Accordion Idol: Winner Takes All

Craigslist recently started producing a fun series of videos called Craigslist TV, which follows interesting posts from real Craigslist users and shows how their transactions unfold.

In this episode, Robin wants to give away an old accordion… but there’s a catch. Whoever claims it must first play the accordion at a dinner party for her family. When three prospective “buyers” show up — professional Gigi, underdog Michael, and quirky Renee — an “Accordion Idol” competition is held, complete with a panel of judges to decide who gets to keep the accordion. Tune in for the feel-good story of the year.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Ray Charles, Johnny Cash… if they deserved their own biopics, then why not one for the accordion-playing king of song parodies, “Weird” Al Yankovic? Check out this wish-it-were-true trailer for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, with appearances by Patton Oswalt and Mary Steenburgen (!?!). I love the scene where Al’s dad finds the “Modern Accordion” and “Accordion Player” magazines with Walter Ostanek on the cover.

If you want to see the real “Weird” Al, he’s just announced summer concert dates — check his website for dates.

Fact: Accordionists Make Money

Soprani Ad: Accordionists Make Money

It’s easy to forget the accordion was once one of the country’s most popular instruments and accordion players were in high demand. But this Soprani accordion ad pitching the accordion’s money-making potential actually appeared in the August 1931 issue of The Etude Music Magazine. I wonder how many out-of-work musicans — keep in mind, this was during the Great Depression — embraced the get-rich-quick pitch: “Big demand in orchestras, radio work and for teachers… You master it quickly. Then watch your earnings grow.” Sounds great! Where do I sign up?

(Found via Lenny Feldmann, the Cordeen Man.)

Kids Love Accordions

After my last post about our most common email, I thought I’d highlight a cute email we received from a mother whose young sons have recently fallen in love with the accordion:

“My four and seven year old sons enjoy going to Oktoberfests and listening to the music, especially the accordion. We even purchased a CD at the last one and they listen to it everyday. Needless to say, they both put accordions on their Christmas lists. My four year old has decided he wants an accordion-themed party for his birthday; I am going to have a challenge finding accordion decor/favors, but will have fun searching! They also love dancing to polka music. They recently had friends over on a playdate and played polka music for them — it was pretty funny. It is priceless to see what interests your children develop!”

Sounds like these kids are on the right track. Do you have a young accordion aficionado in your family? Leave a comment and tell us an inspirational tale of your squeezebox lovin’ youngster.

An Ode to Food Poisoning

Anna had a nasty bout with food poisoning earlier this week, so to speed her recovery, here’s a video from Slim’s Cyder Co. called “Is it Love or Food Poisoning?” We’ve mentioned Slim and his gang before; they’ve been playing fun-loving, accordion-fueled country/rockabilly around the UK for more than fifteen years. Here’s hoping the next time Anna’s tummy feels queasy, it really is love and not food poisoning…

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Contest: The Joke’s On Us

As an accordion player, you’ve heard your fair share of ’em — today is the day to give back. In honor of April Fools Day, we’re opening the floodgates and holding an accordion joke contest. Share your favorite groaner and you could win something in the process.

To enter: Write a comment on this post and tell us your favorite accordion joke. One lucky joker — chosen at random — will receive a grab bag of Let’s Polka goodies. We can’t make any promises, but the package will likely include a mix of Let’s Polka stickers, albums from our collection, and whatever other squeeze-worthy goodies we have on hand.

The contest ends tonight at midnight, so start posting your jokes!

Update: Congratulations to our lucky winner, Ed Ploski! Thanks to everyone who contributed a joke!

Cymbal Monkey Faux Pas

I know how the monkey in this comic feels, showing up with an accordion and having everyone stare at you in horror. A few polkas or a quick rendition of “Rock and Roll All Nite” usually changes the mood, though. (Thanks David!)

‘Weird Al’ on The Simpsons!

Weird Al on The SimpsonsSet your Tivos, ‘Weird’ Al is making a cameo appearance on The Simpsons this Sunday night (8/7c), January 27th, 2008. This will be his second appearance on the show, putting him in an elite club of multi-time guests such as Stephen Hawking and Thomas Pynchon! For more information (warning: spoilers!) check out Al’s Myspace blog.

NY Times: Accordion Jokes Since 1877

Yesterday, the New York Times ended their TimesSelect program and opened up the previously subscription-only portions of their website to anyone. This means free access to all news and op-ed columns, as well as archives from 1987 to the present, and from 1851 to 1922. I love looking through old newspapers, so those early archives made me wonder: what were people writing about accordions back in the late 19th century?

Turns out that accordion jokes are nothing new. In an editorial titled “The Concertina” (August 18, 1877), the author rails against this “so-called musical instrument which is variously known as the accordion or concertina” as the “favorite instrument of the idle and depraved.” He goes on to compare its sound to the screams of a squeezed cat.

Another piece, “A Noble Act” (May 18, 1885), is a fictional account of three “public-spirited young men” who grab an “habitual and reckless accordion player” off the street and punish him by forcing him to listen to his own accordion.

“They have struck a lasting blow at the crime of accordion playing, and a service such as this can hardly be overestimated.”

Fortunately, accordion players are a resilient bunch; we survived that early resistance, the Lawrence Welk era, and Urkel from Family Matters. Like it or not, we’re here to stay!

Polka: The Last Real Indie Scene

Diesel Sweeties comic

Diesel Sweeties confirms what we already knew: polka is the new rock and roll.

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