The Accordion Americana Project
In 2013, I started telling the stories of accordionists in America, because I believe that people in the U.S. have forgotten that this instrument is not new to North America. It has been a part of our pioneer experience since the mid 1800’s.
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.
It was used in houses of worship, as entertainment in taverns, at dances and social gatherings for over 150 years..
It was used in the early Gospel, Blues and the Boogie Woogie………
It was present in American Roots music……
The first woman in Bluegrass was an accordion player….
……. Pee Wee King and his Piano Accordion reinvented Nashville, bringing “Country and Western” music to North America and to the world….
……. Art Van Damme was very cool and toured the world for 40 years to bring Jazz to a wider audience.
The piano accordion is an American Heritage musical instrument
The Piano Accordion has been involved in the music scene and behind the scenes, for many, many decades, used by hard working, successful professional musicians.
Our music heritage is a critical link between all of us, and we should not take it casually.
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 must stop “shaming” other Piano Accordionists, but instead, empower and encourage all players of the instrument, whatever their abilities or choices of music. They should advocate for inclusion of this instrument, when and if there is resistance and recognize the accordionists and bands that use the Piano Accordion in music, today. Through these efforts, young accordionists will be encouraged to make inroads in all genres.
2012 was the “comeback” year for the Piano Accordion. Britain’s, Mumford and Sons, and their top selling 2012 Grammy Award winning Best Americana album, Babel, featuring the Piano Accordion, is a prime example.
In 2012, out of the Phoenix valley rose Arizona’s own homegrown band, KONGOS, who composed and recorded the most successful, Piano Accordion based hit song of all time, “Come With Me Now”. They shattered all records, blew everyone away, and gained a world wide following.
Also, 2012 was the year that the Comets, along with Johnny Grande, were recognized by their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, co-founded by the late Danny Federici in New Jersey in 1969, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 2014.
Because of all of these accomplishments, the Piano Accordion is beginning to participate more and more in Americana music
The intentions of Accordion Americana are to present the Piano Accordion in the best possible light, to tell the stories of working accordionists, and to share their contributions to live and recorded music within the last fifty years. With a few exceptions, the focus is on the Piano Accordion and the role that it plays in Americana music, from Roots, Country and Popular music to Jazz.
I challenge accordion players to think outside “the box” and take a musical journey. Capture our spirit, once again, and tell our stories. Inspire us by showing something new that has never been seen, nor heard. Or remind us of the old, by going back to our roots. Only if we empower others to reconnect with the Piano Accordion will it be regarded as an option for the next generation of music makers. Because, it is through them that this instrument has a chance to survive and participate in the new music that is yet to be composed and performed. And remember always,
It’s all about the music!
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.
To subscribe and receive my posts automatically, please input your email address on the sidebar on your right.
All the best!