Petosa Accordions: Squeezing in Seattle

Petosa AccordionsI received a number of emails this weekend from accordion fans in the Pacific Northwest, pointing me towards this Seattle Post-Intelligencer front-page story on local squeezebox makers Petosa Accordions. The article chronicles the rise, fall, and current rebirth of the accordion, as seen through the eyes of the Petosa family, who have been building and selling accordions since 1922. Today, Petosa sells some of the finest high-end accordions in the world — a top model can set you back nearly $30,000 — to artists that include Dick Contino, Frank Marocco, and more. (They also have more affordable models for us average Joes.)

Be sure to check out the excellent slideshow that accompanies the article; it includes an audio interview with owner Joe Petosa Jr.

The Narcocorrido Backlash

For more than a century, corridos have been a staple of popular Mexican music. With a waltz-like rhythm and lyrics focused on legends, romances, heroes, and villains of the rural frontier, corridos are a traditional storytelling genre. But in recent years, a subgenre called the “narcocorrido” has exploded in popularity, and its stories focus on the real-life exploits of drug traffickers and crime bosses. It’s the Mexican version of gangsta rap — graphic lyrics put to an accordion-driven beat.

This week, the Los Angeles Times had an interesting article on the backlash against narcocorridos in Tijuana. Whereas previous efforts to ban the music by local and national officials have failed, this movement seems to be bubbling up from music fans who have grown tired of a genre that celebrates the people terrorizing their community. According to the accordion player of Los Linces Boys, a band that grew famous for playing narcocorridos:

“Things are changing… It’s not like in the past, when people would hear corridos and shoot their guns in the air… Now, people would rather grab their girlfriends, squeeze close on the dance floor and kiss.”

Narcocorridos have become big sellers on both sides of the border, so it’s probably too soon to tell if this backlash will have lasting significance. I definitely recommend the LA Times article, though, as a good introduction to one of the darker, and certainly more dangerous, genres associated with the accordion.

« Newer posts