I succumbed. I did what I ought not to have done. I ran down the rabbit hole and scoured for photos of accordion stores. And schools. I find the signs quirky, even if not in Berkeley. And I suspect that I am a fairly small minority on this one.
Yesterday (5 February, 2014) I was taught the term “research rapture.” It is the risk of getting constantly and repeatedly sidetracked in following intriguing bits of information, or constantly searching for one more elusive fact. In my case, facts or photos. I know it well. I love the term.
I never tried playing an accordion. I have played or tried to play piano, guitar, electric bass (fretted and fretless), upright bass, banjo, mandolin, and clarinet (don’t ask). But not accordion.
Summers in Maine growing up we spent a lot of time with Sally and John Gay and their daughters. I remember a few times John getting out his accordion after dinner and playing it as my mother played piano.
My closest enounter with an accourdion was in 1982. I was living on 37th Street in Oakland, licking my wounds from having been fired for the fourth and final time by Cesar. Scott Washburn, also part of the UFW diaspora, was living with his family in the basement of a church not many blocks away.
Scott was a great keyboard player. He had played electric piano in a traveling strip show band in the midwest in his teens. He introduced me to NRBQ. He was a big fan of them and their pianist, Terry Adams. He loved Terry’s work with a toy piano.
In 1982, we would meet up in an auditorium at the church, Scott and my best friend Cres Fraley and Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva (who are now the Kitchen Sisters) and a few others and play music. Scott played accordion. I was playing electric bass at the time, sometimes piano. Scott talked of taking the group on the road, playing at 30 dives in 30 nights, and chronicling it. We never did it but it was a great idea. I wonder if it is too late to try this?
So when I went looking for photos of accordion stores what did I find? I am going to build up to the best.
Now for the ones that I think are really good. Runner up goes to Paris:
And the grand prize to Cleveland. It is not often that you could say second prize Paris, first prize Cleveland. But here, I think so:
Why do I think that this is so wonderful? Not sure why. A strong affinity with old weird America. An affection for the tide going out?
The next sign photo is not from a store or a museum. It honors an accordion player.
How cool is this? It is not the only one.
At Welk’s birthplace, an accordion-playing mannequin greets visitors:
Now accordion schools. Promise: the school photos finish with the BEST PHOTO yet of an accordion business.
Isn’t this the BEST ever, the MOST PERFECT ever, the VERY PERFECT BEST????
This is what the building looks like today, thanks to Google Maps.
It appears that the current owner held on to the clef signs grill on the left from Theodore’s. Good move!
When I showed these photos to my friend, he was busy doing research himself.
He was listening to every Band song with an accordion. That’s a good start. He pulled up a photo to show me:
“I think you need a post on accordion murals. Not just Cajun. All accordions.”
I welcomed his suggestion but drew the line there. Not going there. I have chased this dragon far enough.
I came back to the stores and photos. He skimmed through them until Buday, and then he got stuck. Overall?