Jamming With The Yankovics

They shared a last name and a love of the accordion but, contrary to popular belief, polka king Frankie Yankovic and parody king Weird Al Yankovic weren’t actually related. In 1986, though, the two joined forces for this hilarious segment during the half-hour special Weird Al’s Guide to the Grammys. In it, Weird Al conducts a brief interview with Frankie (who was up for the first-ever Best Polka Album award that year) and then the two perform a polka medley of Record of the Year nominees including “Born in the USA” and “We Are The World”.

Roll Out the Barrel… Carefully

Monty plays 'Beer Barrel Polka.' Hilarity ensues.

Yesterday’s Monty comic is probably a good indication of how my neighbors feel. I almost always warm up by playing “Beer Barrel Polka”; maybe it’s time to mix up my practice repertoire… just for my own safety.

Have a Polka Question? Ask Zosia

Zosia, the polka advice columnistWondering how you can get your kids interested polka? Or where you can learn to polka in New York City? Take your polka problems to Ask Zosia, home of the “polka world’s lighthearted advice columnist.” (Ask Zosia is for entertainment purposes only; don’t blame us if she gives you bad directions to the Bayway Polish Home.)

Accordions at 9 Chickweed Lane

Today's 9 Chickweed Lane offers a definition of accordion

A light chuckle from this morning’s funnies, courtesy of 9 Chickweed Lane. Though I think accordions are something all our visitors can agree on. (Thanks David!)

The Shmenge Brothers’ Last Polka

John Candy and Eugene Levy as the Shmenge BrothersLet’s face it — certain aspects of polka culture are ripe for parody. And when it comes to polka parodies, nobody did it better than SCTV‘s Shmenge Brothers.

Hailing from the mythical country of Leutonia (“on the dark side of the Balkans”), Stan and Yosh Shmenge (portrayed by Eugene Levy and John Candy) came to America and conquered the polka charts before their abrupt retirement in 1984. Along with their band, the Happy Wanderers, they appeared frequently on SCTV playing everything from covers of new-wave hits to original tunes like “There’s Rhythm In My Lederhosen.”

Shmenge-mania reached its height with The Last Polka, a 1985 HBO “mockumentary” about the duo’s final concert. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically the polka version of Spinal Tap. Unfortunately, it isn’t available on DVD, but you can now watch the whole thing on YouTube (albeit divided into seven parts). Watch the first eight minutes and sing along to the Shmenge Brothers classic, “Cabbage Rolls and Coffee”:

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Flickr Find: Accordion Santas

What do you call it when hundreds of crazy Santas — often fueled by “high octane egg nog” — roam the streets en masse, spreading holiday cheer? It’s not anarchy; it’s Santarchy, an annual tradition that’s grown to include gatherings from Berlin to Tokyo, and numerous places in-between.

The Santas invaded San Francisco on Saturday and, while my suit didn’t make it back from the cleaners in time, I was happy to see these accordion-toting Santas in attendance. Jingle Bells Polka, anyone?

Sunday Funnies: Ballard Street

Figuring musicians get away with stuff the rest of us don't, Bob takes up music.

From this morning’s paper: a character in Ballard Street decides to take up the accordion. (Thanks, David.)

Happy Birthday Weird Al!

Young Al and his accordionAs he celebrates his 47th birthday today — one day after the 40th anniversary of his first accordion lesson — Weird Al Yankovic is enjoying the biggest commercial and critical success of his career. His new album, Straight Outta Lynwood, debuted at #10 on the Billboard album chart and the first single, “White and Nerdy”, has climbed as high as #9 on the singles chart. It’s the first time that Al has cracked the Top 10 in either chart.

Weird Al’s recent resurgence has also garnered critical appraisals of his role in popular culture. In the Village Voice last week, Jonathan Zwickel called Al a genius, noting that he has “always been out of fashion, which, if pop culture has taught us anything, makes him permanently in fashion.” Meanwhile, in Slate, Sam Anderson referred to Al as a “troubadork” whose “quintessential joke is to transfer the bravado and intensity of rap (or rock, or punk) into the mouth of some iconically unhip figure.” High praise for the author of “My Bologna”

Accordion Hero Teaser in Guitar Hero 2

I’ve covered my Guitar Hero addiction here before, but I had to post this. I just picked up the Guitar Hero 2 demo and my jaw dropped as this flashed across one of the loading screens:

Is it a nod to the Accordion Hero parody from earlier this year? Or have the makers of Guitar Hero finally realized there’s a vast, untapped market for accordion-related video games? After all, if they’ve made a Godfather game, can Accordion Hero really be that far behind?

Accordion Comic: In Tune With Fun

Tom's accordion playing wins him the respect of his peers.

You and I know that accordion playing is the key to a happy, healthy life and the admiration of your peers. But how do we convey that message to the youth of America?

Fortunately, there’s In Tune With Fun — a 1950s comic about learning to play the accordion. In it, we follow the story of young Tom, who sees the “Young People’s Accordion Band” perform and decides he wants to be just as happy and popular as those other accordion-playing kids. With the encouragement of his parents, a lot of practice, and many afternoons spent listening to Ernie Felice records, Tom becomes a self-assured young man and a sought-after accordionist. Women want to date him! Men want to be him!

It’s an inspiring tale, with a message that still resonates today. Take it from Tom: “You’ve never really had fun until you start taking accordion lessons.”

[Found via J-Walk Blog]

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