CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
Living outside the Cajun/Creole Triangle (Nebraska), I've experienced several soundmen who have tried to damp down the accordion only to be told by me, or more likely my brother, to turn the darn accordion up-way up! They've obviously been conditioned to think that the accordion is a background instrument. Steve
I have seen the same thing numerous times. The most outrageous example was a time when Terrance Simien was playing a free outdoor concert in San Bernardino. I noticed that the accordion wasn't coming through very well, and I went over to suggest to the soundman that in zydeco, the accordion is the lead instrument and it needed to be higher in the mix. His reply was, "I HATE those **** things"!
Well I'll be...
I really don't get what's so "bad" about accordions. It's a keyboard instrument that you can wear and if you have a good model, you can change and play different sounds with it. And now with the new Roland Midi accordion, you pretty much have whatever sound you want. Even a Cajun box has a few ways you change the sound. The other alternative is either horns, synth or a PIANO (try to move one).
Again, I say, the box is a rock/country/blues/whatever instrument. Just ask 5,000 Weird Al fans (me included) that gave him a standing ovation after his accordion-fueled rendition of "Yoda" (to the tune of "Lola" by The Kinks).
I've gotten my share of critisizm about the box. I don't give two hoots about what people throw at me. For everyone that hates the accordion, there is someone who likes or loves the sound.
Even get crap from my brother. Always telling me, "Jim, you're so good at lots of instruments, why do you waste your time with accordion?" This is also coming from a Rockabilly /Skiffle band member. You'd think that he'd be more open minded
I'm thinking that Nebraska has to have one of the highest dusty-piano-accordion-in-the-closet ratios per capita in the US, what with the polka festivals and all. Of course, when I drifted over to RFD network on the satellite last month and hit a polka show, none of the dancers looked younger than 70!
A quick internet search yielded the Czech Festival in Wilber, NE; the Annual Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Festival in Nebraska City; and the Corn Palace Polka Festival in Mitchell, SD.
I lived Bellevue from 1965-1971. I know Bellevue's not the "real Nebraska" because there's actually some topography there, but I remember those times fondly.
I'm one of those sound guys who crank the accordion up! (appropriately, of course)
Your correct,Steve. Nebraska has a tradition of polka music that is very much in evidence at events like the Wilbur Czech Festival. I saw an accordion orchestra there-button and key-made up of about thirty individuals.
Living just north of Bellevue in the culturally diverse area of South Omaha, which was once home to the famous stockyards, I often hear German, Czech, and Polish polka music-especially at church festivals. The musicians are usuallly septugenarians and older. There are a few younger guys carrying on the traditon, however.
These days I hear a lot of Mexican polka and some Tejano as well. Large numbers of Mexicans were attracted to South O by the meat packing plants that were built about ten years ago. Like all immigrant groups that came to South Omaha, they brougt their music, food and cultural ways with them. And they aren't shy about turning the accordion up in the mix.
I gig mostly downtown, midtown and Benson where the guitar is king and the blues is the preferred genre. Once in a blue moon you can hear a zydeco band that is traveling through to Chicago or Denver. Cajun is rarely heard here. Many folks, after hearing the Prairie Gators play a set of traditional Cajun and Creole music, ask if that was zydeco that they were listening to. Soundmen in the parts of town outside the polka stronghold of South Omaha don't view the accordion as a lead instrument. So my brother and I often have to persuade or convince them to turn the accordion up. Steven Kunasek
Sounds like an interesting mix with the Mexican and Texican thrown in. I keep wanting to book a Cojunto player for our little Opera House in Central New York, but I can't figure out who would show up to listen except me! The seasonal apple pickers wouldn't get the word.
All you had to do was type "stockyards" and my nose twisted up! In Bellevue, we all new when the wind shifted, especially after a summer rain
I think that's fine. The 10 button accordion was used throughout the South probably before Joe Falcon got hold of one (though I'm not sure). Leadbelly played blues on the single row he called the "wind Jammer" before he picked up the guitar. Quebec musicians like Bottine Sourillante play it as well as Irish players like Johnny Connelly. Louisiana musicians put their wonderful twist on how to play the instrument and created a unique style around it, but it didn't originate in Louisiana. I've used the single row in Rock, Blues even Brazilian Forro. It works everywhere.
It may not be Cajun, but it's all good.
A good musician can jam with anyone. I have heard
Bach on a 5 string banjo and Bluegrass on a hammered ducimer.
There is a local dance band that uses button accordion, fiddle, bass, guitar and electric keyboard. They can keep the crowd going all night.