For those of you who do not live in Accordion City or its environs,
you might not be aware that The Maple Leafs won the playoffs against
the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. This city is famous for loving its
hockey team as a mother loves her ne’er-do-well son, so even though there’s a long way to go
before the end of the playoffs, the streets went wild with the sounds of revelry.
Paul and I decided to enjoy some of the post-victory partying, so we
decided to go out, find a bar and hoist pints of ale with whatever
celebrants we could find. We walked south on Spadina to recharge our
wallets at the nearby ATM when we ran into the first partier of the
The streets were filling with cars full of fans waving Maple Leafs
flags, honking their horns and yelling “Go Leafs go!” I managed to whip
up more than a few into a frenzy of screaming, honking and high-beam
headlight flashing by playing the “Spanish Bullfight Chords”
followed by the “Charge!” theme on the accordion. I got an even better
response by playing the theme to Hockey Night in Canada, [261K MP3] which might as well be our second national anthem.
The bars on Queen Street were a little quiet for our liking. This
shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Queen Street West is home to
hipster/live music bars, not sports bars.
“Hooters!” said Paul.
“You, my good friend, are a genius.”
You’d think that Hooters (where I usually meet our family’s
insurance agent Art — it’s his favourite place to meet with his male
clients, including Dad) would be packed on a game 7 playoff night.
However, that wasn’t the case; only a handful of tables were occupied,
and they were all being watched over by a couple of waitresses with
little to do.
We looked across Adelaide Street and saw that the Fox and Fiddle was
hopping. We went inside and took a couple fo stools at the upstairs
bar. Paul noticed that the stage was set up for a band and pointed it
“I wonder…” I said, looking around until I saw the poster: “JAM NIGHT: Bring an instrument or come sing”.
The band was called Sonic Playground,
and their first set consisted of pop and rock cover tunes, all played
note-perfectly. You could tell by their way they played and
communicated with each other using nods and sidelong glances that they’d been playing together quite regularly for some time.
We decided to get a seat closer to the band. The area around the
stage was full of underweight women wearing slightly-too-small Maple
Leafs t-shirts and their overweight boyfriends wearing waaay-too-large
Maple Leafs jerseys. We found a table occupied by a girl sitting alone and asked if we could join her.
“Sure,” she said, looking at the display of her cell phone intensely, “I’m just waiting for a friend.”
“It looks like we have an accordion in the house!” said Sheri, the band’s lead vocalist. “Are you gonna play some polka?”
“AC/DC!” I yelled back.
“This oughta be good,” said Jay the guitarist.
The band finished its first set and took a quick break, after which
they started going through the list of people who wanted to sing or jam
with the band. Although I was not the first to get to the list, the
people before me signed up for the fourth, fifth or sixth slots; no one
wated to be first. Sicne the first slot was open, I took it.
“Let’s hear it for the guy with accordion!” Sheri said as I took the stage.
“You Shook Me All Night Long, right? In the original key?” asked Peter the bassist.
“Original key, G, yeah,” I replied, to which I got a nod and the opening guitar chords.
Here’s a still photo of what it looked like…
“I’d like to dedicate this number to a specific owner of American thighs…”
…and here’s a video [3 MB, MPEG; the sound is quite distorted, so turn your volume down].
You Shook Me All Night Long
is a guaranteed crowd pleaser just about anywhere in the world, and
when done with an accordion, the crowd reaction is always better. The
band want kind enough to let me have the solo, and I think Angus Young
would’ve approved of my work that night.
At the end of the number and after the applaused died down, I was about to step off the stage when Sheri and Jay stopped me.
“Hey! Why don’t you stay on and do another number with us?”
“I’d love to,” I replied. “Which one?”
“You pick,” said Jay.
“Hmmm…what do you guys know?” Noting that they were pretty
up-to-date with their cover tunes, I took a wild guess. “I do a pretty
decent version of Outkast’s Hey Ya…”
“Hey! We do that!” said Sheri.
“Okay, then…Hey Ya! One, Two, Three, UH! My baby don’t mess around because she loves me so and this I know fo’ sho’…”
Most of the bar got up and danced for this number. Years of being a
street musician served me well for this number: I managed to dodge out
of the way as a big guy in a Tie Domi jersey tripped ands fell onto the
stage while trying to impress the puckbunnies with fancy footwork.
All right, now fellas! What’s cooler than bein’ cool? SQUEEZE BOX!
All in all, a fun Tuesday evening. Perhaps I’ll have to drop by during their next jam night appearance (Tuesday, May 4th).