Flickr Find: The Cordovox Magic of Valentino

The Cordovox Magic of Valentino, uploaded by letslookupandsmile

What’s not to love about this album cover? The purple cuffs, the pinky ring, the thumbs… and, of course, Valentino’s magical Cordovox. I tried to find a clip from the album, but all I could find was this review of Valentino’s “Live in Las Vegas” CD. I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy, but if anyone has more information about this master of the Cordovox, leave us a comment.

Blair Kilpatrick’s Accordion Dreams

Accordion DreamsI love hearing stories of how people fell in love with the accordion, so I’m really looking forward to Blair Kilpatrick’s new book, Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music. Kilpatrick was a happily settled psychologist, wife, and mother when a trip to New Orleans sparked a passion for Cajun music and the accordion. Today, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area — the largest Cajun/zydeco scene outside of Louisiana — and plays accordion in her own Cajun-Creole band, Sauce Piquante.

The book details Kilpatrick’s pursuit of her unlikely obsession with Cajun culture and the accordion, from the Chicago’s Cajun dance scene to a folk music camp in West Virginia and trips to Louisiana and even France. But it’s really about embracing new experiences and how you can chase your dreams at any age.

“… I moved the bellows just a little, my finger depressing a single white button, one of the low notes on the treble side. I bent my ear close. There—I heard it! A throaty whisper that promised to turn into the real thing once I really let go. I could already picture it, and I could practically feel it: bellows pumping, air rushing, all four reeds vibrating in the thrilling growl and wail of a Cajun accordion in full voice. The accordion of my dreams.”

If you live in the Bay Area, there’ll be a release/dance party for the book on February 10th at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. The event will include a reading, book signing, and a performance by Sauce Piquante.

MP3 Monday: Oidupaa Vladimir Oiun

If you’ve ever thought “they just don’t feature enough throat-singing accordionists on Let’s Polka,” today’s your lucky day. Oidupaa Vladimir Oiun is a famous throat singer from Tuva (a southern Russian republic) who sings in the kargyraa style, a deep undertone technique. Oh, and he sings while accompanying himself on the accordion. Oiduppa’s singing is more emotional and less traditional than typical kargyraa but, then again, Oiduppa was a non-traditional guy, spending more than half of his life in jail. This song, written by Oiduppa and dedicated to the Tuvan people, comes from the album, Divine Music From a Jail.

(Special thanks to the guys in our local accordion/funk band, Sex With No Hands, for introducing us to Oidupaa.)

Gnarls Barkley, Forro Style

We’ve posted clips of forró — a style of dance music from Brazil — before, but never quite like this. Our pal Squeezyboy turned us on to an entire cottage industry of mashups that combine forró with modern pop songs. While you think everything might sound better with some accordion, they aren’t all winners; but we definitely share his love for this forró remix of the Gnarls Barkley hit “Crazy.” I’m not sure who’s behind this accordion mashup madness, but I dig it.

Quick Links: Post-Holiday Edition

No unifying theme for today’s Quick Links, except that they’ve all been kicking around my inbox since the holidays…

  • Player/Repairman Tom Bruno Passes Away
    Sad news about the sudden death of Tom Bruno, owner of Bruno Accordions in New Kensington, PA. Not only was Bruno an expert craftsman and one of the nation’s finest accordion repairmen, but he was a fantastic player, renowned for his renditions of Charles Magnante’s works. He was just 36 years old.
  • From Berlin’s Hole of Forgottenness, a Spell of Songs
    The curious story of Bruno S., who flirted with German movie stardom in the early 1970s and is now playing accordion on the streets of Berlin. (Don’t miss the video on the article’s second page.)
  • Spektrum Lab: “Outside the Box”
    “Put away any pre-conceived notions of what an accordion album might sound like.” Samples and loops abound on a unique album from Spektrum Lab that could easily have been titled “MIDI Accordions Gone Wild.”

And one quick Let’s Polka note — after making some behind-the-scenes improvements to our accordion events calendar, we now have over 250 events posted nationwide and the list is growing daily. Have an accordion concert, festival, or gathering to add? Want your band’s gigs listed? Let us know!

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

MP3 Monday: Jacques Pellarin

After the success of last month’s accordion advent calendar, we’re starting a new regular feature for 2009: MP3 Monday! Every Monday, we’ll kick off the week with a downloadable track from an accordion artist we think you should hear. This week’s song comes from French accordionist/composer Jacques Pellarin. Trained as a classical accordionist, Pellarin has branched out well beyond his roots to mix French, new tango, gypsy, and even klezmer influences into his music. Like many classical accordionists, Pellarin plays the bayan, the accordion’s chromatic Russian cousin.

An Historic Free-Reeds Collection

It’s been awhile since we’ve mentioned it, but if you’re into the history of free-reed instruments, is a treasure trove of research, photos, sheet music, and much more. A perfect example is Stephen Chambers’ excellent “Annotated Catalogue of Historic European Free-Reed lnstruments from my Private Collection.” From Æolinas and mouth organs to the earliest accordions and concertinas, the collection includes fascinating photos and descriptions of these instruments that paved the way for the accordions we play today.

An Annotated Catalogue of Historic European Free-Reed lnstruments

« Newer posts