Melissa Elledge, “The Bellows Below”

Melissa Elledge II
Melissa Elledge

Melissa Elledge rules. As the accordion princess of the underground subway system of New York City, she holds sway over those who come and go and are always in a hurry to get there. As commuters race for their trains, she offers up the gift of a few moments of enjoyment. They appreciate her work and their tips allow Melissa to continue to earn a living ‘busking’ with the piano accordion in the gritty, subterranean underbelly of the “Big Apple.” Melissa, also an actress, performs in several bands, all which help pay the steep cost of living in a very expensive city.

Melissa moved from New Orleans to New York City in 2004 to earn her Master of Arts degree in piano performance at New York University. Shortly after graduation, the curious and talented musician acquired a piano accordion and quickly began to learn and then expand her repertoire on the accordion.  Then she took her instrument to the streets. She tried out her chops in a goth band, played tango music in a mausoleum, then began performing with a number of different bands among them, an all-female accordion orchestra, The Main Squeeze Orchestra.

The Main Squeeze Orchestra
The Main Squeeze Orchestra with Melissa Elledge (front and center)

Melissa Elledge performs “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who



Melissa Elledge X (2)
Melissa Elledge

Along with music, Melissa appeared in an indie film and on television and contributed to theater, dance and performance art productions. She was an accordionist in the 2013 Indie film, “Go Down Death” and also appeared in the final episode of the Emmy nominated talk show, “Park Bench with Steve Buscemi” with The Main Squeeze Orchestra. Melissa also records and performs with Thee Shambells. Their album “Lonely a la Mode”(2016) is described as “Modern Americana with dark shades of European folk….stories full of heartbreak and longing…”

Thee Shambels

Thee Shambells featuring Melissa Elledge

The Bellows Below
Melissa Elledge, “The Bellows Below”

As Melissa Elledge hones her craft as a performer, she presents the piano accordion with a new radical style and face. The ‘basement’ of New York City is not a nice place and one has to be tough to deal with the reality of the danger of live performance on the streets. Melissa has been affected by being the victim of physical violence, theft and had a gun pulled on her. Each time Melissa takes her stand on the platform to perform, she puts on her ‘game face.’

Melissa Elledge VI
Melissa Elledge

Additional articles about Melissa Elledge:

2017 New York Post, “The Secret Surprising Lives of New York City’s Hottest Subway Performers”

iHeart Radio podcast featuring Melissa Elledge