The Second Annual Official Accordion Noir Guide to Accordion Presents on Etsy This Holiday Season
Happy holidays, everyone! Peace on Earth and good will toward all accordions. (Often the reverse has been applicable: all accordions on the Earth in pieces in Goodwill.) I’m Rowan, Bruce’s co-host on the long-running Accordion Noir radio show. You may recall my guest appearance in this blog last year, and now I’m back for the second year running to revisit that winter tradition — of making crafty gift recommendations for squeezebox-lovers over the holiday season. So whether you’re a confused friend or spouse of someone so regrettably afflicted, reluctant to put yet another “World’s Greatest Accordionist” coffee mug in the stocking — or if you are the accordion maniac yourself, looking for some nicely curated suggestions to send to friends and family — either way I hope you’ll get some musical mileage out of this fresh list.
Of course, you can always find accordion stuff on eBay, with extremely variable pricing. (Better deals are likely available on Craigslist, but if you see a listing for a “pump organ” with photos attached, beware!) And of course, the annual Accordion Babes calendar / album always makes for a great-sounding whimsical project that helps you stay organized and prompts numerous stimulating conversatons about how to get a leg up in the music business. But for the purposes of these gift round-ups, I focus on the offerings to be found inside Etsy, that grand marketplace of the vintage and crafty, treasures liberated, revived, or simply imitated in enthusiastic DIY fashion, all cardinal virtues to the noir accordion revivalist.
Again we start with the small pieces of art for folks on your Christmas card list — it might be the only thing they receive from you, and indeed it may be your only interaction with them all year… so why not make that a year of 100% accordion-related interaction? We have a few candidates here in various quantities, evoking various moods with various palettes and visual styles. $20 gets you 10 copies of the bold, geometric “Wierhake’s Accordion” card; the same price gets you 5 lino-cut block-print cards (at $4 each) or for just $4 you can order a single card presenting a lovely scene anticipating the approaching Spring. And if you have a friend whose birthday is in December or January (or indeed any other time of the year), there is even a card for them, running $3.50.
Here’s the grab bag section, of objects you might use as stocking stuffers. Here we have a beautiful, delicate piece of kiri-e — Japanese paper-cut art. Your friends will be envious of your snowflake, that’s for sure! Only $15! Putting a new spin on “bellows shake”, this stylish blue salt shaker, $20, is patterned after an extended squeezebox; just like in real life, used to add flavour! And last, the gift that keeps on giving — a silicone mold in the shape of an accordion. You could use it to make chocolates! You could use it to make paperweights! You could use it to make, well, your imagination is the limit, really. At only $3, even if you only manufacture a single accordion-shaped novelty item, you’ve pretty much got your money’s worth.
A couple more small and whimsical items — a jolly brass figurine, $45, suitable for use mounted as a hood ornament on your axe! And another dolly, here is an action figure of everyone’s favorite Muppet, Bert from Sesame Street, playing his accordion. Only $4! I know, he looks vaguely evil, but in puzzle form here ($8) he looks much happier — even though he’s switched to rocking his squeezebox southpaw style. Is this the more sinister of the two?
Let’s slip back to the card mentality but think a little bigger — some squeezy artwork we could put on display. So many options! Here are three lovely prints — Lana is the priciest of them, at $25, but her little concertina will make her worth your while! At $20 for the other two, your options are nautical or non-. (Is there a word for non-nautical? “Landlubberly?”) The former is a complete scene of whimsy by the sea, including a tall ship and romantic narwhals in addition to the bellowing of the tides. The other lovely piece is entitled “Defying Gravity” and I just have to say that her instrument must have top-mounted grills to keep her hair up like that.
Because we are on Etsy here it would be remiss of me not to indicate another perennially popular local theme pervading the site, of musical conjoined twins. So here you go, “Twisted Sisters” can be yours for only $20. Another forboding work features an ominous squeezebox — an original painting, priced higher at $400 as a one-of-a-kind work, entitled “The Devilish Accordion“. I don’t know what it’s playing there, but I bet Piazzolla wrote it. (“Devilish” for accordions is just another day at the office for bandoneons.) And to temper the sticker shock on that one, for $80, some other non-Etsy listing I just stumbled across yesterday and have to share, another unique painting: a deep-sea diver’s new mechanism for pumping air down to Davy Jones’ locker.
Enough with art you hang on your walls! What about art you can wear? This punky patch ($10) tells the world that you’ll keep squeezing on even after the flesh has been flayed from your skull. Like a festive Mexican calavera, only… culturally neutral. Or for the price of the patch you can get a whole shirt anticipating the concerned queries of passers-by seeing you unhitch your concertina. “What is that?” “Well, ma’am, please read my shirt.” I believe it also comes in accordion, but here’s one that definitely does: a $22 piece of Louisiana cultural heritage, a lively button-box exhorting viewers “arrete pas la musique”, or not to stop the music. Only $22! We have it on very good authority it can be laundered easily on a washboard.
A new theme this year was going to be not only squeezy duds for you, but for your smartphone… but just before press time, our big pick ran out of stock. Just goes to show that interest in old technology can’t cozy up to a concern with the bleeding-edge. Bruce found two others that (unlike my pick) fit his phone — I don’t like them enough to make thumbnails, but since I’m pretty sure their site prints them on demand (I hope it’s that convenience you’re paying for!), you can be assured that they won’t run out.
So, more things you can wear. Accents. Highlights! The inspired picks that really unite your entire ensemble. If you wish you had a little bling to complement your Gabanelli’s grill, you could go for this brooch, bedazzled with Swarovski crystals (accordiazzled? squeezebazzled?), for $35. If that quantity of bling somewhat exceeds the level of ostentatiousness you’re looking for, there’s a subtler brooch, this one in felt, also quite lovely, for three dollars less. And if you demand a real Cold War artefact for a little history with your accessorizing, you could shell out $7.20 for this authentic medal featuring the garmon-playing Gena the Crocodile. (Small batches keep selling out: here’s another, and still another.)
And for the person who has everything, you can always give … money and precious metal. Here we have a Thaler coin minted in 1976 for that year’s Kimberley International Old-Time Accordion Championship; though its use in-town is explicitly restricted on the coin’s face as limited to that year, unlike many currencies, it appears to have appreciated in value some 300%, as buying it now would cost you three dollars. If a measly one-dollar coin would be a slap in the face, you might want to consider the other end of the spectrum: this solid sterling silver ring is just the thing to show an accordion-loving friend that you wanted to drop nearly $900 on a present for them.
Yeah, I’m kind of speechless also. There you have it, this year’s crop of accordion-related gift ideas. Supplies are limited and of course holiday shipping times vary, so if you see anything you like here don’t hesistate to snap it up or you might not get another chance to! Please feel free to forward along a link to this website to any of your accordion-loving friends to help demonstrate that nobody is spending as much time and effort daydreaming about cool squeezebox stuff as the hep weirdos at Accordion Noir!