Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Accordion blogs apparently don't rule

Blog search engine Technorati says there are only two blogs about the accordion. Even more shocking: There's only one about accordions (plural). And that would be TDA's Wall of Wheeze.

We're No. 1! We're No. 1! (Except when we're No. 2, hot on the heels of Intervalle Blog. Which is French. Which is Greek to me.)

Accordions and tires make for strange combo

Oklahama businessman Bill Puroff squeezes a little life into his work day by playing accordion in his Tulsa tire shop. He keeps a couple of accs at the appropriately named Bill's Tire Service and picks one up when he feels like having a little fun. "I just come in here and goof off and enjoy it," Puroff told KOTV.

Like many accordionists, Puroff played when he was a kid, then abandoned the instrument for decades before jumping back on the squeezebox express.

"I've always heard music is good for the soul," he said, "and I think it is."

The combination of accordions and tires does seem a little strange -- although I guess they've both got air in 'em. But I'm guessing Puroff would never have made the news had he been a guitarist or a juggler.

Annoying device keeps pesky teens at bay

U.K. inventor Howard Stapleton came up with a novel device for keeping rowdy teenagers from loitering in front of stores. He calls the teen-be-gone gadget, which emits a high-frequency sound that adults can't hear, The Mosquito.

"It's small and annoying," Stapleton told The New York Times. The Mosquito's irritating buzz supposedly can be heard by almost everybody under 20 years old and by almost nobody who's over 30.

A South Wales store owner, who attests to the device's effectiveness, says he was about to install loudspeakers to pump classical music into the parking lot to help disperse troublemaking teens, but the Mosquito does the trick nicely.

Like a Lawrence Welk tape loop wouldn't do the trick ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Squeezytunes tracks down accordiana

Want to see some cool stuff?

Squeezyboy, the guy who runs the Squeezytunes blog, digs up squeezebox treasures on eBay and publishes cool vintage accordion photos as well. It's a wheeze-worthy site that gets updated frequently. Where does he find the time?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Did you pig out with a geek?

Even nerds love Thanksgiving. BBspot serves up a heaping helping of funny with its "Top 11 Signs You're Having Thanksgiving Dinner With a Geek." Read it and evaluate your feast.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas Jug Band uncorks seasonal shenanigans

Every year about this time, Paul hooks up with an all-star band of San Francisco Bay Area musicians to play the loopiest Christmas songs you've ever heard. It's called the Christmas Jug Band, and it's a boatload of fun. While the band has posted its tour dates, I can't say for sure what shows Paul will be playing -- things are usually kind of loose that way. But I can tell you that Christmas Jug Band CDs are available now, and the season wouldn't be the same without listening to "Santa Lost A Ho," "Santa Don't Do It" and "Daddy's Drinkin' Up Our Christmas." Lewis says, "Check it out."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cleveland rocks -- and polkas

If I was in Ohio right now, I'd check out the Traditional Thanksgiving Cleveland Polka Weekend, which runs through Saturday.

"It's a polka convention without any business meetings," says organizer, emcee and polka DJ Tony Petkovsek. "It's all socializing."

Cleveland-style polka pioneer Frankie Yankovic "always said it's the happiest sound around,'' Petkovsek told the Akron Beacon Journal. "We do get the middle-age to older crowd, but also a lot of college types who are home that weekend, so we get an infusion of young blood."

Jeff Pecon, leader of the Jeff Pecon Orchestra, says the event will be loads of fun. "There are different styles of dancing, a smoother gliding style and the Polish hop," Pecon says.

The Buckeye State does it again.

Beware the llamas of death

The Larson Family Winery in Sonoma, Calif., sits on nice, relaxing property and produces some decent vino. It also boasts a llama named Dolly. Cute bugger. Love to stand beside the pen and maybe pet it's weird head.

Now I know why it's head looks weird.

The beasts have "three sets of razor-sharp 'fighting teeth,' which llamas use to rip the scrotum from male competitors in the wild," according to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The article informs the world of a cute little llama problem called "berserk male syndrome," and tells a nasty tale of farm chores gone horribly wrong.

Now, maybe Dolly's a female llama. And maybe females don't go berzerk, or even have those wicked fighting teeth hidden in their skulls. Then again, maybe I'll just stand back a bit from that llama's pen next time I head up north.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving from Lewis and Suzanne

Hope this long weekend finds ya'll long on great and/or weird food and short on stress. While we won't be making a green-bean casserole, we will be baking Cajun-style oyster dressing (using an Emeril Lagasse recipe from the Food Network) and pecan pie (that recipe's secret).

Cheers! (And watch out for those giant balloons.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Toxic wave rolls toward Chinese city

A 50-mile toxic slick of benzene and other chemicals is causing a massive freakout in Harbin, China. Thousands of fearful residents are fleeing in the face of the environmental scum that began rolling down the Songhua River after a series of explosions at a chemical plant upstream, The Financial Times reports.

The good news? The local Anheuser-Busch plant continues to crank out the brew, saying the city's water shutdown has "not significantly affected" production.

Beer aside, the Chinese nightmare makes America's Thanksgiving rush seem like a walk in the park. A nice, well-manicured park. In broad daylight. With a loyal pit bull at your side, and a well-stocked picnic basket over your arm.

Yum! Green bean casserole turns 50

Thanksgiving's all about eating. And while the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American tips its Cajun culinary cap to the monstrous turducken, the Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle sings the praises of an all-American classic that's celebrating its 50th anniversary this year: the ever-lovin' green bean casserole.

Make whatever you want this turkey day -- everybody's got their own family traditions, after all -- but plenty of people around the country will be enjoying Dorcas Reilly's original recipe, cooked up in the Campbell Soup Co. kitchen in 1955 and now supposedly responsible for moving $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup a year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. The green bean casserole has held a special place in TDA's history ever since some Wisconsin fans showed up at one of our early Summerfest shows toting a steaming-hot dish of the stuff. We've been good friends ever since.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

World's ugliest dog dies

Sam, the world's ugliest dog, barks no more. The purebred Chinese crested hairless -- whose bald body, gnarly teeth and Mohawk-like patch of hair catapulted him to the top of the ugly dog charts at the Sonoma-Marin Fair and even landed him an urban-legend entry on -- died Friday at age 14, KCCI reports.

Sam's website serves up loads of pictures of the unsightly pooch, a rescue dog who had a peculiar impact on his owner's love life. RIP, Sam.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Squeeze away that stress

Everybody knows accordions tickle the ears. But some Connecticut squeezers claim that picking up the ol' stomach Steinway is good for the rest of your body as well.

"I found new life," Bob Vitale, 68, told the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. "I used to have a bad back and a bad stomach and taking Zantac all the time. I used to eat that stuff. But since January, when I started playing again, it all disappeared. I couldn't even pick up a pencil. Now I can pick up a refrigerator. My doctor told me it was all stress. It released all my stress."

Vitale is a former accordion teacher and a member of the Connecticut Accordion Association, an organization founded in 2004 by Marilyn O'Neil. The group is growing by leaps and bounds, with a 22-member accordion orchestra. That's a lot of stress relief!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cool Festivals

The Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN and The Vegoose Music Festival in Las Vegas would be a blast to play. The catch is you have to be invited to perform. This differs from most of the other festivals we play, where we send in a promo package and then cajol them into putting us on the bill. You might find this hard to believe, but pitching TDA can actually be a bit of a hard sell to the uninitiated. With that in mind, and in keeping with our "never say never" attitude, if you happen to know a guy who used to be married to a gal that is now married to the director of either of these festivals AND he owes you a huge favor...well, you know what to do.



Late-night fun in Frisco

You know what's great about living all crammed together in a big (but very little) city like San Francisco? Neighbors. (And craigslist.)

UPDATE: OK, the scary/annoying saw-totin' neighbor is in Boston, not Frisco. (That's the last early morning post from me.) And, of course, I realize this whole "ain't neighbors a drag?" concept falls squarely in the "stone-throwing glass-house dweller" realm, what with the sounds of squeezeboxes emanating from our home on a regular basis.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Stop pushing the dork button

Carl Finch, our buddy from Brave Combo, takes a swipe at lamebrain media mavens who use our beloved squeezebox as a sort of lazy shorthand for "square."

"The most ill-informed, mainstream media/ad people are the only ones left on this planet who insist that polka is square," Finch told The Providence (R.I.) Journal. "This is the music you go to when you need a laugh in an ad -- everybody goes to polka; everyone goes to accordions. The only thing is, they're the only ones who think that now."

When Brave Combo was born in 1979, Finch and his cohorts purposely picked polkas and other ethnic musical styles because of the cultural beating those genres were taking in an era of coliseum rock and disco balls.

"Anything that at that time most people would label as uncool," Finch said, "we wanted to take that music and play it to skew someone's notion. To shake the foundation of a belief.... If anything, we're trying to project the idea that any attempt to be cool or hip, by anybody at any point in history, was a folly.... Our approach is, let's level the playing field and be equally irreverent to all forms, which means anything can be a joke. Because if you don't laugh at the absurdities, you're going to be Mr. Miserable all the time."

After 26 years, a dozen records and two Grammys, it looks like the happy plan worked. The band's new record, Holidays, is out now, just in time for, well, you know what.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Weird job of the week: wasp collector

Being a bass player in a nearly all accordion rock 'n' roll band gives me a special appreciation for people with strange jobs, and John Eason's certainly got one. The Nelson Mail headline says it all: "Work sucks, but he gets a buzz."

Eason's a wasp collector. The New Zealander dresses up in a moon suit, then hunts down German wasp nests -- which can be as big as cars, according to the article -- then sucks the angry insects out with a wacky-looking device that looks decidedly Dr. Seuss.

He then freezes the wasps and ships them to the United States, where they are used in the manufacture of sting-desensitizing drugs. Crazy!

Obituary: Emiliano Zuleta-Accordionist

I'm not familiar with his music, but after reading the obit, I'm going to check it out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Want a symphony job? Go accordion

John Morris Russell wants to be the next music director of the Akron Symphony Orchestra so bad that he's pulling out all the stops. On the musical menu for his audition: An overture to Leonard Bernstein's Candide, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 -- and an accordion concerto.

"I'm sticking my neck out a little bit, using an accordion concerto, which is not usually an instrument for an orchestra concert," Russell told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Russell plans to have the squeezebox soloist, Joseph Macerollo, talk to the audience before the performance. I'm guessing the first words out of his mouth won't be, "What's the difference between an accordion and an onion?"

Friday, November 11, 2005

Scandinavia Calling

Something decidedly Northern European has been going on lately at TDA. First it was a request for a bumper sticker from a woman in Norway. Then a CD sold to another woaman in Norway. Then a request for an interview from a writer for a Norwegian Accordion Magazine. Then, yesterday I got an email from a DJ in Sweden who's mad for our stuff and wants all our CDs to play on his show. Here's the URL for the radio station. Maybe you'll hear TDA on there soon. Maybe it's time to book a tour of Scandanavia. I hear Sweden is nice in May! Actually, I just made that up. I have no idea what Sweden is like in May. Anybody know the best time to go?

Look out, Monterey, here we come!

Tonight we break new ground on California's Central Coast. We will be performing -- three sets, baby -- at Monterey Live, a cool club we've never had the pleasure of playing. I stole this picture from the venue's website -- looks swanky! Just imagine that velvety-plush room, only with 1,000-kilowatt accordion players lighting up the stage (and all those empty chairs crammed with squeezebox fans).

Saturday we return to one of our favorite old haunts, The Palms in Winters, California. Always a good time.

We've got some new material (including a great new Paul Rogers ditty called "Tandem Bike" that features a heartwarming duet delivered with feeling by Carri and Paul), so come on down ...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Conjunto legend Esteban Jordan sounds like a trip

He looks like a trip, too. The San Antonio Current's juicy excerpt from Michael Corcoran’s new book, All Over The Map: True Heroes of Texas Music, sheds a little more light on a guy who's been called the "Jimi Hendrix of the accordion" since the late '60s.

Jordan sounds like a real character, and he's apparently got a chip the size of a squeezebox on his shoulder: "I’ll take a dude outside and whip his ass if he disrespects me," he says. "Society can’t touch me, man. Never has. I never went to school, never been trained how to act. I’m an animal, bro."

The intrigue over "notorious troubled genius 'El Parche,'" (The Patch) grows. Time to check out his catalog.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

What are you wearing this weekend?

Hey Suzanne and Susie! What costumes are you wearing to the gigs on Friday and Saturday? I saw this really outrageous bright orange flared skirt at the Goodwill today. But passed it up because I'm trying to create a classier image and all. I may pull out the turquise tutu again. The only problem is I only have this horrible 80's aerobics leotard that goes with it. What to do??? It's so stressful being a rock accordion star. We need a costumer. Paul, is that in the budget?

Now, I have noted your responses to my last, well actually first official, blog entry. So, would discussing costuming ideas be considered appropriate use of the blogoshpere technology? I'm sure the fans would have some input, if they ever discover our Wall of Wheeze. Or maybe it's just that we have any fans . . . anyway, notice that I didn't mention the C word once. He's doing really well, though, by the way. They unblocked his little urinary tract, and he's peeing all over the place now! We're very relieved. Blogging is fun!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Accordions rule in the Beehive State

The squeezin' is good in Utah, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Paul Pasquali's peddling high-end, Swarovski-crystal-studded accordions (price tags up to $15,000), Brad Nelson's pumping out tunes with the Pagan Love Gods and the Utah Symphony, and amateurs are coming out of the closet, the paper says.

"It's so square, it's hip," Nelson says.

The state's even got its own "Jimi Hendrix of the accordion," 64-year-old Janet Todd of The Bavarians, who sounds like a hoot, even if that particular description is getting a bit overdone.

The only thing squeezebox-related that the state's missing, apparently, is some new accordion jokes: The ones that round out the article are as old as, well, a musty attic accordion.

My Cat

Hey Carri, great picture of Juniper. This is a picture of my cat, Cowboy, on my red TDA petticoat. Paul is sitting here drinking coffee with Lewis and me. He loves the cat pictures a lot.

Monday, November 7, 2005


It worked! This is thrilling. Instant gratification. Seeing yourself published IMMEDIATELY. In my first-ever blog, written a few minutes ago and published to some cyber-hinterland, I mused about why one would be drawn to blog. How I'm usually roped into using new technology by some mini-disaster like having a car break down in East L.A. at midnight with no cell phone or being cashless in Europe because of some idealogical opposition to ATM cards. But blogging . . . having an unlimited audience and no one to shut you up. That's power. That's democracy in action. That's what can turn the accordion into a revered instrument, a symbol of might and power. Oh dear lord, help me. I've just discovered the "upload picture" button!! I can also publish unlimited photos of my cat. You will, hopefully see him in the upper left corner of this post. Well, until my next day off (probably sometime around January) . . . keep squeezing.


Will this appear on the wall of wheeze or in my own little cyberspace niche that even I know not how to find??

I forgot to celebrate National Accordion Day

... but the guys and gals at New Jersey's Acme Accordion School didn't. A couple of quotes from the Courier-Post story could be ripped out of a TDA interview:

"They either laugh with us or laugh at us, but people always laugh," said 68-year-old squeezer Glenn Zuroski. And Ruthann Christophersen, 70, really nails the accordion zeitgeist: "You either love it or you hate it," she said. "But it's like religion or politics -- you can't change anyone's mind."

We'll keep tryin' ...

Somebody put a cork in this weird wine

When the Lord turned water into wine, it's a sure thing he didn't slap this outrageous label on the vino. The Smoking Gun calls Westlake and Rheins' Jesus Juice "blasphemy in a bottle," and that's probably not far from the truth.

TDA press mention of the day

We get written up in some cool publications, but this one's gotta rank near the top for excellent title/logo. Thanks for posting the cool pix from Modesto, Bacon Press.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Jimi Hendrix of the accordion?

Drake leLane over at Thus Spake Drake raves about Steve Jordan, an eye-patch-sportin' dude who's been called "The Jimi Hendrix of the Accordion."

Holy crap!

I thought Paul was the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion. (Plus, I was pretty sure Dick Curless was the only cool musician to ever wear an eye patch.) Guess it's time to check this Jordan guy out ...

Squeeze into a hot burrito

When we finally get booked for that Texas squeeze fest we keep hearing about, we'll have to swing by Freebirds World Burrito to see the in-store art.

The chain's San Antonio joint "features a wall mural depicting Texas Tornados musicians the late Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender and Augie Meyers. Other highlights include a flock of flying accordions that burst through the wall and are suspended through the restaurant," The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports.

The Freebirds Web site is cool, too, with a chopper-riding Statue of Liberty named "Libby" (who also roars through the air at several locations of the Texas burrito chain), wacky commercials starring tinfoil creatures, and a how-to on eating a gynormous burrito (something we know all about in San Francisco, thankyouverymuch). I'm getting hungry.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Don't fear the squeezebox

We've got bad news for Keith Lockhart, music director of the Salt Lake City Symphony. In a little man-on-the-street column in The Salt Lake Tribune asking people to reveal their greatest fears, Lockhart says he's totally scared of the multi-squeezebox assault:

"I'd have to say the only thing I'm afraid of is large accordion ensembles," Lockhart admits. "One at a time, they're fine. But put a bunch of them together in a room and ... watch out!"

Get ready to be scared big-time, Keith. Most therapists will tell you it's important to confront your fears. So, next time we roll through Salt Lake, we're looking you up, buddy. Bwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!

Gee, guess I'm one of them fancy bloggers now

Feels real nice.

Can you fit a melody to "Lizard in the Whizzer"?

Yikes! This Aftenposten story (with cool picture) about a big, carnivorous, black-and-yellow South American lizard winding up in a toilet sure beats the Bernal Heights rat I found treading water in mine last summer. Seems like song material for sure. Good luck, Paul (and thanks to Coast to Coast AM for the link).

Who wants to keep Santa Cruz weird?

Squeezebox freak the Great Morgani does, that's for sure. A story about the Keep Santa Cruz Weird campaign includes an awesome pic of one of the wackier accordion ensembles I've ever seen.

The Great Morgani goes on to tell Metro Santa Cruz why he's into keepin' it surreal in SC:

"I have lived in Santa Cruz since 1947," he says with a chuckle. "I have seen all the changes and all the good and bad stuff. Everyone says, 'Wow! You lived through the '60s and the hallucinogenic generation,' but I was playing the stockbroker. I used to think, look at those weirdos, never thinking that one day I would be the one on the box in a ridiculous costume."

That's a sentiment I can get behind. It's truly weird how you can stumble into a strange musical situation -- like, say, bass player in a mostly all-accordion rock band -- and wind up setting up shop in a house of mirrors. Guess that's what makes life worth living. (That and gettin' up and doin' stuff and goin' back to bed.)

P.S. As it happens, we just played Don Quixote's International Music Hall in nearby Felton, Calif. That was a good time for sure (except, maybe, for the long drive home over 17), but we met some really cool folks. It's always like that down there. Can't wait to get back.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Time for a beer drinkin' polka

I'm working on a beer drinking polka. It's called "A Glass of Beer". To my knowledge there are no other polkas like this.
Well, maybe one or two. Of course, this one will have the usual TDA twist to it. It's one of my "what if" tunes, as in: "What if a beer drinking carpenter was asked by his sister to put together a doll house for his little nieces? A piece of cake, right?
Well , maybe not......" Stay tuned!

This Texas acc fest sounds cool

We keep hearing about the International Accordion Festival near San Antonio. And San Antonio Express-News writer Jim Beal Jr. even pretty much calls for a TDA appearance at next year's fest. Love the sound of " in-your-face accordion royalty" -- we've gotta get down there!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have blog

Are we over this yet?

Let's get this party started

Only one thing missing here ...