Pawnshop Accordions at the Fringe

Tired of Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys? How about some accordion-inspired theatre instead? Playwright Jonathan Wallace’s latest work, Pawnshop Accordions, will run from August 9th through 16th as part of the annual New York International Fringe Festival.

“A hallucinatory drama of community and violence in New York’s netherworld,” Pawnshop Accordions tells the story of a cynical EMT, a mute accordionist, a sinister Albanian, and a prophetic schizophrenic struggle to protect one another. (Not exactly Fiddler on the Roof, eh?) The play features Gina Samardge (of the Maestrosities and Main Squeeze Orchestra) as Zaida, the mute accordionist, and she’ll perform live accordion music onstage, including traditional Eastern European and klezmer songs and original compositions.

America’s Got Talented Accordionists

I try to avoid watching reality TV because it usually just makes me angry. For example, take this clip from the latest episode of America’s Got Talent in which Branson accordionists Dan and Kim Christian get the boot simply because they play the accordion.

“If there’s one thing worse than an accordion, it’s two accordions.” But what about three accordions? Or five accordions? Or (gasp) fourteen? Frankly, I don’t think you can ever have too many accordions.

Flickr Find: Mysterious Monster Accordion

Mysterious Monster Accordionmysterious monster accordion, uploaded by tinyprayers

Our friend Dave came across this gigantic accordion on display in Virginia City, Montana. As noted in the caption, it is “Unfinished, with at least an extra octave of keys, and 192 (!) bass buttons.” Wow. That’s a whole lotta accordion! (Thanks, Dave!)

Henry Doktorski’s Historic Records on CD

Henry DoktorskiToday I was going through my record collection, wondering if any of my old accordion records were available on CD. Sadly, many of them have not been remastered to CD. However, in my search I discovered that accordionist Henry Doktorski has taken the time to remaster some of his historic accordion records to CD! He sells copies of the CDs from his website for $15 each plus extra for shipping, handling and (optional) insurance. He has several albums by Myron Floren and Charles Magnante, as well as others. Take a look! While the recordings are not perfect (there are unavoidable hisses and skips), this is definitely a great resource for fans of the accordion.

Richard Galliano and Tangaria Quartet

Richard GallianoThe annual Ottawa International Jazz Festival just wrapped up and one of the biggest hits was French accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano. Performing with his Tangaria Quartet, Galliano’s concert was “as thrilling a performance as was heard” throughout the entire festival, according to a review in the Ottawa Citizen. Galliano “reeled off one exhilarating song after another,” allowing the audience “to lose themselves in his brilliance.” Not a bad review, I’d say.

Born in Cannes in 1950, Richard Galliano studied at a conservatory as a youth, but quickly changed his musical devotion to jazz after hearing (and memorizing the solos of) jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Galliano set out to establish the accordion’s reputation in jazz, becoming a sought-after accompanist and soloist. Astor Piazzolla invited him to be the bandoneon soloist at the Comédie Française production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” starting a close friendship that lasted until Piazzolla’s death in 1992.

More recently, Galliano has become known for a style he calls “New Musette” — a fusion of styles ranging from samba and salsa to waltz and tango. Regardless of what he’s playing, though, it’s always with unparalleled skill and passion. Here’s a fantastic video of Galliano performing Piazzolla’s “Libertango” solo:

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