2006 Latin Grammys Wrapup

The 2006 Latin Grammy Awards were held last Thursday in New York and a handful of accordion-toting artists walked away with awards. A few of the highlights:

Bizarro Slovenian Polka Video

I don’t know where to begin with this one — it’s a video for a Slovenian (I think) group named Skuter. The song is called “Na Pomoc” and can best be described as cheesy polka-pop, featuring accordion and synthesizer melodies over a thumping 2/4 beat. The video, though, takes a page straight out of the hip-hop video playbook — a pool party with bikini babes gyrating around fancy cars — but adds a twist in the form of… tractors. Yup, tractors.

A handful of Let’s Polka stickers to anyone who can provide a English translation of the lyrics, or just explain what the hell is going on here.

Wurstfest: A Salute to Sausage

When it started in 1961, Wurstfest was a small, one-day affair. It capped a week where the restaurants and meat markets of New Braunfels, Texas showcased the sausage-making techniques their ancestors brought from Germany over 100 years earlier.

Today, Wurstfest is more than just a sausage festival. Drawing over 100,000 people from around the world, Wurstfest lasts ten days and pays homage to all things German: the food, the music, and the culture. Naturally, amidst the sausages, strudels, and beer, there’ll be plenty of accordion and polka music (and dancing). Featured performers include 15-time Grammy winner Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra, the Al Meixner Trio, the Seven Dutchmen Orchestra, Die Schlauberger, Alpenfest, and many more.

Wurstfest kicks off tomorrow and the official “biting of the sausages” will take place at 5pm. Good Morning America will be doing a live preview of the festival early tomorrow morning though, be warned, it’ll probably make you hungry for pigs in a blanket.

Anna’s Halloween Polka

While I spent my Halloween stumbling around as a drunken Santa Claus, Anna was playing accordion at her library’s Halloween party. The video may not win any MTV awards, but I love how her co-workers really get into the chorus of “Roll Out the Barrel”…

The Bloomington, Indiana Accordion Scene

Drawing from the Hoosier Squeeze siteThere are only a handful of American cities that you could honestly call “accordion hotspots”; places like Cleveland, San Antonio, or Lafayette, for example. But if Hoosier Squeeze is any indication, the number might be on the rise.

Founded in 2000, Hoosier Squeeze is a group of passionate accordionists in the Bloomington, Indiana area whose goal is to “promote the current renaissance of the sublime accordion.”

Led by Sophia Travis (who moonlights as President of the Monroe County Council) and made up of accordionists of all skill levels, the group meets regularly to play and share music. They’ve performed at numerous community events and even sponsored an accordion workshop last month at Bloomington’s annual Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.

With Hoosier Squeeze’s help, it sounds like Bloomington is well on its way to becoming one of those famous accordion hotspots…

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Go Solo With NaSoAlMo

Always wanted to write and record your own album, but find yourself scared away by the time and effort involved? NaSoAlMo (National Solo Album Month) is for you. Inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) — an annual event where aspiring writers attempt to write a novel in just thirty days — the idea behind NaSoAlMo is to let loose, silence your internal critic, and just do it.

The rules are pretty simple: albums should be at least 29:09 long (same as the first Ramones album) and, like that album, can include one cover song. Anyone who finishes their album by November 30 is a winner. Anna is taking part in this year’s NaSoAlMo and has already started work on a couple tunes today, so hopefully we’ll have an album of original accordion music to share by the end of the month. Go Anna go!

For more on NaSoAlMo, check out this fun NPR piece from last year.

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