Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Zimmers Rock It Old-School

Reeaaaaaal old school. As in, the British singing group's average age is 78. The 40-member senior chorus performs a few well-picked covers (The Who's "My Generation" and a twist on a Beatles tunes, "When I'm (One Hundred and) Sixty-Four"), according to The Washington Times. It's like when TDA squeezer emeritus Clyde Forsman sang Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy," only times 40.

Now the Zimmers are riding a wave of buzz to America. (The well-produced YouTube video below has been watched more than 2 million times so far.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Musicians Are Funny, Too

This isn't the prettiest Web page, but it's got a lot of classic musician jokes, including a few poking fun at accordion players. (Don't miss Ted Nugent's jab at the French.)

Kitties Make Me Laugh

Being a "cat chat" addict, I can't help but chuckle at LOLCats Volume 1.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Zombies Invade San Francisco!

See the zombies set upon a mall and a Disney store in search of brains (no luck)! Watch a zombie take a Scientologist stress test! Witness an actual zombie wedding! Lots of, um, tasty bits in this fun photo gallery that documents the zombies' descent upon foggy Frisco last Friday. (Hilarious captions, too.)

That's the kind of stuff that makes this city fun.

Cracker Plays the Accordion Card

I've always liked Cracker's smart rock tunes, dosed, as they always are, with a buckshot country vibe and a pound and a half each of humor, attitude and salty observation. Now the band's released an album, Greatest Hits –- Redux, with all the songs re-recorded and reworked, with a heavy lash of accordion added for good measure, according to a rave review by Mary Beth Hascall at PLAYBACK:stl.

Apparently Cracker pulled together the record -- with the squeezebox injection courtesy of Kenny Margolis -- at least in part to stick it to former label Virgin Records, which is releasing its own greatest hits package. (Redux also undercuts the Virgin disc's price.) Can't wait to hear this one.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thirsty for a Carlton?

Strangely, I am, and I've never even had one of the Aussie beers. Maybe it's because I watched this really cool ad for Carlton Draught.

Friday, May 25, 2007

First Bratwurst Haiku of Summer

Just in time for the Memorial Day weekend barbecue blitz, Bill from Milwaukee sends a link (it would be a link) to the Journal Sentinel's story about its first-ever "bratku" contest.

What's a "bratku" you ask? That would be a competition in which sausage-smitten people pen haiku about bratwurst (with the top five winners picking up $25 gift certificates from the ever-fabulous Usinger's Famous Sausage).

My personal fave is by Linda Hassel of Oshkosh:
A blossom of fire
Sweet juices fall on hot coals
As the bratwurst sings
That's a nice line -- "as the bratwurst sings." I can almost hear 'em sizzling and singing and then squirting just a smidgen of that precious bratwurst juice onto the coals before being pulled off onto a waiting bun. It's a song I hope to hear often this summer.

P.S. "Looking forward to my first bratwurst of summer this weekend," Bill says. Might have to do that myself ...

Squeezin' in the North Bay

Attention Bay Area accordion junkies: Need a quick squeezebox fix? The Mad Maggies play tonight at the Black Cat Bar in Penngrove, Calif. Great place, good times, see you there. (Get the gory details on the Mad Maggies site.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More TDA Blasts From the Past

Yowza! Randy Magnus has uploaded more clips from the Those Darn Accordions! (with the banger) era, including this classic of Clyde singing Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" at a club show. Would that be at the Bottom of the Hill? Can't tell. (See more on Randy's YouTube page.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Julz-A Wins Accordion Accolades

The "squeeze rock" dude with the geeky sideburns "makes the accordion cool again," according to Upstage magazine's article, "Accordion Rap Is His Main Squeeze." Any friend of the stomach Steinway is a friend of ours ...

Cat With Wings?

Is this photo of a winged cat real? Kinda makes me question the horny Chinese granny that Ananova reported last week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

TDA: Rockin' From the Crypt

Our old pal Randy Magnus forwards this YouTube clip of a live performance of "Mothra." This is an old one, with the eight-member version of Those Darn Accordions! (Yes, there was a banger on the band name back then. Aren't we more, um, subtle now or something?) Anyway, I can't even remember what gig this is from -- heck, I barely recognize the midget bass player. Thanks Randy and Art TV Hawai'i!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Awesome Limeade Recipe

I had a bunch of limes. I was thirsty. The internet gave me this awesome limeade recipe. I rejoice.

Smile! It's the Mad Maggies

The Mad Maggies play Smiley's Saloon in Bolinas, Calif., this Saturday night. See you if you can find it sans sign.

And speaking of smiling, the Maggies have some new press pix that are, well, slightly disturbing.

Granny Grows a Horn

You've gotta see the picture of the Chinese grandmother with the 5-inch horn growing from her forehead.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Waterfest: One of Wisconsin's Best Bets

If you're in the Fox Valley, Thursday nights at Oshkosh's Waterfest are your No. 1 way to get your music on, according to the article "101 Things to Do This Summer" in the Appleton Post-Crescent. TDA will be there Aug. 16 with Tower of Power and David Sanborn, and Paul Sanchez & The NOLA Allstars (according to the Waterfest site) or with Paul Sanchez & The Beatin Path (if you believe the Post-Crescent). I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of that before long.

If you haven't been to Waterfest for a while and you're anywhere in the area, you should check it out. The concert series has always been a good time, but a couple of years ago the facilities got a major upgrade from the old "trailer stage" setup. Now the venue is a fantastic little amphitheater with awesome sound and great people working the stage (and the beer stands). And the lineups are great -- we've had the honor of playing with folks like David Lee Roth, Todd Rundgren and other living legends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cotati Accordion Festival Posts Its Lineup

The squeeze-studded lineup for this year's Cotati Accordion Festival is online, and it looks like it's going to be a blast. Those Darn Accordions take the stage Sunday (and so do The Mad Maggies), with the day building to a Brave Combo climax.

Come for Saturday and Sunday and catch loads of great accordion action, including sets by former TDA members Tom Torriglia (with his Italiano band, Bella Ciao) and Big Lou (with her Polka Casserole). Get your plane tickets now!

Best Food for the Road

This'll come in handy during the gruel-ing summer touring season: Zagat posts the winners of its fast food survey, and there are some surprises. Includes listings for best burger, fries, shakes and chicken, plus user rankings for best service and facilities in a variety classes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cool Things That Crashed on the Moon

Popular Science launches some lunacy with a photo gallery of all the wacky-looking spacecraft that have landed (or crash-landed) on the moon (plus some cool views of the lunar landscape). The accompanying article, "Junkyard on the Moon," gives a little background on the competing space programs that littered the satellite with man-made debris.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Another Take on "My Friend Jim"

Jeff Davis whipped out his gee-tar and played a cool country version of "My Friend Jim" Saturday night for me outside the Last Laugh Coffee House. He says he's been slaying the Shanghai crowds with his acoustic rendition of the TDA classic about a boozin' loser "who's never gonna get it together" (maybe you've seen the original video).

The song really works as a kind of country weeper. Jeff tweaks the song's structure slightly, but faithfully reproduces the lyrics. They really shine in the stark arrangement. And, like a lot of the best country songs, they're great because they're basically 100 percent real.

Jeff's impromptu solo sidewalk show followed a couple smokin' sets by the Snake Oil Boys at Bill's birthday party. I'm sure most everybody's fully worked their way through the recovery process by now.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Amazing All-Girl Accordion Orchestra

New York City squeezebox impresario Walter Kuehr reveals the inspiration for his Main Squeeze Orchestra in a New York Post interview:

"I had a dream that I would conduct an all-female accordion orchestra, and that the girls would wear pigtails and the music would be beautiful," Kuehr says. "It was the best dream I ever had."

And what a dream it must be. The group plays "everything from Madonna to Bach to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'" and performs monthly at Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction, the Post reports.

We visited Kuehr's Lower East Side shop, Main Squeeze Accordions, last time we were in the Big Apple, but we've never caught the orchestra in action. He's a nice guy who sells some cool accordions. Maybe someday we'll share a stage.

P.S. Don't miss the Main Squeeze Orchestra site, where you can buy T-shirts and thongs.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Turner Hall Starts 'Squeeze Box Night'

Turner Hall of Monroe, Wisconsin -- a lovely place TDA had the pleasure of playing for the first time last year -- is launching a monthly "Squeeze Box Night" in the rockin' Ratskeller. The Monroe Times has the scoop on the series, which is designed "to offer people a chance to reacquaint themselves with the instrument in a fun and nonthreatening way, as well as offering veteran players a chance to come together and play."

It's guaranteed you won't meet a nicer bunch of people than the folks who run Turner Hall, and they'll even be serving light dinner (in case you want to just listen to the accordion music while dining). If you go, keep your nose peeled for the limburger!

P.S. We'll be returning to Turner Hall on Aug. 17. Get more tour info here.

Get Guinness in Vintage-Label Cans

Now Guinness stout is not just good for you -- it's eye candy, packaged with vintage labels used by bottlers in the good old days. Get 'em while they're cool.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Retro Tourism Posters Illuminate Illinois

Cool images of a 400-pound cow made of butter, the world's largest catsup bottle and similar attractions make a summer tour through the Prairie State seem even more enticing. Take a quick historical trip that's enlightening -- and easy on the eyes -- thanks to the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.

Cool Nessie Garden Hedge

The BBC's got a picture of John Dobson's 15-foot-high hedge handiwork, plus video of the Englishman in action trimming the topiary wonder.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

See the Red Sheep of Scotland

Yesterday I told you about an art student who's painting roadkill. Now witness the red sheep of Scotland. Historically, farmers dyed the animals for easier spotting. Now it's apparently becoming a fad to decorate your livestock: Be sure to check out the cow covered with images of Andy Warhol's face.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Grad Student Turns Roadkill Into Art

The Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat has the scoop on Jessica May, a 24-year-old art student who dresses roadkill in tiny clothes and sometimes even does the deceased critters' "nails." A picture of May painting a deer corpse accompanies the story but, sadly, there's no gallery of her audacious artwork.

Beer Taster Sues Over Dream Job

Some guys have all the luck. A Brazilian guys lands the ultimate 9-to-5 -- as a beer taster -- then gets a $49,000 payout when he sues his employer. Ingrate!

Polka, Sausage and Integrity

An anonymous Wall of Wheezer sends a polka-related comic for your enjoyment. Please help yourself.

Jason Webley's Recipe for Success

Assemble the following ingredients:

3 parts accordion
2 parts hobo guitar
1 part floor mic (for catchin' the stompin')
1 part Tom Waits gypsy noir singer-songwriter
2 parts hippie campfire storyteller
A dash of pirate Johnny Depp

Swirl till it's fun.

Caught Jason at the 12 Galaxies on Monday with Sean "It's Not Art" Peterson. Missed the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, regrettably, as their set-ending jam with Jason on "2 Bottles of Wine" (twice) was downright entertaining.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Accordion Player Pursues Angular Art

Louisiana accordion player Dieu Donné "Don" Montoucet handcrafts the triangles that help drive Cajun music. Both The Advocate and The New York Times have profiled Montoucet recently, and now the Savoy Music Center is sold out of the $35 percussion pieces the Cajun craftsman makes out of old hay rakes. I would say "get 'em while they're hot," but it might be too late -- Montoucet says the hay rakes are getting harder and harder to find.

P.S. Savoy still has plenty of Cajun musical instruments (accordions, rubboards, etc.) and related gear for sale, including a cool-looking accordion T-Shirt with the quote, "Do not replace family values with media imposed conventions." Sweet.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

'Sexy' Squeezers Work the Stages at Jazz Fest

Well, well, well ... "Accordions Rule at New Orleans Jazz Fest," according to the Associated Press. Plenty of Cajun and zydeco bands leaned on the squeeze, but others -- like Calexico and The New Orleans Klezmer Allstars -- did as well.

"The accordions cranking out tunes on the stages of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival are popular, prolific and downright sexy," according to the article.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Off to the Best Beer Fest in the Land

After a fun and productive day of recording, poor Paul will not -- repeat will not -- be driving north to the Boonville Beer Fest. Some other people will, though, and they'll be enjoying "The bahlest steinber hornin', chiggrul gormin', tidrick in the heelch of the Boont Region!" (That's basically Boontling for "awesome beer blast.")

Maybe those lucky people will see Barkley, the Legendary Boonville Beer.

Accordion Guru Drops Some Squeezebox Wisdom

"It's a lot more than just pushing a bunch of plastic." That's just one nugget of squeezebox knowledge shared by Dale Wise in The Washington Post's profile of the Virginia accordion teacher.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Roll Your Own Accordion Fest

That's one bit of sweet summer advice from The Georgetown Voice's guide to getting busy on the lawn. Sounds like a plan, although there's no mention of beer or brats.

P.S. Questionable quote alert, from the same story: "Accordion players? So hot right now." -- Paris Hilton (Is there any chance at all that the pampered heiress actually uttered this hitherto unspeakable truth?)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Freak Yourself Out

... with a very wild online optical illusion. Probably not recommended for anybody who's susceptible to migraines or epileptic fits.

(Via reddit)

Want to Read Something Great?

Pick up a copy of Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage and get ready to enjoy yourself.

This new collection of old columns by newsprint poet Pete Dexter is sometimes harrowing, frequently laugh-out-loud funny and always masterful. Crammed with colorful characters and heartbreaking detail, the book's 82 columns read like compressed novels.

If newspapers these days had the guts to hire real writers like Dexter rather than spending all their money on showboat editors, well-paid bean counters, fancy infographics and market research, they might not be bleeding subscribers. Some piqued readers might get a little loony and write in, offended, when the columnist in question shows a slim glimmer of the knife. But that's the price you pay for relevance.

P.S. Special thanks to David Miller for turning me on to Dexter.

P.P.S. And speaking of newspapers and columnists, doesn't this headline look familiar?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Self-Made 'Superhero' Patrols Tempe, Ariz.

"Who is Citizen Prime?" asks an Arizona TV news station. The answer is: an "anti-crime activist on a mission reminiscent of The Guardian Angels, but with a comic book flair."

The news report includes video of Citizen Prime working the streets in his $4,000 superhero costume. Unbelievable.