Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music

Accordion City’s Newest Accordion Player

Saturday night: The last errand I ran prior to hopping in my car and going to Homecoming at Crazy Go Nuts University was to buy up as many copies of The Globe and Mail as I could. Ryan Bigge’s story on Wendy’s and my engagement (“There he goes again…does he talk about anything else?”, I can hear you say) appeared in the Saturday issue, and I wanted enough copies to send to relatives and as personal souvenirs.

Saturday’s edition was a special one spolighting China as a great power — if not the dominant one — of the 21st Century (Adam Yoshida must’ve had a total conniption fit).

It was a popular issue, so picking up a dozen copies as I’d planned took travelling to five separate stores. The last store, from which I bought the last two, was the magazine shop beside the Lettieri cafe at Queen and Spadina.

As looked for an available bike rack, I noticed that someone sitting at one of Lettieri’s outdoor tables had a small accordion. An old-school accordion case — the sort that looks like one of those stiff cardboard suitcases from old black and white movies — lay open at her feet. She sat beside two of her friends and was talking to a rubby on rollerblades.

“You really play accordion?” asked the girl, the incredulity showing on her face.

Shhhhhure I do,” said the rubby. “Jush han’ it over, and I’ll play you something.” He held out his arms, making “gimme!” gestures with his hands.

I wasn’t about to let anything bad happen to this nice girl or her accordion, so I intervened.

I play accordion,” I said.

She turned and looked relieved to see me. “Okay, you play.”

I slipped the accordion on and started riffing in C minor, easing into Baby One More Time.

“Ahhh, I didn’t want to play anyway,” grumbled the rubby, who lurched northward on his rollerblades, his ankles almost running against the ground. For a guy who probably was on his fifth bottle of cough syrup that day, he skated pretty well.

Accordion Girl explained that she’d bought the accordion earlier in the summer and really wanted to learn how to play. I offered a couple of pointers.

I found out that the girls were big fans of Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine. I played Head Like a Hole [Windows Media link], and snippets of Down In It [Windows Media link], Terrible Lie [Windows Media link] and Only Time [Windows Media link].

It was then that I noticed that I’d forgotten the keys to my bike lock.

“Hey, could you watch my bike for a moment? I have to go buy some copies of the Globe and Mail. And hey, there’s a picture of me and my accordion in it.”

One of them pulled the bike closer to their table as I ran into the magazine store and bought their last three copies of the Globe. I returned and showed them the engagement article.

“Aww, she’s pretty!” one of them said, looking at Wendy’s picture.

“I’ll bet you use the accordion to get chicks,” said Accordion Girl.

“It helps,” I said. “It’s also good for making money. On a good night on Queen Street, you can make anywhere from fifty to a hundred bucks. You can also use it to gate-crash parties; most people at the door assume you’re the entertainment.”

“I could eat feel-eh meen-yon in a fan-cy res-toh-rant,” said Accordion Girl, affecting a posh accent.

I quickly went over the important chord patterns for most rock and pop songs: I-IV-V, I-IV, I-III-IV and so on.

“Look, I have to go,” I said, “but can I get your picture for my blog?”


“You know, like a LiveJournal,” said one of her friends.

Except without all the drama and psychological problems, I mentally added.

“Oh, cool!”

I snapped their picture:

Photo: Toronto's new sensation, Accordion Girl and friends. Taken outside Lettieri Cafe at Queen and Spadina.Miranda [Accordion Girl], her accordion and her friends.
Taken at Lettieri (southeast corner of Queen and Spadina) last Saturday evening.

“Okay, I’ve got to run now, but promise me this: don’t let that thing gather dust in the attic, okay? Play it!” I was already on my bike and heading north.

“I will, Mister Accordion!” she said.

Ten minutes later, still enjoying an accordion high, I was in my car and turning onto the Don Valley Parkway. Nice start to a good evening, I thought.

13 replies on “Accordion City’s Newest Accordion Player”

2 down, several million to go?

I assume your mission will not be complete until all of Accordion City is a squeezebox-playin’ town.

You forgot to add your favourite motto: “Great things always happen when you have an accordion.” I’m sure her evening would have been different without it.

Saw you wheeling your way down Queen Street with an accordian. You didn’t notice me say “hey Joey” – but traffic and an accordian should have been a good reason for me not to interrupt your cycling. Our mutual friend Oxy-Lawyer told me about the blog. It ‘all’ (meaning seeing you on a bike midday with an accordian) makes sense now. Brilliant work.

Sorry I didn’t hear you — must’ve been concentrating on the traffic.

Of course, you realize that I’m now going to spend all morning wondering who you and “Oxy-Lawyer” are.

That was sort of the point. Crazy go nuts connection. She gave me the handle WD40 – which didn’t stick thankfully, but makes an appropriate one here. Oxy-Lawyer is my impression – in a good way.

i kno miranda, she’s a silly lady, but talented. im sure she’s quite excited meeting you, and knowing her, she’ll work even harder. you’ll hear her on the radio one day mark my words. =)


way to make us sound like 13 year old angsty NIN fans.

-person in the centre of pic with scarf.

Speaking as the author of the entry and a happy-go-lucky Nine Inch Nails fan, I don’t think it sounds that way!

so you play the piano accordion big deal anyone who can play the piano can play the piano accordian.your nothing special.Ive been playing the button accordion for all my life ,lets see you come downunder and try that big guy 🙂

@jeremy kulmar: And anyone who can push buttons can play the button accordion. Let’s see you start a very popular blog — and use proper capitalization and punctuation — little guy. 🙂

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