Two weeks ago, I was standing in midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park on a beautiful summer evening, listening to 30 musicians simultaneously squeeze out New York, New York on their accordions. Are you kidding me? I was positively giddy.
A New York Times article is why I ended up there in the first place (read the article now if you missed my earlier post). The article highlighted a summer-long effort to expose the masses to the rich diversity of accordion music–it ain’t just oom-pah-pah. Apparently, all summer long, musicians have been gathering on Thursday nights to perform every accordion genre you can think of.
Gypsy Jazz? Brazilian? Cajun? Yep, yep and yep.
As an accordion evangelist it was my duty to attend. So as soon as I booked my Amtrak reservation and arranged to drag my New Yorker friend Gary along with me, I immediately began fantasizing about how fabulous the experience was going to be.
Here’s the thing though. Whenever I wildly anticipate how crazy fun something is going to be, it isn’t. Seriously–nearly every time I think to myself, ‘this is going to be fucking awesome’, it most decidedly is not.
But this time it was.
I was there for over 5 kick-ass hours, but here’s a 9 minute snippet I edited together to give you a feel for the magic. Check it out.
By the way. The crazy talented guy playing gypsy jazz on the video is Dallas Vietty. Dallas lives in Pennsylvania (lucky for Pennsylvanians), but it was my good fortune that he was teaching a workshop at the annual meeting of American Accordionists’ Association that day, so we got to hang out in NY. He pops up on this blog frequently, but if this is the first time you’ve heard of him, do yourself a favor and check out his website. The dude accompanying him on guitar is Ben Wood. Ben plays in a NYC Gypsy Jazz band called Franglais. New Yorkers can check him out in Brooklyn this Friday night–details are on his Facebook page.
Summer is officially over as are the Thursday night accordion happenings. But they will return next year and so will I. Best part–I think my friend Gary may be inclined to go back, too. We ran into a friend of his in Greenwich Village the next day and after mentioning in conversation that we had been to an accordion festival the night before, his friend was like, “Oh man, I’m sorry. I bet that was a laugh riot [heavy sarcasm inflection].” But Gary got all in his face and was like, “Yo, bee-atch, it was fun. You should have been there.”
Whoa, I’m impressed. : ) I think I have a convert.