Cajun/Zydeco Grammy Campaign

Next year’s Grammy Awards will include 108 categories ranging from Best Rap/Sung Collaboration to Best Surround Sound Album. And yet, despite the proliferation of categories over the years, there still isn’t one devoted to cajun or zydeco music.

Over the years, only a handful of cajun/zydeco musicians have won Grammys. Clifton Chenier, Queen Ida, and Rockin’ Sidney each won for Best Ethnic Or Traditional Folk Recording during the early 80’s, and Beausoleil won for Best Traditional Folk Album in 1997. This year, singer Ann Savoy (of the Savoy Family Cajun Band) was nominated for her collaboration with Linda Ronstadt, Adieu False Heart.

Establishing a cajun/zydeco category, though, would go a long way towards promoting and preserving the genre. Fortunately, there’s a campaign underway to create a Grammy category for cajun/zydeco. Led by Cynthia and Terrance Simien, the effort has gained steam recently as the number of cajun/zydeco recordings submitted for Grammy consideration rose to 40 this year.

According to Cynthia Simien, Grammy officials have recognized the campaign’s progress and promised to reconsider adding the category when they meet again in May. That’s great news and hopefully at this time next year, we’ll be previewing the first-ever nominees for Best Cajun/Zydeco Album.

A Li’l Wally Christmas

Li'l Wally record: Merry Christmas Mom and DadThis year, make it a Li’l Wally Christmas. Head over to the Record Robot, where they’ve posted a couple MP3s from an old Christmas record by Li’l Wally and the Harmony Boys. The tracks are “Merry Christmas Mom and Dad” (a Wally original) and “O Christmas Tree”.

If you want to pick up some holiday polka albums, check out the selection Jimmy K. Polkas. They have Christmas recordings from Li’l Wally (including two albums of Polish Christmas carols), Eddie Blazonczyk, Lenny Gomulka, Jimmy Sturr, and more.

Learn a Tarantella Online

A few months ago, I wrote about an Italian accordion school (called Accademia del Mantice) that was offering diatonic accordion classes online. I couldn’t find any sample videos at the time, but I recently found this clip of a lesson called “Tarantella Riggitana”. It’s no substitute for a live, in-person accordion lesson, but it looks promising. If you can’t find a teacher in your area, this might be a worthwhile alternative.

Flickr Find: Accordion Santas

What do you call it when hundreds of crazy Santas — often fueled by “high octane egg nog” — roam the streets en masse, spreading holiday cheer? It’s not anarchy; it’s Santarchy, an annual tradition that’s grown to include gatherings from Berlin to Tokyo, and numerous places in-between.

The Santas invaded San Francisco on Saturday and, while my suit didn’t make it back from the cleaners in time, I was happy to see these accordion-toting Santas in attendance. Jingle Bells Polka, anyone?

Grammy Nominees Announced

Nominations for the 49th annual Grammy Awards were announced this morning in Hollywood. The nominees for Best Polka Album are:

While Best Polka Album may be the most accordion-friendly category, those weren’t the only nominees who featured accordions in their work. Julieta Venegas was nominated for Best Latin Pop Album, the Klezmatics for Best Contemporary World Music Album, Weird Al for Best Comedy Album, and pretty much every group in the Best Norteno Album category has an accordion player. The full list of nominees is on the Grammy website.

The awards ceremony (hosted by Stephen Colbert) will air live on CBS on February 11, 2007. Of course, since there are 108 categories, most awards — including Best Polka Album — will be handed out in a ceremony before the televised show.

Between now and the awards ceremony, we’ll post an in-depth review of each Best Polka Album nominee. Will Jimmy Sturr walk away with his 16th Best Polka Grammy or will someone else get a taste of Grammy glory? We’ll find out in February!

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

2006 Accordion Gift Guide

Jon considers giving Liz accordion lessons for Christmas

It can be tough to shop for an accordion lover. You won’t find a custom-made Petosa accordion at Wal-Mart, Martha Stewart hasn’t published a magazine on making your own accordion straps, and most music stores don’t carry much beyond The Best of Lawrence Welk.

Luckily, Let’s Polka is here to help. We’ve put together our 2006 Accordion Gift Guide — gift ideas for the budding accordionist (or enthusiast) on your holiday list. And everything on our list is $50 or less (usually much less), so there’s money leftover for lessons.

Atomik Harmonik’s Turbo Polka

Atomik HarmonikRemember the strange Slovenian polka-rap video (with bikini babes on mini-tractors) from a few weeks ago? Since then we’ve been turned on to Atomik Harmonik, another Slovenian group with a flair for bizarre videos. Mixing traditional Slovenian folk music with a hyper dance beat, Atomik Harmonik is a quartet of two male singers (one who always carries/plays an accordion) and two scantily-clad blonde bombshells.

Check out the video for their first hit, “Brizgalna Brizga”, which was #1 in the Slovenian charts for several months. (It sounds like they later re-recorded this song as “Turbo Polka”, but I prefer the original.)

Thanks abaris!

Seattle’s Smilin’ Scandinavians

Hailed as Seattle’s #1 polka band, the Smilin’ Scandinavians play a mix of Midwestern polka, Scandinavian folk, traditional country and western, Dixieland and big band swing. Led by accordionist Toby Hanson, who formed the band while at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, the group’s name is an homage to both the “Happy Norwegian” Myron Floren and legendary polka band The Six Fat Dutchmen.

I’ve been listening to their music all morning and I love their bright, bouncy, accordion-driven sound. This is a song from their most recent album, Northwest Polka Country:

I also found a great video clip from a documentary about the Smilin’ Scandinavians. In it, Toby describes how the band got started and warns of the dangers of playing polkas in 100-degree weather:

« Newer posts