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“Ne Plus Ultra Accordeon” – No Greater Antique Accordion?

May 19, 2015

This post is to ask for help. What can we discover about this not very humble accordion?

Ne Plus Ultra Accordeon for blog - 03

I was able to score this old squeezebox online for about $50 which is pretty cool. It’s what historians call “pretty old,” and I’m willing to guess it’s from about 1900, but there must be more details somewhere. It certainly has some distinctive things that should help identify a maker or era. So I’m asking for any help readers can offer.

Read more…

Accordion Metal Indoctrination Tour: Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Trollfest, North America 2015

May 9, 2015

The Accordion Metal Indoctrination Tour, or “Squeezebox Ragnarök” [I made those up] continues across North America [Dates] with the triple-bill of Scandinavian bands, Ensiferum (featuring Netta Skog), and Korpiklaani (featuring Sami Perttula) both from Finland, with Trollfest (featuring Manskow) from Sweden. I hope to see you at the shows! (Vancouver, is tomorrow, Sunday, May 10 at the Rickshaw.) Read more…

Accordion Noir Radio 2015-05-06, International Accordion Day of Metal! (with Netta Skog of Finland’s Ensiferum)

May 7, 2015

Playlist for last night’s Accordion Noir heavy-metal accordion special including an interview with Finnish band Ensiferum’s Netta Skog! (I hope to transcribe the interview and post a transcript.)

See Netta on the unprecedented Triple-Bill of Accordion Metal, with Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, and Trollfest, on tour in North America starting this week!

Tour Dates on the Korpiklaani website.

Vancouver BC: Sunday, May 10 at the Rickshaw Theatre


Listen to this and previous episodes of Accordion Noir here:



Band – Song – Album (date) – Where they’re from – Contact/Website


B&B – Nothing Else Matters (bandura and accordion Metallica cover) –

El Gran Silencio – Ya – Super riddim internacional Vol.1 (2003) – Monterrey, Nuevo León, México –

Koby Israelite – Kashmir (Led Zeppelin cover) – Asphalt Tango (2013) – Tel Aviv, Israel –

Éric Lapointe, Yves Lambert et Le Bébert Orchestra – L’ivrogne et le pénitent – Bal à l’huile (2009) – Quebec, Canada –

ZEITKRATZER (feat. Lou Reed) – Metal Machine Music (excerpt) – Metal Machine Music (2007) – Berlin, Germany – Luca Venitucci, accordion.

Stolen Babies – Swimming Hole – Naught (2012) – Los Angeles, California –

Trollfest – Toxic – A Decade of Drekkadence (2013) – Sweden –

Korpiklaani – Rauta (official video) – Manala (2012) – Finland –

Ensiferum – One More Magic Potion – Victory Songs (2007) – Finland –

Netta Skog and Bruce Triggs – Interview April 2015 – Accordion Noir Radio (2015) – Finland / Canada

Netta Skog – Dead to the World (Nightwish) – Filmed in ikaalinen sata häme-soi accordian festival.  (2006) – Finland –

Netta Skog and Bruce Triggs – Interview April 2015 – Accordion Noir Radio (2015) – Finland / Canada

M. and Mme. Adélard LeBrun (duo d’accordéons) – Le mistigris (gigues/jigs) – Digital Gramophone, Library and Archives Canada (1927) – Montréal, Québec, Canada – ©

Happy Accordion Day!

(Happy Birthday on the World’s Largest Accordion, in Castelfidardo, Italy.)

Upside-Down Accordion Noir Radio, April Fools Episode 2015

April 2, 2015

April Foolish episode of Accordion Noir Radio tonight playing music by artists I wrote about yesterday who played accordion upside down. Good fun.

Kimmo held upside down with his accordion. That's one way to do it.

Kimmo Pohjonen hard at work researching the history of Accordion Wrestling in Finland.

The standard Co-op  Radio archive feed seems not to have “fed” (April Fools on me) but here’s a Backup version of the show downloadable from Dropbox: Accordion Noir Wednesday Apr 1 22:00 2015

Playlist: Read more…

Upside Down Accordion: a Primer for Accordion-Fools Day

April 1, 2015

Last week this fine video by Kristofer Yffén made the rounds. Did you notice his curious accordion technique? (Spoiler, um the title of this post.)

Monkey Island 2 – Jojo the Monkey (Accordion version)

Many a novice accordionist has stumbled at this very first hurdle for learning the instrument, “How do you put this thing on?” A surprising number of now famous players made the same flip-a-coin mistake. Rowan, my own co-host on the Accordion Noir radio show is one of those who spent his entire first year playing the accordion upside down.

“Rowan, Scott Geiler and Zippy playing at a Living Closet show” (2007?)

Since then Rowan has shared several meaningful seconds with beginners and saved them years of effort.

As I study the history of the accordion I have stumbled on some well-known accordionists who either started out and played “lefty” for a while, or stuck with it even when people told them they were doing it wrong. Most famously perhaps, zydeco star Rockin’ Dopsie (“Doop-sie”) always played “Hendrix-style,” and while he didn’t claim virtuosity, he got the job done plenty well.

Helen Carter of the Carter Sisters played for a while that way too:

Helen was befuddled by the accordion.  ‘This thing is just totally backwards to the piano,’ she’d complain.  Still, under her father’s insistent gaze, Helen kept at the awkward, heavy instrument.  And it went a lot easier for her after a date the Carters played in Louisville, where she got some advice from the more studied eye of Pee Wee King.  ‘Hey,’ he asked Helen, ‘did you know you’ve got that on upside down?'” (Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?: the Carter Family and their legacy in American Music, Mark Zwonitzer and Charles Hirshberg.  (Simon and Schuster, New York, 2002) pg 269-270)

Not all leftist accordionists are to be trusted though. The vid for Gurus and Rockstars by Forest Sun with accordionist Ingrid Serban is either a twisted lie or maybe a selfie camera mix-up which I missed until she pointed it out to me. You can usually tell by looking at a full-size accordion since the (normally) left-hand buttons should slant down, but if they’re on the left they should slant up. Unless I’m confused.

Gurus and Rockstars – Forest Sun & Ingrid Serban

This one I found after I posted about the Russian garmon accordion a few weeks ago. It’s an old man looking very cold. Easy to imagine sad Russian accordion music, no? I had to do some research to figure out that, yes, his garmon is upside down (the photo isn’t simply reversed). Somehow that “self-taught” musician aspect makes it even more poignant.

Old Russian Man with (upside down) garmon

Other Upside-Squeezers? Sabin Jacques, from Beaumont, Quebec. I’d love to see him demonstrate in person.

sabin jacques


Alfredo Gonzalez from Los Tucanes de Tijuana (and before that Explosión Norteña). Marketers take note, these bands have hundreds of photos on their site posing with their fans after every show. That’s some face-to-face music of the people. And his neon accordion rocks.

Alfredo Gonzalez from Los Tucanes de Tijuana (very cool black-light accordion)

Historical mystery swaths “Bill (from Ohio)” who played upside-down piano accordion with Cajun/Western-Swinger Leo Soileau in the 1930s. He keeps showing up in books and photos, but nobody seems to know anything more about him? Where’d you go Bill? Back to Ohio?

Taken from Cajun Music, a Reflection of a People, Ann Savoy (1986) pg 140

Taken from Cajun Music, a Reflection of a People, Ann Savoy (1986) pg 140

Literary accordionists have had their sinister moments. In Annie Proulx’s book Accordion Crimes there’s a passing character who had an injured right hand but he notably did not die in the course of what is at times a gruesome novel. “He held the accordion upside down and played a religious number after announcing that music was the gift of God and that he regularly turned down lucrative offers to play to roadhouses, pledging his talent to a higher power.” (pg 173 in the 2003 paperback.) There you go, promise to stay out of bars and you might survive your literary debut.

Finally, despite his ongoing educational efforts, my co-host Rowan’s band The Creaking Planks just released millions of t-shirt-like polyps into the sea with a talented octopus accordionist begging the question of whether “upside down” applies to underwater.

Get your own Creaking Planks Upside-Down Accordion Shirts before they're all eaten by larger predators.

And, I don’t think we’ll get around to another post so then there’s this guy, playing his synth-accordion flat on his lap like a typewriter – no bellows required. I’ve actually thought about something like this for my “author’s photo” if I get my book done. Maybe I’ll be typing “Moscow Nights” too.

Take home lesson from all this? Do what you like and whatever works. But I gather the reason people play accordions right way around is because the chord buttons are arranged so they’re easier to finger with your left hand. There, we’re educational, job done.



March 6, 2015

Going to see Daniel Kahn tonight at the Electric Eye on Main tonight?

Got to play a little Russian garmon last night at the I thought “garmon” was Russian for “little diatonic accordion,” but it is more complicated than that!

I didn’t realize how different they were from our diatonics. Wikipedia is actually pretty helpful right now.

Have you seen one? They look like small two-row accordions with a lot of bass buttons. But the buttons are all unisonoric (same note played pumping in and out). The treble is laid out in a diatonic do-re-me scale, with three accidentals added on top. So it’s diatonic but unisonoric (and maybe chromatic with the accidentals, I haven’t counted). Fun to play! Holding three notes next to each other gives a major chord, but the pattern changes as you move around. I gather they come in different keys. I’d love to have one of these to mess with. Pretty nice sound on the master with LMH (low, middle, high reeds).

The bass side is weird too with the inside (of three) row all individual basses in a do-re-mi scale, and the outside two rows are bass-chord combos (like more familiar diatonics I think, but still all unisonoric.)

Russian accordion history has sort of a parallel development with the West through the long distance and separation. I assume they think our slew of diatonic systems are weird too. (I gather they have some bisonoric in-out systems as well, but this one is really popular.) All the world’s people should solve their differences by inventing the widest variety of accordions they can. Keep people too busy to fight.

I know there’s some folks in the Azeri community in town who play what Wikipedia calls the “oriental” garmon. My favourite unique design with piano key layouts on both hands. Right side is a tiny piano keyboard, while the left side is buttons, but laid out like piano keys! Totally unique in the world as far as I know. Somehow the design made its way from some experiment in a factory in Russia and caught on in Azerbaijan and Iran.

Bruce Triggs, Accordion Noir Radio (the radio show) (the book I’m working on)
twitter: @AccordionBruce

Johnny Grande: Rock ‘n’ Roll Accordion Celestial Object #1 + Accordion Noir Squeezetones!

January 14, 2015

Johnny Grande

I just realized it’s Johnny Grande’s Birthday! Every week when it’s time to do Accordion Noir radio, (listen Wednesday 10-11 PM PST) my phone reminds me with this song. Now you can have it to prepare for Accordion Noir too!

Download ringtone thing: Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rocking Little Tune,” featuring Johnny Grande on accordion.

Someone  suggested we share ringtones to remind folks to support Accordion Noir and help us make our fundraising goals to keep our home Co-op Radio on the air. So let this be Accordion Noir ringtone #1.That’s fitting since Johnny with Bill Haley and the Comets had basically the first Rock ‘n’ Roll hit records back in the 1950s. If we get just a fraction of the 20 million listeners that single had, we’d be doing pretty much all right.

“Rockin’ Little Tune” is a cool number. It has that familiar “Rock Around the Clock” beat. But with accordion. Grande only played piano on the Comets’ big hits but usually live he played accordion so he could move around on stage.

Bill Haley Johnny Grande Comets

The song’s from one of their later records, and it’s a treat if you can find it. Rock and Roll Stage Show gave the rest of the Comets (not just Haley) a chance to shine. What a treat! We played it on Accordion Noir Radio back when we did a “Rock ‘n’ Accordion History of Rock and Roll” episode a few years back. Worth taking a listen.

And get back to us later if you want more squeeze-tones.

Link to the "Then Play Long" webpage about the album, and every other #1 record in British history!


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