Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Accordions Invade Ashkenaz

The Mad Maggies open for Dginn -- yet another eclectic, accordion-powered California band -- at Ashkenaz in Berkeley this Thursday. Get details on the Maggies' gig calendar.

No Accordions Anywhere in Sight

... but that doesn't demean a Dale Watson show, no how no way. Suzanne and I (and our friends Sonia and Bev) just got back from a fine night at 12 Galaxies in San Fran Sicko. (It was a fine night in spite of the club's inability to properly dispense beer in a timely fashion -- come on, folks, how hard is it to stock up on High Life and sell it to the people? And then again, how hard is it for Miller to have a website that mentions High Life? Apparently impossible. Give me a break and don't get me started and all that.)

But anyway, if you like real country music and you haven't heard Dale, buy one or all of his records immediately. And then catch his show the next time he comes anywhere near your town. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Those Darn Accordions CD Is Off to the Presses

It's called "Squeeze Machine" and, to quote one of the new songs on it, "you're gonna love it (oh yeah)." It's probably our most eclectic and fun record yet.

We'll be posting more info about the 15-song behemoth, which hits store shelves mid-September, right here on the Wall of Wheeze over the next few weeks. But right now, it's off to the Pacific Northwest for a couple of shows:

Tonight!! Thursday, July 26
Summer Concerts at the Lake in Longview, Washington.

Friday, July 27
Bite of Salem in Salem, Oregon.

And the Tour Page is filling up ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bat Boy Flies the Coop

The Weekly World News -- chronicler of the exploits of Bat Boy, Bigfoot and assorted extraterrestrial freaks -- will no longer spice up your grocery store checkout line. The print edition is folding, but the website will live on, according to Westword.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Price Is Definitely Right for Drew Carey

Congratulations to Drew Carey, who has confirmed the rumor that he will replace Bob Barker as host of The Price Is Right. It's a smart move by CBS, which also tabbed him to host a new game show called Power of 10 that premieres Aug. 7.

The twin wins (tough luck, Rosie) pretty much make Drew the new king of the game shows. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

When he flew us down to Los Angeles last month to back him up -- he was singing a few tunes at the Greg Proops Chat Show, and needed an accordion band -- he told us about the Price Is Right negotiations as champagne flowed at the fabulous One Sunset restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.

Drew was rattling off concepts for the show, and it was clear he was psyched about the opportunity to take Price Is Right to a new level. We had a great time hanging out with him (he even picked up what must have been a fat tab for the fab meal), and the Greg Proops show was a real hoot. All in all, we couldn't have had a better time.

Drew, described by the Associated Press as a "genial comic" -- no quibbles there, although I prefer "America's funnyman" as a shorthand descriptive phrase -- is a truly nice guy with loads of energy and ideas. And he even found time to record some vocals for a duet with Paul on the upcoming TDA record. (You heard it here first: Drew and Paul share lead vocals on a new blue-collar song called "Glass of Beer Polka.")

Now, Drew just needs to get a band for his game shows ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jet-Powered Outhouse Belches Flames

Growing up in Ohio, I've got an evil memory or three related to outhouses. But if you want a real fire-and-brimstone privy vision, you've got to see the Port-O-Jet, a jet-engine-equipped toilet that makes 46 mph and emits flames worthy of Beelzebub. Next up on creator Paul Stender's to-do list? A jet-powered beer truck, according to Popular Science.

Mad Maggies Make Noise at McGrath's Pub

Bay Area accordion band megamoonlighters the Mad Maggies play McGrath's Pub in Alameda this Saturday. The venue's calendar says it all: "Klezmergrass? Huh???"

I'll be there on bass, of course, and original Those Darn Accordions drummer Bill Schwartz (who played on the first Mad Maggies CD, Crazed and Enthused), will be pounding the skins.

P.S. I guess you've gotta love a place with a "buy one, get none free" slogan.

Monday, July 16, 2007

It's Raining Worms in Louisiana

I knew the San Francisco Bay Area had the best weather around, but I didn't know exactly what people in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were up against. Yikes.

I'm Getting Hungry ...

Looks like the food tents will be humming at the 14th Annual Bite of Salem festival in Salem, Oregon. The culinary options include such obvious winners as rope sausage on a stick, fresh-squeezed lemonade, hand-dipped Pronto Pups, and crawfish-and sausage jambalaya. I'm almost certain Adam's Rib Smoke House will be servin' up some big meat, and I also like the sound of an "expanded beer and wine garden."

In between meals, Those Darn Accordions will take the stage Friday, July 27, at 7:15 p.m. -- here's the rest of the musical lineup.

See the Funny Goats Faint

Why do I find it so hilarious when these fainting goats tumble like bowling pins?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Freaky News Saturday

@ Genetic defect yields "whopper of a whippet": Meet the Incredible Hulk of Hounds (with pictures)

@ Beijing bonus: Buns Made From Cardboard Found in China

@ Cut in half, but 100 percent spirited: Miracle Man Walks Again (with inspirational photos)

In Praise of Accordions ...

Colorado squeezebox player Keely Brown, who blames the instrument's "bad rap" on the overwhelming cheese of The Lawrence Welk Show, shares a few of her personal experiences in a lovely little essay titled, "In Praise of Accordions" in The Summit Daily.

Canadian 'Polkapalooza' Draws Accordion Army

The Kimberley International Old Time Accordion Championships sound a little like a squeezebox Sturgis, only with motor homes and polka fans rather than motorcycles and wet T-shirt contests. The Globe and Mail describes it as "an annual festival that floods the mountain community with devotees of the stretchy instrument."

"The stretchy instrument"? That's a new one.

But hordes of squeezebox fanatics descending on a small town sounds interesting, to say the least.

"People are accordion crazy up here," says Alex Meixner, one of the judges who rates competitors on "'old-time feeling,' technique and the danceability of their style ... gauged by a lone couple dancing offstage at the Civic Centre during competitions," according to the paper.

At least one stomach Steinway aficionado at the gathering is thinking more avant-garde than "old time." Reports the Globe and Mail: "One festival goer struts around wearing a white T-shirt that reads: Accordions rock."

Boy howdy they do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Let's Hope This Guy Doesn't Get an Accordion

We already discussed the fact that accordions might be hipper than iPhones. Now this joker has put one of Apple's pricey "Jesus phones" in a blender and hit the Smoothie button.

It's destructive and incredibly wasteful -- maybe even dangerous, considering the ominous look of that black, dusty smoke -- but priceless.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Record Biz Biting the Dust?

Writing about a possible new Bruce Springsteen album featuring the E Street Band, Fox News wag Roger Friedman slips in a funny little "the sky is falling" snippet from a high-level Sony exec.

"You are the last one writing about the record business," the anonymous Sony muckety-muck told Friedman. "Don't you realize it's over?"

Can it really be that the record biz is a dinosaur wheezing out its final death rattle? Is the CD really on the verge of extinction?

Friedman says a big Springsteen rock extravaganza could be seen as a "savior" by Columbia Records. I don't think Globe Records, Those Darn Accordions' label, needs such a lifeline. But then Globe never supported an army of publicists and marketing mavens (or caviar-and-champagne executives, for that matter). The "good old days" -- which kept some folks extremely fat and happy -- may be gone forever, but I suspect people will keep making music in one form or another.

I know we will. Heck, there's a new one in the chute!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Year Without Summerfest ...

Somehow it just doesn't feel like summer when we don't make the trek to Milwaukee to play Summerfest. Luckily, Bill from Milwaukee dropped me a line to give me a little taste of the Big Gig and share his favorite "Summerfest moment" of 2007. (Next time I hope he e-mails me a bratwurst, too.)

Writes Bill:
Saturday was a nice toasty day on the grounds, 95 degrees and high humidity. Just my kind of weather (not). Anywho, I'm watching this interesting band called The Scarring Party. They have an eclectic lineup of musical instruments: accordion, banjo, tuba, xylophone, church bell, typewriter, bassoon and didgeridoo. (No kidding.)

So, my best Summerfest moment came when the bandleader asked the soundman: "Can I get more didgeridoo in my monitor please?"


I wore the tattered old TDA squeezebox T-shirt to Summerfest this year. Must've had about 50 people ask if you guys would be playing.

Maybe next year Bill will be able to say "Yes."

Let There Be Lights

We don't tout a million stupid things here on the Wall of Wheeze. But I can heartily recommend the Mighty Bright XtraFlex Duet Super LED Music Stand Lightyou see here. The twin-LED gadget is easy to pack and perfect for lighting up your music stand in a dark club. Plus, they look like aliens or something. Frankly, I wish I had invented the Mighty Bright.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Accordions: Hipper Than iPhones

The accordion is set to explode, according to New York Sun writer Lenore Skenazy, who has penned "An Ode to the Squeezebox" in honor of the upcoming NYC Main Squeeze Accordion Festival.

Her thesis -- that American hipsters are catching on to the accordion in a big way -- sounds right to me. As San Francisco's self-appointed accordion ambassadors, we've been doing our share to pump up squeezebox awareness for almost two decades now, and we've seen a steady rise in the instrument's popularity over the years.

With a new Those Darn Accordions record in the chute, it's time to make the call: 2008 will be the Year of the Accordion. Brace yourself for a wild ride into the free-reed future!

What's That Sound?

If you're near New York's Pier I tomorrow, the racket you hear could be the Second Annual NYC Main Squeeze Accordion Festival, which The New York Post says "may sound like mating walruses coming from the Hudson." I bet it sounds a lot more radical than that!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Man Wolfs Down 66 Hot Dogs in 12 Minutes

Lots of folks eat hot dogs on the Fourth of July. Joey Chestnut hogged down 66 in 12 minutes to set a new world record in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y.

Former champ Takeru Kobayashi took down 63 franks, and frankly, he doesn't look so good in the picture.

(For the record, Suzanne and I split a cheeseburger.)

In Lithuania, Protesters Carry Accordions

"Accordion-playing radicals" encouraged "mostly elderly" protesters to storm Vilnius' Independence Square on July 3. The reason for the squeezebox-fueled ruckus? Lithuanian lawmakers' decision to boost pension benefits for former members of Parliament to a level far higher than for the average citizen.

The accordion protest seems unique, but sadly the politicians' feeling that their type deserves more than the simple commoners seems to be universal.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

Hope you have all kinds of fun this Independence Day! (If you're in Wisconsin, please down some extra bratwurst for us.)