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Topaz-1: Soviet-Era Electronic Accordion

October 4, 2015

Heading over to the Museum of Soviet Synthesizers (as one should), we find the Topaz-1, one of the coolest retro accordion synths. I would love to try one of these.

Read more…

Dance Tunes in Britain and Ireland: Where Did “Traditional” Begin? (Celia Pendlebury Thesis Review)

August 23, 2015

Forgive me but the subject of this post predates the advent of the accordion and European free-reeds, but the impact on the music is foundational. Basically this long piece stemmed from me trying to write a paragraph in my accordion research. Forgive me also for trawling the net for the illustrations. They are intended to as a pleasant breather for the long text, not as well-considered support for the issues under consideration. Aren’t they fun though? 

– That intro is from Bruce, your humble Accordion Upriser.

The Five Positions of DancingLet me introduce you to Celia Pendlebury and her (successful, 2015!) master’s thesis which I’m pretty sure challenges much of what people have said and written about the origins of “traditional” instrumental/dance music in the former British Empire for the last one-hundred years. I am writing as an outsider to these traditions and an amateur so maybe this is all common knowlege, but it was new to me. I stumbled on her work while researching Inuit accordionists in the Arctic. Old time “Eskimo music” (as its traditionally called) consists of accordion led jigs, reels and square-dances brought to the North by over-wintering whalers in the 1800s. Read more…

Accordion Noir Radio live with Argentina’s Entangados, 2015-07-08

July 9, 2015

Los Entangoados from Argentina fell by Accordion Noir last night and it was splendid.

It was an extra long show so we had plenty of time for them. Sorry if I talked about clown-noses a lot. I had forgotten mine at home and was compensating for feeling left out. Their combination of cumbia, rock, ska, and acoustic folk is seriously fun. They’re touring in BC for the next few weeks so go to their Facebook to hear about dates near you.

Here’s their song Yogadicto, about a guy addicted to yoga.

Listen to the show: Accordion Noir 2015-07-08 (two part)

First hour we took over for Soundscape:

Second Hour Accordion Noir‘s normal 10-11 PM time:

Playlist: Band, Song, Album (year), Planet of Origin, Contact to give them lots of money.

* Kroke – Fire – The Sounds Of The Vanishing World (2000) – Poland –

* Those Darn Accordions – Fire – Squeeze This! (1994) – San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA –

* Jody Kruskal – Krazy For Kasha/Fresh Start/Running For Your Life – Anglo International (0) – New York State, USA –

* Diana Hamilton – Diana Hamilton Rake ‘n’ Scrape Interview 2015-05-08 – Accordion Noir interviews (2015) – Cat Island, The Bahamas –

* Eric Minns – How Rake & Scrape Began –  (2012) – The Bahamas –

* Clemilda – Recordação De Vaqueiro  (Recollections of a Cowboy) – Brazil Classics 3: Forró etc. (1991) – Northeastern Brazil –ó   or

* Georges Norbert And L Honore Rosa – Bonne Annee Amin Ny Tanana – Madagasikara One: Current Traditional Music Of Madagascar (1985) – Madagascar, Africa – (Ace Records, 1986, 1990)

* Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys – Rocky Road Blues – The Essential Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys: 1945-1949 [Disc 1] (1945) – Recorded in Chicago – With Sally Ann Forrester, acc!

* Calexico – Praskovia – Convict Pool (2004) – Tucson, Arizona, USA –

* The Jerry Cans – Uanittuujalii – Nunavuttitut (2013) – Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada –

* Le Vent Du Nord – Le Coeur En Trois – La Part du Feu (2009) – Montréal, Québec, Canada –

* Vishtèn – Valse Minette – Vishtèn Live (2009) – Acadia; Prince Edward Island; Quebec, Canada –

* Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac – Taladh Na Beinne Guirme/The Blue Mountain’s Lullaby – CelticFest Vancouver – 2013 Performers Compilation (0) – Cape Breton Island, Canada –

* Motion Trio – Yellow Trabant – Berlin – Metropolis (2007) – Poland –


¡Live with Los Entangados!

* Yogadicto

* Me Pongo Heavy

* Me Pudro

* Un Buda Disfrazado de Miky Mouse se Abalanzó Como Bala de Cañon Sobre un Puesto de Choripan en el Barrio Chino

* Energión

Thanks to Los Entangados: Petitito Titerelli (vox); Chamen (Shaman) del Acordeon Entangado (piano accordion); Jardincito Hendrix (bas & gtr); Jack Daniel San (tromb); Korcheito Jam (guit); Canaan Sungur (International Drummer of Mystery, aka Kenan Sungar)

And we finished the two-hour show with old friends:

* Jason Webley: The Monsters of Accordion show – Dance While the Sky Crashes Down – The Monsters of Accordion show, Spokane, WA,  (The P.A. System, Spokane7 Podcasts) (2008) – Everett, Washington, USA – Ryan Pitts:

* The Tom Fun Orchestra – Last of the Curious Thieves – You Will Land With A Thud (2007) – Cape Breton Island, Canada –

Rake ‘n’ Scrape Children’s Camp to Save the Endangered Accordion of the Bahamas

July 2, 2015
Special Episode of Accordion Noir dedicated to Rake ’n’ Scrape music from the Bahamas with guest Diana Hamilton. She opened The Cat Island Accordion and French Camp to teach children and adults this lively music and keep it from disappearing. Not often we get a chance to lend a hand to a tradition that’s down to three active players.

Please consider supporting this: Donate to buy an accordion. Schedule to attend the camp (next year, if you can’t make this weekend), and support their proposed Caribbean Accordion Festival planned for 2017-2018. (Who wouldn’t love a documentary about that?)

The Cat Island Accordion and French Project:

Lovely to finally connect with Diana. I’ve been trying to learn more about rake ‘n’ scrape and ripsaw music for years. I hope she doesn’t mind my edits to get more of her inspiring story into the short time we had.

Stream or download the show:
Accordion Noir on Vancouver Co-op Radio’s site:
Musically I tried to play some of the Rake ‘n’ Scrape from the Bahamas and then some other music from the African diaspora that includes scraper-type percussion (brought from Africa by slaves in captivity) and the accordion (brought from Europe in the late 1800s or so.) If you make the documentary about this music, I want to see it.
Cat Island Accordion and French Camp!
Playlist: (Not listed: Me blabbing on.)
* Ophie & the Websites – If you touch that thing – (Thanks to Diana Hamilton for this track.)
* Ed Moxey’s Rake ‘n Scrape – The Timestable – Bahamas Islands Of Song (1995) – Ragged Island and Cat Island, the Bahamas –
* Diana Hamilton, Cat Island Accordion & French Camp – Diana Hamilton 1: Intro, Raking the Scraper – Rake ‘n’ Scrape Interview 2015-05-08 – Cat Island, The Bahamas –
* Antonio Sanches & Tchota Suari – DJonsinho Cabral – Music From Cape Verde (1994) – Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa –
* Ed Moxey’s Rake ‘n Scrape – Big Belly Man Polka – Bahamas Islands Of Song (1995) – Ragged Island and Cat Island, the Bahamas –
* Diana Hamilton, Cat Island Accordion & French Camp – Diana Hamilton 2: Preserving a Tradition At Risk – Rake ‘n’ Scrape Interview 2015-05-08 – Cat Island, The Bahamas –

Pompey “Bo Hog” Johnson

* Thomas Cartwright and the Boys – Nobody’s Darling But Mine – Bahamas Islands Of Song (1995) –
* Diana Hamilton, Cat Island Accordion & French Camp – Diana Hamilton 3: Accordions for the World’s Children – Rake ‘n’ Scrape Interview 2015-05-08 – Cat Island, The Bahamas –
* Thomas Cartwright and the Boys – Watermelon Is Spoiling On The Vine – Bahamas Islands Of Song (1995) –
* Paul Mcziel (Mczeal) & Wallace Gernger – French Waltz – Zydeco, The Early Years (1961) –

(Finishing up with a few upcoming Canadian shows.)
* The Jerry Cans – Suqutaunngilaq – Nunavuttitut (2013) – Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada –
* The Mahones – Whiskey Devils – Irish Punk Collection (2008) – Kingston, Ontario, Canada  –

Newfoundland Country Music: Celtic Accordion + Hank Williams

June 6, 2015

Forgive my ignorance but the last few days I’ve got new thoughts going on about Newfoundland accordion. As a newcomer I’m just realizing they have more than one accordion tradition running in parallel (and mixing). There’s traditional Irish tunes and that, filtered through songbooks and radio and records and hundreds of years (actually more like 130 years) of accordions which probably kicked out some of the trickier fiddle tunes. I’m just getting though that they have this Newfoundland country music that seems pretty distinctive. (I assume everybody who knows anything about Newfoundland doesn’t need to be told this, sorry.)

Simani’s Old Man’s Accordion. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

I’m trying to write about this now, and finding bits and pieces others have done, but it’s hard to get beyond the simple “Irish Music Outpost” view of Newfoundland, Once again I’m struck by the irony when folklorists pick and choose what they like from the music that “folk” actually listen too. I think it’s really interesting though, simple accordions layered onto basic country ballads in sort of a combo of music-hall Irish ballads with Hank Williams. Sort of brilliant in a way.

Years ago, the late Peter Narváez from Memorial University in St. John’s wrote some about it. I really wish I could have met him, an inspiration. His work on the Latin influence on the Blues was really cool. You can find his original 1977 “Country and Western in Diffusion: Juxtaposition and Syncretism in the Popular Music of Newfoundland” at the awesome Memorial University archives in Newfoundland. It’s pretty darn cool, but then I’m a sucker most things that use the world “syncretism.”

Anyways, interesting. It seems quite basic musically, kind of  honky-tonk accordion. If that had hung on in Southern Country music it would have been fun.

There’s some related work on Minnessotta’s Upper Midwest “Old Time Music,” which combined ethnic polkas and country. Seems sort of parallel. James P. Leary has written about how hard it is for other academics and folklorists to wrap their heads around the idea of these “mixture” traditions, even though other trads are equally mixed – we’re just used to them. Especially when you mix something like country, a low-status popular style, with some old folk tradition, the high-brows just want to edit that out.

It is troubling how popular “folk music” left out whole regions of the United States (Leary’s Upper Midwest). Why did Bob Dylan not pick up the accordion that people were playing all around him (local Minnesota folk music) and instead ran off to be an American? Good questions. Maybe Leary’s work with the long ignored Alan Lomax recordings from the 1930s will help change that. I can’t wait to read his Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937–1946, which is finally available! (I can’t help but cheer if people find accordion through Lomax’s work since he later developed an irrational hatred for what he called the “pestiferous instrument.”)

So I’m jumpin’ on this Newfoundland country thing. Opening my ears to some real folk I suppose.

Accordion Noir Radio Maria Kalaniemi Special, May 27, 2015

June 6, 2015

May 27 was Finnish accordionist Maria Kalaniemi‘s birthday, so we did a special 2-hour Accordion Noir Radio episode of her music (and some friends.)


Maria Kalaniemi and her accordion in a window seat.

I haven’t been regularly posting playlists, and I’m not even certain this one is totally in the correct order, but it’s such wonderful music it seemed worth putting up.

You should be able to listen to the shows for now at:
1st Hour (taking over Soundscape’s spot):

2nd Hour:


Closeup of Maria Kalaniemi and her accordion


Playlist: Artist, Song, Album (year)

Maria Kalaniemi – Cranes of Spring – Bellow Poetry (2006) – Finland –
Sagapool – Le vent des Îles – Sagapool (2012) – Quebec, Canada –
Bon Débarras – O Yaille – Errance (2013) – Montreal, Quebec, Canada –
Rattletrap Ruckus – Lola One-Step – Redlight Rag (2013) – Bellingham, WA, USA –
Luftstråk – Maxlax – Siska (2008) – Finland/Sweden –
Luftstråk – Skogsbässen – Siska (2008) – Finland/Sweden –
Maria Kalaniemi / Musiikkia Näytelmään – Kurkimaisema – Niskavuoren Nuori Emäntä (2004) – Finland – music for theatre performance, includes new compositions plus three pieces from older albums.
Maria Kalaniemi – By the Window – Bellow Poetry (2006) – Finland –
Maans, Kalaniemi, Varis – Honga – I Ramunders Fotspar (2000) – Finland
Maria Kalaniemi – Taklax I – Maria Kalaniemi (1992) – Finland –
Maria Kalaniemi / Musiikkia Näytelmään – Ilo – Niskavuoren Nuori Emäntä (2004) – Finland – music for theatre performance, includes new compositions plus three pieces from older albums.
Maria Kalaniemi & Sven Ahlbäck – Randas (Dawning) – Airbow = Luftstråk = Ilmajousi (2000) – Finland, Sweden –
Bon Débarras – Bercitude – Errance (2013) – Montreal, Quebec, Canada –
Dardanelles – Bad Boy – The Eastern Light (2011) – Newfoundland, Canada – Aaron Collis, acc.
Danielle Martineau – La danseuse des brumes/Multurluti – Les secrets du vent (2004) – Quebec / Nova Scotia Canada –
Maans, Kalaniemi, Varis – Jag Ser På Dina Ögon – I Ramunders Fotspar (2000) – FinlandMarianne Maans-Maria Kalaniemi

Maria Kalaniemi / Musiikkia Näytelmään – Lyhyt Ilo – Niskavuoren Nuori Emäntä (2004) – Finland – music for theatre performance, includes new compositions plus three pieces from older albums.
Luftstråk – Skarv – Siska (2008) – Finland/Sweden –
Luftstråk – Bleke – Siska (2008) – Finland/Sweden –

Maria Kalaniemi – Under Fullmånen (Täysikuu) – Vilda Rosor (2010) – Finland – Accordion Tribe – Istunpa Sankys Laitalla – Accordion Tribe (1998) – Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, USA, Austria –
Maria Kalaniemi & Sven Ahlbäck – Nu Skall VI Gå I Skogen (Now We Shall Go Into The Woods) – Airbow = Luftstråk = Ilmajousi (2000) – Finland, Sweden –
Luftstråk – Skog – Siska (2008) – Finland/Sweden
Maria Kalaniemi – Farmorspolskan – Maria Kalaniemi (1992) – Finland –
Maria Kalaniemi – Vilda Rosor – Vilda Rosor (2010) – Finland –

“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…


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