day Morgani
uploaded by musicmuse_ca
Nobody dresses the part quite like The Great Morgani, the Santa Cruz accordionist known for his outrageous (and sometimes slightly disturbing) costumes. This photo catches him in one of his tamer outfits, all decked out in roses for Mother’s Day last weekend.

Boogie on the Bayou (California Style)

If you’re looking for some cajun flavor in the Bay Area this weekend, check out the Boogie on the Bayou, an annual celebration held in downtown Campbell, CA. There’ll be live music (performers include Motordude Zydeco), cajun food, and the usual abundance of arts and crafts booths that you can’t avoid at events like this. The party goes from 11am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, and parking and admission are free. We may be there on Saturday, so say ‘hi’ if you see us!

Acclarion: For the Love of the Squeeze

Obviously, Anna and I are fans of any couple whose love is built on a mutual love of the accordion. Which is why I was especially happy to see this entry in the Accordion Guy’s blog about the upcoming concert/wedding of “Canada’s premier classical accordion and clarinet duo,” Acclarion. Becky Sajo (clarinet) and David Carovillano (accordion) met three years ago and have been playing an eclectic mix of classical, jazz, tango, samba, and more, ever since. On May 27th in Toronto, they’ll perform a sixty-minute concert followed immediately by their wedding ceremony on the very same stage.

Even if you can’t make it to Toronto for the wedding, check out these sound clips — unlike most couples, Becky and David really do make beautiful music together.

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