it’s not a party until the accordions come out

My husband and I went to a great party Saturday night. A really great party.

You start with our gracious hosts, Aldo Bello and Marilyn Finnemore, and their lovely home in the country. You fill it with 30 or so of their fun friends and add some killer meat on the grill. Oh…and throw in some booze.

All that makes for a good party but not a great one. But here’s where Aldo and Marilyn were smart. They knew enough to invite not just one accordion player, but two. Hell yeah!

About two hours in, JoAnn (the other accordion player) asked to see my accordion, which Aldo and Marilyn insisted that I bring. She oohed and ahh’ed and then she pulled hers out of the case. Once they were out, well, we had to play.

Those of you who follow my blog know that playing in front of people generally gives me a mini stroke. But JoAnne and the crowd made me feel like accordions were cool (and by extension that made me kinda cool). So what the hell. I also had three Tecates in my blood stream.

Basically we started squeaking and squawking and we slowly filled the room. Got that guitarists? We filled the room–we didn’t clear it.

Here’s my new accordion buddy, JoAnn Pankow going to town. Chas (the guitarist) and I had given up trying to sight read along with her at that point and were just bobbing our heads in appreciation.

And here’s me actually playing a note this time.

Then came the guitar solo and the sing-alongs (but the accordions came first!). That’s Chas on the guitar. He’s a hell of a guy and writes some of the funniest original songs I’ve ever heard–I’m only sorry I didn’t get a recording of the song he wrote about his cat. Hoo boy.

It ended with craziness on the dance floor. This went on for hours.


Let us remember, it all began with some accordion.

Forget cowbell. We need more accordion!

Dyngus Day Will Rock Cleveland Once Again

Ok, so I realize that new blog posts on accordion to karen have been increasingly scarce. For that I am sorry. I especially apologize to my three faithful readers, which include my husband, my mother (well, my mother if she had a computer) and some random prisoner who because of good behavior has periodic access to the internet. I’m honored that he chooses to read my blog. New readers are always welcome and encouraged, of course.

Anywho, life of late has been kicking my ass (never-ending work, home renovations, lessons with a new accordion teacher, everyday basic crap), leaving precious little time for truly important stuff like updating a blog destined to bring the cool back to the accordion. This must end.

I may not have time to write, but I do have time to post some kick-ass cool videos.

First check out DJ Kishka’s wonderfully creative and entertaining ad for Dyngus Day 2012 on YouTube. It’s freakin’ hilarious.

How I wish I were a) Polish and b) going to be in Cleveland on April 9. Alas, I am neither. Heavy sigh. But if you are lucky enough to a) actually be Polish or b) live in Cleveland or anywhere within a 60-mile radius, you best polka on over to one of the Dyngus Day events at one of Cleveland’s polka-loving drinking establishments. Na Zdrowie.

I discovered this next video courtesy of an accordion facebook friend of mine–thank you James Gerke. I’m actually a member of four accordion groups on facebook. Take that guitars!It’s a lovely, lovely short film (well worth the 12 minutes–trust me) about a 40-year-old man rediscovering what brings him joy. I love this film. I think you might too.

The Necktie by Jean-François Lévesque, National Film Board of Canada


awesome random accordion moment of 2012

When I dropped by Bill’s Cleaners in Carytown the other night, I had a delightful conversation with the woman behind the counter. In four minutes, we talked weather, rescue dogs. and Great Danes. While undoubtedly pleasant, this convo had nothing to do with my awesome accordion moment. That came next.

Heading out, I brushed shoulders and exchanged a smile with a gentleman heading in.
Seconds later, while I was hanging my clothes in the back seat, he rushed right out the door and gave me a hearty shout out–right there on the sidewalk.

Man from the dry cleaner: “Hey! I love your bumper sticker.”

Me: “Well thank you.” Smile.

Man from the dry cleaner: “That’s the best bumper sticker I’ve ever seen! Pro-Accordion and I vote. Hahahahahahaha.”

Me: “Have a good evening.”

Then he went back inside.

I love that guy. He’s obviously super cool.

Playing the accordion keeps you young

Sometimes a blog post writes itself. And on occasion, someone writes it for you–like my sister Peggy. Thanks, Peggy! When sorting through the mail yesterday, I found a bill, 10 offers for credit cards, a Crate and Barrel catalog, and a letter! My sister is one of three people on our planet who actually still send letters (yay!).

Inside the envelope was a typewritten note and a news clipping from the Obit section of the Washington Post. I’m going to share both. Oh, Merv Conn, how I wish I had known you.

And here’s the obit. Or you can read it online.

Merv was 91. And he didn’t even die of old age; he died of complications from prostate cancer! Jesus. You don’t have to drink from the fountain of youth–just pick up an accordion and stroll through life with it.

May you squeeze in peace, Merv.

Christmas at the Happy Dog

Since it’s technically still the Christmas season–there are 12 days of Christmas after all–I thought it only appropriate to showcase this holiday video created by a friend to polka lovers everywhere, the Reverend DJ Kishka. Na Zdrowie, brother!

How the Kishka Saved Christmas, the not quite authentic Polish folk tale, was experienced firsthand by everyone lucky enough to be in Cleveland on December 16. For those unlucky folk among us, including me, here’s a 3 minute teaser of what you missed.


Polka on, Christmas elves!