Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Long Live 'Unusual Music'

It's always nice to get a shout-out for your tunes, and it's particularly pleasing when it appears in your hometown paper. The Detroit Free Press (Paul grew up in Motor City) tags our version of "Fire" as "especially distinctive," honoring Those Darn Accordions in a story about "unusual music." Other musical oddities mentioned include ukelele great Jake Shimabukuro, the masters of Bavarian reggae and 11-year-old yodeler Taylor Ware:
Imagine Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" played by a bunch of accordions. Can't get your mind around that? Then listen to the first album by Those Darn Accordions, a group that, in fact, plays very well.

It all began in San Francisco one night in 1989, supposedly for a one-time-only gig, according to www.allmusic.com. A player known as Big Lou, previously of Polkacide, pulled together all the accordionists she could find who wanted to play a set.

Membership has changed, but the group persists. Its latest album, "Squeeze Machine," came out just last year.
Thanks for listening, Freep staff writer Alex Cruden!

Monday, January 28, 2008

LOLMetal Makes Me Laugh

LOLcats never fail to get a grin out of me. There, I've said it; I'm not afraid to admit the truth.

LOLMetal pix -- which substitute death-metal clowns for cuddly kitties -- make me laugh, too.

(Via Underwire, where you can nominate future LOL fodder)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pohjonen: Finnish for 'Pretentious'?

OK, so I'm slow. It took me nearly a year (and a profile piece in The Sydney Morning Herald) to work up the nerve to watch this clip of Kimmo Pohjonen after I first heard of the Finnish accordionist. Do yourself a favor and skip straight to about six minutes in, where a gibbering Pohjonen does a crazy impersonation of a homeless guy. You'll still get plenty of the pretentious, droning, "I crushed my accordion in a trash compactor" noise.

"Finland's Jimi Hendrix of the accordion" fares a little better in this KTU clip, in which the King Crimson rhythm section adds a little, well, rhythm.

I know not every Finn suffers from a complete lack of humor: Check out StSanders' parody "shreds" videos for some of the funniest music clips around. But geez. This Pohjonen guy kind of but not quite gives me the creeps. I just didn't know the accordion could be so ... joyless.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Behind the Bellows: An Accordion Documentary

Behold, the trailer for filmmaker Steve Mobia's squeezebox documentary, Behind the Bellows. Perhaps the title sounds familiar. Perhaps the rock accordion band featured in the trailer looks familiar. Perhaps this is a film any fan of Those Darn Accordions -- or, indeed, of the humble squeezebox itself -- needs to see.

(Via Let's Polka)

David Lee Roth Vocal Track Stripped Bare?

An MP3 file purporting to be David Lee Roth's raw vocal track from the Van Halen hit "Runnin' With the Devil" gives you a little insight into the recording process. Listen to it, and see how much magic there really is in a mix.

I don't know how, or where, Chunklet found this gem, but it's pretty amusing (even if it's not real -- but I think it is).

We've witnessed Roth's magical stage presence -- from the wings of the amphitheater at Oshkosh, Wisconsin's wonderful Waterfest -- as the only real Van Halen belter transformed from cigarette-inhaling guy to 1,000-watt entertainer as he made a few short steps into the spotlight. Amazing.

P.S. Want even more insight into the recording process? Buried in The Gear Page's forum discussion of the mystery track, member michaelvincent says: "The story I've heard about this song is that Ted Templeman thought the initial takes sounded too clean, and instructed ol' Dave to take a break, and go eat a cheeseburger and smoke a joint, then come back and do it again! I have no idea if it's true but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it was."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mad Maggies Return to Penngrove

The Mad Maggies play the Black Cat Bar in lovely Penngrove, California, on Friday, Jan. 25. Show starts at 10 p.m. -- nice little club, so if you're in the neighborhood, drop on by for some squeezebox-and-horn music.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

TDA's Next Cover Tune?

If you've got an accordion jones and a funny bone, check out the video for "I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore," as sung by squeezeboxer Stan Boreson. Truly an anthem for the ages.

(Thanks, Sharon!)

'Larry' Gets a Nice Review

Many thanks to UkeDoggy for the gushing review of "Larry's Wonderful Life" on Amazon.com. I especially like the part where he says he envisions a day when a lot of old TDA tunes will be "rediscovered" and given their due. We can only hope!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

'Larry' hits No. 23 on Amazon.com

""Larry's Wonderful Life" off the new TDA CD, Squeeze Machine, is sitting at No. 23 in the "Classical-Ballets/Dances" category on Amazon.com MP3 downloads. It's No. 11,730 overall! Not bad, considering there are more than a million tunes available for download. We're not known for our ballads, but after the reception "Larry" and "Old Slow Guy" received at our shows this weekend, I look forward to adding a few more.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

TDA Post-Show Wrap-Up

What a blast! Two nights, two Northern California shows, lots of new faces and plenty of old friends.

We had a great time playing so many songs off the new record, Squeeze Machine: "Heads and Horns," "Blame It on Those Darn Accordions," "Wrinkle Suit," "The Janitor Knows," "Glass of Beer Polka," "Mr. Saggy Butt," "Tandem Bike," "Stupid Things I Done," "This Song," "It's Now or Never."

We even ventured into the strange and scary Land of Musical Subtlety -- a region visited only rarely by this humble accordion-rock ensemble -- when we played a couple of "serious" songs: "Larry's Wonderful Life," also from Squeeze Machine, and "Old Slow Guy" from Lawnball. I hope those two numbers didn't throw anybody for too much of a loop!

Thanks to everybody who came out (and special props if you drove more than 100 miles -- you know who you are, and I won't name you here, lest Al "My Greenhouse Gas Is Better Than Yours" Gore is reading the Wall of Wheeze).

Thanks also to everybody at 142 Throckmorton Theatre and The Palms. Y'all were super-gracious, as per usual, and the sound was absolutely wonderful onstage (can't speak to the house sound, but I didn't see a lot of grimacing or bloody ears, so I'm guessing it was pretty good).

See you all next time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Revvin' Up for First TDA Shows of 2008

That's right, folks, we've been practicing till our fingertips are sore, getting ready to play two California gigs this weekend. We play 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on Friday, then head to The Palms in Winters for a Saturday show.

Both venues are wonderful places to see a musically subtle band like Those Darn Accordions: large stages, good lighting, excellent sound, superlative staffs, cold beer and good wine. You might even call them "upscale."

They are what we like to call "listening rooms" -- the kind of venues with solid commitments to live music, where the emphasis is on letting the bands play and the audience enjoy a good, comfortable night of entertainment. The kind of venues we like to play.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Squeezeboxing Is Better Than Sex?

When it comes to burning calories, playing accordion edges out sexual activity, according to the the University of South Carolina report, "The Compendium of Physical Activities."

British blog Music Thing casts a wary eye on the study, and so do I -- for instance, the researchers say playing accordion takes less energy than "playing flute (sitting)." Have these researchers ever even lifted an accordion? Do they know people sometimes play them while standing up, or even jumping around?

I'll bet dollars to donuts these fancy-pants scientists never saw a Those Darn Accordions show.

Putting the Squeeze on Street Accordionists

Norwegian cops are cracking down on accordion-playing street musicians, according to Aftenposten. The paper's quote from the police chief is awesome:

"The reports we've had indicate that people are being driven mad by the tunes coming from the accordions all day long," said police chief Truls Fyhn. "I have myself stopped to listen, and let me make it very clear: The quality of the music is very, very low."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Man Builds His Own Bowling Alley

Next to homebrewing, this could be the ultimate DIY project: building a bowling alley in your garage. The guy is identified by TechEBlog as "Tim W.," with no reference as to where he lives. (I'm guessing it's the Midwest.)

The Brunswick automatic pinsetter is a noisy beast, and the lane is short (although probably about the same as the duckpin lanes at Koz's Mini Bowl in Milwaukee). But it's pretty darn cool to have a lane like that in your garage. Wonder if there's a Kegerator hiding off to the side somewhere?

TechEBlog has a photo gallery of the lane, as well as the videos below.

See the lane in action.

Behind-the-scenes shot shows the Brunswick pinsetter in action.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Secrets of ZZ Top's Sharp-Dressed Guitars

Those Darn Accordions dress up themselves (or at least the ladies do); those sharp-dressed hombres in ZZ Top pimp out their guitars.

Find out how in Gibson's informative article, "Sheepskin and Rhinestones: The Story Behind the Legendary ZZ Top Guitars."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Beer Can Table: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Modern Mechanix is showing off a cool picture of a table made of beer cans. The frothy furniture was assembled out of 420 soldered-together beer cans by Chicagoan Bernard Dier.

The photo ran in Science and Mechanics magazine in 1936, when people apparently had a lot more fun.

(Via Boing Boing)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Squeeze Machine Makes Let's Polka's 'Best of 2007'

The party-lovin' folks at Let's Polka list Squeeze machine as one of 2007's best accordion records.

"We’re not as prolific as Rolling Stone (yet)," master polka blogger Chris writes, "but we did review a bunch of new accordion albums. Some of our favorites included new releases by Those Darn Accordions, Acadian accordionist Elly Kelly, Tom Hagerman (of DeVotchKa), and Zevy Zions."

You can read the full review here.

Thanks for the shout out, Chris. And keep on crankin' out the polka news in 2008. Cheers!