Friday, November 27, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Free MP3s From Those Darn Accordions
Monday, October 05, 2009
Young Accordionist Shreds Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
New Pix From TDA's 20th Anniversary Tour
If you've been following us on Twitter, or have attended any of the shows on our 20th anniversary tour, you may have heard of the fabulous accordion-shaped casserole (pictured) cooked up by our pal Al in Wisconsin.
Served with refreshing Polish beer provided by Gary, it made for an unbelievably awesome meal after our massive "Beer Barrel Polka" finale in Oshkosh.
See more tour photos -- including the feisty-yet-doomed Somonauk Crawdad -- on the TDA multimedia page.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
'My Accordion' Tells Life Story of Carmen Vitanza
Friday, August 21, 2009
Here Comes TDA
Show #1 of 20 was in Alameda, CA. A nice warm up for Cotati Accordion Festival on Saturday. Come early and hear some great accordion playing, drink beer and eat some great food! We go on at 6:25 PM and will have lots of special guests from the early years of TDA. See ya there!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
A Toast To Those Darn Accordions
In the secluded studios of the TDA graphic arts department, a special commemorative pint glass is being prepared. Rumor has it that the TDA van will be making a diversion on its trip across the United States to pick them up at a secret location known only to a few select band members and the 100 or so employees that work there and their other customers and I guess anyone else who knows how to Google. Stay tuned for more info and how you might be able to procure one of these limited-edition glasses.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Saying Goodbye To Clyde Forsman, 1915 to 2009
Clyde Forsman, former Those Darn Accordions frontman and tireless champion of the accordion, passed away peacefully Friday night at his home in San Francisco. He died of complications from diabetes, compounded by a series of strokes, according to his family. He will be greatly missed.
A wonderful entertainer, Clyde never failed to bring a smile to the faces of his fans, whether he was knocking them dead with his takes on Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" -- which remain to this day the standard by which covers of those tunes must be measured -- or just chatting before or after a show.
With a lifetime of experience as a musician and carpenter, he always had a story to tell. His amazingly colorful tattoos (which can be seen on the covers of TDA records Squeeze This! and No Strings Attached) always caught the audience's eye. But it was Clyde's limitless charm and infectious personality that hooked 'em forever.
To say that we had some amazing times on the road together would be an understatement. Clyde's performances with TDA were legendary.
I had the honor to work side-by-side with Clyde for more than 10 years and I can tell you that his energy and humor were truly inspiring. He joined TDA at the very first gig in at San Francisco's Paradise Lounge back in 1989 at the age of 74. He stayed with us till 2000, wowing crowds at hundreds of shows.
Clyde's performances across the country won him friends everywhere we played. He was always eager to talk to fans before and after a show and regale them with countless tales, each one more amazing than the last. I know he drew great pleasure from his time spent with TDA and appreciated all the kind words and encouragement he received from his fans. Thank you all for helping make this wonderful memory for him.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Outrage: Grammys Kill 'Best Polka' Category
The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is eliminating the Grammy for best polka album.
The latest slap in the face to accordion lovers everywhere, announced Thursday, is a move to keep the Grammys "pertinent within the current musical landscape," according to the recording industry group.
"It's not that the polka world's not used to it," said Carl Finch, leader of the mighty Texas band Brave Combo, which beat out perpetual winner Jimmy Sturr for the polka Grammy twice in the last decade.
"The polka world expects it," said Finch. "It's like, 'Yeah, the man did it to us again.'"
No kidding -- this is an outrage! The academy now wants polka records to be nominated in the folk category.
This is all part of the gray-beard music industry's drawn-out death throes -- the old categorizations don't work anymore. The old ways of selling records don't work anymore. The superstar system doesn't work anymore. MTV doesn't play music, people don't buy CDs, even the giants don't reliably sell millions of units anymore.
Maybe the Academy will replace the polka category with a "best manufactured band created for a television show and marketed via a soft-drink tie-in" category. Because it's clearly not about the music anymore.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Accordionize Your Home - Part IV
You just did laundry and somehow there's a bunch more to do again. Will this chore never end? Why not duct tape an accordion to your dryer's vent*? That's what some freshmen at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute did to their dorm's vent. Freshman Kyle McDonald explains more in the video's description.
*- Team TDA takes no responsibility for any damage caused by blocking your dryer vent. The above video has been blogged about for entertainment purposes only. But if you do anything cool like that, be sure to share the video with us!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Battlestar Galactica Composer Plays Accordion
I love Battlestar Galactica. I love the music for Battlestar Galactica, which is composed by Bear McCreary. I also happen to have a certain fondness for the accordion.
So how come I'm only now finding out that Bear plays accordion?
See him in action in this video from his 30th birthday party, in which he joins his brother's band in a version of "All Along the Watchtower" -- Galactica style.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Don't Miss the Mad Maggies' CD Release Party
The Mad Maggies play a special CD-release party this Saturday in San Francisco. Accordion-squeezin' bandleader Maggie Martin is a hoot, and a great friend of TDA.
Original TDA drummer Bill Schwartz plays with the Maggies these days, and the big band consists of a bunch of nice people playing fun and interesting international music.
Think reels, sea chanteys, polkas and some rock, all pulsed through a giant honking blender with horns, accordion and a full rhythm section.
The new record, Skull & Magpies, sounds great, and I was lucky enough to play on a few of the tracks.
Here are the details on the CD-release party from Maggie herself:
A rousing night of musick, pyrates and high seas rabble celebrating the Mad Maggies latest musical offering, Skull & Magpies.
Doors open at 8 p.m. -- $10 donation
The Accordion Apocalypse Repair Shop
2626 Jennings St., Bayview
San Francisco • (415) 596-5952
Look your pyrate or wench best!
Because it is a "private" organization's party it can be all ages.
The owner Skylar will contract for someone to run a bar (with rum drinks, natch ;-)
If you are anywhere near San Francisco, get thee to the partee.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wild Women of the Accordion
Tonight, Nov 13, at the Cafe du Nord there's a Wild Women of the Accordion show scheduled to entertain you this Mini-Friday. The show features TDA alum Big Lou and her band Polka Casserole, as well as Kugelplex, and Renee de la Prade and Friends.
Visit SFGate.com for more info, including an interview with Lou.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Paul's Sales Pitch
I haven't exactly been getting a swarm of Presenters around the TDA booth, so today I decided to sign up as an alternate at the Juried Showcases for a 2 minute pitch slot. It was looking like I wasn't going to get in, but then someone didn't show up and they called my name. I gotta tell ya, I was way more nervous walking up to the podium in that huge auditorium than I have ever been doing a show. I quickly realized the only way I could pull this off was to treat this like a gig and act like I was just talking between songs. So with shaking hands, and a dry mouth, I stared into the blinding spotlight and said: (It's weird that I can remember it so clearly)
"Hi folks, my name is Paul Rogers and I am with Those Darn Accordions. We are a 6 piece accordion band made up of 4 accordions, bass and drums. Beside myself, there are three woman that play the accordion and sing beautifully. We play everything from polkas to Led Zeppelin, but 90% of our music is original. These are clever, funny, thought provoking songs that reflect the human condition as I see it. (I paused here to see if I might get a chuckle. I didn't). We have performed on the Great American Music Awards with Drew Carey, Penn & Teller's "Sin City Spectacular", The Donny & Marie Show, and the Tammy Faye Baker show...I could on..(a few chuckles). You know folks, people come up to me after shows and say, "Paul, after the first song or two, we forget you are even playing accordions". (Pause) I've chosen to take that as a compliment. ( More chuckles) Ladies and gentlemen, I sense a lot of fear out there. I see it in your eyes as you enter the exhibit hall and see that word...Accordions. (a nice laugh as I gestured up behind me). I see you veering off to one side or the other. (More laughter) But folks, this conference is all about stepping outside our "comfort zone" and trying something new. (laughter continues) So I want all of you to step up to booth L20 and find out what TDA's really all about. Thank you very much. (a couple of "shouts of "Yeah", great applause)
Out in the hall I had several people come up and say "great pitch!" I was really glad it was over and it went well. Then I ran into the woman that ran the "Believe in Yourself" workshop I attended yesterday and she was very effusive and said she was very proud of me. I hope all of you are too.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
TDA to Perform"Con Te Sulla Spiaggia"
We're playing the Eldorado's Great Italian Festival this weekend in Reno, NV so we thought it would make sense to add another Italian tune to the show. (Carri and Susie already do a show stopping version of "It's Now Or Never/O Solo Mio".) Our research dug up this Italian pop song from the '60s, made popular by Nico Fidenco; "Con Te Sulla Spiaggia". Our in-house translator, Carri Abrahms, has provided English lyrics for me. It's a good thing, because I really butchered the Italian ones. This should be fun.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Monsters of Accordions Attack the Bay
Jason Webley starts another Monsters of Accordions tour tonight in Santa Rosa, Calif. The tour zips along the west coast with the other stops in the Bay Area this weekend.
Other squeezebox monsters joining Webley's gypsy-punk-floor-stomping-storyteller stylings on the tour will be Mark Growden, Amy Denio, Duckmandu, as well as special guests at each location.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Win a Roland V-Accordion & a trip to Rome!
Saturday September 20, 2008 in Los Angeles at Roland's U.S. Headquarters accordionists will be competing to win a trip to Rome, Italy to perform in the International Accordion Festival held by Roland on November 7 & 8, 2008. The grand prize winner will walk away with Roland's FR-7 or FR-7b V-Accordion. The FR-7 was previously mentioned here, as the new instrument "Weird Al" recently fell in love with.
The competition is open in the United States to Senior Soloists performing non-vocal pieces under 5 minutes. For more details and photos from last year's competition, click over to the official event site.
To see what your new toy can do when you win, here's a Roland staffer demonstrating the instrument's potential at a recent NAMM convention.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
So Long to "Chef" Isaac Hayes
New Review of TDA CDs
Baron Dave Romm offers up a review of 4 TDA CDs. Baron Dave is a conceptual artist and a noble of Ladonia who produces Shockwave Radio Theater, writes in a Live Journal demi-blog, plays with a very weird CD collection and an ever growing list of political links. He reviews things at random for obscure web sites. You can read all his music recommendations from Bartcop-E. Podcasts of Shockwave Radio Theater, Permanent archive. More radio programs, interviews and science fiction humor plays can be accessed on the Shockwave Radio audio page.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Cotati Accordion Fest Lineup Is Live
Here's the full lineup for the 2008 Cotati Accordion Festival.
Those Darn Accordions is not on the list, but some great and quirky squeezeboxers will perform: Dick Contino, TDA alumna Big Lou, Polka Freakout, The Great Morgani and many more.
Don't stay away on our account.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Accordions Anonymous Gets 'Behind the Bellows'
Nobody will ever call Those Darn Accordions the world's most-covered band, so when we see or hear somebody doing a version of one of our tunes, we're thrilled.
Witness Accordions Anonymous' cover of "Behind the Bellows." From the the YouTube description: "Accordions Anonymous, here joined by one of our founding mothers, Lorelei A. (aka Queen Accordionna), performs the Those Darns Accordions song 'Behind the Bellows' at the S.L.U.G. Queens' Ball, June 6, 2008, at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene." (I'm guessing that must Oregon.)
And here's a secret little coincidence: We recently added "Behind the Bellows" to the TDA set list. Come see us in Wisconsin this weekend (we play Monroe and Milwaukee) and you might hear it.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Cool Accordion Cake
Thursday, June 05, 2008
How to Promote Your Band on MySpace (With Accordions)
Wired.com's How-To Wiki has a cool post on How to Promote Your Band on MySpace, and I must say they've chosen an excellent band photo to illustrate "Step 1: Gather Your Promotional Materials."
Here's a hint from the instructional article: "Look and learn: Women with accordions in front, dorky dudes in the back."
A little background: The photo is a collage put together by our pal Sean "It's Not Art" Pete, who's recently started blogging on The Wall of Wheeze. The individual pix, which were shot by Wired.com photo editor (and my old college buddy) Jim Merithew, were taken for our latest record, Squeeze Machine.
Sean also created the steampunk accordion that graces the cover of Squeeze Machine (steampunk accordion T-shirts are still available).
Monday, June 02, 2008
June Is National Accordion Awareness Month
Friday, May 30, 2008
Los Angeles Accordion Festival Comes to Life
The first Los Angeles Accordion Festival is happening this Friday through Sunday at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall, Aerie 2188 in Eagle Rock, according to Pasadena Weekly.
"If you think it's going to be all polkas, think again," the paper says. "The event showcases the diverse styles performed on the instrument, including Cajun, Irish, rockabilly, Tex-Mex, zydeco, alternative and experimental."
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
'Weird Al' Goes Digital With Roland FR-7 V-Accordion
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Kimmo Pohjonen Pairs Accordion With Tractors
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Squeezebox Is a 'Secret Handshake'
"The accordion is a secret handshake," says Don Turner, 43, a board member for the Milwaukee Accordion Club. "If you play accordion, and someone else plays, well, you'll help one another."
That's just one of the squeezebox secrets laid out in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profile of the club, which is keeping the accordion spirit alive in the city Those Darn Accordions is proud to call its second home.
The article tells the by-now-ragged tale of the squeezebox's fall from grace after its polka-powered heyday in the '50s.
"The misconception is that it's only good for the polka," says club president Shirl Barry. "You can play wonderful French waltzes, Argentine tangos and classical pieces."
Oh yeah, and rock and funk and swing and goofball country and heavy metal, too. Keep on squeezin' ...
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Accordion: Perfect Instrument for Earth Hour
Want a little music when you shut out the lights for Earth Hour tonight? A Canadian writer has the perfect instrument for the environmental event: the accordion.
Corey Larocque, writing in The Niagara Falls Review, lays out the plan: "Personally, busting out and dusting off the accordion are in store."
Come to think of it, the accordion is a pretty "green" instrument (although maybe not the way it's wielded by Those Darn Accordions, what with the Marshall stacks and wah-wah pedals and all).
Played acoustically, the squeezebox is loud enough to be heard above a dancehall crowd, even without amplification. Of course, who knows where that mother of pearl comes from ...
Friday, March 07, 2008
Help Build the TDA Top 20 iMix!
Dear Friend of TDA:
We need your help! We want to put together the top 20 Those Darn Accordions songs of all time and make them available as a custom "best of" iMix for download on iTunes.
Of course, we're all a little too close to the subject matter, if you know what I mean. And we'd really like to know what songs you like the best: What tunes get you laughing, dancing, singing, sneezing, whatever. It's a pretty big and varied catalog we've put together over the years, and we would love to know what songs the most important people in the world -- our fans -- really enjoy. (Can you believe this band has been pumping and grinding for almost two decades?)
So, whip out your iPod or your TDA CDs and cassettes, and give 'em a listen. Then e-mail us a list of your fave 20 TDA songs of all time, along with your snail-mail address, and we'll send you a free bumper sticker for your help. Bonus points if you put together a thematic list -- best TDA polkas, best TDA kids tunes, etc.
We'll tally the "best of" votes and put together the ultimate iMix of TDA songs. When we have the iMix complete, we'll let you know where you can go on iTunes to check it out.
We look forward to seeing your lists!
Paul Rogers and the rest of Team TDA
Squeeze Machine Secrets: 'Mr. Saggy Butt'
OK, let me just say from the outset that I am fully aware this is a ridiculous song. Of course, that only means it satisfies nicely the stringent criteria for inclusion in the TDA repertoire.
Having got that out of the way, let me quickly relate the inspiration for this ditty. It was on a family trip to the local mall, which in my case is about 40 miles away. There I had my first sighting of "The Mall Walkers."
I had read about these folks appearing in large midwest malls in the winter time and walking briskly around the the entire place for exercise. They usually show up just after the mall opens and begin walking a set course that takes them by literally every shop in the complex. I guess in a way you could call it power window shopping. They tend to walk in pairs and dress so they blend in with the rest of the shoppers, but not always. The more seasoned MW's wear sweats and headbands and take it pretty darn seriously. They've got elbows and they know how to use them, so you want to give these type a wide berth.
Regardless of dress, it's the relentless pace that gives them away. I was immediately mesmerized when I realized I had spotted some right in our own mall blazing by a Radio Shack and cutting a clean swath right through the heart of the line at the Cinnabon. I wanted to follow them but my wife yanked me into an Eddie Bauer and the moment was lost. It was a great image and I filed it away in hopes I could use it somewhere.
Now, every mall has at least one guy that does exactly the opposite of what the mall walkers do. His goal is walk as slowly as possible and linger as long as possible before he is rousted by the security guards and forced to move on. Although you could argue that they too are trying not to be noticed, you have to wonder when you see how they tend to accessorize their attire. In this case, I saw a fellow with all sorts of things hanging off his belt. A teddy bear, toy monkey head, etc. I never got a close enough to get a good look, so I was forced to make a few things up. But one thing that was very clear was his saggy pants. I think the idea is to drop one's drawers to such a low point, that the only mode of locomotion left possible is a slow shuffle.
It's really a bit like a self-imposed governor on one's ability to move. It seems to work great. So I went home with all this churning in my mind and mixed it all up and out came "Mr Saggy Butt." It's silly to be sure, but not nearly so much as the dance I made up to go with it.
I sent a little video of it to the rest of the band so they could learn it and they all replied that they were very concerned about my mental health. Not a new development, but perhaps further proof that may be used against me later. I do hope this doesn't show up on YouTube.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Are You In The TDA Tribe?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Long Live 'Unusual Music'
It's always nice to get a shout-out for your tunes, and it's particularly pleasing when it appears in your hometown paper. The Detroit Free Press (Paul grew up in Motor City) tags our version of "Fire" as "especially distinctive," honoring Those Darn Accordions in a story about "unusual music." Other musical oddities mentioned include ukelele great Jake Shimabukuro, the masters of Bavarian reggae and 11-year-old yodeler Taylor Ware:
Imagine Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" played by a bunch of accordions. Can't get your mind around that? Then listen to the first album by Those Darn Accordions, a group that, in fact, plays very well.Thanks for listening, Freep staff writer Alex Cruden!
It all began in San Francisco one night in 1989, supposedly for a one-time-only gig, according to www.allmusic.com. A player known as Big Lou, previously of Polkacide, pulled together all the accordionists she could find who wanted to play a set.
Membership has changed, but the group persists. Its latest album, "Squeeze Machine," came out just last year.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Pohjonen: Finnish for 'Pretentious'?
OK, so I'm slow. It took me nearly a year (and a profile piece in The Sydney Morning Herald) to work up the nerve to watch this clip of Kimmo Pohjonen after I first heard of the Finnish accordionist. Do yourself a favor and skip straight to about six minutes in, where a gibbering Pohjonen does a crazy impersonation of a homeless guy. You'll still get plenty of the pretentious, droning, "I crushed my accordion in a trash compactor" noise.
"Finland's Jimi Hendrix of the accordion" fares a little better in this KTU clip, in which the King Crimson rhythm section adds a little, well, rhythm.
I know not every Finn suffers from a complete lack of humor: Check out StSanders' parody "shreds" videos for some of the funniest music clips around. But geez. This Pohjonen guy kind of but not quite gives me the creeps. I just didn't know the accordion could be so ... joyless.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Behold, the trailer for filmmaker Steve Mobia's squeezebox documentary, Behind the Bellows. Perhaps the title sounds familiar. Perhaps the rock accordion band featured in the trailer looks familiar. Perhaps this is a film any fan of Those Darn Accordions -- or, indeed, of the humble squeezebox itself -- needs to see.
(Via Let's Polka)
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
TDA's Next Cover Tune?
'Larry' Gets a Nice Review
Many thanks to UkeDoggy for the gushing review of "Larry's Wonderful Life" on Amazon.com. I especially like the part where he says he envisions a day when a lot of old TDA tunes will be "rediscovered" and given their due. We can only hope!
Monday, January 07, 2008
Squeezeboxing Is Better Than Sex?
When it comes to burning calories, playing accordion edges out sexual activity, according to the the University of South Carolina report, "The Compendium of Physical Activities."
British blog Music Thing casts a wary eye on the study, and so do I -- for instance, the researchers say playing accordion takes less energy than "playing flute (sitting)." Have these researchers ever even lifted an accordion? Do they know people sometimes play them while standing up, or even jumping around?
I'll bet dollars to donuts these fancy-pants scientists never saw a Those Darn Accordions show.
Putting the Squeeze on Street Accordionists
Norwegian cops are cracking down on accordion-playing street musicians, according to Aftenposten. The paper's quote from the police chief is awesome:
"The reports we've had indicate that people are being driven mad by the tunes coming from the accordions all day long," said police chief Truls Fyhn. "I have myself stopped to listen, and let me make it very clear: The quality of the music is very, very low."
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Those Darn Accordions Pix From San Antonio
Don't know how I missed Kay Douglas' great pictures from the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, but here they are:
There are some fun shots of TDA as well as many, many pictures of other performers and happy audience members. Truly fine photography. Thanks, Kay!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
A Visit With Clyde
Got this photo from former TDA member Patty Brady on a recent visit she made to Clyde Forsman, another TDA alum. For those of you lucky enough to have caught Clyde in action at Milwaukee Summerfest and other festivals, you know what a great showman he was. He's had a pretty rough year and I'm hoping to pay a visit this week while I'm in the Bay Area. His rendition of Hendrix's "Fire" is legendary. If anyone would like to send a note to Clyde, just post a comment here and I'll forward it to him. I know he'd love to hear from his fans!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
TDA Video Clip: 'Them Hippies Was Right'
I put a video clip of "Them Hippies Was Right" up on YouTube. The sound is pretty gnarly, but it's kind of fun to watch. It's from a 2006 show at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California. Check it out!
Friday, November 30, 2007
TDA X-Mas Shopping Tips
Before you run out to Wal-Mart and load up on oodles of toxic toys from China, I'd like to suggest you visit this guide to buying American. Lots of ways to Christmas shop right here in the good old USA! Of course, I'm proud to say that TDA Music is 100 percent American-made, so if you'd like to give the gift that lasts multiple lifetimes,and has actually been proven to extend a few, click on over to our special Holiday Gift Pack page. We've got special offers designed to meet the needs of the most discerning diatonic devotee!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Accordions Take Blame for Everything
Sunday, November 25, 2007
A Tour With Teller
Having had the pleasure of performing with Teller on Penn and Teller's Sin City Spectacular, I found it quite interesting to take an inside peek at the abode of this quiet magical genius, courtesy of USA Today. While Teller's onstage persona is mute, I am honored to say that I have had lively conversation with him and he is indeed a gentleman and a scholar.
Take a virtual tour of Teller's home in this Flash photo gallery (don't miss the secret bookcase).
Thursday, November 22, 2007
A Building That Looks Like an Accordion
Most wild architectural flights of fancy look better on paper than they do in real life. But there's no denying that architect Ken Shuttleworth's design for a London building with a pleated facade looks an awful lot like an accordion's bellows. Shuttleworth told the Evening Standard he wanted the squeezebox-shaped building to "reinstate a more coherent plan of the square as envisaged by (Christopher) Wren." Wren's monument to the great fire of London will be reflected in the accordion building's bellowslike reflective face.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Lucy Liu Played the Accordion
Actress Lucy Liu tells Parade magazine that she tried the accordion as a kid -- but wasn't that great, so she gave it up.
"When I was young, I tried violin and accordion for two weeks each," she said. "I was really horrible at the violin. And I wasn’t good at the accordion, but I liked it."
Too bad ... I bet she'd be great at it now -- ever see her kung fu skills in Charlie's Angels?
Monday, November 12, 2007
A Squeezebox Story for Veterans' Day
World War II veteran John Martino storming Omaha Beach with an accordion in tow. A squeezebox plucked from Hitler's bunker. What can I say? These vignettes make the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review feature, "Region's Vets Retell Vivid Stories," the perfect Veterans' Day reading on the Wall of Wheeze.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Nice Review for Squeeze Machine
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Squeezin' in San Antonio, Part 4
Express-News journo Jim Beal Jr.'s blog coverage of the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio includes some cool pictures of performers. He also doles out some superlatives -- guess who he named "best-dressed band"? That's right: That title goes to "Those Darn Accordions, at least the three female members, Carri Abrahms, Susie Davis and Suzanne Garramone."
Paul's button-free Rockordion also gets the nod for "most radically altered accordion," and there are plenty more accolades and witty observations to go around. In fact, I nominate Jim for best coverage of the International Accordion Festival.
For more on the festival, check out the San Antonio Current's feature story, "Argentina, via the Ukraine." It starts out profiling "Argentinian accordion superstar Chango Spasiuk" and discussing the festival's truly international roots, then swerves into an interview with Paul about TDA's "oddball path" to squeezebox rock.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Squeezin' in San Antonio, Part 3
The Express-News' Jim Beal Jr. provides a post-action report of Day 1 at San Antonio's International Accordion Festival, headlined "Fest Offers a Lot of Fun and Tradition."
"The old music and the new music kept dancers moving and large crowds at three stages grooving to the classic Western swing of the Ridgetop Syncopators; the Native American "chicken scratch" (a relative of conjunto) of Southern Scratch; the Celtic of Johnny B. Connolly and the Tradmarks; the San Antonio conjunto/rock of Texmaniacs; Quebecois from Yves Lambert & Le Bebert Orchestra; the complex Argentine folk/world music of Chango Spasiuk and his band; and the rollicking, rocking, four-accordion attack of San Francisco-based Those Darn Accordions."
There's a lot of roots music at the festival, and many mighty nice musicians hanging around. (We're getting quite an introduction to the button box and creole music, courtesy of Ed Poullard, who plays a mean fiddle alongside Louisiana accordionist Lawrence Ardoin, and builds button boxes himself). The festival organizers and volunteer staffers couldn't be any nicer, and the post-fest poolside party was pleasant as all get out.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Squeezin' in San Antonio
We're lovin' the International Accordion Festival so far. San Antonio is beautiful, the people are nice, and it's always fun to watch your bandmates put on a workshop.
Suzanne, Carri and Susie were joined onstage by a local San Antonio squeezebox player and another from Austin for the "Calling All Accordion Grrrrls!" workshop, which was moderated by festival organizer Pat. All these lovely ladies talked about their instruments and what it's like to be a female squeezer. They also played a few tunes.
Paul joined the women of TDA to sing a polka (even though he was wearing black socks with shorts).
Well, it's time for our first set -- come on down to San Antonio if you can. We play Saturday and Sunday, and this place is lousy with accordion greats.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
'Humor Rules' When It Comes to TDA
Nice TDA profile in today's San Antonio Express-News. "Humor rules during a TDA album and show," writes Jim Beal Jr., who has been pulling for us to get a slot at the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio for years.
Now it's all about to happen. Should be a riot (or at least a "heaping helping of accordions"). Thanks for your support, Jim! We're really looking forward to being part of an event with so many squeezebox greats.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
'Latino Roots' Spice Up San Antonio Squeeze Fest
The accordion's place in Latin music will be celebrated at the 2007 International Accordion Festival in San Antonio this weekend, according to Express News. Of course, we'll be there (we're listed as "alternative").
Check out the full list of performers and workshops (including one dubbed "Calling All Accordion Grrrrls!"). Wonder who'll be at that one?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
End of an Era: Art Altenburg Leaves Concertina Bar
Looks like Milwaukee treasure Art Altenburg finally found a buyer for his truly wonderful Concertina Bar.
That's bittersweet news -- I know Art has been trying to sell the place for a few years, so I'm happy for him. But I'll miss his 100-watt hospitality, his bar-top concertina riffs, his cheerful "beer time!" I'll even miss the broiled cheese curds. But I'm sure it's a good thing for Art, who says he will move to his family farm, take care of his mother and "probably go chasing women."
The possible silver lining is that "the new owner, Andy Kochanski, intends to keep the tradition of Art's alive, but minus Art," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. What's more, "Andy plans to allow accordions. Art is such an aficionado of concertinas that he would never allow their keyboarded cousins in the bar," the paper says (although Art always gave us the warmest of welcomes).
Good luck, Art, and good luck, Andy!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Smoke Gets in Your Squeeze
Yet another reason smoking sucks: Secondhand smoke fouls squeezeboxes. Independent.ie reports that "anecdotal evidence" indicates "the interiors of accordions played regularly in smoke-filled environments are dirtied as a result of the trapping of contaminant particles circulating in the air as it filters through the instrument." Freaky. (And possibly the least often cited reason for a smoking ban.)
Friday, September 28, 2007
Squeeze and Vino: I Guess It Works
I'm getting a little fascinated by the accordion/wine convergence. First it's accordions as the backdrop for a Canadian grape-stomp competition. Now comes word that accordion music fills the air at an Oktoberfest held at Lynfred Winery in Roselle, Illinois. The Daily Herald reports that the event also features barrel races and grape-spitting and -stomping contests.
Now that's news to me. I always thought Oktoberfests -- like the Columbia County Oktoberfest we're playing tonight in Oregon -- were all about the beer.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
How Flogging Molly Got Its Squeeze Back
OK, I don't technically know how it happened, but Flogging Molly is recording a new record in Ireland, and the band has reunited with accordion player Matt Hensley. Reunited, and it feels so good ...
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Who Says Accordionists Can't Be Rock Stars?
Michael Hearst of One Ring Zero, that's who. Says Hearst to an audience at the University of Dayton (as reported by indie student paper Flyer News): "I should have worn sunglasses and done the rock star thing. It just doesn’t work so well with an accordion."
Man, have I got news for him. Has he ever seen Susie Davis in action, belting out a Led Zeppelin medley? Has he ever seen Paulie "Wah Wah" Rogers rip through a screaming squeezebox solo? Probably not, actually, but still ...
P.S. Bonus points to the first person who can name the accordionlike instrument Hearst is playing in the photo that accompanies the story (without reading the story, that is, since it's identified in the piece). Looks pretty rock 'n' roll to me!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Accordion, Digital Delay and All That Jazz
I don't have a clue how to pronounce his name, but I want to hear accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen in action. The All About Jazz website describes his tweaked squeezebox music like this:
"With the aid of added microphones, digital relays and delays, he has dragged the accordion wheezing, shrieking and wailing into the new century. Taking it by its bellows, and with an acute awareness both of the prejudices the instrument brings as well as the visual appeal it can also offer, he has composed and performed in a multiplicity of styles and tastes."
All About Jazz's lengthy Q&A with Pohjonen gets into the Finnish musician's history and his experiments with various electronics to transform the sound of his button box.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Accordions Plus Wine Is Fine
Usually beer comes to mind when thirsty people think of accordion music. But the squeezebox's Italian heritage came into play when a pair of accordion players provided the soundtrack for a charity grape-stomp fundraiser for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
"With a little accordion music, you can't go wrong," participant Stephanie Stasyna told the Ottawa Sun. You said it, Steph.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Squeezer Gets His Minute of Glory
Friday, September 14, 2007
Is There an 'Accordion Face'?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Pink Floyd a la Polka
The Polka Floyd Show, a musical mashup out of Toledo, Ohio, performs the classic rock band's songs polka-style, with an accordion high in the mix. "We take the songs and make our own thing out of it," drummer Frank Dramczyk tells The Independent Collegian. "We get an incredible amount of people shaking their heads, in a good way, saying 'Wow, that is really cool.' No one has walked up to us and said, 'You are a disaster.' We expected a lot more bad input than what we've received."
Musical genius or just another schtick in the wall? Hear it for yourself at the band's MySpace page.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Julieta Venegas Calls Accordions 'Organic'
Award-winning accordion player Julieta Venegas calls the squeezebox "a very organic instrument" in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News (and published on KansasCity.com).
"There's something magical about the strength of it," Venegas says. I'm thinking that, if accordions are organic, we can charge more for them.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Nice Promo for Gogol Bordello
The Portland Mercury's advance notice for a Gogol Bordello show hits all the right notes: The "UN-approved punk rock" band is led by frontman Eugene Hutz, who's "part Iggy Pop and part Borat."
A friend of TDA slipped us a Gogol Bordello CD in Oshkosh, Wis., and I've been rocking it in the pickup almost every day since I got back to the Bay Area. Very much do I agree now with this fine music and newspaper review. Thanks you very much.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Bust Out the Popcorn for The Accordion, the Movie
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Monsters of Accordion Descend on Bay Area
There's gonna be a whole lotta squeezin' goin' on this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area. Saturday and Sunday you've got the Cotati Accordion Festival (we play Sunday).
And if that's not enough accordion action, the Monsters of Accordion tour rolls into town Friday (Frisco) and Saturday (Oakland). Jason Webley, Corn Mo, Geoff Berner and Duckmandu will be playing, with special guests to include East Bay squeezebox fiend Kimric Smythe and others. SF Station writes it up.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Look Out, Cotati -- Here We Come
We play the Cotati Accordion Festival this Sunday, Aug. 26. Also on the bill that day: Brave Combo, Culann's Hounds, The Mad Maggies and more. Check the full schedule to see what accordion madness awaits both days (the $25 two-day pass is the obvious bargain). Guaranteed good times!
Accordions: Funny or Enchanting?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Cleveland Dedicates Frankie Yankovic Square
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Accordions Storm the Nation's Capital
Lots of international accordion action in Washington, D.C., starting Monday, when the Coupe Mondiale (World Cup) squeezebox competition rolls into the capital. The weeklong event is co-hosted by the American Accordionists' Association and the Accordionists and Teachers Guild International, and the Washington Post has the scoop on a bunch of related concerts and street performances, some of which are free. (Guess TDA's invitation got lost in the dead letter office.)
Emmylou Harris Loves Accordions
Friday, August 10, 2007
Are You Ready to Rock, Monroe?
Or maybe the more important question is, "Can you handle the Limburger, Mr. Rogers?" Get the answer to these burning questions and more in a funny interview with Paul that appears in The Monroe Times.
Our Aug. 17 show at Monroe's Turner Hall is one of only two Wisconsin gigs we've got booked this year (the other is the previous night at Waterfest in Oshkosh, opening for Tower of Power, David Sanborn and Paul "Poppy" Sanchez and The NOLA Allstars).
Guess that's what happens when you spend all winter, and then all spring, and then most of the summer, working on your studio tan.
We are super-stoked to return to these fine venues, and we might even have copies of our new record, Squeeze Machine, in hand to sell at the shows. But we don't make any promises our accordion cases can't keep. See you there?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
S.F. Giants: Oh Say Can You Squeeze?
OG TDA squeezer Tom Torriglia's band Bella Ciao will play the national anthem Tuesday at the San Francisco Giants' Italian Heritage Night. Undoubtedly this will propel Barry Bonds to hit No. 756 -- should be a packed house. Knock 'em dead, you Italiano party crazies!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
A Brief History of the Bayan
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Accordions Invade Ashkenaz
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Mad Maggies Make Noise at McGrath's Pub
Bay Area accordion band megamoonlighters the Mad Maggies play McGrath's Pub in Alameda this Saturday. The venue's calendar says it all: "Klezmergrass? Huh???"
I'll be there on bass, of course, and original Those Darn Accordions drummer Bill Schwartz (who played on the first Mad Maggies CD, Crazed and Enthused), will be pounding the skins.
P.S. I guess you've gotta love a place with a "buy one, get none free" slogan.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
In Praise of Accordions ...
Canadian 'Polkapalooza' Draws Accordion Army
The Kimberley International Old Time Accordion Championships sound a little like a squeezebox Sturgis, only with motor homes and polka fans rather than motorcycles and wet T-shirt contests. The Globe and Mail describes it as "an annual festival that floods the mountain community with devotees of the stretchy instrument."
"The stretchy instrument"? That's a new one.
But hordes of squeezebox fanatics descending on a small town sounds interesting, to say the least.
"People are accordion crazy up here," says Alex Meixner, one of the judges who rates competitors on "'old-time feeling,' technique and the danceability of their style ... gauged by a lone couple dancing offstage at the Civic Centre during competitions," according to the paper.
At least one stomach Steinway aficionado at the gathering is thinking more avant-garde than "old time." Reports the Globe and Mail: "One festival goer struts around wearing a white T-shirt that reads: Accordions rock."
Boy howdy they do.
Monday, July 09, 2007
A Year Without Summerfest ...
Somehow it just doesn't feel like summer when we don't make the trek to Milwaukee to play Summerfest. Luckily, Bill from Milwaukee dropped me a line to give me a little taste of the Big Gig and share his favorite "Summerfest moment" of 2007. (Next time I hope he e-mails me a bratwurst, too.)
Saturday was a nice toasty day on the grounds, 95 degrees and high humidity. Just my kind of weather (not). Anywho, I'm watching this interesting band called The Scarring Party. They have an eclectic lineup of musical instruments: accordion, banjo, tuba, xylophone, church bell, typewriter, bassoon and didgeridoo. (No kidding.)
So, my best Summerfest moment came when the bandleader asked the soundman: "Can I get more didgeridoo in my monitor please?"
I wore the tattered old TDA squeezebox T-shirt to Summerfest this year. Must've had about 50 people ask if you guys would be playing.
Maybe next year Bill will be able to say "Yes."
Friday, July 06, 2007
Accordions: Hipper Than iPhones
The accordion is set to explode, according to New York Sun writer Lenore Skenazy, who has penned "An Ode to the Squeezebox" in honor of the upcoming NYC Main Squeeze Accordion Festival.
Her thesis -- that American hipsters are catching on to the accordion in a big way -- sounds right to me. As San Francisco's self-appointed accordion ambassadors, we've been doing our share to pump up squeezebox awareness for almost two decades now, and we've seen a steady rise in the instrument's popularity over the years.
With a new Those Darn Accordions record in the chute, it's time to make the call: 2008 will be the Year of the Accordion. Brace yourself for a wild ride into the free-reed future!
What's That Sound?
Thursday, July 05, 2007
In Lithuania, Protesters Carry Accordions
"Accordion-playing radicals" encouraged "mostly elderly" protesters to storm Vilnius' Independence Square on July 3. The reason for the squeezebox-fueled ruckus? Lithuanian lawmakers' decision to boost pension benefits for former members of Parliament to a level far higher than for the average citizen.
The accordion protest seems unique, but sadly the politicians' feeling that their type deserves more than the simple commoners seems to be universal.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Squeezebox Night Soars at Turner Hall of Monroe
It's all about the accordion on Squeezebox Night, even thought The Times reports that "four accordionists, two guitarists, a bass player, a banjo player and an autoharpist" added to the musical action Tuesday night at Turner Hall of Monroe, Wis.
Glad to hear Turner Hall has a hit on its hands -- it's one of the nicest venues TDA has played, and we'll be back there Aug. 17.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Ad Boosts Accordion Hero II Awareness
Apparently the fine minds behind the faux video game Accordion Hero II went so far as to buy an advertisement in Computer Games magazine.
If you haven't heard, Schadenfreude Interactive's faux follow-up to the ausgezeichnet original Accordion Hero spoof features some mighty fine music, including "The Bowling King" by Those Darn Accordions.
Texas 'Polka King' Disappears
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Tom Torriglia, Squeezebox Evangelist
Monday, June 11, 2007
Texas Names Its Big Squeeze
Juan Longoria Jr. of Brownsville, Texas, took first place in The Big Squeeze, a squeezebox competition held in conjunction with the 18th Annual Accordion Kings and Queens Concert in Houston.
The "aw shucks" quote, as recorded by The Brownsville Herald:
"The main part is not the cash money," Longoria said. "It’s just a little bit of pride and a little bit of recognition, getting first place and bringing it back to the Valley and South Texas. Nobody can take that away from me."
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Weird Al's Secret Formula
That prized info and much more -- including "Weird Al" Yankovic's run-in with Coolio, the surprising downside of YouTube and a look back at how the parody master got his start annoying people with his squeezebox at his college coffee shop's folk night -- is delivered in a cool interview in the Express-News, San Antonio's accordion paper of record.
It's Accordion Lovers Day
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Happy Accordion Awareness Month
June is the month to let everybody know: We squeeze, we wheeze, get used to it.
National Accordion Awareness Month, started almost two decades ago by accordion activist and TDA OG Tom Torriglia, is the time to bust out the mother of pearl and break out of the squeezebox stereotypes.
Let's hope the The Express-Times' feature story, "Accordion Is Too Cool," is just the first of many articles this month chronicling our beloved box's triumph over a dorky past.
P.S. Paul and I spent the first day of this precious month in the studio, continuing work on the next Those Darn Accordions opus, which will be released this summer. I gotta say, it's sounding pretty good!
Friday, June 01, 2007
Beer and Squeeze in Cincinnati
Mecklenburg Gardens, a German joint in my old college stomping grounds, sounds like a blast from the past. The biergarten's menu has been upgraded, and "Cincinnati accordion legend Jack Frost" plays on Wednesday nights, according to The Enquirer. I'll have to get my people in Cincy to confirm this encouraging news.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Musicians Are Funny, Too
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Cracker Plays the Accordion Card
I've always liked Cracker's smart rock tunes, dosed, as they always are, with a buckshot country vibe and a pound and a half each of humor, attitude and salty observation. Now the band's released an album, Greatest Hits –- Redux, with all the songs re-recorded and reworked, with a heavy lash of accordion added for good measure, according to a rave review by Mary Beth Hascall at PLAYBACK:stl.
Apparently Cracker pulled together the record -- with the squeezebox injection courtesy of Kenny Margolis -- at least in part to stick it to former label Virgin Records, which is releasing its own greatest hits package. (Redux also undercuts the Virgin disc's price.) Can't wait to hear this one.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Squeezin' in the North Bay
Thursday, May 24, 2007
More TDA Blasts From the Past
Yowza! Randy Magnus has uploaded more clips from the Those Darn Accordions! (with the banger) era, including this classic of Clyde singing Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" at a club show. Would that be at the Bottom of the Hill? Can't tell. (See more on Randy's YouTube page.)