Squeezing With Jagger

It’s only rock and roll… but I like it. Mick Jagger was both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live this past weekend and, for his first number, he performed the Rolling Stones classic “The Last Time” while backed by Arcade Fire. It isn’t everyday you see the lead singer of the Stones shimmying with an accordion player (in this case, Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne), so savor this image while you can.

TV Alert: Petosa on The Price is Right

A few months ago we noted that ever since accordion player (and Cleveland native) Drew Carey took over as host of The Price is Right, accordions have been popping up on the show regularly as prizes. Now, we hear from Petosa Accordions in Seattle that Tuesday’s episode will feature one of their accordions as a prize on a game called “Tempations.” It’s awesome to see Drew — who’s the owner of a top-of-the-line Petosa AM-1100 himself — promoting our favorite instrument on national TV. Keep squeezin’, Drew!

Serbia Chooses the Accordion

I haven’t seen an accordion player on American Idol yet, but Eurovision — Europe’s annual song contest that pits nation against nation — rarely disappoints. Serbia just selected its representative for this year’s competition: “Cipela” (“The Shoe”) performed by Marko Kon and accordionist Milan Nikolic. According to Nikolic, the song was “based on an idea to bring the accordion back to the place it deserves. First in Serbia, then in the whole world as well.” That’s certainly an idea I can get behind.

The (Accordion) Price is Right

Accordion on The Price is Right

I was a huge fan of The Price is Right when I was a kid — to the point that I would put on my own version in my grandmother’s basement and make her play pricing games. (Plinko! Cliffhangers!) Things haven’t been the same since Bob Barker passed his microphone to Drew Carey, but I’ve noticed one positive change: accordions occasionally appearing as prizes. The screenshot above comes from a December episode featuring a blue Hohner Corona II. Anyone who watched The Drew Carey Show knows that Drew’s an accordion player; I wonder if some form of regular accordion promotion is written into his contract?

America’s Got Talented Accordionists

I try to avoid watching reality TV because it usually just makes me angry. For example, take this clip from the latest episode of America’s Got Talent in which Branson accordionists Dan and Kim Christian get the boot simply because they play the accordion.

“If there’s one thing worse than an accordion, it’s two accordions.” But what about three accordions? Or five accordions? Or (gasp) fourteen? Frankly, I don’t think you can ever have too many accordions.

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Watch the Polka/Zydeco Grammys Online

With so many Grammy categories, it’s no surprise that what you see on TV is only a tiny fraction of the awards presented (usually about 12 out of 110 total). Most awards are given out during a ceremony before the televised show.

This year, for the first time, you can watch those pre-televised awards — including Best Polka Album and Best Cajun/Zydeco Album — live online at Grammy.com. It starts at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern today and, while there are a lot of awards to get through, things move pretty fast.

‘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.

The Big Joe Polka Show

I like to think of The Big Joe Polka Show as polka’s answer to American Bandstand. Just replace the TV studio with a large plywood dance floor in an Elk’s Lodge, the awkward teens with polka dancing seniors, and Dick Clark with the charming “Big Joe” Siedlik and his loud, accordion-patterned vests.

For more than 25 years, Big Joe was a polka radio king, spinning a popular mix of Polish, Czech and German polka records for listeners in the Midwest. After retiring from radio, he moved to television and now showcases live polka bands and dancers on his program which airs nationwide on RFD-TV, “Rural America’s Most Important Network.”

Later this month, Big Joe will film a series of shows at the RFD-TV Theater in Branson, Missouri. It’s a big deal for the bands chosen to perform and they’re coming from all over the country — the Polka Chips from Alaska, Smilin’ Scandinavians from Washington, Phocus from Buffalo, and many more.

One of polka’s biggest promoters, Big Joe likes to say that “polka tots make polka teens, and polka teens make adult human beings.” This clip is proof of that, as Big Joe welcomes (and teases) the younger members of Colorado’s Polka Nuts:

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”.

More Eurovision Madness: Verka Serduchka

Like American Idol, the annual Eurovision Song Contest is one of my favorite musical guilty pleasures. Ridiculously cheesy songs delivered with over-the-top drama, usually in a language I can’t understand… what’s not to like?

I wrote about Israel’s controversial entry, “Push the Button”, last month but today I came across some lighter fare. “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” is the Ukraine’s entry — a high-energy dance number (with accordion, of course) sung by a cross-dressing guy who calls himself Verka Serduchka. He reminded me of San Francisco’s accordion-playing drag queen, Kielbasia, but if she had stayed in the old country and become a pop diva.

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