This Week in Accordion: Reno Italian Festival

What’s on the accordion calendar this week?

  • Eldorado Great Italian Festival (Sat-Sun in Reno, NV)
    A spaghetti sauce cook off? A bocce ball tournament? Sign me up! This year’s Eldorado Great Italian Festival includes performances by accordion legend Dick Contino, Those Darn Accordions, Bella Ciao, and many more.
  • Vagabond Opera and Fishtank Ensemble (Friday in Santa Monica, CA)
    The touring schedules of two great, eclectic bands collide at McCabe’s Guitar Shop as Portland’s Vagabond Opera and Oakland’s Fishtank Ensemble share the bill.
  • Geoff Berner (Various dates in Eastern Canada)
    The “Whiskey Rabbi” rides again — this time across Canada with singer Carolyn Mark. Definitely the first time we’ve had shows in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or Prince Edward’s Island on our calendar.

Is there a polka dance, zydeco festival, or other squeezebox gathering in your area? Don’t be shy — let us know!

This Week in Accordion: Copper Box

Time to check this week’s accordion calendar:

  • Copper Box (Monday in Milwaukee, WI)
    Who says accordion club meetings can’t rock? There’s a special treat at this month’s Milwaukee Accordion Club meeting: a performance by Oshkosh’s own, Copper Box.
  • Creole Belles with Andrew Carriere (Tuesday in Berkeley, CA)
    A tip for Bay Area Zydeco fans: every Tuesday night, Ashkenaz in Berkeley hosts a Cajun/Zydeco dance with a live band and dance lessons. This week, it’s the Creole Belles with accordion great Andrew Carriere.
  • Accordion Extravaganza Festival (Fri-Sun in Edmonton, AB)
    Alberta’s largest accordion festival features two days of concerts, competitions, workshops and — my favorite — a pancake breakfast. Performers include Sammy Thomas, Austin Kawa, and the Cimarrons.

Know of an upcoming accordion event in your area? Tell us about it!

This Week in Accordion: Chango Spasiuk

What’s on the accordion calendar this week?

  • Chango Spasiuk: The Art of the Chamamé (Sunday in Los Angeles, CA)
    Argentinian accordion virtuoso Chango Spasiuk performs at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Spasiuk is renowned for pushing chamamé, a rural dance music of northern Argentina, in new directions.
  • Cajun Zydeco Festival (Saturday in Fremont, CA)
    Just across the bay from us, it’s the 11th annual Cajun/Zydeco festival at Ardenwood Historic Farm. This year’s lineup includes Tee Fee Swamp Boogie, Motordude Zydeco, Corey Ledet, Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic, and Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie.
  • Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble (Sunday in New York, NY)
    Son of accordionist Jude Taylor and long time drummer with Geno Delafose, Curley Taylor now plays accordion and leads his own band, Zydeco Trouble. This show is part of the excellent Let’s Zydeco concert series (no relation to Let’s Polka) held at Connolly’s on 45th.

Have an event to add to our calendar? Just let us know!

Polka Pack Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to S.A. Heistand, the winner of the random drawing in our “Polka Pack Giveaway”! She wins copies of Bob Dolgan’s book, America’s Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic, and Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones’ Grammy-nominated CD, Batteries Not Included.

Thanks to everyone who entered and recommended an artist/album (either here or on our MySpace); we got some great suggestions. If you entered, but didn’t win, drop us a line with your mailing address and we’ll send you some Let’s Polka stickers. Everyone’s a winner!

Wanted: Accordionist in New Orleans

Always wanted to live in New Orleans? Looking for a band? Ben Schenck of the Panorama Jazz Band is looking for an accordion player:

“I’m hunting for an accordionist, someone who’d like to consider relocating to New Orleans. I need someone with hot-shot chops, who can read charts and knows klezmer and jazz. Balkan and Caribbean would be nice, too.

We stay pretty busy. Work mostly in and around New Orleans with occasional trips. We do one weekly set in a downtown bar room plus weddings, bar mitzvahs, private parties, music festivals, etc.”

If you’re interested (or know someone who might be), you can contact Ben through the Panorama Jazz Band’s website.

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Polka Pack Giveaway!

America’s Polka King and Batteries Not IncludedFall is here and it’s high time for another Let’s Polka giveaway! This time, it’s a two-fer: the winner will receive Bob Dolgan’s excellent biography, America’s Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic, as well as Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones’ Grammy-nominated CD, Batteries Not Included. We’ll even throw in a handful of Let’s Polka stickers to boot.

How to enter: post a comment on this entry and recommend an accordion album you’ve been listening to lately. That’s it! It can be something old, something new, something borrowed… you get the picture. You’ll have until Friday at midnight to post your entry; then we’ll pick a random winner and send out the prize next week.

Good luck! We’re looking forward to your recommendations!

Update: We have a winner! Thanks to everyone who entered!

This Week in Accordion: Northeast Squeeze-In

Highlights from this week’s accordion calendar:

  • Northeast Squeeze-In (Fri-Sun in Washington, MA)
    A free-reed getaway in the heart of the Berkshires, sponsored by the good folks at The Button Box in Sunderland, MA. There’ll be workshops, “spontaneous squeezings,” and plenty of opportunities for hobnobbing with fellow squeezebox enthusiasts.
  • Accordion Cocktail Concert (Sun in Miami, FL)
    Cuban-American accordionist Maricarmen Vazquez has organized this afternoon of accordion music from around the world. Performers include Antonio Barberena, Tony Lovello, Mario Pedone, and more.
  • Polkamotion Polka Festival (Thu-Sun in Rehoboth Beach, DE)
    Formerly known as Polkamotion By The Ocean, the Rehoboth Beach Polkamotion Polka Festival features four days of nonstop polka music and dancing. Bands include Polka Family, Charm City Sound, Polka Country Musicians, and more.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s the Corn Palace Polka Festival in South Dakota, Brendan Begley at NYU, Walter Ostanek and Fritz’s Polka Band together in upstate New York, and a whole lot more.

If you have an accordion event to add to our calendar, just let us know!

This Week in Accordion: Carrefour Mondial de l’Accordeon

What’s on the accordion calendar this week?

  • Carrefour Mondial de l’Accordeon (Thu-Mon in Montmagny, Quebec)
    The town of Montmagny (northeast of Quebec City) welcomes accordionists from around the world for five nights of concerts, dances, and exhibits at the city’s accordion museum.
  • Big Sky Polka Festival (Fri-Sun in Billings, MT)
    Billed as the largest dance festival in the Rocky Mountains, the Big Sky Polka Festival promises three days of nonstop dancing with the John Stehle Band, the Dick Zavodny band and Don and the High Rollers.
  • Tejano Conjunto Festival (Sunday in Sacramento, CA)
    Conjunto festivals aren’t just for Texas anymore. Sacramento’s first Tejano Conjunto Festival includes performances by Flaco Jimenez, Ruben Ramos and the Mexican Revolution, and more.

Do you know about any accordion gatherings in your area? Is there a festival coming up? Is your band going on tour? Let us know and we’ll add your events to our calendar.

This Week in Accordion: Cotati, Monsters

It’s another big week on the accordion calendar and it includes two events that I’ve had circled for months:

  • Cotati Accordion Festival (Sat-Sun in Cotati, CA)
    Tony Lovello, Brave Combo, and Brian Jack and the Zydeco Gamblers headline the 17th edition of this legendary festival. In addition to two days of nonstop accordion music, there’ll be dance floors, jam tents, and the releasing of the doves while the crowd plays “Lady of Spain.” There’s also a great raffle; last year, Anna won a new Hohner!
  • Monsters of Accordion (Various dates on West Coast)
    An army of accordion troubadors — Jason Webley, Corn Mo, Geoff Berner, and Duckmandu — storm down the West Coast for a series of shows, with special guests in each city.
  • Sturbridge Polka Festival (Fri-Sat in Sturbridge, MA)
    It wouldn’t be a summer weekend without a polka festival. This time, it’s an all-star lineup in Sturbridge that includes Jimmy Sturr, the Eddie Forman Orchestra, and Stas Golonka.

Just like last year, Anna and I will be in Cotati, checking out the bands and handing out Let’s Polka stickers. We’ll also be at the Monsters of Accordion show in San Francisco on Friday night. So if you see us in either place (I’ll be wearing a red Let’s Polka t-shirt), say ‘hi’ and help yourself to some stickers!

And, as usual, if there’s an accordion gathering in your area that isn’t on our calendar, be sure to let us know.

Radio Alert: Accordions on NPR

On Thursday morning, the NPR show Morning Edition will be airing a piece about the Coupe Mondiale accordion competition. The show will include a rendition of the Morning Edition theme song as performed on accordion by three members of the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society: Mara Cherkasky, Peter DiGiovanni and Lee Paulson.

Thursday’s Morning Edition will also feature some music by one of our favorite bands, One Ring Zero. They’ll be interviewed during a segment on music inspired by Pluto’s recent demotion to dwarf-planet status. I’m anxious to hear how that discussion goes, but it will likely include a clip of their new song, “International Astronomical Union.”

Update: Here’s a link to the Coupe Mondiale segment: “Ace Accordion Players Compete.” (The One Ring Zero segment is linked above.)

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