NYC Main Squeeze Accordion Festival

Get ready for some big squeezin’ in the Big Apple — the 1st annual NYC Main Squeeze Accordion Festival will be held at Riverside Park South next Saturday (July 8th) from 2pm to 9pm. There’ll be music, dancing, food, and even an accordion flea market. Sponsored by Walter Kuhr’s Main Squeeze accordion shop, the all-female Main Squeeze Orchestra (mentioned here previously) will kick off the day, followed by performances from Guy Klucevsek, Proyeccion Norte?a, the John Nolan Trio, the Phoebe Legere Experience, the Balkan Brothers, Ernestilio y Su Conjunto, Jesse Lege & Bayou Brew, and more.

If you’re in the New York City area and can file a festival report for us, let us know. Our East Coast news bureau is woefully understaffed.

Martin White vs. Alice Cooper

Ever wondered how Britney Spears’ “Toxic” or Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” would sound if they were played on solo accordion? Well, thanks to accordionist Martin White, you no longer have to wonder. Martin’s made a name for himself playing whimsical covers of popular songs on accordion, and has appeared in a number of segments for The Culture Show on BBC 2. Here’s an unaired clip of Martin doing Alice Cooper’s “Poison”:

Lest you think Martin’s just a novelty act, check out his website and his albums of original music (usually instrumental, but there are a couple Edgar Allen Poe poems put to music as well). This tune from his Mystery Fax Machine Girl album shows there’s a definitely a serious musician in there… somewhere.

No Star for Weird Al… This Year

A few months ago, we wrote about a grassroots campaign to get Weird Al Yankovic a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Well, the campaign was a partial success: they raised enough money to submit an application, but unfortunately, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce passed Al over this year in favor of a list that included Matt Damon, Mariah Carey, and Erik Estrada. (Really. Erik Estrada!) So don’t worry, Al-coholics — if Erik can get his own star, Al’s can’t be far off.

Minnesota Polkafest 2006 (and the Polka Mass)

With apologies to our fans in northern Minnesota, I’m filing this post under “better late than never.” Last weekend was the 29th annual Polkafest in Chisolm, MN, and according to the Hibbert Daily Tribune writeup, there was plenty of music and dancing to go around. Among the polka providers at this year’s event were the Joey Tomsick Orchestra, the Steve Meisner Band, and, the one that intrigues me the most, Father Frank Perkovich’s Polka Mass.

For over 30 years, Father Perkovich has been celebrating his “polka mass” — a traditional Catholic mass, but with all the songs and hymns performed in the style of Slovenian and Croatian polka music. According to his site, he even did one for Pope John Paul II in 1983. (Not too surprising; I’m guessing that, being from Poland, the pope was no stranger to polka music.) Nevertheless, polka masses have stirred some spirited debate over their appropriateness in the church. Personally, I’d be at my church a lot more often if they had a regular polka mass…

eBay Find: “21 K Gold” Accordion

Sometimes I run across an eBay auction so ridiculous, it makes me laugh out loud. Check out this auction for an old Florino accordion. The description is priceless (as is the accordion, according to the seller):

“I think the gold parts are actual 21 K gold. A man once offered me $32,000.00 for this but I refused his pathetic attempt at a business transaction. Listen, I know this accordion is worth well over $560,000.00, but I am willing to take what I can get. No reserve and a $.99 minimum guarantees that this thing is going to sell. THIS IS THE CADILLAC OF ALL ACCORDIONS! YOU MUST DEMAND THE BEST!

Even after laying it on so thick, the current high bid is just $6.49 (about 1/6 the price of shipping). Can you believe it? For the “Cadillac of all accordions”!

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

Petaluma Accordion Festival on Saturday

Lately, it feels like there’s an accordion festival almost every weekend in the Bay Area. This weekend, it’s Petaluma’s turn to roll out the red carpet — more than 50 accordionists and singers will be performing as part of Petaluma’s annual “Celebrate the Accordion Day”. Events will be held in two locations: Putnam Plaza on Petaluma Boulevard from 11:45am until 5pm, and the Petaluma Museum courtyard at Fourth and B streets from 11am until 6pm. The music is free, so bring the kids and celebrate the last Saturday of Accordion Awareness Month in style.

Flickr Find: Accordion Emergency

In Case of Emergency
uploaded by lizhenry
In case of a fire, businesses are required to have a fire extinguisher somewhere on the premises. Silicon Valley institution, Buck’s of Woodside, though, takes it a step further; they have a couple accordions secured behind glass with the message: “In case of emergency, break glass — save accordions.” That’s good advice for anyone, and part of the reason why, at our house, we keep the accordions near the door.

Accordion World Music from Calabash

If you’re into world music, Calabash Music is an excellent place to explore unique, hard-to-find music from all over the globe. Today, the folks at Calabash paid tribute to Accordion Awareness Month with a playlist of accordion tracks from their vast international catalog. There’s something in there for everyone — forr? from Brazil, tango from France, brukdown from Belize, and much more. (My favorite so far is Argentinian accordionist Chango Spasiuk.)

You can buy songs from the playlist starting at 99 cents, and they’re good ol’, plain MP3s — no DRM restrictions. Plus, Calabash uses an “equal exchange” model allowing artists to earn 50% of all sales, so you can feel good knowing your money is actually going to the artist, and not just paying for the gas in some record executive’s Hummer.

Self-Playing Button Accordion for the Lazy

Want to sound like an honest-to-goodness accordion player, but without all that pesky practice and hard work? Well, check out this accordion built by Hessmuller — it looks like a real button accordion but, in fact, it uses a small mini disc player and speakers to play over 100 Bavarian-German songs (including “Beer Barrel Polka”). Here’s the pitch:

“Have your own Octoberfest! You can convince them all that you are a musical wizard. This is a real button accordion built by Hessmuller of Morgenroethe Saxony (Germany), but instead of the usual reed sets it uses mini discs playing professionally sampled accordion solos of traditional polkas, marches, waltzes, tangos etc. played by real German accordion players… All the player has to do is move the bellows and play the buttons (keys are all functional) convincingly and people will marvel at your skills.”

Of course, becoming a “musical wizard” overnight has its price — typically $1,595 when it pops up on eBay. My advice: save your money and put it towards some accordion lessons. [Found via Squeezytunes]

Flickr Find: 1930s Accordion Band Photo

Tight SqueezeI scanned in this photo from a recent issue of the University of Nevada-Reno magazine, Silver and Blue. (Thanks Ellen!) The photo was a contribution to UNR’s Oral History Program and is part of a project to tell the story of the influence of Italian Americans on northern Nevada’s history:

“If you were an Italian American growing up in the early to mid-20th century, chances are that you or a sibling or one of your friends was forced to play the accordion. So it was for 9-year-old Al Lazzarone, seen here (third row, third from left) playing with a band in Sacramento in 1932.”

Looking at this young accordion army, I’d like to think that they were the Those Darn Accordions or Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra of their day. What was their repertoire like? Did any of them go on to accordion stardom? How many of them kept playing later in life? So many questions…

Older posts »