Saved By His Accordion

I couldn’t pass up an article titled “Love for accordions even saved his life”, and this story of accordion player/repairman/collector Nic Schewtschenko doesn’t disappoint. During World War II, he and thousands of other Russians were rounded up and put in a camp outside Minsk by German soldiers. Fortunately for Schewtschenko, he had a talent that the Germans needed:

“After two days of no food, a German officer waded through the Russian captives, asking for someone who knew how to fix accordions. Apparently the soldiers had damaged theirs during drunken frolicking the night before… The Germans took him to a garage where he was fed, given time to recoup his strength, then put to work mending the accordion while many of his compatriots starved to death in the field.”

After the war, Schewtschenko moved to Canada where he owned a construction business and repaired accordions on the side. Today he’s 87 years old and, while he’s retired and in the process of selling most of the 60 accordions he has accumulated over the years, is still sought after for his accordion expertise.

Look Ma, No Hands! The Foot Bass

For years, accordionists have been exercising their hands and arms while their poor feet wither away due to neglect. But no more! Behold the foot bass (or “Basse aux pieds”), a 12-key bellows-driven instrument played entirely with your feet. Invented by Joseph Alexandry in 1894, this instrument was (supposedly) popular in the first half of the 20th century and, thanks to renewed interest by contemporary musicians, is poised for a comeback. A brand-new foot bass, built by Harry Geuns in Belgium, will set you back nearly 2000 Euros, but at least your feet will never be bored again.

Foot Bass

MP3 Monday: Turisas

TurisasIt’s been a while since we’ve covered the Finnish metal scene, but my inbox is overrun with readers clamoring for Turisas and I am nothing if not a man of the people. (And a fan of heavy metal accordion, of course.) Turisas are purveyors of that unique brand of Finnish metal combining traditional metal (crunchy guitars, hoarse vocals) with folk elements (like the accordion and violin), over-the-top costumes and makeup, and lyrics about war, blood, and death. You really need to see them live to get the full effect, but this track will probably be enough to give some of you nightmares.

The Art of the Accordion Case

Artsy Accordion CaseI’ve run across some colorful accordion cases over the years, but I really like this one from Alaska artist Tam Johannes. An accordion player herself, Johannes has been “jazzing up” her cases using a combination of mosaic and decoupage, incorporating everything from tarot cards to game pieces. We’ve recently cast aside our hard-shell accordion cases for soft ones (more comfy and easily portable), but I’m guessing there are some readers out there with funky cases of their own. Leave a comment — even better, show us a photo — if you do.