Fabulist Interview with Jason Webley

The kids at Fabulist have posted an interview with one of our favorite accordionists, Jason Webley. In it, Jason talks about his relationship with the number 11, his upcoming tour with Czech accordionist Jana Vebrova, and the origins of his annual event, Camp Tomato:

“You get a little membership card, and there are places you can get different merit stamps by doing different things. I think this year you’d get your feather stamp by writing a letter to Webster’s Dictionary asking them to remove the letter X from the alphabet.”

Before booking your trip to Camp Tomato 2007, though, check out the excellent video for Jason’s collaboration with Seattle poet Jay Thompson, “Eleven Saints”. It doesn’t feature Jason’s accordion (sadly), but it’s still wonderfully bizarre.

Accordion-Shaped Kids Furniture

Posh Tots Accordion Dresser

Forget race-car shaped beds; your kids need this one-of-a-kind accordion-shaped dresser. Designed by Judson Beaumont, each dresser is custom-made and available at PoshTots for a mere $5,600. (There’s a reason it’s called PoshTots!) There’s also a vertical version available for just $5,000. A small price to pay for living in Wonderland…

[Found via Rare Bird Finds]

Santa’s Accordion

How does Santa unwind after another busy holiday season of delivering toys to all the good girls and boys? According to this video, he kicks back, takes off his beard, and runs through some jazzed-up Christmas carols on his accordion:

The Gift: A Hanukkah Story

Hanukkah money burning a hole in your pocket? Aliana Brodmann’s The Gift: A Hanukkah Story is a children’s picture book about a young girl who receives her Hanukkah gelt (money) from her father, but can’t decide how to spend it. After going from store to store looking at hats, dolls, and even kittens, she hears beautiful music played by an accordion player on the street. She decides to give the money to him and, in return, he teaches her to play the accordion.

It’s a sweet story, set in post-war Germany and based on the author’s memories of her childhood there. The book was originally published in 1993 and may be hard to find, so check your local library first.

What Did Squeezebox Santa Bring You?

Chris and I had a great holiday and received some awesome accordion-related presents! Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Custom-Made Folding Accordion Stands
    Handmade by my dad, the expert craftsman! One of the stands is pictured here. Using wood from an old futon frame, he designed two identical stands from pictures of other accordion stands I found online.
  • Big Lou's Polka Casserole CDBig Lou’s Polka Casserole CD
    Big Lou’s first album is a classic and belongs in every accordion lover’s collection!
  • Julius and Friends Slippers
    Check out these awesome Paul Frank slippers that Karla gave me. The slipper on the left shows Julius the monkey playing the accordion to a chicken wearing lederhosen. These slippers are perfect for your favorite bird-lovin’, accordion playin’ friends! You can find them online at Tilly’s.
  • The Weird Al Show - The Complete Series (DVD)The Weird Al Show – The Complete Series DVD
    A must for every Weird Al fan, this complete series also comes with an excellent commentary track.

Did you get any cool accordion-related goodies this holiday season? Leave us a comment and tell us about them!

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Dick Contino and the Bulldog Polka

Anna and I spent our holiday weekend in Fresno — catching up with family, eating pumpkin pie, and even doing some antique shopping on Christmas Eve. While we’re still kicking ourselves for passing up the accordion-shaped bar set (with shot glasses!), we did bring home this novelty record featuring Fresno accordion legend Dick Contino and comedian Bobby Volare.

Recorded in 1983 as a tribute to the Fresno State men’s basketball team — which won the NIT that year and brought Fresno some rare positive press — the single features two songs: “Bulldog Polka” (a cheesy reworking of “Beer Barrel Polka”) and “New York, New York” (I’m surprised Sinatra didn’t have Volare “whacked” for this rendition). Contino’s playing is solid, but given the material, neither tune will be appearing on his greatest hits record.

If you’re a fan of bad novelty records, go ahead and listen to “Bulldog Polka.” Otherwise, steer clear of the link below. You’ve been warned.

Build Your Own Cajun Accordion

Cajun accordion keyboardCan’t afford a brand-new Cajun button accordion? Try building your own! The DIY Network show Handmade Music recently aired a five-part series on building your own Cajun accordion.

Led by Louisiana accordion maker Marc Savoy, the series covers the whole process step-by-step — from building the reed-mounts to fashioning the keyboard on through to attaching the bellows. Even if you aren’t planning to build your own box, it’s a fascinating look at how button accordions are built.

I couldn’t find any video clips, but there are extensive summaries (with photos) of each episode online. Did anyone out there catch the show? If so, leave a comment and let us know what you thought.

Yard Sale: Everything’s a Dollar

How can you go wrong with a band that claims to “make music to bake pies by”? After all, what household couldn’t use more pie-baking music?

Sure enough, you can practically smell the apple pie on the window sill when you’re listening to Yard Sale — an all-female country/folk trio from Oakland. Accordionist Melanie de Giovanni, bassist Jill Olson, and guitarist Denise Funari each take turns writing and singing on the band’s debut album, Everything’s a Dollar. Nothing fancy here — just honest, heartfelt lyrics, great harmonies, and a laid-back vibe that begs you to put your feet up and crack open a beer.

Brazilian Accordionist Sivuca Passes Away

“I’m coherent in my art. I tell my story with the accordion.” Those are the words of legendary Brazilian accordionist/composer Sivuca, who passed away last week.

Born Severino Dias de Oliveira in 1930, Sivuca played and composed in a number of genres, including forró, bossa nova, folk, and jazz. Over the course of his lengthy career, he collaborated with musicians from around the globe — artists ranging from Harry Belafonte to South African singer Miriam Makeba to jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans.

Here’s a video clip of Sivuca performing his forró classic “Feira de Mangaio” with samba singer Clara Nunes. If your hips don’t move even a tiny bit while watching this clip, seek professional help.

[Found via Martin Klasch]

The Oregon Polka King Controversy

A few weeks ago, the Corvallis (OR) Gazette-Times ran a seemingly innocuous profile of accordionist Gene “The Polka King” Sadowsky, leader of the Little Bohemian Band. In the piece, Sadowsky boasted about his band’s recent appearance on the “Big Joe Polka Show”, their packed touring schedule, and his brand-new, $12,500 Diamond accordion. Nothing too controversial, right?

This past Friday, however, the paper printed a follow-up in which a former bandmate of Sadowsky’s — Richard Kadrmas of the R-K Polka Bandstakes his own claim to the Oregon polka crown. Kadrmas claims Sadowsky “only knows how to play 10 or 15 songs… [and is] just doing it to make a buck,” and has even challenged him to an accordion duel.

Now I like a good feud as much as anyone, but come on — these guys are old enough to know better. Isn’t the Willamette Valley big enough for two polka kings?

[Found via TDA’s Wall of Wheeze]

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