Sunday, December 31, 2006

Big Cash for Accordion Fest?

This strange report says the National Endowment for the Arts is ponying up $35,000 for an International Accordion Festival, which "celebrates the instrument's local identity and global reach," in 2007.

The story's short on specifics, though. Would this be the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio that we've been hoping to play? If so, it sounds like they've got the budget to bring us in next year. Sweeeeeeeeeeet.

The Other Problem With Animal Sacrifices

Sacrificing animals for religious reasons seems a little, oh, dated at this point. It's certainly a bummer for the animals. But the practice is still widespread in places like Turkey, where 1,400 "amateur butchers" were maimed this year. Oops.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

How to Pop a Cork With a Sword

More "news you can use," this time from an ace investigative reporter over at Wired News: "How to Pop a Cork With a Sword" (with video highlights).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

TDA Proves Squeezebox Mastery Isn't Required

Remember "polka dictator" Gene Sadowsky? A reader who took issue with the Corvallis Gazette-Times' second piece on Sadowsky wrote to the paper to defend the Oregon accordionist -- and used our humble band as proof that you don't have to be a superlative squeezer to truly entertain.

Writes Mike Ryan of Corvallis:

Anybody who went to this summer’s concert to see "Those Darn Accordions" should understand that mastery of the instrument is not the most important component. These accordionists never used the left side of the instrument. They were "keyboarding" melody and chords, relying on back-up musicians. The leader made the show with showmanship, not mastery of the accordion.

Talk about your backhanded compliments -- thanks, Mike (I think)!

P.S. For the record, the TDA squeezers do use their left hands to play the bass -- sometimes. Paul certainly eschews the bass buttons during his screaming, wah-wah-wrecking solos (and wait till he unveils his customized "rockordion" in 2007). And other times, he and the gals are just too busy singing or dancing (or dancing and singing) to play the left hand. But I can tell you that they can and do play bass lines during the show, even though they do have one of the finest "sleeping master" bass players in the Western Hemisphere. Speaking of which -- bedtime!

P.P.S. When will headline writers learn how to spell "accordion"?

Accordion Stolen!

Harry Bryant usually plays his accordion to raise money for his favorite charity, Stubbington Ark. But thieves put a stop to his fund-raising attempts by stealing his squeeze (along with his car -- this isn't how this joke is supposed to play out, is it?). Sad, sad, sad ...

It's All About the Cowbell

That's why they call it The Cowbell Project. No really.

Accordion Music: Premieres and Polkas

It's all about the squeezebox at Premieres and Polkas, a show of new music at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Jan. 6, 2007. Pieces by composers Randall Woolf and Melissa Mazzoli will make their public debut; Guy Klucevsek will play his Polkas from the Fringe (plus new compositions), with Stas Venglevski along for the ride.

The Fond du Lac Reporter says our friends from the Milwaukee Accordion Club and the Riverwest Accordion Ensemble will be there as well. Start the new year out right!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Onion's Least Essential Albums of 2006

I already confessed how out of touch I am when it comes to buying new records. But at least my CD collection boasts none of The Least Essential Albums of 2006, as compiled by those snarky tastemakers over at The Onion's A.V. Club. Talk about being banned from hipsterville ...

Oh My God, It's a Hippie With a Restaurant

Call it hippie nouvelle: Pick your own price restaurants sprout in Denver and Salt Lake City.

Peek Inside Portugal's Skinniest House

Dig these cool pix from inside a sliver of an abode billed as "the narrowest house in Portugal." Of course, once you open up that particular can of worms, you naturally stumble upon the United States' skinniest house (No. 32 on the list) and, eventually, the narrowest house in the world.

(Via Table of Malcontents)

Epicurious' Hangover Helpers

As a former newspaperman, I'm painfully aware of the old "news you can use" gambit. Usually those stories (beloved by ninny editors and hated by reporters) amounted to hard-hitting pieces on extended shopping hours at the local mall and primers on Christmas tree recycling.

But here's a pre-New Year's Day story that actually could prove useful: Epicurious' 17 Cures for the Big Head Blues. Get your supply shopping done early!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Squeezebox Shushes Yakkity Cell Phoner

Here's a novel use for a squeezebox: A train rider lets loose with a wall of wheeze to shame a person gabbing publicly on a cell phone.

The yakkity one, Beth Goldner, wrote up the incident for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Best line: "The squeeze box: An avant-garde instrument used for social revolt against obnoxious cell-phone users."

RIP: James Brown Dead at 73

Heaven just got a little funkier: James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died early Christmas morning.

I saw "the hardest working man in showbiz" at the Maritime Hall here in San Francisco back in the '90s. Truly one of the best shows I've ever seen. Another great is gone.

Merry Christmas From Those Darn Accordions!

A little late for Hanukkah, a little early for Kwanzaa ... just right for Christmas.

Here's hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and a truly happy New Year.

Those Darn Accordions

(Photo by Jim Merithew)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa in the Soundbooth

The jolly old elf gets schooled on how to unleash the perfect "ho, ho, ho." It's a Pro Tools kinda world, and St. Nick's gettin' a little peeved ...

PC World's 13 Most Embarrassing Web Moments

I love year-end roundups -- they're a "phone-it-in-Friday" ritual of the journalism industry, the kind of stuff even the most hurried hack can hammer out between coming in late (hungover from the office holiday party) and leaving early (for another Christmas party). So pour yourself some eggnog and enjoy PC World's 13 Most Embarrassing Web Moments.

Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of 2006

I knew Those Darn Accordions wouldn't be listed in Rolling Stone magazine's Top 50 Albums of 2006 -- we didn't put out a record this year. (Look out for a big sonic slab of TDA in 2007, though, Mr. Music Critic Man, and keep those pixels sharpened up.)

The big surprise for me while perusing the list is that I only own one of Rolling Stone's top picks. Care to guess which one? Frankly, I've only heard of a handful of those records. Just call me outta touch ...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Download Free MP3s From the Mad Maggies

Seems Maggie has, indeed, gone mad: She's giving away three sneak preview tunes from the soon-to-be-released CD Magdalena's Revenge by The Mad Maggies. The songs are "Musical Priest S" ("a twist on a trad reel"), "Surely, Shirley" ("hoping for love, a retro swing") and "Sparkey's Romp" ("hold onto your hats").

A bit of background: Maggie Martin plays accordion in Polkacide and put The Mad Maggies together to show off her own tunes, which are sometimes but definitely not always polkas, and to play some "tweaked trad" music as well.

Here's the full Mad Maggies lineup -- maybe you'll spot some other names you know from Polkacide and other Bay Area bands. Johny Blood (tuba), Dana Burt (drums), David Campbell (trumpets), Lawrence Jarach (trombone), J.X. Jones (sax, clarinet), Rhian Robinson (clarinet, whistle), Gary Wium (guitars) and Lewis Wallace (bass).

Anyway, check out the tunes. The official (and ambitious) Mad Maggies "genre" is "SkaPolka-KlezCeltica-Gitano-SurfRock," so there's something for almost everybody.

Merry Christmas a couple days early!

P.S. If you're really into exploring some new tunes over the long Christmas weekend, a little bird that looked a lot like a wild turkey just reminded me that you can hear (but not download) some new demos from another Bay Area band I happen to know a little something about on the Electric Boogie Dawgz' MySpace page.

The tunes, "I'll Be Rockin'" and "Gimme A Drink," don't feature accordions, but they were written by Bret Hagen, star of the super-low-budget Those Darn Accordions' video for "My Friend Jim." The songs (plus another EBDz opus, "Trans Am") appear on Krampilation 2006, a compilation of tunes by bands that played this year's Krampusnacht show (put on by EBDz drummer John Hofmeyer).

Accordions Make for Cool Jewltide

Can't top the Boston Herald's headline for this concert review (although I will quibble with the reviewer's classification of "Weird Al" Yankovic as a "mega-square" who's hurt the accordion's reputation).

But never mind. I love the sound of the Jewltide Hanukkah party that took place at T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge, and wish I could have made the show, which featured "punk klezmer" band Golem and Socalled, described as "the klezmer Beck."

Oy to the world indeed!

P.S. Looks like you lucky New Yorkers can catch a couple of Jewltide parties with the same accordion-laced lineup this weekend.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Another Friday, Another Successful Photo Shoot

Did some nitwit say there was no accordion news? Well, there's some pretty cool news about Those Darn Accordions, actually -- we had a great time this morning getting our photos taken by my old buddy Jim Merithew. The early proofs look fantastic. Be sure to check back -- I'm sure we'll be giving you a little taste all the eye candy soon.

But right now it's off to catch Paul with The Christmas Jug Band at the Sweetwater up in Mill Valley. If you're within 60 miles, you should get in your car right now and head that way. You won't find a more enjoyable Christmas show!

A Little More About Nine Pound Hammer

Still no accordion news to speak of, but those slam-bang boys from ol' Kaintuck get a little bit of loving hometown press in The Lexington Herald-Leader.

Here's Nine Pound Hammer singer Scott Luallen summing up the band's approach: "Our music ain't rocket science, but we've got a unique thing going."

In addition the West Coast shows I mentioned yesterday, there's also an early Christmas present for mobile Midwesterns: a Saturday night Hammer show at The Dame in Lexington, Kentucky.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Remember 'Metronatural'?

It's Seattle's hip, cool (and definitely worth the money) trademarked municipal tag line. Well, Heather Flanagan from over at People Geek tracked down the geniuses who came up with the marketing ploy and asked them a few probing questions. Thanks, Heather!

P.S. Still no Bumbershoot nibbles! Drats!

Nine Pound Hammer Nails California

This has nothing to do with accordions, no how no way. It does, however, have something to do with good music: Mighty Kentucky cowpunks Nine Pound Hammer -- probably my favorite band, when you get right down to it -- will be playing several California shows in early 2007, including a Feb. 3 set at San Francisco's coolest dive bar, Thee Parkside. See you there.

Frosty Slasher Caught on Tape

A pair of Ohio Grinches stabbed an inflatable Frosty the Snowman, but there's reason for a holiday cheer: The lawn decoration's owner caught the attack on tape, and the vandals have been arrested. You can see the video on WFTV's website.

Meanwhile, The Columbus Dispatch comes up with a bah-huumbug roundup of decoration-related crimes pulled off by holiday hoodlums, with thefts and stabbings of various seasonal appointments topping the list. Seems like it's always in Ohio ...

Elsewhere, holiday revelers make Frosty out of sand and hay bales.

Merry Christmas ...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gene Sadowsky: Polka Dictator?

I already told you about Gene Sadowsky, Oregon's colorful, self-styled "Polka King" and leader of the Little Bohemian Band.

Now comes word in the Corvallis Gazette Times of a pretender to the polka throne: Richard Kadrmas, Sadowsky’s ex-bandmate and now a squeezer in the R-K Polka Band, calls for an accordion duel with the Polka King. "Anytime, anyplace," Kadrmas told the Gazette Times. Mary Ann Albright's story of the accordion rivalry almost sounds like something out of Guns N' Roses' troubled history.

Now this is getting interesting ...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

'Weird Al': Accordion Is a 'Chick Magnet'

'Weird Al' Yankovic took accordion lessons from ages 7 to 10, his only musical training before launching a successful career (thanks in large part to the Dr. Demento Show, which helped him spread his madness to the masses).

Why the squeeze?, asks The Canberra Times. "The accordion is a chick magnet," Al says. "My parents wanted me to be extremely popular in high school."

That's just a snippet of the terrain in the Australian paper's wide-ranging interview with the parody master. Al even gives up the secret to his two decades of musical success: "A modicum of talent and a whole lot of luck, and a great group of musicians who've been with me from the very beginning. Also, I'm very stubborn -- I just don't go away."

Good luck with the Aussie tour, Al!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Let's Show Santa Some Respect

This Canadian guy gets his tighty-whities all atwist over what he calls a Christmastime "orgy of consumption" and decides to make a statement about global warming, overfishing and whatnot. So, what does he do? He crucifies an effigy of jolly old St. Nick. Predictably, his neighbors are a little cross.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Let's Polka's 2006 Accordion Gift Guide

I was thinking about doing an accordion-themed gift guide, but then I saw that the folks over at Let's Polka already did one. Beaten to the punch, or maybe squeezed out, again. Oh well.

Anyway, check it out, just in time for the holidays: Let's Polka's 2006 Accordion Gift Guide. And I'm not linking to this just because of the first item listed. That was just a happy surprise. Honest.

Strangest Cover of a Paul Rogers Song

No contest: That award goes to the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus cover of "Santa Lost a Ho" on its new CD, Favorite Things. Chicago Pride calls the ditty -- which I'm assuming is the song by that title penned by Those Darn Accordions songwriter in chief Paul Rogers -- "a little-known gem filled with delightful double entendres." For the record, that's how we think of it, too.

If you want the original recording to place under your Christmas tree, Hanukkah shrub or holiday abstainer's potted plant, bag it now at the Christmas Jug Band site. It's on the Uncorked CD, and you can't top it for Christmas merriment.

P.S. Strangest news source cited on the Wall of Wheeze: Chicago Pride, "the ultimate guide to gay Chicago," which has been "serving Boystown and Gay Chicago since 1995." Where the heck is Boystown?

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Accordionist Gets His Game On

It's all about button-mashing: Moshezuchter plays game themes from Tetris and Zelda. Ain't YouTube great?

Friday, December 1, 2006

Holiday Tunes From Paul Rogers

December is the month I take a break from all the bellow-busting high jinks of Those Darn Accordions and head to California for some shows with the Christmas Jug Band. It's going to be a blast getting together with old friends and playing tunes like "Santa Lost A Ho" (.mp3), "Santa's Workshop" (.mp3) and a new one ... "Oh, St. Nick" (.mp3). Enjoy!

Let It Rain Beer

All across the country it's been snowing and blowing and raining. Snow's beautiful, and rain's been known to rinse a certain nasty smell off the streets of San Francisco.

But there's a better kind of storm, a downpour that's possibly backed up by the song "In Heaven There Is No Beer." See the Miller advertisement and dream a happy dream. (Of course, this could be proof that Miller Lite tastes like water.)

Those Darn Accordions Holiday Gift Packs

Response to our Holiday Gift Pack offer has been great. Just $50 for all five TDA CDs. There's never been a better chance to get an earload of Those Darn Accordions music. So if you're looking for a great gift for the hard to please, don't delay, because supplies are limited! Just jump over to the TDA Store and pick one or two up. While you are there be sure to check out the TDA Fun Packs that include a T-Shirt.

She's the Bowling Queen

Esther Medley rolled a 244 recently at Fairway Lanes in Centralia, Wash. Good score, sure, but amazing under the circumstances: Medley is 94 years old and legally blind, the Associated Press reports.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Accordion and Recorder Storm Concert Hall

The "two unlikely instruments" will rock the Quad City Symphony Orchestra in Rock Island, Ill., according to The Des Moines Register. (Wonder if Rick Neilsen will make the show?)

And that's all well and good. But these paragraphs pique my interest:

Although the accordion has all the flashy range of a violin or trumpet, few classical composers have written pieces to show off its range, partly because it developed later than more popular instruments.

Adapted from a Chinese reed instrument called a cheng, the accordion wasn't introduced in Europe until the late 1700s. Patents for the instrument didn't emerge until the 1820s in Austria and Germany.

I keep hearing conflicting stories about the genesis of the accordion -- I've even heard that the piano accordion was invented in San Francisco, which sounds bogus to me. I mean, this city "invented" sourdough bread by letting some yeast go bad, right?

Can anybody shed light on the undeniably real history of the accordion?

Another Reason Beer Rules

You can use a common beer can to pick a Master padlock. Not that anybody would ever use that info for nefarious purposes (especially after tanking up on Milwaukee mother's milk -- maybe that's why Sprecher Brewing doesn't do cans).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Those Darn Accordions on XM in the AM

I got up this morning and turned on my XM Satellite Radio and, lo and behold, there was TDA doing a snippet of The Christmas Jug Band's "Santa Lost A Ho" (MP3) as a station ID. I don't remember doing it, but I suspect it was during our 2002 tour when we stopped in at the XM studios in Washington, D.C., for a live performance.

Those Darn Accordions never recorded the tune, but I always perform it with the CJB, a bunch of guys I've been getting together with every December for the past 25 years. The holiday hi-jinks kick off next week and run until Dec. 22. Check the Christmas Jug Band website for tour details. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, c'mon down!

Grunts From the Great Northwest

OK, I know I'm supposed to be working on the new Those Darn Accordions CD(s), but I've got to take a break now and then and clear my head a bit. Call it the influence of my new surroundings or just the "Jim-Bob" side of me emerging, but I thought I'd share a bit of this sidetracking with you all. So Meet the Grunts!


Howlin' With Culann's Hounds

If you like your Irish music raucous and dance-inducing, with a squeezebox pumping up the attitude, open yer ears to Culann's Hounds. They had the crowd jumpin' at this year's Cotati Accordion Festival, and they'll be playing in Marin County next week. The Marin Independent Journal promos the show with a nice little feature story on the band.

P.S. You can get their new CD, "Year of the Dog," from

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All Hail Oregon's Polka King

Lots of polka royalty talk these days. Oregon's Corvallis Gazette-Times says Gene Sadowsky answers his phone, "This is Gene, the Polka King," which is cool enough. But, frankly, the coolest thing about the interview with Sadowsky is this explanation of the term "squeezebox":

The accordion is sometimes referred to as a squeezebox because it’s played by compression and expansion of a bellows, which generates airflow across reeds.


TDA Demo #2: Wrinkle Suit

Here's the next tune we are kicking around for the new CD. It's called "Wrinkle Suit" (MP3). I was sitting next to a sales rep for large industrial trash compactors in an airport last year. He was making cold calls to different companies while I was making cold calls to different venues. I guess you could say we both were trying to put the "squeeze on." Ha! Anyway, that's what inspired this tune.

My favorite line is "I'm low man on the totem and Loman back in coach and I'm feeling like a shadow of myself as we approach." If we do this tune next year on tour, I think it would be fun to break it down in the middle and actually make a "cold call" to an event in the area and leave a message asking for a gig while the audience screams in the background. Talk about your interactive booking strategies!

There's a third verse that's not on the demo and I'm too lazy to go back and sing it, so I'll just print it here.

If you want to play this game, you've got to learn the ropes
And learn to tell the buyers from all the nopey nopes
Every sale is heaven, no deal is ever dead
You've just got to squeeze the margins 'til your boss is seeing red.

Let me know what you think ... Yea or nay!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Saluting 'America's Polka King'

The Cleveland Plain Dealer paints a provocative portrait of Frankie Yankovic, the hard-squeezin' guy who took the polka to the top of the music charts.

According to the story, which coincides with a Cleveland polka party for the release of the biography America's Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic and His Music by Bob Dolgan, Yankovic was a blue-collar gig-aholic who played tons of shows and made tons of dough with his band, the Yanks. But he was also a smooth-talking ladies' man, a brawler, a cheapskate and "a bit of a kleptomaniac."

One tidbit from the Plain Dealer:

In 1948, the Yanks played Milwaukee in front of 8,000 people -- a show that earned Yankovic the title of America's Polka King. He was presented a trophy from which he and his bandmates drank whiskey, wine and beer.

Now that's extreme squeezeboxing.

It's Official: World's Biggest Rubber Band Ball

Steve Milton, Oregon's rubber-band-ball-making fanatic, broke into the Guinness Book with the world's biggest rubber band ball Tuesday.

"It's awesome, everything went just perfectly," Milton told The Register-Guard after a Chicago weigh-in ceremony. The monster amalgamation tipped the scales at 4,594 pounds and rose to 5 1/2 feet. While the Oregon paper posts a charming picture of Milton standing in a victory pose by his creation, Ananova has a shot of two of the "shirtless strongmen" who rolled the record-smashing ball onto the scale.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Key to Avoiding Leftovers

The giant Thanksgiving meal is a definite blessing; the leftovers can seem like a curse when you're about a week into turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches. But I'm guessing these folks, who have probably the world's strangest dinner guest, won't have to deal with the leftover "problem."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy some good eats and fellowship, but please -- don't do this to your child! (Especially if your guests are getting a little google-eyed from some of that fine California pinot noir.) Have a happy!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Where Do Those TDA Tunes Come From?

I've been hunkered down in my Northwest studio cranking out new tunes for Those Darn Accordions' upcoming CD(s). Have you ever wondered how I get those tunes to the rest of the band?

Well, first I make a basic demo of the song on my cheesy synths and drum machine. Then I load them up on the TDA server and send a link to the rest of the band to check out. If they can listen past the decidedly lo-fi recording, they send their yeas or nays, and depending on the reaction, a new TDA song could be born!

We've got a bundle of tunes to choose from this time around, so we thought you'd like to join in the fun. For the next month I'll be putting up tunes for TDA fans to check out. Let us know what you think! Here's the first link. Enjoy!

TDA Songnote: This one was inspired by a trip to the local mall.

"Mr. Saggy Butt" (MP3)

Another Accordion Festival I Want to Play

Never been to Germany, and all those years of language training are going to waste. Maybe next year Those Darn Accordions can make it to the Akkordeon Festival Wien (that's Vienna Accordion Festival, dumbkopf -- just kidding).

P.S. Be sure to check out the freaky artwork on the main page of the festival's auf Deutsch website.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Very Short Stories, Very Big Fun

With a nod to Hemingway's six-word story, Wired magazine rounds up a long list of tiny masterpieces from sci-fi and horror writers.

Finally, Satan runs out of squeezeboxes.

P.S. Wired also turned loose a pack of designers to create artwork to go with the best six-word stories. Take a peek.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Meet Josh Lederman & Los Diablos

I did, last night when The Mad Maggies played with this fine Boston band in Santa Cruz. Nice guys, great music, cool accordion playing (love those subtle bellows shakes), fun time all 'round.

You can check out Los Diablos online right now. But if you're in the Bay Area, you should just come see them (again with the MMs) this Saturday at The Starry Plough.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Spot the Errors in Wikipedia's TDA Entry

Need a way to while away the weekend? Play "spot the errors" in the Those Darn Accordions Wikipedia entry. I hear you're not supposed to edit your own info (which makes zero sense to me), otherwise I'd scrub the thing. But the listing is thin and riddled with outdated info. Geez.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mother Nature Takes Out TDA's Lawnball

We are sad to post that the beautiful Victorian gazing ball that inspired TDA's 2004 release, "Lawnball," has come to a tragic end. After traveling around the USA and surviving a recent kidnapping by Oregon hooligans, a huge storm in the Pacific Northwest has smashed the glass orb to smithereens.

Reached at home, TDA frontman Paul Rogers was philosophical about the loss. "I came out the morning after the storm and saw that the wind had blown it off its pedestal and broke it into a million pieces. My heart is broken as well, of course, but I've been in the studio working on the new TDA CDs, so maybe it's time to let it go. It all makes sense, when you think about it. But really, I'd rather not think about it right now."

Rogers indicated that he would not be replacing the lawnball. Instead, the pedestal now holds the grout-covered bowling ball that his wife LuAnn made for him during the Oregon heist.

"It's not as pretty, but I'd like to see Mother Nature take that sucker out," said Rogers defiantly. We're not sure it's a good idea to taunt Ma Nature in the Northwest. That bowling ball could end up blowing right through the bellows of one of Rogers' accordions!

The Great Golden Gate Bridge Sellout

Does the Golden Gate Bridge need a corporate sponsor? The pointy-headed guys and gals at the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District are considering such a deal, and they plan to vote Friday on whether to hire consultant Kevin Bartram to study the situation. The scheme would supposedly help cut the bridge authority's $87 million budget deficit. (No word on how much they would pay Bartram, but regional transit authorities piddled away $1.6 million studying the possibility of installing a suicide barrier on the bridge.)

The San Francisco Chronicle found plenty of man-on-the-street goo goos who think corporate sponsorship is the way to go, but also a surprising number of folks with spines who realize that selling out the Golden Gate Bridge would be a multi-pronged affront to the beautiful structure, the folks who struggled to build it in the 1930s and the history of the Bay Area itself.

We don't normally do politics here at the Wall of Wheeze -- the world only need suffer through one U2 -- but this one hits a little close to home. Over the past 16 years, I've watched the greedheads and the tax-and-spend (and spend and spend and spend) bureaucrats suck almost every last drop of soul out of San Francisco and the Bay Area at large.

If the bridge authority really wants to make its budget, it can follow a couple simple guidelines. Step one: Quit hiring consultants. Step two: Take a whack at the 19 members of the board of directors (too many cooks in the kitchen, you know?).

And for any corporate bigwigs who feel the itch to paste their company's name atop that splendid "international orange" span, consider just how sick you'll feel when you have to tell the shareholders about the boycott. (And maybe think about throwing your sponsorship dollars at something appropriate -- like a music festival -- instead.)

There. I feel better now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Anybody Seen This Jason Webley Guy?

For an accordion-toting man, Jason Webley sure gets a lot of press. Maybe it's his music; maybe it's his legion of fans, who call themselves "Tomato Scouts." Maybe it's the love apple food fights at Camp Tomato.

I've never seen Webley perform, but I'm getting the urge to check out a show. The California Aggie's nice little interview with Webley paints an interesting picture of a DIY squeezin' genius. For more on the Johnny Appleseed of the accordion, check out Webley's MySpace page.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Those Darn Accordions Offer a 5-CD Holiday Gift Pack

We were cleaning out the studio last week, getting ready to hunker down on our new CD, and what should we find but a small cache of "Amped" CDs. This gave us the cool idea to offer all 5 TDA CDs as a Holiday Gift Pack for just $50. No tax, no shipping, just a whole bunch of music by Those Darn Accordions. This is a limited offer, so head over to the TDA store and pick one up right now!

Happy Birthday, C.W. McCall

Actually, today is the 79th birthday of Bill Fries, the advertising genius who came up with the character of CB-in', tall-tale-spinnin', ratchet-jawin' trucker legend C.W. McCall. Fries and his musical cohorts wrote some amazingly funny songs, but it was a little ditty called "Convoy" that put C.W. McCall on the map.

If you like funny story songs (and if you're reading the Wall of Wheeze, I'm guessing you do), you might want to give C.W. McCall a listen if you're not already a card-carrying fan. The songs are hilarious; the music is country/bluegrass/weirdo. Belly laughs are almost 100 percent guaranteed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who's Searching for Accordions?

Folks in St. John's, Canada, are hungriest for information on accordions, according to Google Trends. (Our home city of San Francisco comes in No. 9.) When it comes to regional searches, Ireland takes the cake, with the United States ranking No. 2.

Somewhat fascinating stuff. Hope we can make a spike when we release the next Those Darn Accordions CD (or CDs).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Crank Up That Air Guitar

A T-shirt with built-in motion sensors turns air guitarists' phantom power chords into something more: actual music. A team of Australian propellerheads came up with the concept; the Associated Press reporter who filed the story talks about "guitar rifts" and uses other lame wording that screams "clueless," so I take the whole report with a coconut-size grain of salt.

BTW, the original TDA classic T-shirt does the same thing only with air accordion (if it's dark enough and you've drunk a sufficient amount of beer).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Andy Griffith Sues Andy Griffith

With a headline like that, who needs anything more? Well, maybe just a little bit.... One of the Andy Griffiths involved is the actor who patrolled Mayberry. The other is a man who changed his name to run for sheriff in Wisconsin. (All the weirdest news wells up in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, doesn't it?)

Anyway, guess which Andy Griffith is getting sued? CBS News has the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.

Deer Frees Itself From Halloween Hell

The Michigan deer with a plastic pumpkin stuck on its head has cast off its Halloween nightmare. An SPCA special ops guy, called in from Cincinnati to help rescue the antlered rodent, says the deer probably lost some weight, and that might have helped it free itself from its orange oppressor.

The probably dehydrated, possibly liver-damaged deer is eating with its own herd again, and will probably be OK. (Just in case you never saw a picture of the deer with the pumpkin, has one.)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Eunuchs Can Be So Taxing

Sounds like being a tax collector in India can be a real drag, if you take my meaning. Officials in Patna lined up sari-clad, makeup wearing eunuchs to dance, sing and dun tax evaders.

"Eunuchs are feared and reviled in many parts of India, where some believe they have supernatural powers," according to the BBC, but the picture on IBN Live looks like a Castro dance-a-thon. Strangest of all might be the A.P. backgrounder on Indian eunuchs.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Worst. Mother's Day. Gift. Ever.

A Greyhound bus allegedly disgorged the disgusting contents of its latrine on an Ohio family that was, up till that point, traveling merrily through Toledo last Mother's Day. The Smoking Gun has the down-and-dirty details, as outlined in the family's lawsuit against the bus line.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Who Needs Music Teachers?

The makers of a new "Web 2.0" application called In the Chair tell parents the software will nurture their children's inner maestro. But will it really replace music teachers? I doubt it.

A virtual teacher sounds like an interesting concept, but I'm putting my money on the likes of my favorite music instructors over the years (Rick Bashore, Reg Richwine, David T. Chastain, etc.). Educational software might help li'l shavers hone their chops, but how different is it, really, from the prerecorded grooves we played to in high school jazz lab? Dunno.

P.S. Wonder if In the Chair works for accordion?

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Pix: TDA at Cotati Accordion Festival 2006

Sure, the Cotati Accordion Festival took place a few months ago. But it's never too late to post some pix of Those Darn Accordions' set at that awesome event. Many thanks to photog and friend, Sean Pete.

Running of the Bull

How does a bull run wild for 10 hours on the city streets of Newark, N.J.? And how does it end up getting lassoed by a Humane Society guy who hails from South Africa? 1010 WINS delivers the full story (and some video, which is kinda sad). The good news is that the bull, originally headed for the slaughterhouse, gets a reprieve: He'll be transported to a zoo to "live out the rest of (his) life." At least I think that's a happy ending.

Nudists Make the News

What gives? The weather turns chilly, and people start taking off their clothes and running around like idiots. In Music City USA, a naked woman runs into a Waffle House, followed closely by a similarly attired man. Nashville cops say a domestic dispute started at the Super 8 Motel next door, and that cocaine may have been involved. Get the full scoop (with video of the guy's bare foot as he squirms in the back of the black-and-white) from WBIR.

Meanwhile, here in the soggy Bay Area, police busted a guy naked as the proverbial jaybird and carrying a concealed weapon. Perhaps you can guess where he hid the 6-inch awl. (Check the Contra Costa Times story if you can't figure it out.)

Friday, November 3, 2006

Sing, Then Sleep, With the Fishes

Music-loving swimmers beware: The Finis SwiMP3 is a set of goggles with a built-in MP3 player. Cute name, but this little sucker could prove deadly. Just imagine swimming along, listening to your favorite song. Then comes that killer chorus, the one you just can't help but sing along with every time it rolls around. Glug!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

TDA Ponders a Multiple-CD Release

Those Darn Accordions are a bit overdue for a new release, so to make up for lost time the band is about to record its first CD in 3 years -- and is considering cranking out a kids' CD to boot.

"People have been telling us for years that we should do a kids' CD, so I've been squirreling away the tunes until the time was right," said TDA bandleader Paul Rogers. "Will this mean an afternoon show for the kids and an evening show for the grownups? We'll see."

Rogers says he's got a bluegrass CD in the works as well. Must be all that time he's spent "soaking" up the great Northwest. With all this impending recording, and the widely reported "death of the CD," the question of what extras -- photos, lyrics, stickers, shrubbery -- might be included with the physical recordings remains unanswered.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Beware the Technology of the Beast

Another Wednesday, another wacky geek humor column from Wired News' resident goofball, Lore Sjöberg. This time he's tackling tech through a most unlikely lens: the Bible.

An example:

"And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."

That's pretty much how I feel after a few minutes looking at homemade music videos on YouTube.

Now I'm sufficiently "girt about the paps" and hoping Lore doesn't kill himself if he watches our homemade video for "My Friend Jim."

It's Party Time in Milwaukee

And we're not talking a post-Halloween beer blast in "America's drunkest city." Nope -- this party is to celebrate Milwaukee's No. 2 rank in Maxim magazine's roundup of America's best party places.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl writes the whole thing off as just another chance to reinforce the city's "most tired stereotypes -- beer, brats and bowling," but in my book, that's darn close to a holy trinity.

Stingl goes on to say that Maxim mentioned perennial fun spot Koz's Mini Bowl, but ran an unrelated photo of a chippie with a bowling ball to accompany the story. Too bad about that. Koz's is one of the coolest places I've been, and the only place I've ever knocked over the duck pins.

Bill from Milwaukee, our man on the street in Brew City, takes this latest honor in stride. "Go figure," he writes. "I think it was TDA's last swing through town that helped push us up the list."

Nice Interview With LynnMarie

We met intercapped polka queen LynnMarie when we opened for her in Cleveland a few years back. She was completely gracious, and man did she work that audience. Now she's gunning for a Grammy nomination.

Want to know more about her? The Independent (out of Marshall, Minn.) serves up a sweet little interview with the accordionist. Fave quote: "I stood backstage and thought, 'How did an accordion player from Cleveland, Ohio, get on The Tonight Show?'"

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ultimate Halloween Wheels?

Catch a look at John Farr's Skeleton Bike and imagine how cool it would be to ride that thing to a Halloween party tonight. Spooky!

(Via MetaFilter)

Them Hippies Was Right (About Science)

Are you ready for the science? This wacky YouTube clip shows a horde of well-directed, dancing hippies giving hairy life to the process of protein synthesis, all set to a jiggly soundtrack.

You gotta love the '70s. In retrospect. I guess. Maybe.

(Via Boing Boing)

There's Another Dumbass in a Costume

Stupidest costume idea: Osama bin Laden, complete with fake gun and hand grenades. Stupidest thing to do when the cops come to check you out: refusing to comply with officers' requests immediately. Talk about a Halloweenie ...

Latest Swimsuit Accessory: Snakes

Bill from Reedley forwards a Norwegian news story that gives me one more reason not to go swimming in lakes. Ick.

Now That's a Rubber Band Ball

Steve Milton might have a little too much time on his hands. The Oregon man put together the world's biggest ball made of rubber bands.

The biggest bummer: There's no way that monster will fit in his junk drawer -- it's 5 feet tall and weighs 3,300 pounds. He stores it in his garage (and sometimes uses it to smash things, as documented on his MySpace page). The Register-Guard has the full story (plus a picture).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Get Yer Hot Cuppa Accordion

I've harped about Seattle's "metronatural" problem. Would you consider Starbucks a plus or a minus for Seattle? (Personally, I prefer Peet's coffee.)

As you may know, the hard work never stops here at TDA Central, and plenty of Peet's gets pounded. We're tossing around shirt ideas, planning CD artwork and, oh yeah, writing songs.

Amidst this whole "creative process" -- that's what us "creative types" call goofing off -- our good buddy Sean Pete came up with this loopy logo. Hope we don't get sued. That can really put a crimp in your creativity.

Book a Trip to Bin Laden's Cave

That's right -- the terror kingpin's former mountain hideout is going to be transformed into a resort. "Tora Bora is 100 percent safe," says Afghan warlord-turned-governor Gul Agha Sherazi, who's pimping the idea in The Sun.

Don't forget your burka!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Vant to Flunk Your Test!

San Francisco State University prof Sara Hackenberg teaches the class, and the San Francisco Chronicle's best writer, Steve Rubenstein, captures the scene of the apparently horrific midterm exam.

There's sex and violence -- "Vampires," Hackenberg says, "are all about sex and food and the penetration of bodies" -- and, of course, the mandatory social spin: "Dracula is the uber aristocrat, a member of the ruling class feeding off peasants," Hackenberg says. "Marx said aristocrats are vampires, sucking the blood of everyone around them."

Happy Halloween season!

Festival Blog Name-Checks TDA

The good folks at Festival Preview, in a post by Chris Ellis titled "All About Summerfest," turn in an informative little roundup that includes TDA in a long list of musical luminaries that play Milwaukee's Big Gig. Steely Dan, Willie Nelson, Wilco, Hank Williams Jr., John Mellencamp, Los Lobos, Those Darn Accordions ... now that's good company. Hope we end up playing Summerfest in 2007.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Is the CD Really Dead?

That's what EMI bigwig Alain Levy says, adding that "value-added" material included with discs is the only way to keep physical media alive.

So, will you buy your next TDA recording on a CD? Or from iTunes or some other digital service? And what extras would entice you to plunk down cash for a CD? Conniving minds want to know ...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Killer Kegger, Dude!

Actually, this is no laughing matter: A Connecticut man was killed when some wiseguy threw a keg of beer into a bonfire. The explosion could be heard for miles, and several people were injured. That's one party trick to delete from your repertoire.

There's Another Dumbass on the Mountain, Alright

Just listen to Neal Mueller whine in The Washington Post about how his precious iPod didn't work on top of Mount Everest. I love Van Halen (original lineup, please), but 29,000 feet above sea level is no place to be listening to "Take Your Whiskey Home" unless you're chillin' in coach.

Monday, October 23, 2006

USA Today Asks: 'Can Accordions Be Cool?'

To which we reply: but of course.

It's kinda sad that Gannett's McPaper of Record went with the question-mark headline to top the upbeat Associated Press story about accordion fanatics in Wishek, N.D., the self-described "Sauerkraut Capital of the World" that's just "a few miles off the Lawrence Welk Highway." Looks like A.P. shipped the story with the much more squeezebox-friendly headline, "Accordions Are Cool in One ND Town." And everywhere else, natürlich!

(Thanks, Alethea!)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Seattle Goes 'Metronatural'

Who doesn't like Seattle? Who doesn't think of the pearl of the Pacific Northwest as a fine place to visit, what with the Bumbershoot festival, the Space Needle, the flying fish at Pike's Place, and all that natural beauty, like the Puget Sound (and let's not even get into the "Seattle sound")?

Well, apparently Seattle's basic beauty isn't enough for the city's tourist fishermen, who are well on their way to spending half a million dollars to verbally bait the hook. Their brainchild? The now-trademarked term, "Metronatural."

According to an Associated Press story, "'Metronatural' is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau, which included 60 people from the bureau, the mayor's office and businesses. The bureau plans to spend $300,000 marketing the slogan, er, 'destination brand position.'"

Now that's a lot of money. I'm sure Paul and I could have come up with another slogan to describe the lovely city for, oh, somewhere south of $10,000 and a couple sixpacks of Red Hook. And if we couldn't get the job done, Seattle could have turned to Austin American-Statesman writer Helen Anders, who serves up this alternative tag line: "Seattle: It's Portland on steroids."

P.S. We're not booked for Bumbershoot 2007 yet!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thank You 142 Throckmorton Theatre and Good Night!

What a great crowd last night at Mill Valley's "hub for public live arts." Possibly the best "beer, beer, beer!" audience shout-out in TDA history! (Bring it on, Milwaukee.) Thanks to everybody who came out to the show, and to Lucy and the whole Throck crew for taking such good care of us.

P.S. And look who's playing there tonight: The Fabulous Rhythm and Roll Dance Party. Go get 'em, Audie!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Last Bratwurst of Summer

OK, so maybe that's "last TDA show of summer." And maybe it's not really summer anymore, either, but it sure feels like it here in the sunny Bay Area. See you tonight at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley -- our last show of the year, unless something pops up in a happy and rewarding fashion. Next stop: the studio to record another TDA epic.

Squeezing Into the Mainstream

"Accordion Player Wins Latin MTV Award," the headline says -- you don't see that every day. Congrats to the "accordion-toting" Julieta Venegas, who bagged the best singer award.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Polkapalooza Bubbles Up at Atlantis

The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev., that is. And look who's playing: Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra, Polka Power of California and Big Lou's Polka Casserole. The Sacramento Bee has all the info (as well as getting Big Lou's band's name wrong). No info yet on the Atlantis site ...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cats Take to the Treadmills

Wired News funnyman Lore Sjöberg is now a cat herder: He rounded up a bunch of YouTube video clips that show man's other best friend burning off a few bowls of Kitten Chow.

The clips are wacky. Maybe Suzanne and I will have to get a treadmill for our nut job feline, Festus, who's recently taken to cursor hunting. He used to eat flies; now he makes it nearly impossible to mouse around on the PC. (Actually, he never stopped eating flies.)

P.S. If you haven't been exposed to Lore's weekly Alt Text column on Wired News, you should check it out. It's usually good for a belly laugh or three.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Village Voice Talks With 'Weird Al'

I always knew "Weird Al" Yankovic was cool, but I never thought the Village Voice would stoop to giving major play to an artist without a pierced navel, freaky tattoos and bizarre nocturnal habits. (Of course, maybe Al's got all that good stuff.) But Al's Straight Outta Lynwood CD/DVD busted out in the Billboard Top 10, so it's time he gets his due in the alternative press. Or something.

Best quote in the amusing Q&A: "It's hard to have street cred when you play the accordion."

P.S. Don't miss the accompanying "think piece" about Al, which dares to dub him a "genius." Right on.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pedal-Pumpin' Squeezebox Action

OK, so the headline ("Variety of Sounds Heard at International Accordion Festival") is lame. But the Houston Chronicle's article is intriguing as it paints a picture of the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, Texas.

The story says Polish squeezebox player Marian Pelka uses "pedal power to enhance his lilting sounds" and talks about him playing an "ornate instrument." Wonder what that could mean? Surely Pelka's not wailing away on a wah-wah pedal like, oh, some other accordion players I know.

Well, the article never gets around to the details. But it piqued my curiosity enough to track down a story in the San Antonio Express-News that gives a little more info:

"Accordion freaks and others interested in out-of-the-ordinary instruments are going to love Pelka's axe. From Wieniawa, in central Poland, Pelka plays his waltzes, obereks, polkas and mazureks on a pipe-mounted accordion operated by foot pedals that pulls the air into and out of the bellows."

Now if I can just find a picture ...

Ultimate Pumpkin Party Patch?

West Virginia man Ric Griffith is aiming for 3,000 orange orbs in his massive backyard pumpkin patch. How's that for an off-the-hook Halloween display?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Patty Spots a Dust Devil

TDA alumna (and novice storm chaser) Patty made the front page of The Maui News today after a photog snapped a picture of her stalking a dust devil on the Hawaiian island. Looks like one of those black clouds from Lost if you ask me ...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Ease and Beauty of eMusic

When did eMusic become so cool? While I wasn't looking, the site got all "social," letting users create Member Playlists of their favorite albums. It also added a feature called eMusic Dozens that gives lets rock critics like Chuck Eddy a chance to shout out their favorite artists.

For $10 a month, eMusic lets you download 40 unencombered MP3s from a huge variety of indie artists (quite a deal if you ask me). We've peddled Those Darn Accordions music on the site for ages. If you use eMusic and you're so inclined, please take a second to add some TDA tunes to a personal playlist to help us spread the love.

P.S. How did I finally get wise to the current state of eMusic's hipness? The esteemed Mr. Eddy gave my other band, the Electric Boogie Dawgz, some very good ink: "Primarily a funkier, funnier, and more kicking version of Jason and the Scorchers' earliest cowpunk, this San Fran trio also dance a rockasaurus boogie that verges into Brownsville Station and (in a song about chicken) ZZ Top territory. What they're best for, though, is jokes, like when they name-drop guitarists they respect (starting with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Angus Young) and one they don't (Eric Clapton) and keep taking the same sloppy non-solo after every shout-out. Then there's one where they keep counting to nine but have the blues 'cause they can't make it to ten. Plus a lot of liver damage."

A Call for Squeezebox Supremacy

A clear-headed reader wrote a letter to The Capital Times in Madison, Wis., calling for the squeezebox to be given its due in the Dairy State.

"Isn't it time for the fabulous piano accordion to be written into law as Wisconsin's official state musical instrument?" wrote Donald McDermott. "Music lovers everywhere unite! Please support this cause! Long live the accordion!"

Hear, hear, Mr. McDermott! And when you're ready for a new state song, we've got this little ditty about "The First Bratwurst of Summer" all revved up and ready to go ...

P.S. Some of TDA's founders helped get the piano accordion named the official instrument of San Francisco way back in 1990. Now it's Wisconsin's turn!

Monday, October 9, 2006

TDA x 7.5 = Whole Lotta Squeezeboxin'

Looks like the Turner Hall in Monroe, Wis., is about to play host to a 30-piece button accordion band from Switzerland.

What a great venue for such a squeezebox monstrosity! We had a great time playing there this summer -- a georgeous hall, an awesome dose of Swiss history ("Swisstory"?), great food and, last but not least, really fantastic people.

(And if you go to Monroe, be sure to stop by Baumgartner's Cheese Store and Tavern for a limburger sandwich, a cold one and a gawk at what is probably the weirdest wine-versus-beer mural ever. Then roll over to Roth Kase's Alp 'N Dell cheese store for a tour and the best horseradish and chive havarti you're ever likely to encounter. I'm still craving it!)

Friday, October 6, 2006

The Lawnball Returns

TDA frontman Paul Rogers is back in his warped world and grinning ear to ear. Thanks to the vigilance of the Northwest TDA fan base, the missing lawnball was located and returned to it's home on the front lawn of Rogers' property. In a heart rending ceremony the lawnball was presented to TDA at a performance last week in St. Helens, OR. The culprit (name witheld pending arraignment) was apprehended while standing in line for a beer. "I was gonna give it back as soon as I had another pint. Jeez, what's the big deal, I took good care of it, even polished it once or twice" muttered the scoundrel as he was led away by TDA security officer, Buck Rogers.
Rogers often cites the lawnball as a source of inspiration for TDA material, so it's return is timely. TDA is hunkering down to begin work on their new CD, due out in Spring 2007 and Rogers admits he's got some "starin' and cipherin' to do".

Rollin' Into Reno ...

Ready for big accordion fun in the "biggest little city in the world"? It's time once again for the Eldorado Great Italian Festival. Word on the street is that we play at 11 a.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. See you there!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Iggy Pop's Ridiculous Tour Rider

The Smoking Gun does it again: The site's posted the entire 18-page document that describes, in impressive detail and lunatic language, the Stooges' wacky tour requirements.

We've really got to work on our rider.

Highlights of Iggy's massive manual are too numerous to mention, really, though I'm partial to the section on stage monitors.

NYC Gets a New 'Accordion Building'

We don't talk about architecture much 'round these parts, but when The New York Sun calls the new Bronx Museum of the Arts a "Bronx bombshell" and says the building looks like a squeezebox, it's time to fire up the Google image search.

Here's an excerpt from the Sun's bold prediction:

It is a fair guess that, sooner or later, people will start referring to this new three-story structure as the Accordion Building. It unfurls along the Grand Concourse like the folds of that estimable instrument in a stunning mirage of shimmering aluminum. A little jagged and a little syncopated, the building suggests the lively, off-kilter rhythms associated with the Latino culture that now predominates in the borough.

And here's a picture. Get it?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Here We Come, St. Helens

The Daily News (straight outta Longview, Wash.) pumps up our weekend performance at the Columbia County Oktoberfest in St. Helens, Ore.

P.S. There's an encouraging rumor going around about a lawnball reunion that might occur ...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rock Squeezer Rogers Returns to Oregon

Still reeling from the loss of his lawnball, Those Darn Accordions frontman, Paul Rogers, is readying himself for a return to the scene of the crime. TDA plays the Columbia County Oktoberfest next Fri and Sat (Sept 29,30) in St. Helens, OR. The show will take place less than 100 miles from Seaside, OR, where the famous lawnball disappeared. (The rare Chinese victorian gazing ball is featured on the CD cover of TDA's latest offering, "Lawnball"). No ransom note has ever surfaced, but Rogers' people have intimated that "something big" is going to go down in St. Helens. "We're pretty sure we'll be returning with the orb" said Rogers in an interview this week in San Francisco. "Whether it comes home in one piece or a hundred, I still don't know." "I can guarantee you that the Chucklef**ck who lifted it is going to have to be airlifted himself after we're through with him" "These past few months have been hell without the ball" Rogers added. "My wife grouted over my old bowling ball and stuck a bunch of pieces of broken mirror on it, but it lacks the lustre and appeal of the original."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Obit: 'Pavarotti of the Plains' Don Walser, Dead at 72

He didn't play accordion (as far as I know), but he did make fantastic music. Now the amazing yodeling cowboy from Texas, Don Walser, has joined Buck Owens for that big roundup in the sky. Don died Wednesday at age 72.

Built like a barn and nicknamed "the Pavarotti of the Plains," he sang like an angel. I had the pleasure of watching Don perform several times -- including at The Hole in the Wall in Austin, Texas, when TDA played the South By Southwest festival for the first time -- and got to talk with the great man, who was just as nice as he could be. The country music world will miss this great and humble performer.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Roamin' Gnome's Got Game

If a stolen garden gnome can write letters and even attend a Steelers game, why can't the missing lawnball be reunited with its pedestal?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

He Makes a Mean Cup of Coffee

So an Ohio man of letters (why is it always the postal workers?) gets mad at a co-worker, and brews up a pot of coffee that's definitely not good to the last drop. What's his secret? Urine for a surprise if you read the whole, sick story of Thomas Shaheen's break-room shenanigans. Ick.

Monday, September 18, 2006

You Mean They Rock With Accordions?

Eye-popping world record holder Claudio Paulo Pinto looks like maybe he just saw TDA for the first time and wasn't really expecting such "extreme squeezeboxing." What a goofball.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rise of the Beerbots!

A robot that holds a six-pack and will pop a top on demand? The Asahi Refrigerator Robot sounds like a real dream machine. And they were giving these things away? And we missed the promo? Geez!

(Via Gear Factor)

In Heaven, There Is No Beer

But that's not stopping a U.K. religious group from using an image of Jesus' face on an empty pint glass in an ad.

The advertisement's creators said it was "aimed at provoking 'thought and debate' among young people about where and how people find God," according to the Evening Standard. And, of course, controversy bubbles up like, oh, say, bubbles in beer.

(Thanks, Bill from Milwaukee!)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Third White Buffalo Graces Wisconsin Farm

Something strange -- and maybe sacred -- is going on at Dave Heider's farm in Janesville, Wis., where a third white buffalo was born in August. Check out a picture of the cute young thing (but don't tell Ted Nugent).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How to Ruin a Good Festival

What casts a pall over a festival faster than a hail of dead and dying pigeons? Not much, actually.

Borat Drives Kazakhstan Crazy

Ali G creator Sacha Baron Cohen's comic portrayal of a backward Kazakh TV host named "Borat" has so infuriated Kazakhstan's leader that President Bush will be meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the White House.

According to the Daily Mail:

President Nazarbayev will visit the White House and the Bush family compound in Maine when he flies in for talks that will include the fictional character Borat. President Nazarbayev has confirmed his government will buy "educational" TV spots and print advertisements about the "real Kazakhstan" in a bid to save the country's reputation before the film is released in the U.S. in November.

That's just in time to promote Cohen's new movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which cracked up less-sensitive folks at the Toronto Film Festival.

If you've ever seen Da Ali G Show, you know what a hoot the Borat
segments can be. Can't wait for the big-screen edition.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Friday, September 8, 2006

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Thank You, Milwaukee -- Good Night!

Just had a great time playing in Brew City USA, where TDA fans always crawl out of the woodwork and make us feel fantastic. Great sound and hospitality at Shank Hall, as per usual.

It was awesome seeing all our Milwaukee friends (and special thanks to our favorite brewmaster, Al Bunde, who's landed at Riverside Brewery & Restaurant in West Bend, Wis.). Thanks for the growlers, Al -- the 10-malt porter is phenomenal!

Tune In to Fox 6 Milwaukee for a Quick TDA Hit

We're scheduled to be on the morning news show at about 8:40 this morning. See you there!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

It Don't Get Much Better'n This

Sitting in the beer garden at Mike and Molly's, eating an Italian sub from Jimmy John's (best chain subs I've found), having a free Old Style, watching the sound guy set up, and taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Almost sound check time. Sweet ...

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Seen TDA on This Tour?

Tell us what you think about the new songs, the outfits, Suzanne's mastery of crutches, etc., in this open thread. (Or you can brave our ratty, ad-clogged Bravenet message boards, like Glenn did -- thanks for the kind words!)

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have Wi-Fi

When you're on the road and trying to check e-mail or maybe even post something to your rapidly withering blog, probably the only thing worse than a hotel without free Wi-Fi is a hotel that teases you by saying it has free Wi-Fi, but then failing to deliver. (You know who you are, Johnstown Super 8).

What a treat to be at a hotel with working Wi-Fi (thank you Holiday Inn)!

TDA Defies Description

Little things like this crack me up: The front page of The Tribune-Democrat listed Sunday's Johnstown FolkFest lineup. After each performer's name there was a description (for instance, "Sleepy LaBeef, rockabilly," "Terrance Simien, zydeco," "Bonerama, trombones" and "Maia Sharp, singer-songwriter").

After each performer's name save one, that is: Those Darn Accordions.

Apparently no genretyping is needed (or maybe possible), so the name stood alone.

Which is cool. We had a great time playing Saturday and Sunday, and we heard some great music and ate some great food -- who knew mashed new potatoes covered in steak, grilled onions, mushrooms, broccoli and cheese could be so good?. FolkFest is a fun festival all around, and despite the threat (and occasional reality) of rain, people came out in droves and had a good time. That's just what we like to see. And what we hope to see again in 2007.

P.S. Just saw this FolkFest preview piece in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It's writer talks a lot about how cool and eclectic the free festival is, and -- like the Tribune-Democrat scribe -- doesn't seem to know what label to pin on TDA:

This year "folk" proves to be an especially elastic concept. There's the soulful "sacred steel" guitars of the Lee Boys, which could fall loosely under the "gospel" rubric. There's the hippie jam-band circuit stalwarts The Recipe. There's the electric-funk brass band Bonerama, which features multiple trombones. There's the Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience, playing their endangered brand of New Orleans dance music, and Maia Sharp, who's written songs for Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood and the Dixie Chicks. There's also self-explanatory groups like the Irish Descendents and Jazz in Your Face -- and groups with names like Doll Hospital and Those Darn Accordions that give no clues as to their sounds. You'll just have to find out for yourself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New TDA Pix From Oshkosh Waterfest

Just in time for the next Midwest tour: Here's what we looked like on the last one! Thanks to Bill from Milwaukee for sending the photos.

Bowling Ball-Size Hairball

All you need is the picture. Is it just a coincidence that we're headed for Michigan?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Brace for Impact, Johnstown!

The Tribune-Democrat's preview piece on the Johnstown FolkFest includes this colorful quote about TDA from Shelley Johansson, marketing manager of the festival's producer:

"To say they're high energy is an understatement. In 2003, they put a hole in a stage from jumping."

Maybe she hasn't heard "Old Slow Guy." But we'll put on our stompin' boots and give it our best shot.

The festival has a great lineup, as per usual. Should be a rockin' good time. See you next weekend, Johnstown!

Flickr Pix From Cotati Accordion Festival

Put on your snorkel and dive into this bunch of new photos from the Cotati Accordion Festival posted over at Flickr. I see a TDA shirt, but no shots of us performing.

I do see The Great Morgani (awesome outfits, dude), Culann's Hounds (rockin' set, guys and gals) and something unspeakable that I missed. And, of course, plenty of squeezebox action.

The fest was a great time, as per usual. Thanks to Richard and all the organizers and stagehands. See you next year!

Is Ethanol the Perfect Party Fuel?

Forget about getting America off the Arab oil teat: Ethanol might be the key ingredient in the perfect martini. Engineer and liquor visionary Hans van Leeuwen says food-grade ethanol "tastes just like vodka" and could turn corn into a cheap-but-effective source for booze.

Sounds like we might be heading back to the good ol' days of "corn squeezins" cooked up in grandpappy's still.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Crop Circles Sprout in Soybean Field

Yet another reason to love the Midwest: Five crop circles showed up this month in Jim Stahl's soybean field in Geneseo, Ill.

Nobody knows what caused the weird formations -- theories include UFOs, pranksters, or maybe even deer (according to one old-timer).

But the field art is definitely causing a commotion, accordiong to Quad-Cities Online. We'll keep our eyes peeled during our upcoming Midwest tour.

How to Trap a Bigfoot

Step No. 1 would apparently be "keep your bigfoot trap in proper working order." Which the folks up at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest haven't done -- the world's only known bigfoot trap has fallen into disrepair, according to the Mail Tribune.

(Via Coast to Coast AM)

See You in Cotati!

Today's the day: The 2006 version of the Cotati Accordion Festival kicks off in, oh, a couple of hours.

The Mad Maggies play at 1:10 p.m., bellows-shaking superstar Dick Contino pumps it up at 3:45 p.m., and TDA storms the stage at 4:45 p.m.

There's lots more accordion action planned -- check the full schedule and plan your day accordionly.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Doctor Warns on Everest Deaths

Dr. Andrew Sutherland calls for "a better understanding of altitude sickness" to help keep climbers from meeting their makers on Mount Everest, Reuters reports. Perhaps he'd be better off advocating for IQ tests administered to the buttocks area.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Milwaukee: 'America's Drunkest City'

So I'm guessing the beers are high in a citywide toast as Brew City salutes its No. 1 status, as ranked by Cheers, Milwaukee!

(Thanks for the tip, Patty.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rock Squeezer's Lawnball Goes Missing

Paul Rogers, lead singer for Those Darn Accordions, stares at the empty pedestal which held his beloved lawnball. His son Jonny points to where the famous orb had been residing since being used in the cover shot for TDA's "Lawnball" CD, released in 2004. A visibly shaken Rogers was consoled by concerned fans after an Aug 19 show in Seaside, OR where the ball disappeared after being used as a prop on stage. "It's really a Victorian Gazing ball", explained Rogers. I changed the name to make it sing better. It's made of fine ornamental glass from Zhangjiang Xiang, a provence in Northern China. It's extremely delicate and needs to be handled with great care" Rogers continued. " It also has to be polished daily, or it will develop cloudy blemishes on its hand crafted reflective surface. "Man, I miss that thing. It's way more than a stage prop, it's where I go to center myself between shows," said Rogers. " I've got a bass pond in the back, but it just doesn't reflect the same. I just hope whoever took it knows what they're doing when it comes to lawnballs. If he busts that sucker, I WILL dedicate my life to finding the bastard." When asked if he had any leads on getting the gadabouting globe back, Rogers replied, "Oh, I've got an idea who took it. I've got my people all over it, and you can take that to the bank."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Frisco Mayor Gavin Newsom plays accordion?

That's what playwright Tim Bauer reports in his blog, Direct Address. Who knew?

Get ready, Albany -- here we come!

Big thanks go out to Cathy Ingalls at The Entertainer for giving a boost to our upcoming show at Monteith Riverpark in Albany, Ore. I'm only slightly worried about the "air-propelled rockets and wheely-bugs" -- all in all, it sounds like a great family-friendly event.

Obit: Accordion evangelist Anthony Galla-Rini, 102

The Los Angeles Times pays tribute to the recently departed Anthony Galla-Rini, a pioneering accordion player whose motto was, "Have trunk, will travel." Guess what was in the trunk.

Magnets lift freaky floating bed

A gravity-defying sleep platform created by a Dutch architect looks cool as can be, but it costs $1.54 million and isn't even comfortable, Reuters reports. Don't miss the picture that goes with the story.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

How to be a bad book reviewer

I know the Internet is a great opportunity to let everybody publish whatever they want with no editorial hang-ups or anything. But this sad review of the book How to Be an Accordion Player is an excellent example of why editors are a good thing. Not that I'm biased.

Bay Guardian pimps Cotati Accordion Festival

Sort of. L.E. Leone, author of this loopy article in San Francisco's aging alternative rag, implores readers to go the Cotati shindig.

We'll be there, L.E.! We'll miss ya!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

How many accordion fests are there?

The Ladysmith Chronicle tells me that "playing the accordion is no longer nerdy" as it introduces me to the Chemainus Accordion Fest in Chemainus, British Columbia.

Well then. Sign me up.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Squeezed the past year Rocky Mountain Way

Something tells me Those Darn Accordions needs to play the Rocky Mountain Accordion Celebration in Philipsburg, Mont. Maybe it's the festival-starting call to arms: "Get on your accordions," shouted by Dale Pahrman, according to The Missoulian. Maybe it's the pubs with chalkboard signs that read "Accordions Welcome."

Performers at this year's event -- the 10th annual -- included the Smilin' Scandinavians, the KingBees of the Bayou and The Awesome Polka Babes (a mysterious Montana-based group that doesn't seem to have a website).

Maybe next year.

P.S. Quote of the day, by the KingBee's Mark Sherman: "The accordion was thought to have been the devil's instrument."

$208 million buys a lotta cheese

About 100 Wisconsin cheese factory workers who pooled money to buy Powerball tickets apparently won the $208.6 million jackpot.

The winning ticket was purchased at Ma and Pa's Grocery Express along Fond du Lac's so-called "Miracle Mile," where several multimillion-dollar lottery winners bought their tickets in the 1990s, The Sheboygan Press reports. I know what I'm getting next time TDA rolls through that part of the Dairy State.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Now that's a belly full o' bratwurst

Takeru Kobayashi downed 58 brats in 10 minutes Saturday to take top prize at the Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship in Sheboygan, Wis.

The Sheboygan Press reports that Kobayashi, who hails from Nagano, Japan, had never seen or even heard of a bratwurst before signing up for the Brat Days competition. But he took a liking to the savory sausages and plans to come back next year and gun for the 60-bratwurst mark, he said through a translator.

Let's see ... "First five dozen bratwurst of summer" ... Naw, it just doesn't have that melodious lilt that makes for a powerful polka.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Watermelons are so square, man

At least these are. Freaky.

(Via Coast to Coast AM)

This bear walks into a casino ...

No, really. A bear walked into the classy new MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa in Lake Tahoe, Nev. And KXTV has the surveillance video to prove it.

The most beautiful part is that the casino has been running TV ads saying it's a "habitat for everything wild" and showing a waitress tossing fish to a hungry bear.

"Evidently the bears out there heard the story that bears can be fed at the nightclub at MontBleu," said employee Earl Zeller. "I guess we reached our target audience."

World's wildest marching band?

It's one thing when Led Zeppelin trashes a hotel room. It's another when a college marching band lays waste to its temporary on-campus digs.

But that's apparently the kind of crazy outfit that the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band is. Authorities say between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of damage was done to the "Band Shak," a trailer that served as the group's office.

The facts of who destroyed the place -- and why, and whether the trailer was even habitable when the band took over -- remain to be seen, despite the San Francisco Chronicle's damning story. But, man, I wanna party with those guys. Kinda.

P.S. Where did the Chron dig up this johnny-no-fun Stanford alum?

"They've always had a reputation for a being a bunch of alcoholics -- they all get drunk and start breaking things," said Russ Berman, who graduated in 1997 and lives in Mountain View. "I'm all for partying, having fun, but there comes a point where you go a little too far. People should pay for their actions."

Friday, August 4, 2006

Go fly a (giant cursor) kite

And the award for coolest geek kite goes to ... Windfire Designs for its pointy cursor in the sky!

Going cookie crazy from the heat

When life hands Sandi Fontaine lemons, she makes lemonade. Or, more specifically, when a heat wave hits, she makes chocolate chip cookies on her SUV's blazing-hot dashboard.

Fontaine turned her Toyota Rav4 into a rolling oven when the mercury surpassed 90, cranking the temperature inside her car to a blistering 200 degrees, according to the Union Leader.

Those familiar with the famous "new car smell" will appreciate a side effect of Fontaine's culinary exploits.

"When you open the door to that car," she says, "it's like, 'Oh my God.' It's a wonderful smell."

Monday, July 31, 2006

Chorizo makes a run for it at Miller Park

The Famous Racing Sausages that liven up the party at Milwaukee Brewers games got a new amigo Saturday when Chorizo (aka "El Picante") joined the meaty pack.

Check the CBS News site for a great picture of Chorizo (and an Associated Press story with more sausage jokes than you can slather with spicy mustard). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lays out Chorizo's competition in a pregame piece; WTMJ's post-game wrap-up reports that Chorizo came in third out of five (see video). Finally, sports blog Deadspin posts some color commentary and a fan video of the race.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

'Pizza' becomes 'elastic loaves' in Iran

Nobody's holding up Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a symbol of international sanity, but his move to ban foreign words like "pizza," "chat" and "cabin" sounds crazy enough to be part of a CIA psy-ops campaign to paint him as a loon. Not too impossible a mission, apparently.

'Conger cuddling' takes a hit

They have some strange ways of having a good time across the pond, and "conger cuddling" -- described by The Sun as "a kind of human skittles" involving a giant dead eel -- is certainly off the bizarre-o charts.

But now the time-honored tradition is getting a less-than-satisfying makeover after a "killjoy protester" called conger cuddling disrespectful to the dead fish. Organizers of the charity event in Lyme Regis (a coastal resort about 155 miles southwest of London) used a mooring buoy this time around, and are considering having a plastic eel made, the BBC reports.

"We decided that it really wasn't worth upsetting anybody by going ahead with using a dead conger," said Andrew Kaye, spokesman for the Lyme Regis lifeboat crews that have raised money with the event for more than 30 years. "But it's a dead conger, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't think the conger could care one way or another."

Kaye told the Associated Press that the lone activist threatened to film the contest and cause a media meltdown. Looks like that happened anyway: Authorative journal Practical Fishkeeping weighs in on the matter, but The Guardian has the best description of the event:

"The rules of the game are simple. One team stands on a set of 6-inch-high wooden blocks, in effect turning themselves into human skittles. Members of a second team swing a dead conger eel -- around 5 feet long is thought to be the most effective size -- attached to a piece of rope at the human skittles. Whoever can stay on for the longest wins. The eels can be heavy but serious injuries are rare."

P.S. Did you know a young eel is called an "elver"? News to me.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Will the real Midwest please stand up?

Dig Meghann Marco's fairly hilarious regional riff, "States I Refuse to Acknowledge as Midwestern." Most of TDA's members hail from the real Midwest, and we spend a fair amount of time touring middle America every summer, so I guess we know a thing or two about a Midwestern thing or two.

Does your soy sauce taste a little shaggy?

You might want to eat your breakfast (lunch?) before immersing yourself in this fun Friday reading on the mystery ingredient in a certain cheap Chinese soy sauce.

(Via Beyond the Beyond)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ever see Accordion Tribe?

Stefan Schwietert's 2004 documentary about a gang of five squeezeboxers touring Europe sounds interesting. Accordion Tribe plays tonight as part of UC Berkeley's I Hear Music: Global Rhythms on Screen series.

TDA, of course, won't be sitting in an air-conditioned theater. We'll be sweating it out in Anderson, Calif., at the Mosquito Serenade. Predicted high temp: 112 degrees. Hope the beeswax doesn't melt.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pass the Pixy Stix and wax lips

This site is so sweeeeeeeeeet. No, really. Candy You Ate as a Kid packs a nostalgia punch just like flashback food site Hometown Favorites. You can shop for tooth-destroying sweets by name or go for a huge, four-pound assortment pack (just pick your favorite candy-coated decade).

P.S The number for phone orders is priceless: 1-866-WAX-LIPS.