Skip to content

The upside-down accordion bounty hunt!

April 19, 2016

Hi, my name is Rowan, Bruce’s co-host (more of a “silent partner” these days) on Accordion Noir radio — but you may remember me better as the guy who accidentally taught himself to play accordion upside-down for his first year of instrument ownership.

Everyone knows what a piano accordion looks like, in general terms, but if you don’t play one, you may fail to observe such fine points as… which parts of the interface go on which side, or otherwise put… which side goes “up”.

It can then be considered a rite of passage or shibboleth of sorts to know the right and wrong way to wear an accordion — someone versed in its mysteries might be expected to portray it correctly 100% of the time, while an outsider might have only a 50% chance of stumbling upon the correct orientation.  (Flip a coin!  Heads, you win, tails, you… look like the only thing sadder than an accordion fan: a poseur accordion fan.)

Accordion Noir’s most stalwart supporter Lisan has become acutely attuned (since once you’re hip to it, you start seeing it everywhere) to incorrectly-worn squeezeboxes depicted in art and slung as props in photos inadvertently giving away that no actual accordionist was ever consulted regarding the calculated inclusion of our swinging-back-to-hip instrument in their painting, photoshoot or music video.  (Bruce can describe for you in great detail the related phenomenon of flutinas being used as decor in 1840s daguerreotypes to signify the cultured and erudite nature of the photo’s subject, who most likely did not know how to play a flutina or even which which way to hold it.  But that’s his wheelhouse, I’m just here doing the social media report.)

The other day, after a 1919 cubist accordion painting was shared, we debated over whether it was being held upside-down (or, you know, being subject to the flattening effects of the cubist aesthetic.)

Here’s where things get interesting:

The ground rules were simple: “No cheating – no flipped photos, no dupes.” Basically, we’re looking for new-to-us instances of accordions unwittingly presented in the unplayable reversed position, not for doctored photos or photos of upside-down accordionists. And so, with some skin in the game, we began accepting submissions. Within minutes, Betty Widerski rose to the occasion, with a slew of specimens (one doubly-wrong, labelled as a concertina) extracted from the watermarked stock photo mines (and one shamefully presented by the Encyclopedia Britannica, demonstrating how that paragon of factual knowledge has lowered its standards in the age of Google.

Shooting out of the gate like a squeezeboxy greyhound, that immediately brought our total to FIVE.

There was another near-miss, a very deliberate feat of acrobatic (wrestling, actually) inverted accordion use by Finland’s flying maniac of the squeezebox Kimmo Pohjonen, which doesn’t count… but is remarkable nonetheless!


Betty also found an amazing (well, terribly mundane if you don’t know what you’re looking at) music video, an upside-down accordion duet… but Bruce isn’t satisfied that it isn’t simply a horizontally-flipped video.

Our friend, Vancouver Squeezebox Circle host Alan Zisman of the Gram Partisans, totally unaware of the existence of this contest, shared with us the following piece of impossible art, illustrating the 2011 album “Maw” by the band HER NAME IS CALLA. (Is it impossible for a bird to play accordion? Maybe, but definitely if that accordion is upside-down!)


Our Newfie friend Mike got into the act, but again his spirited delivery fell afowl of our rigorous contest criteria, leaving us high and dry with a paltry SIX confirmed specimens out of our target of 10.

If we meet our target by the end of the Spring member drive (Sunday, April 24th) of our parent radio station CFRO Co-Op Community Radio, Lisan has pledged to increase her existing donation by $30. Will we make it? If we apply ourselves, it seems inevitable, but we’re not there yet! Who wants to sweeten the pot and heighten the stakes by matching Lisan’s wager? How about doubling it if we can find 20 inverted accordions?  (Update: See below!)

We will continue updating this post as more submissions come in. The suspense is unbearable!


Len Imbery of The Clanns shares with us “a little wine pouring foil I recently bought with a bottle of wine…”


It’s … a black cat?  Clearly it’s had a little too much wine, as it’s trying to play accordion upsidedown!  (An even trickier proposition with no straps to help hold it in place!)  That brings us 70% of the way to completion.  Can you help us find one of the THREE remaining naively-reversed depictions of accordions?


And the count marches on… our parent radio station, boosting our campaign, added a flipped accordion to our total completely by accident!  You see, there are more of these out there than you might guess!

This would bring us to eight out of 10, but there was another exciting development…


Big news from Tuesday night!

That’s right, folks — the pot has been sweetened, and to match it the bar has been raised!  Super-supporter Lisan has agreed to raise her donation to $50 from $30, and Accordion Noir host Bruce has agreed to match it!  To raise the bar to keep pace with these higher stakes, the number of upside-down accordions we’re searching for has been increased to fifteen, and we currently sit at eight — just over halfway there!  If we can find seven more, a hundred dollars of donations to our radio station is riding on it!


Wednesday was eerily quiet after the stakes had been raised, but Thursday brought us another solid submission:


Great work, Ben! Adding insult to injury, after showing “Weird” Al using an accordion upside-down (a weird too far even for Al) they also misspell the word “accordion”. Zero for two, Seth Macfarlane!

(But that brings Ben two for two: he found another submission for us, Bender from Futurama celebrating Robonnukah in a most unorthodox fashion — playing his accordion upside-down.)

This brings us to a total of 10 #upsidedownaccordion submissions from our enhanced, anticipated total of at least 15, resulting in $100 of support sent in to CFRO Co-Op Radio on behalf of Accordion Noir!  We’re two thirds of the way there — we just need five more by the end of April 24th! Can we do it?


Friday has been slow, with just one further submission, also from Ben:

Are we going to make it? We have 45 hours and 15 minutes left on the clock, and need to find 4 more oops-I-inverted-my-accordion-again pictures to make good on our wager and collect $100! That’s over 11 hours per picture! Surely we can manage that… right?


And Saturday is off with a bang! Mike Madigan graces us with a compelling shot whose flaws jump out at the viewer immediately:

And then Betty found us a humdinger! Five in one! (We will be counting it as one.) A regular suite of counter-instructional photographs! At the end the model is wearing it correctly in the group shot, presumably by some fluke accident.


That brings us to 13 found out of 15!  If we manage to dig up just one more today and one more tomorrow, we will triumphantly meet our extended contest goal!  Outstanding!


ONE more  Betty found two — and delivered us to our extended goal of 15 #upsidedownaccordion sightings!  First a piece of  Ed, Edd, n Eddy fanart on Deviantart (where I was expecting to find more amateurishly inverted accordions… but not so many Brony accordions!) …


… THEN she followed it up with a comic strip!  (The comic strip itself led to another strip, also with inverted positioning, but it doesn’t matter because… we met our goal!)

Armadillo playing accordion.

The final tally of sources for valid entries looks like this:

    Betty: 8
    Alan: 1
    Len: 1
    Co-op Radio: 1
    Ben: 3
    Mike: 1

So thanks to our grand champion Betty, our silver medalist Ben, and … the rest of the peanut gallery!  And thanks to Lisan and Bruce for volunteering the jackpot for the wager!  Good fun was had by all, and CFRO Co-Op Community Radio 100.5 fm is now $100 richer for it! We are, uh, desperately brainstorming to determine if we can get any further stretch goal fundraising or social media buzz out of our remaining 26 hours in the fundraising drive, but if so … we’ll keep you posted!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2016 1:41 pm

    Does someone who actually can play a piano accordion upside down qualify?…check out the :53sec. of this video

  2. April 19, 2016 2:45 pm

    For those interested, I covered the upside down beat for April Fools last year. It doesn’t seem that long ago. I guess it’s seasonal.

    and did a follow-up episode of Accordion Noir radio.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: