Flickr Find: Accordion vs. Boy

Boy with Accordion
uploaded by Brann
Ever have one of those days? The kind where everything drags, just getting out of bed is a chore, and when you pick up your accordion, it feels like a ton of bricks. Well, imagine how this poor kid feels. First, Mom makes him wear a tie and a pair of knickers. Then he has to stand out in the sun and pose for a photo with an accordion that’s nearly as big as he is. The grimace on his face says it all: “Hurry up and take the picture… I can’t hold this much longer…”

Flickr Find: Webley-o-Lantern

Jason Webley jack-o-lanternJack-o-Lantern, originally uploaded by RJL20

There’s still an hour of Halloween left, which is plenty of time to share this photo of a beautifully spooky jack-o-lantern based on a Jason Webley t-shirt design. Jason has a new album out, The Cost of Living, which is his first solo album in three years. He’s backed by his excellent touring band and the result is more rock ‘n’ roll than his previous stuff. If you missed it, be sure to check out our recent interview with Jason, conducted before the Monsters of Accordion tour.

Cotati Accordion Festival 2007 Wrapup

Anna at La Plaza Park in CotatiCotati Accordion Festival Photos

Ah… another year, another glorious weekend spent at the Cotati Accordion Festival. We spent nearly ten hours in La Plaza Park today, listening to an incredible collection of accordion-oriented artists. Where else can you hear a klezmer band followed by a yodeling, accordion-playing cowboy? Or see hundreds of white doves released into the sky as a crowd plays “Lady of Spain”? Only in Cotati.

We finally got to see Brave Combo live and they didn’t disappoint; it only took a couple songs before they had most of the crowd in a giant conga line, weaving their way through the park. Culann’s Hounds were a big hit, too; I’m glad that word’s getting around about how good they are. We heard virtuoso accordionists across the generations, from Tony Lovello working the crowd to Alex Meixner alternating between piano and button accordion to young Coupe Mondiale participant Sammy Thomas. We also grabbed a hot-off-the-presses copy of the new Those Darn Accordions album, Squeeze Machine (review coming soon!).

And while Anna didn’t win the raffle this year, we still had a fantastic time. We were completely blown away by the number of people who came up to us and mentioned the site. Thanks for all your support and hopefully we’ll be reporting on Cotati Accordion Festivals for years to come.

Monsters of Accordion Wrapup

Monsters of Accordion togetherMonsters of Accordion photos

It isn’t every day you get to see five of North America’s hottest singer/songwriter/accordionists in one place, but we were lucky enough to do so last night at 12 Galaxies in San Francisco as the Monsters of Accordion tour rolled into town. The crowd was incredible — my amateur guesstimating skills say around 300 people — including a handful of Let’s Polka readers who came up and introduced themselves throughout the night (thanks for coming!).

The show kicked off with Geoff Berner whose “Canadian klezmer drinking songs” had the crowd singing along from the start. In between songs, he told stories of his great-grandfather’s move to Saskatchewan, incompetent French generals of the 1930s, and everything in-between. By contrast, Duckmandu (Aaron Seeman) was all-business, storming through punk covers, country songs, and originals from his new album, Shut the Duck Up and Play Accordion. He closed with his always-popular “flaming hat” rendition of “Highway to Hell.”

As soon as Corn Mo hit the stage, one of my friends turned and asked “Is this guy the love child of Meatloaf and Freddie Mercury?” His show-stopping performance of “We Are the Champions” did little to dispute that hypothesis and Corn Mo had the crowd eating out of his hand for his entire set. (Anna declared him “Best in Show” for the night.) Each show on the Monsters tour has featured a special guest and, after Corn Mo, we were treated to a rare set by the Bay Area’s own Mark Growden. (Mark wins the award for most drool-worthy accordion — what appeared to be a chromatic Bugari.)

Finally, the man who organized it all — Jason Webley — took the stage and whipped the crowd into a frenzy with nonstop sing-a-longs and even a cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” thrown in for good measure. He was floored by the passionate, accordion-loving crowd and remarked that “the tides are changing… in three or four years, people are going to be embarrassed to admit they took guitar lessons as a kid.” The show closed with all five accordionists onstage performing (or just drinking along to) Webley’s “Drinking Song” as the crowd spun in circles and headed out into the cool San Francisco night.

It was a fantastic event and, if you’re in the Bay Area tonight, be sure to catch the last show of the tour over at Smythe’s Accordion Center in Oakland. This is absolutely a can’t-miss, must-see show. Even if you’re up in Cotati today (we’re headed there now), you can still make it down in time for the Monsters show.

For those who couldn’t be there last night, here’s a video I recorded of Corn Mo performing “We Are the Champions”:

Pulaski Polka Days Wrapup

Sounds like last weekend’s Pulaski Polka Days, where “polka rhythm filled the air and infiltrated people’s bones,” was a rousing success. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s recap, there was a lively turnout — young and old alike — for the 29th edition of one of the nation’s biggest polka festivals:

“If you think polka music is uncool or only for the elderly, talk to Eric Niziolek, 25, and his buddies, who have been coming to the event from their homes near Wausau every year for about the last five years. ‘Good music, good people, girls and beer,’ said Niziolek when asked what kept him coming back.”

I also found a Flickr photoset that captures the festival parade, as well as some of the bands, including the shot below — appropriately titled “Only in Wisconsin.”

Only in WisconsinPulaski Polka Days 2007, uploaded by The Dana Files

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Flickr Find: Crustacean Accordion Orchestra

Accordion-playing shrimp in the Mermaid ParadeCrustacean Accordion Orchestra, uploaded by sameffron

It’s not everyday that you see a group of marching, accordion-playing shrimp, but then again, Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade isn’t an everyday event. This shot catches the ladies of the Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra squeezing their way through last month’s parade and sporting some truly fantastic shrimp hats. (Check out their costumes from last year’s parade, too.)

Update: For more accordion shrimp, check out this excellent photoset from one of the Main Squeezers.

The Galanti Super Dominator

Galanti Super Dominator AccordionA few months ago, I wrote about a vintage Galanti accordion ad promoting their Super Dominator line of accordions. Recently, an Italian reader sent me a Galanti brochure from the same period (around 1950), as well as a photo of his own Super Dominator. According to the brochure:

“This sensitive musical instrument will outperform any other comparable accordion. It is the supreme achievement of the Galanti artisans… the culmination of a half-century of musical craftsmanship.”

The ads don’t lie — this was an excellent accordion and one of the world’s best during its time. (Thanks Alberto!)

Galanti Super Dominator Ad

Flickr Find: Street Band in Madrid

Street Band, with three accordionistsStreet Band, uploaded by Fhoys

Love this photo of a street band busking in Madrid with not one, not two, but three accordionists. We definitely need some groups like this roaming the streets here in the US

Flickr Find: Accordion From Hell

DisccordionDisccordion, uploaded by creaturetheatre

Check out this fantastically decorated accordion, which belongs to a member of the Shadow Circus Creature Theatre in San Francisco. I’d like to think this is the accordion that the devil would have used in Those Darn Accordions’ rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Flickr Find: Buyer Beware

Buyer Beware
uploaded by h. wren
I love this old 1930s Wurlitzer accordion ad. Only the first few lines of text are shown, but it appears to be warning prospective accordion shoppers against the scourge of foreign-made instruments. But what I really love is the matter-of-fact introduction: “For fun, fame and profit play the accordion.” Ah… so that explains the proliferation of rich and famous accordionists everywhere. Sign me up!

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