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Accordion Revolution: Book Design Revolution (a look inside)

December 6, 2019

I worked with publishing designers Peter Cocking and Taysia Louie to create this beautiful book.

Page from book, Stylized like an old-fashioned printed poster with multi-font Text: "Part Four American Wheeze: An Alternative Pre-History of Rock"
The Five Parts of the book open with “block print” splash pages
Page from pg 253 of Accordion Revolution, Flaming Heart behind a button accordion" image is set above text. Text begins, "Most of the written story of North American popular music was crafted amidst the extreme anti-accordion stereotypes of the late twentieth-century."
Section openers are set off with the “Flaming Heart” Accordion image, and a slightly larger font

Comparison of Print and eBook Texts:

eBook screenshot: "Top Ten Reasons the Accordion Never Made It in Rock 'n' Roll (followed by list beginning with: "Early blues players abandoned accordions around 1915, cutting the instrument off from most of the African American music that fed into rock."
eBook Text “Sidebar” Design
Grey background with rounded darker border on top and bottom with three rows of white buttons suggesting a Button Accordion. Text: "Top Ten Reasons the Accordion Never Made It in Rock 'n' Roll (followed by list beginning with: "Early blues players abandoned accordions around 1915, cutting the instrument off from most of the African American music that fed into rock."
Print book “Sidebar” design
Two-page spread from Accordion Revolution. Left side, pg 270, last section of Chapter 13 on the Black accordion tradition, two paragraphs subtitled "Windjammer Century." Right Page 271: Large centered chapter-opening title text: "14 Country and Western: Cowboys and Squeezeboxes" Then starting with a large drop-cap "C" standard text reading, "Country music sprang from a mix of multi-ethnic folk songs and fiddling, black blues and banjo, Hawaiian guitar, vaudeville and minstrel yodeling, and a dash of ethnic polkas and waltzes."
Left side: “Bite-sized” subheadings. Right side: Chapters with thoughtful subtitles
two page spread from Accordion Revolution (pages 110-111). Left, full page black and white photo of Alice Hall. Smiling Jazz Accordionist with short 1940s hairdo. playing a "finto piano" accordion with three rows of buttons disguised to look like extensions on a piano keyboard. Right side text of book, beginning with "She admitted later that she wasn’t that interested in recording: 'I was too busy gigging to record much.'"
Full-page images paired with text.
Two page spread from Accordion Revolution. Left side text: "The Cordovox Maneuver" about organ accordions. Right page: The vintage Advertisement photo-image from book: of clean-cut looking dude playing Cordovox Electronic Organ Accordion, surrounded by 1960's hipsters with trendy clothes. Text: "They laughed when I sat down to play the accordion." Sidebar pages have a gray background to separate them from the main text, and have a darker border on top and bottom with rounded corners and three rows of white dots that suggest the keyboard of a really long button accordion.
Stand-alone sidebar pages framed by “button accordion” border.
"Selected Bibliography" opening page 401. Text starts: "General: 1-Apr-2017 12:54 Bachich, George Piano Accordion Owner's Manual and Buyer's Guide 2012." Followed by a page full o fsimilar references.
“Best of” bibliography of 100 books and recordings that inspired Accordion Revolution
Index opening page 407. Includes: "Accordion:" with items: Amplification, Benefits of, Canadian traditions, instruction guides, and more.
Index details individuals and groups, events, places, and key concepts (i.e.. “Industrial Revolution”) discussed in the book.

Accordion Revolution: About the Author

December 5, 2019

Bruce Triggs co-hosts the weekly Accordion Noir Radio show (broadcasting since 2006) on Co-op Radio in Vancouver, BC. He was on the ground floor of the annual Accordion Noir Festival, going on its 13th year. There he met folk, experimental, classical, and punk rock squeezebox players from around the world.

Proposed accordion emoji art: Red three-row button accordion with dark bellows spread in an arc. (The final emoji will have different designs for each platform.)

After meeting so many fabulous accordion players, Bruce decided to write about the instrument rather than learn to play it. His Accordion Revolution: a People’s History of the Accordion in North America from the Industrial Revolution to Rock ’n’ Roll was released in 2019. Also in 2019, Bruce wrote the proposal for the #AccordionEmoji, due for global release in 2020. (Really.)

He lives in a bachelor pad surrounded by broken accordions. (These things may be related.) Amidst all this he co-parents delightful and talented twins (who don’t play accordion) with their queer moms and their extended family.

Bruce making a funny "aren't you impressed" face, pointing to a hulusi. 

This is a traditional East Asian instrument similar to the Chinese sheng, but smaller. 

It's made of a gourd you blow into, with several bamboo tubes off the end that are fingered to manipulate reeds inside the tubes.
Bruce with the Chinese hulusi (ancient free-reed cousin of the accordion) he found in a local thrift store.

Bruce got into accordions after growing up with rock and roll. During ten years inviting people without homes into the radical Catholic Worker community in Tacoma, Washington, he broke his first squeezebox at the 1999 WTO demonstrations in Seattle. Now, he dabbles in electronic manipulation of a Giuliette chromatic button accordion — built-to-last in the 1960s.

Tony Charuhas' book "The Accordion" from 1955. Black and fuchsia, with a black and white accordion in the lower half

In Accordion Revolution, Bruce recalls that all the way back in 1955, Toni Charuhas’ book The Accordion predicted a bright road ahead for her favorite instrument.  It didn’t quite turn out that way over the next few decades.  Now it’s time for the squeezebox to reclaim its place in history. Bruce hopes to be there to report as it happens

Accordion Revolution: Table of Contents

December 5, 2019

Accordion Revolution: A People’s History of the Accordion in North America from the Industrial Revolution to Rock and Roll

Viola Turpeinen: the Finnish American Accordion Princess (chap 5)

Part I: The Dawn of the Accordion Revolution

Chapter 1: The Accordion Conquers the World
Chapter 2: The Accordion’s Family Tree
Chapter 3: Blackface Minstrelsy: Roots in Racism

Part II The Golden Age

Chapter 4: Vaudeville and the Dawn of the Golden Age
Chapter 5: Polka and “Ethnic” Music
Chapter 6: Jazzing the Accordion
Chapter 7: The Closing Acts of the Golden Age

Part III Roots Music: An Outsider’s Canon

Chapter 8: Acordeón: Mexican and American Roots
Chapter 9: Creoles, Cajuns, and Zydeco: French Music in the American South
Chapter 10: Irish and Scottish Accordion: Immigration, Transition and Tradition
Chapter 11: Canadian Accordion: Northern Traditions
Chapter 12: Klezmer: a Restoration with Accordion

Part IV: American Wheeze: A Pre-History of Rock

Vintage Advertisement photo from book: of clean-cut looking dude playing Cordovox Electronic Organ Accordion, surrounded by 1960's hipsters with trendy clothes. Text: "They laughed when I sat down to play the accordion."

Chapter 13: African Americans Played Accordion Before They Played the Blues
Chapter 14: Country & Western: Cowboys and Squeezeboxes
Chapter 15: The Folk Revival: The Accordion Betrayed

Part V: Accordion Exile: The Rise of Rock

Chapter 16: Rockin’ the Accordion
Chapter 17: The Accordion Exodus

Buy the Book

Accordion Revolution: the Annotated Version

December 5, 2019

Working on Accordion Revolution, I struggled with two contradictory goals: I wanted an enjoyable, readable book for music fans—whether accordionists or not. But I also hoped to include detailed annotations to inspire future research. The idea of splitting off the popular and academic versions of the book, each sharing the same main text but one with many more footnotes and annotations, sprang from this conflict.

Here’s how the versions would compare:

For those with visual impairments, an annotated version of the text shown repeatedly in these screenshots should be downloadable here (as of Dec 2020). It’s important that the complete annotated version be accessible as possible, so let me know if that’s not usable.

Nicely designed and laid out page 317 from the print book of Accordion Revolution. "Another America: Folk Music's Missing Midwest." (See the end of this post for link to .doc version.)
Nicely laid out text as it appears in the book.

The print book is nicely illustrated and laid out, and about 400 pgs long. (The ebook also looks nice and has all the same text and classy photos.)

The annotated version of the text will contain 200+ pages of footnotes and a detailed bibliography. It won’t have the illustrations (to save on relicensing all the art and, as a bonus, keep the fancy print version enticing). It will most likely be free for scholarly use.

Unformatted version of Accordion Revolution. The page numbers are different for different versions, but it show much of the same section, "Another America: Folk Music's Missing Midwest." (See the end of this post for link to .doc version of this page.)
Unformatted “ugly” text from Word, with many footnotes. You can see my conflict. If I’d included the 200 pages worth of notes, few people would want to buy or read the 650 pg brick just for fun. But the notes add many layers of detail and bread-crumbs to follow for Further Research. So I hope to release a version with all these annotations and the much more obsessive bibliography, with 1,200 works instead of the printed book’s “Selected Bibliography” of about 100.

If you are interested in “beta-testing” the annotated version, please contact me here or in the comments below, or on any of my @AccordionBruce social media.

I still need guidance on figuring out the right Creative Commons license to make a free version available while keeping the commercial one in print. If anybody has expertise, I’d love to hear from you.

Finally, below is an image of how the book appeared while I wrote it in Scrivener (see applause below)*, which allows for in-line annotations I then organized in Bookends and stored in DevonThink. It’s a bit of a mess, but the grey blocks with “#Identifier@page” codes turn into formatted footnotes that print with my text comments and asides included. [The footnotes are fairly amusing I think, just not “add 200 pages to the book” amusing.] The red notations here don’t appear in the finished versions, but show me the reference names, with links from my Scrivener working-text to thousands of digitized files I have of original sources.

Scrivener version of the text that when processed becomes the .doc version mentioned above. A hopefully readable .doc version is linked to at the bottom of this page.

*One of the reasons I was attracted to Scrivener for writing was because of this amazing page where they objectively compare their own software and the uses and positive traits of a helpful list of competitors. Who does that? Only very cool people who are making very good stuff.

So that’s a bit of vision of the drafting process and my hopes for the expanded version for the benefit of other Accordion Historians.

Accordion Noir radio playlist 2006-10-09: Accordion Underground (, Noir, Underworld, Underwear) — Demo II

December 5, 2019
AccNoir-2006-10-09: Accordion Underground Demo II

Our weekly radio broadcast was pre-empted this week, which is fine — we log over 50 hours per year, more than 4 episodes monthly on average, and we gave up the spot to the show that follows ours, a show that has often stepped aside to allow us to accommodate guests and go into overtime.  (Sometimes the overtime is even planned 8)  But there was one little twinge of regret at giving it up, because this week would mark our 13th anniversary of first going on the air in the middle of the night.

However, for the occasion, Bruce dug deep, deep into his archives and produced this oddity: a pre-Accordion Noir episode of Accordion Noir, an unaired playlist of pretend radio that he had to make in order to demonstrate to the programming committee at our radio program that he had what it took to successfully plan and operate the required equipment for an entire hour on the air.  (And then, hopefully, for another hour a week later.  And so forth.)

Did he pass the audition?  Well, it’s been 13 years, hasn’t it?  You be the judge: would you give these weirdos an hour of airtime on your station?  Hear it for yourself!  And here’s the playlist, with annotations from Bruce:

AccNoir-2006-10-09, Accordion Underground, (…Noir, …Underworld, ….Underwear?): Demo II

I haven’t found Demo I yet, but this is the second unbroadcasted show recording we made to convince the Co-op Radio Programming Committee to let us fill an hour with accordion music every week. You can hear my voice over modulated and distorted as we worked to get the show off the ground. Luckily they trusted us to improve over time.
13 years, and 650+ episodes later…
Here’s the playlist: (url’s were probably good in 2006. We definitely met Balún and Iva Nova on Myspace…. And for gosh sakes some of them came to our Accordion Noir Festival a decade later!)
* The Bills – The Traveller – Let Em Run (2004) – Canada – “The Bill Hilly Band”
* Tummel – Jeri-ko-round – Transit (2004) – Sweden –
* Angelo Debarre et Ludovic Beier – Stomping At Decca – Come into my swing ! (2003) – Paris, France –
* Balún – I Shouldn’t Do This – While Sleeping (2004) – Puerto Rico –    “Balún are three kids from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. They are named Angélica, José and Andrés. They like to make dreamy electro-acoustic melodies for imaginary films.”
* Hossam Ramzy – Bey-Olouly Tooby – El Amar (The Moon) (2000) – Egypt, Africa – Belly Dance,  Mohsen Allaam, acc.
* Ismo Alanko Säätiö – Paha Silmä – Sisäinen Solarium (2000) – Finland – Kimmo Pohjonen, acc. Sounds like Sky Cries Mary
* The Decemberists – Oceanside – 5 Songs (2001) – Portland, Oregon, USA –
* Zetaboo – Tonto – MediZine (2000) – Finland – from Finland
* Speedy West – Sunset – Steel Guitar (1960) –  – with Billy Leibert on piano accordion
* IVA NOVA  – Rodopian Song (Bulgarian traditional) – Iva Nova  (2003) – Saint-Petersburg,  Russian Federation –
* Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana – Donde Estas Maria (Intro) / Thapsos – Thapsos (2000) – Tuscany, Italy –
* Accordion Tribe – Inte Quanta – Accordion Tribe (1998) – Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, USA, Austria –
* Sharon Shannon – Coridinio – Sharon Shannon (1993) – County Clare, Ireland – Homepage:
* Ultramarine – Bronze Eye – Folk (1989) –  –
* Philemon Arthur & The Dung – Mor anka – Musikens historia del 1 och 2 (1972) – Sweden –
LOL, I started promoting our show’s run with Philemon Arthur & The Dung (57:13). 😄
And I didn’t know how to pronounce Kimmo Pohjonen yet.
And is that how you say Billie Liebert’s name? He’s got a whole section in the chapter, “Country and Western: Cowboys and Squeezeboxes,” of my Accordion Revolution book, published only 12 1/2 years later….
Oh, and what I said about Speedy West being in Pee Wee King’s band probably isn’t right. I can’t figure out who that steel player was right now though. Hmm. (Rabbit hole) It may have been Robert “Bobby” Koefer in 1952 when Roy Ayres was a Marine in Korea, according to this forum:

Thanks for reading us here (and hopefully listening to us, there), but if you find you want more, you can always keep up with us on Twitter (@AccordionNoir and @AccordionBruce), Instagram (@AccordionNoirFest), and Facebook at Accordion Noir fansthe Accordion Noir Festival, and the Vancouver Squeezebox Circle (taking place… tonight!) Cheers & squeeze on!

Accordion Revolution: Endorsements

December 5, 2019

Famous Accordionists Support the
Accordion Revolution!

Animated graphic of an accordion in front of a red heart, with moving flames. Tiny text below, "Accordion Revolution"

Some well-known musicians have said very kind things about the book.

A rollicking journey that enhances the joy of the instrument I hold in my arms every night!

Jenny Conlee, The Decemberists

Bruce Triggs gives the accordion the scholarship it deserves, demonstrating its overlooked, yet important impact on our music history.

Krist Novoselić, Giants in the Trees, Nirvana
accordion with flames spilling out where the bellows would be

Given the general, pretty much universal level of mockery of the accordion, this a book that I never thought I’d see written. Well done.

James Fearnley, The Pogues, The Walker Roaders

I’ve played accordion in 17 countries, and if there’s anybody who knows more about accordions and their history than Bruce, I’ve never met them.

Geoff Berner, novelist, singer, songwriter and klezmer punk accordionist.

“Accordion Revolution is an inspirational guide to the accordion’s deep and shadowy past.”

Skyler Fell, Accordion Apocalypse Repair Shop
Jason Webley graphic (from a t-shirt) of a cartoon Jason with a skeleton head and wings, playing accordion while flying

Triggs is the closest I’ve known to a human encyclopedia of all things accordion. He’s been slaving on this book for as long as I’ve known him, and I’m very excited to see it’s finally coming into existence.

Jason Webley, songwriter, vagabond, cult leader, eater of artichokes.

A worthy redemption for an instrument that has always been far more beautiful and complicated than its reputation might have you believe.

Brooke Binkowski, Accordionist / Award-Winning Media Fact-Checker

The most extensive research into accordion music across all genres that I know of. Triggs has painstakingly unearthed details but made it accessible to everyone. If you love music, check this out.

Alex Meixner, polka’s ambassador for the new millennium,
“Happiness is a Choice.”

I give it five out of five bellows-shakes.

Renee de la Prade, Producer,
Accordion Babes Pin-Up Calendar

Accordion Revolution: Buying the Book

December 5, 2019

Purchasing Options (for Every Reader)

(If you leave reviews at any of these shops and libraries it really helps!)

Animated graphic of an accordion in front of a red heart, with moving flames. Tiny text below, "Accordion Revolution"

The AccordionBruce Etsy Shop

I personally send out signed/custom-stamped copies of Accordion Revolution, along with a bonus ebook and stickers and pretty illustrated postcard/bookmark/fliers.

Cost is a bit more with postage but supports the author (me) more than other purchasing methods. Also available: flaming accordion pins and amusing badges.

Accordion Revolution ebook cover, link to Smashwords ebook site.
eBook Cover

Convenient/affordable ebook!

ePub (everywhere but kindle)

Kindle (Amazon)

(Many shops below carry the ebook too.)

Ordering the Real Book:

In the U.S. I recommend: They will recommend local independant bookstores, or you can order online with part going to indie shops of your choice. Pretty cool.

Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon (has online service to your door). connects you with a network of local booksellers.

Barnes & Nobel is a popular Amazon subsidiary that lets you leave reviews of what you thought of the book.

If you’re interested, I created an Accordion History bibliography on Goodreads that includes many of the books used while writing Accordion Revolution

Search through various options on which include Amazon’s online Monopoly if there’s no alternative.

A stack of four copies of Accordion Revolution, on a woodgrain background

Internationally: is a global alternative to Amazon. They’ll post to anywhere. Pretty cool.

In Canada:

In Europe:

In Northern Europe and much of the world: Adlibris,com

In the Netherlands and Belgium folks have ordered from:

In the UK: (UK local bookstore network. Says “Out of Stock” but they inform me that means it’s not in shops, but they’ll mail it to you right away. (an Amazon subsidiary.)

A stack of books (photo of my bookshelf turned vertically)
Includes Accordion Revolution, and a dozen other books referenced in my bibliography.

Including: See You At the Hall, Puro Conjunto, The Quest of the Folk, Musica Norteña, The Accordion in the Americas, Musicians Traditionnels du Québec

Request that Your Local Libraries Order Copies!

Finally, I encourage you to Request the Book at your local and academic Libraries. Most Libraries appreciate requests and have easy online request forms. Simply search online for “Request a book, your library name,” and fill it out.

Suggesting books is a wonderful way to support authors and get books in the hands of more readers:

You’ll probably only need a few of the following:

Title: Accordion Revolution: A People’s History of the Accordion From the Industrial Revolution to Rock and Roll

Author: Bruce Triggs

ISBN: 978-1-9990677-0-0

ISBN eBook: 978-1-9990677-1-7

Publication Date: June 2019

Publisher: Demian & Sons

Place of Publication: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Thank your librarian for me!