Sunday, December 27, 2009

Walkin' In My Winter Underwear

This is a thin connection with accordion! The background music strongly features one, but I think the accordion will not be the main point of interest. Enjoy!

This comes from a 1950-1960s local children's television show called Lunch with Casey, aired in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About Lunch with Casey

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Derision Central

Overheard on "Everybody Loves Raymond:"

"I’m not having some big shindiggy accordionic singalong."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Funnies

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Zydekats on PBS Holiday Celebration

The PBS Los Angeles Holiday Celebration special aired tonight. This program features the best hour of acts from the previous year's event. The production of the L.A. County Arts Commission actually lasts for six hours! I have to say that this is the most interesting holiday program I've seen yet this year.

The range and quality of the acts was spectacular. If you like traditional children's choirs there was one. If you wanted Gospel, it was there. On the other extreme was a ballet dancer who used two fabric banners suspended from the stage rigging as props for a dance routine, or a new interpretation of a portion of the Nutcracker that combined ballet and break dancing.

But the very first act was the Zydekats, led by Lisa Haley, who perform traditional and contemporary Americana/Cajun/Zydeco arrangements. Lisa sings and plays violin, but an accordion is strongly featured in the backup band. This picture was taken off my TV screen, but if you follow the link below you can see a short video about them at PBS.

The accordionist is playing a 72-bass piano accordion.

See a video of the Zydecatz at about the middle of the page.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Funnies

Q. What is the difference between a dead accordion player in the road and a dead chicken in the road?

A. The chicken was probably on his way to a gig.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Amazing Race Goes Accordion Crazy

If you thought it was exciting to see an accordion on the Amazing Race, Season 14, Episode 1, you were ecstatic in Episode 4 this past Sunday. There were no fewer than three accordions! First of all we see this fellow playing what appears to be a chromatic button accordion. This is where all the teams have to stack huge piles of wood, in Siberia!

Just a few minutes later in the program... hours later in real life... the weather has cooled off, and the musicians have a fire. Our same accordionist is still at it. But now he has a smaller red accordion, rather than a black one!

Most amazing of all is the Russian dancer. He is playing a 2 or 3 row diatonic accordion (I can't quite see which with the fuzzy picture). But I'm here to tell you that playing and dancing simultaneously is quite a feat of coordination!

Accordions are very popular internationally, so it should really be no surprise to see them so often. There was also an accordion at a German town in Episode 2, but I haven't taken time to pull that picture out yet.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Kind of Instrument is an Accordion?

accordion reeds

the reeds inside a vintage accordion
(photo by Nathan McKnight from Wikipedia)

You might think that since the piano accordion has keys, that it is a percussion instrument like a piano. In a piano when you strike a key a hammer strikes a string. However, the accordion is a reed instrument. Yes, like a clarinet or oboe. The sound is produced by air passing over reeds inside the accordion box. The air is produced, not by blowing, but by the motion of the bellows.

The bellows are sealed. If you try to force them open or closed without pressing a key or button you can damage the instrument. (There is also an air button to release the air and safely close the bellows with no sound.) If there is a leak in the bellows you will get sound, but it will be hard to complete musical phrases with one push or pull of the bellows.

I know this is blowing your mind! I'll stop for today.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Funnies

You didn't think that I was going to be all serious about this did you? If I can't laugh at accordion jokes, I'd better go back in the closet. Accordions are on the minds of the biggest analysts!

You know, Mr. Bug-Eye Green Tie might be wrong. An accordion might have cheered everyone up! (ok, maybe not...)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Accordion on the Amazing Race

Did you notice that there was an accordion being played to welcome the finishers in Interlaken, Switzerland, on the Amazing Race, Season 14, Episode 1 last Sunday?

This is called a chromatic button accordion. See, it has buttons for the right hand instead of keys, as mine does in the post from yesterday. Chromatic accordions are more popular in Europe, while Piano accordions, like mine, are more likely to be seen in the United States.

Here's a closeup of the "keyboard," in this case called a buttonboard.

If you start watching and listening, you'll discover accordions being used in LOTS of places on television!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

(Not Quite) Where it All Began

14th birthday gift of accordion

I have been playing accordion since I was four years old. I really didn't have any say in the matter. My grandmother was the one who paid for the instrument and the lessons, and so she chose what I would do. We don't seem to have one single picture of me playing that 12 bass accordion.

I quickly progressed to needing a 120 bass, but wasn't big enough to hold one, so switched to piano. But for my 14th birthday, Granny made sure that I was back on the track of her choice. Accordion, a red accordion. See picture. Please note that I am wearing a red dress, also selected by Granny. I hate red. Do I hate accordion? Sometimes.

Can I play well? It's not great. Not nearly as good as I should be able to for all the years of music lessons I had. Let's face it, I am a mediocre musician.

The collective attitude toward accordion, in the United States at least, is one of almost complete derision. But, hey, I'm no longer a closet accordionist. You can love it or hate it. But come along for the ride.

There will be history, jokes, personal experiences, education, album and perhaps sheet music reviews. What the heck. I've got more than enough stuff for another blog, so why not?