Build Your Polka Record Collection

Want to build a kickin’ polka collection overnight? Or just want to add some new tunes to your existing library? I’ve found a few eBay auctions that fans of polka vinyl might enjoy:

  • 30 Different Used Polka LPs
    A collection of 30 LPs, including multiple titles by Marion Lush, Eddie Blazonczyk, and Happy Louie. Ends Wednesday.
  • Lot of 65 Midwest Polka LPs
    If you’re a Midwestern polka fan, this might be the mother lode: 65 polka albums from hard-to-find Minneapolis-based labels. Includes tongue-twisting artists like Matt Vorderbruggen, the Chmielewski Brothers, and the Deutschmeisters. Ends Thursday.
  • Lot of 20 Polish Polka 45 Records
    Prefer 45s? This is a lot of 20 Polish polka singles “straight from Hamtramck” (apparently they belonged to a bar owner there). Includes records by Frank Yankovic, Gene Wisniewski, and Lil’ Wally. Ends Wednesday.

So dust off your old turntable and start bidding! And if you win one of these auctions, be sure to invite us to the listening party.

“Compressing the World” Concert Series

The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles is running a concert series called “Compressing the World”, which showcases the accordion across a variety of cultures and musical styles. Finland’s Maria Kalaniemi (of Accordion Tribe fame) performed last month and future shows include Cambodian refugee Daran Kravanh, Argentina’s Dino Saluzzi, and Poland’s Motion Trio.

The next performance is this Wednesday and features string quartet Cuartetango, accompanied by world-renowned bandoneon player Hector Del Curto. Born in Buenos Aires, Del Curto has toured extensively as both a solo and chamber musician, performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and, in his native Argentina, was named “Best Bandoneon Player Under 25” when he was only 17. Now he leads his own ensemble, Eternal Tango. Fans of Astor Piazzolla’s tangos should definitely check out Hector’s work.

Breaking the Polka Stigma

Good news from the Nutmeg State: the Connecticut Accordion Association is doing its part to fight accordion stereotypes:

“‘One of the missions of our group is to break through the stereotype that the instrument is used only for polka,’ said Marilyn O’Neil, co-founder and co-president of the CAA. ‘This is an instrument that lends itself to all types of music.'”

Amen! The CAA aims to attract a younger crowd to the accordion, and to reintroduce the instrument to those who haven’t picked it up in a while. The group holds monthly meetings — which include workshops and open mic performances — and has even established a 25-piece accordion orchestra. Keep up the good work, Connecticutians!

Guyland Leday Video Clips

I finally tracked down some clips of eight-year-old zydeco accordion prodigy Guyland Leday on the recent HBO special, The Music in Me: Children’s Recitals from Classical to Latin, Jazz to Zydeco. In addition to showing Guyland’s incredible talent, there are brief interviews with family members, zydeco star and friend Terrance Simien, and, best of all, some of Guyland’s young friends.

Part one:

Part two:

Flickr Find: Daniel Handler on Accordion

He’s got mad accordion skills
uploaded by Don’t Wake Me, I Plan On Sleeping In
We’ve mentioned Daniel Handler’s accordion prowess here before, but now we have photographic evidence! I found a great Flickr photoset of a recent Lemony Snicket book signing in Seattle and there are plenty of accordion action shots. (You can catch a glimpse of fellow Gothic Archie, Stephin Merritt, too.) The book tour continues through mid-November, so check the official Lemony Snicket site for tour dates.

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Technical Difficulties Resolved… Polka On!

Our apologies to anyone who visited the site yesterday and was greeted by an unsightly “Fatal error” message. Long story short: our hosting company (for the second time in six months) suffered a server catastrophe which took down our site. Fortunately, we’ve learned the value of making backups, so everything should be back to normal now. Drop us a line if anything appears out of whack.

In the meantime, I’ll try to make up for lost time by posting a whole bunch of squeezebox-related goodies today. To start, here’s a clip of Anna playing accordion with the Corner Laughers during their excellent show at Brainwash last night (see photos).

Watch Anna Play Accordion!

My talented wife and Let’s Polka co-author, Anna, will be rocking the accordion in San Francisco this Saturday night. She’s sitting in on a couple songs with the Corner Laughers during their gig at the funky cafe/laundromat Brainwash. The show starts at 8pm and also features the Variable Stars and Man Versus. As usual, I’ll be there with a pocketful of Let’s Polka stickers, so stop by, say ‘hi’, and support rock music with accordions.

Accordion Tribe Hits the Road

Remember the Justice League — the superhero team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and others, who joined forces to fight evil? Well, I like to think of Accordion Tribe as a sort of musical Justice League: five of the world’s most creative accordionists, teaming up to make inspiring music together. Just like the comic books, but without the costumes, and with a much better soundtrack.

Recognized individually as masters of classical, jazz, folk and avant-garde music, the Accordion Tribe consists of Guy Klucevsek (USA), Maria Kalaniemi (Finland), Bratko Bibic (Slovenia), Lars Hollmer (Sweden), and Otto Lechner (Austria). Formed in 1996 for a brief concert tour, the Tribe has since released three albums, toured Europe extensively, and were the subject of a documentary film called Accordion Tribe — Music Travels. Few musical “supergroups” truly mesh, but after one listen it’s clear that the Tribe members have incredible chemistry.

Their latest album, Lunghorn Twist, was released in April, and features more of the eclectic and distinctive work that has become the Tribe’s hallmark. They’ve just started a European tour (including dates in Switzerland, Germany, France, and Spain) that runs through November. Listen below to “Heimo”, one of my favorite songs from Lunghorn Twist. Written by Maria Kalaniemi, it’s a dynamic tune that opens quietly and builds to some dramatic unison playing and lively soloing. Just an amazing, all-accordion track.

Zydeco on Ellen This Friday

Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch much daytime TV; my daytime job really gets in the way. But I’m setting my Tivo to record Ellen this Friday so I can catch Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience performing as part of a special show on New Orleans. Even better: eight-year-old zydeco accordion prodigy Guyland Leday will also be there. If you missed Guyland on the HBO special earlier this month, be sure to check it out. He’s incredible.

Polkapalooza Reno This Weekend

This weekend, polka fans and bands will descend on the “Biggest Little City in the World” for Polkapalooza Reno, a two-day festival showcasing some of the nation’s top polka bands. Headlined by 15-time Grammy winner Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra, the lineup also includes Neal Zunker and the Music Connection, The Del Sinchak Orchestra, Big Lou’s Polka Casserole, Polka Power of California, and the Sound Connection. The action takes place at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino; tickets are available at the door — $20/day or $35 for a two-day pass.

Anna’s playing accordion at a show in San Francisco this weekend (more on that soon!) so we won’t be able to make the trip. But we’re working on an exclusive interview with one of the Polkapalooza artists; keep an eye out for it sometime in the next couple weeks.

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