Too many accordions to count

Karen at festPhoto credit: Gary Cowling.

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.

Klezmer? Absolutely.

Conjunto? Sure.

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.

Accordions rule.


13 thoughts on “Too many accordions to count

  1. Thanks for the wonderful blog and video. I will live vicariously this summer, but next summer I will try my best to get there with my accordion.

    • I hope you get there, Carol! And the next time I am in Fayetteville, I will look you up! Maybe we can get together for coffee on Dixon Street.

  2. Does the blond soprano (at about 7:30 on the video) have little sisters who skate and sing in German?

    Great video. I’m smiling just thinking about Dallas Vietty jamming with Ben Wood. They aren’t exactly Stephan Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, but they’re at that level.


  3. I am a hard core accordionist- play em, fix em, teach to play em, write for em- LOVE em
    send me a mailing address and I will send you my new CD- accordionANARCHY/songs from the mon valley
    as evangelist you must own this

  4. accordion stuff YOU should know about
    accordion museum in Cleveland
    Castiglione accordions in Detroit
    accordion gallery in new jersey
    liberty bellows in Philadelphia
    allodi accordions in London
    accordion apocalypse in san fransisco- accordion is the city’s official instrument
    Vancouver squeeze box circle
    I have dealt with all of these great places- enjoy

    • Hi Steve. I’ve been to the Cleveland accordion museum & the Cleveland Polka hall of fame! :) I also know about the Squeezebox Circle in Vancouver because I love the accordionnoir radio show and have corresponded with the DJs. If you’re ever in Cleveland again and you haven’t been to one of DJ Kishka’s polka happy hours you MUST check it out. I did a blog post about it. And here’s my post about the Cleveland accordion museum. Thanks for reading my blog!

    • Thanks, Dallas! I can’t tell you how cool it was to be sitting at that little cafe table in the park on that beautiful night and listening to you and Ben. Fantastic!

  5. Wow, Nick, thanks so much. Karen, that’s great footage!! It was really a magical night, we were very happy to be there for you! In fact Franglais is playing tonight as well- at Two Boots, 514 2nd street, in Brooklyn. 10pm. Looking forward to reading the next bit of the blog!

  6. Super blog, Karen, really enjoyed the video. Nice to have met you at Al’s. Be sure to tell everyone about RVA! See you at the next meeting.

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