Name That Accordion: C10?

Okay, accordion sleuths: reader Diane has sent us a few photos of an accordion with two notable features: a small V and “C10” on the front grille and a “Made in Italy” nameplate on the back. Thinking the V might be a clue to the manufacturer’s name, Diane contacted Victoria Accordions in Italy, but they didn’t recognize it. Any ideas? Click here for more photos.

Name that Accordion

An Historic Free-Reeds Collection

It’s been awhile since we’ve mentioned it, but if you’re into the history of free-reed instruments, is a treasure trove of research, photos, sheet music, and much more. A perfect example is Stephen Chambers’ excellent “Annotated Catalogue of Historic European Free-Reed lnstruments from my Private Collection.” From Æolinas and mouth organs to the earliest accordions and concertinas, the collection includes fascinating photos and descriptions of these instruments that paved the way for the accordions we play today.

An Annotated Catalogue of Historic European Free-Reed lnstruments

Accordions Are Sexy (and We Have Proof)

2009 Bay Area Accordion Babes Pin-Up CalendarTrying to fight that tired old stereotype that accordions are just for old men with lederhosen? The 2009 Bay Area Accordion Babes Pin-Up Calendar should do a thing or two to change that perception. This glossy, full-color calendar features stylized pin-up shots of 15 local accordion babes including Tara Linda, (Mad) Maggie Martin, Skyler Fell, and more. The calendar will sell for $20 and includes a companion CD with tracks by many of the ladies featured in the calendar. It’s the perfect holiday stocking stuffer.

You can order the calendar directly from one of the Accordion Babes’ sites listed below, or from Smythe’s Accordion Center:

You can get your first glimpse of the calendar this Thursday at the Wild Women of the Accordion show at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco. Pin-up girls Big Lou (with her Polka Casserole), Isabel Douglass (with Kugelplex), and Renee de la Prade (who organized the calendar) will all be performing. For those who can’t make it, here are some photos to whet your appetite:

Sansa Asylum  Amber Lee

Isabel Douglass

The Sounds of San Antonio

Accordion lovers descended on San Antonio this past weekend for the International Accordion Festival, featuring two dozen artists from around the world performing conjunto, polka, tango, zydeco, and everything in between. Early reports indicate it was another fantastic festival. For those (like us) who couldn’t make it, check out these festival photos, including shots of Boise-based basque band Amuma Says No and one of our local Bay Area groups, Rupa and the April Fishes. Or watch this up-close video of conjunto pioneer Paulino Bernal performing “Idalia.”

Name That Accordion: Old Wurlitzer

Grab your accordion identification toolkit… it’s time for another round of “Name That Accordion.” Today, reader Sherri B. has sent us some photos of an old Wurlitzer that once belonged to her great-grandfather. It’s an ornately decorated 120 bass, with a “Made in Germany” label on the back. Sherri thinks it’s from the turn of the (last) century, but that’s about all the information we have to go on. Have you seen a Wurlitzer like this one? How old is it really?

Name That Accordion

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Jascha Heifetz Cheats on Violin With Accordion

Jascha Heifetz on AccordionBefore Rolling Stone, before Spin, even before Let’s Polka, there was Accordion World magazine — keeping its finger on the pulse of America’s hottest up-and-coming instrument. Zevy Zions sent us this fantastic piece from the November 1936 issue which excitedly discusses violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz’s interest in the accordion and what it means for the instrument:

“THE EMINENT VIOLINIST, JASCHA HEIFETZ, is shown in the above photograph, apparently taking his accordion very seriously. It has become now, not a fad, but a matter of real interest with some of our most prominent musicians in other fields, to take to their bosom our beloved instrument.

Mr. Heifetz is studying the accordion and may soon surprise some of our best players.

A few years ago a photograph like this would have appeared preposterous. Today our Symphony orchestras are accepting the accordion one by one. Three or four of our universities are already admitting the instrument and giving credit for it. A great many of our high schools have their own accordion bands. Our great name orchestras are not only including but featuring the accordion. And now our greatest musicians are taking it up. That is progress.”


The Weekend That Was

If you missed the Monsters of Accordion tour, which wrapped up this past weekend in Seattle, you can download a podcast with highlights from Spokane7. The podcast has clips from the Monsters’ Spokane show, including performances by Karli Fairbanks’ new band Power Und Beauty, Amy Denio, Duckmandu, Mark Growden, and Jason Webley. The Spokane7 website also features a great video of Webley performing “Dance While The Sky Crashes Down.”

Kimric Smythe, owner of Smythe’s Accordion Center, also posted an excellent video of the Monsters of Accordion Master Class that took place before their Oakland show. Watch as Duckmandu and Jason Webley lead an eager class of accordion students through a spirited rendition of “California Ãœber Alles.”

Meanwhile, we’ve posted a handful of photos from last weekend’s Cotati Accordion Festival. We didn’t get to stay as long as we usually do — having a six-month-old will do that — but we still heard some great music and enjoyed chatting with our squeezebox buddies, old and new. If you have any photos or videos to share from either of these events, leave a comment and link ’em up!

Flickr Find: Psychedelic Accordionist

Jon Hammond, “World’s First Psychedelic Accordionist” (1971), uploaded by laterent2000

Some of you may know organist/accordionist Jon Hammond from his long-running, Manhattan jazz show, “The Jon Hammond Show,” or from his work as one of the world’s premier Hammond B3 organ players. In the early ’70s, though, Jon lived the true rock and roll accordion life — pumping his bellows (a Giulietti Classic electric accordion) and wearing fantastically loud, rainbow-striped pants. Those were the days, indeed.

Return of the Monsters of Accordion

Monsters of AccordionLock up your kids! The Monsters of Accordion all-accordion road show is back and ready to take the West Coast by storm. This year’s tour — which starts Thursday in Santa Rosa — is bigger than ever, with stops in ten cities including San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. Tour organizer Jason Webley is headlining once again; Mark Growden, Amy Denio, and Duckmandu will join him for every stop. Meanwhile, each show will include special local guests, including Eric Stern of Vagabond Opera, Dan Cantrell, Mrs. Hobbs, and many more.

As an added bonus this time out, the Monsters will be holding “Accordion Monster Master Classes” in Oakland (August 17) and Seattle (August 24). Class topics will include “choosing an accordion, left-hand technique, DIY instrument repair, audience participation, accordion for punks, repairing your van with a handgun, and the role of the accordionist in the digital era.”

Anna and I went to the show in San Francisco last year and it was easily one of the best (and most fun!) accordion events we’ve ever attended. Check out our photos and a video of the incomparable Corn Mo performing “We Are the Champions,” then make your plans to catch this year’s tour.

Petosa Accordions: Squeezing in Seattle

Petosa AccordionsI received a number of emails this weekend from accordion fans in the Pacific Northwest, pointing me towards this Seattle Post-Intelligencer front-page story on local squeezebox makers Petosa Accordions. The article chronicles the rise, fall, and current rebirth of the accordion, as seen through the eyes of the Petosa family, who have been building and selling accordions since 1922. Today, Petosa sells some of the finest high-end accordions in the world — a top model can set you back nearly $30,000 — to artists that include Dick Contino, Frank Marocco, and more. (They also have more affordable models for us average Joes.)

Be sure to check out the excellent slideshow that accompanies the article; it includes an audio interview with owner Joe Petosa Jr.

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