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About Accordion Americana

T H E  A C C O R D I O N  A M E R I C A N A  P R O J E C T 

The intentions of Accordion Americana are to present the accordion in the best possible light, to tell the stories of working accordionists, and to share their contributions to live and recorded music in America within the last fifty years. For the most part, the focus is on the piano accordion and the role that it plays in Americana music, from Roots, Country and Popular music to Jazz.

Unknown African American Accordionist 1870

Unknown African American Accordionist c.1870

I’m writing about the accordion because I believe that people in the U.S. have forgotten that this instrument is not new to American music. It has been a part of our pioneer experience in America since the mid 1800’s.

Victorian accordionist

Victorian Accordionist

It has been played by folks and families, not only in the mountains and the bayous, but in the cities, the country, on the prairie and in the desert, for a long, long time, from coast to coast.

     Brothers NYC 1900

Unknown duo         New York City, c.1900

 It was used in houses of worship, as entertainment in taverns, at dances and social gatherings for over 150 years..

Wilene "Sally Ann" Forrester with Bill Munro and his Bluegrass Boys 1947

Wilene “Sally Ann” Forrester as a member of Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys
1945

Accordions participated in American music throughout the 20th Century, along side pianos and organs, banjos, fiddles and guitars

Paul McCartney with Accordion

Paul McCartney with his accordion

Because it is portable, the accordion can be used when other keyboards are too difficult to transport.

The great Blues artis, Leadbelly, with accordion

Leadbelly, the great Blues artist, with  accordion

It was used in the early Gospel, Blues and the Boogie Woogie………

Pee Wee King V

The influential Pee Wee King, c. 1948

…….  and also was prominent in Country and Western music….

Art Van Damme

The great Art Van Damme, Jazz Accordionist c. 1960

…….. as well as Jazz .

USO World War II

The piano accordion is an American Heritage musical  instrument.

Buxton

Buxton Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff of Mother Jones at  the Americana Music Awards, Nashville, 2016

Americans must understand that our music history is a critical link between all of us, and recognize that connection. Accordionists, teachers, associations, societies, clubs and manufacturers have a responsibility to promote the piano accordion in America and continue its connection by doing outreach through festivals and performances in all  genres of music. They should advocate for inclusion of this instrument, when and if there is resistance and recognize and promote the accordionists and bands that use the piano accordion in music, today. Young accordionists should see that they can make inroads by performing with other musical instruments in a variety of settings,  and not simply play in isolation–only for each other.

bill-haley-johnny-grande-comets

Bill Haley and the Comets c.1954 with Johnny Grande, Accordionist. The Comets were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in  2012

2012 seemed to be the “comeback” year for the piano accordion.  Britain’s, Mumford and Sons, with their top selling 2012 Grammy Award winning Americana album, Babel, featuring the instrument, is one example. In 2012, American group, KONGOS recorded their enormously successful, piano accordion based 2012 hit song, “Come With Me Now”  and gained a world-wide following.  Also, 2012 was the year that the Comets, along with Johnny Grande, Accordionist, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2014 Bruce  Springsteen’s E Street Band, which featured the late Danny Federici, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Danny and Bruce

The late Danny Federici With “The Boss”. E Street Band was inducted into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

 I challenge accordion players to capture the American spirit, tell our stories and express who we are as a distinct culture. Show a whole different side of the piano accordion and present new musical options that have never been seen  and heard, or reach back and remind us of old ones. Allow Americans to reconnect with this instrument once again. Only if this happens will the piano accordion be regarded as an option by the next generation of music makers. Through them, this instrument has a chance to survive and participate in the new American music that is yet to be written and performed!

Leonard Bernstein’s introduction of Aaron Copeland says  it all. Please listen… 

Accordion Americana was created to entertain and inform only, not to endorse any products or services mentioned on this site.

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All the best!

Christa T.

Contact: christa@accordionamericana.com