Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me


The VH-1 Photo Shoot

Last Sunday was sunny with spring-like temperatures, so I decided to do go out for a walk. I took the accordion with me and slung it on my back, just in case I decided to do some busking.

I was listening to CDs at the Queen Street HMV, when I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see two guys with large camera bags.

“I’m Mike, and this is Krush,” said one of them, holding up a VH-1 ID card. “We’re here taking stills for a documentary of people who are really into their music, and you look like one of them. Mind if we take some photos?”

“Not at all,” I replied, “but the clothes stay on.”

They got a picture or two of me at the CD listening bar checking out the new Nine Inch Nails live album. About five minutes later, I was busking on Queen Street, with Mike and Krush taking pictures of me. The commotion attracted a couple of curious onlookers as well as my friends Dera and Marshall, who were out shopping, heard the accordion and knew that only one person could be behind the noise. Once the shoot was done, I signed the release forms (pointing to Dera, I told the VH-1 guys “be careful, I have a lawyer here…”). Mike threw a fiver into my hat.

I decided to join Dera and Marshall on their stroll westward down Queen Street, chatting and checking out the many new places that had popped up over the past year. After the stroll, I returned to Threadz (a skater clothing shop) to play a couple of numbers that the staff had requested. On my way out, I gave the fiver Mike had given me to a high-school age girl huddled in sleeping blankets in an alcove.

The B-Side Gig (Thursday, January 31st)

It would be very uncharacteristic of this blog (and of me) not to include the gratuitous “cute girl” shot. So here it is:

That’s Lindi, whose party celebrating the release of her debut CD, The Taste of Forbidden Fruit, takes place this Thursday at B-Side in Toronto (Richmond and Peter Streets, above Fez Batik). Her music style is folksy, with Spanish chord stylings and an Edith Piaf feel. Unlike most people writing songs in the pop idiom, she tends towards waltzes with a French feel to them, which tend to set her songs apart from what you’ll hear from your garden variety singer-songwriter. I’ll be there playing my not-often-seen “club” accordion (as opposed to my very-often-seen “street” accordion); the “club” accordion has nicer reeds and a very Parisian sound.

If you’re in the Toronto area, please come and see the show. Tickets are $10, but if you pay $15, they’ll throw in the CD. Since the CD sells for $15, the cost of admission to the party is effectively free if you buy it. Neil Leyton will be the opening act, after which he will play guitar with Lindi, me, and the rest of her band.

Eclipse (Groundhog Day)

Last Saturday I got a phone call that started with the other person saying:

“Uh…is this the accordion guy?”

(Maybe I should get my phone number listed as “Accordion Guy”.)

It turned out to be a woman I met at the last Kick Ass Karaoke at the Bovine Sex Club. She organizes a night at Eclipse (College and Dovercourt) where musicians get together to jam and improvise. “Think of it as a licensed living room, she said, which I liked. “Musicians get free drinks and food,” she followed, which I liked even more. So I’m going to be there this Saturday, after which I think I’ll do some busking outside Amato’s, if it’s not too cold out.

Hangin’ with the neighbours

I was getting something from the car last Saturday night when I passed by the house two doors down from mine. Its occupants were smoking on the porch, and one of them called to me.

“Hey, Accordion Guy. Got a moment?”

It was Darren, whom I’d met after the second Chicks Dig It night. He asked if I had a little time to spare, which I did, so he invited in to check out the rehearsal space he’d made in his basement. I brought my accordion over and we jammed, playing some Beatles, Zappa, Captain Beefheart, twelve-bar blues, Clash, Presidents of the United States of America and I forget what else. His roommate — I forget her name — asked me if I could give her accordion lessons, and I told her she should come over for one of our movie nights, during which I could give her some pointers.

I mentioned the Lindi and Eclipse gigs to Darren and his housemate, and they sounded interested. Darren told me that any time I wanted someone to jam with, I should come over.

Neighbours to jam with. Cool.

More Lindi gigs (February and June)

I got a phone call from Lindi today, asking me if I would like to back her up on Wednesday, February 20th at Healey’s (blues guitarist Jeff Healey’s bar, Bathurst and Queen, right beside the Paddock). I said “yes,” after which she asked if I would like to back her up for her North By Northeast gig in June, to which I also replied “yes”. She then asked if I would come into the studio with her and lay down some accordion tracks for her new songs, to which I again replied “yes.”

I’m such a skanky accordion slut.

Recommended viewing/listening

There’s a Lindi/Neil Leyton video interview at Umbrella Music’s site (they promote Canadian music). You’ll need Windows Media Player to view it, and you can see it in either high-bandwidth or low-bandwidth format. She makes special mention that she’s got an accordion player!

You can hear samples MP3s of Lindi’s songs. Check out Misery My Love, Nothing At All and Sweet Jezebel.

Ann Gunkel’s Accordion Page. Check out how she got into accordion playing and her essay on the radical political history of the accordion.

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