Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me

The new accordion

Last Saturday, while running an errand for a family friend at the Oldsmar Flea Market, I noticed an accordion in one of the swap shops that seemed to be in unusually good shape. Its striking blue color caught my eye and it was surprisingly not dusty, in contrast to just about everything else in the shop, which could easy be summed up by this graphic:

Taking a closer look at the medallion, I got a sense of deja vu. I remember seeing the slogan “The jewel of the good music” before, but where?

I checked my phone and in a few seconds, the answer came up — I’d seen the same make and model of accordion while idly Googling a year or so ago., and it’s the junior version of this model. It was a Valanti, which was confirmed by the marking “G. E. & figli” (figli means sons in Italian).

I gave it some basic tests:

  • The carrying case: An old suitcase-like affair made out of that cardboard-like material that mid-20th-century suitcases all seemed to be made of. I was surprised that it didn’t have a musty smell, which is the first sign that the accordion has been sitting in a damp place for a long time. Long-term storage in a moist environment will damage the wood and leather parts in the accordion’s innards, and can lead to mold.
  • The body: No structural damage, chipped corners, cracks, or  scratches beyond what you’d expect from regular use. There was no missing or broken hardware.
  • Keys and buttons: I tried every one, using every register. They all worked, and none of them were sticky. The keys and buttons were all level, too.
  • Bellows. This is usually the dealbreaker. An accordion’s bellows are essentially a big bag that you squeeze to force air through tiny holes that are plugged up until you press one of its keys or buttons. Many accordions that you find in pawn shops have very leaky bellows from age or poor maintenance. You test bellows by pulling on them gently without playing anything — if you encounter strong resistance and don’t hear the hissing sounds of escaping air, it means the bellows are good. This accordion passed the test.
  • Registers: The accordion had two treble registers and two bass registers. I tried both, starting with the lowest-frequency ones and working my way up. They sounded decent!

My final test was to play a couple of quick tunes — Plush by Stone Temple Pilots and Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy — and decided it was time to check out the price tag. It was marked $200. I make more than that every year in free beer as a result of playing “Happy birthday” on accordion for random strangers in bars.

I looked around for the “Jerry”, and when I found him, said “If I give you cash, will you take $150?”

“Sure!” he said without any hesitation. I’m now the owner of a new, more portable accordion that fits more easily in most airlines’ overhead compartments or under many exit row seats.

I took it home, and with 20 minutes’ work with some Windex and a soft cloth, I had a very shiny, ready-for-public-performance new accordion!

The old leather straps, while serviceable, were on their last legs. Luckily, Amazon carries some very nice padded “pleather” straps (pictured above) that I find very comfortable, and they arrived the day after I ordered them. They probably had another pair sitting at the local fulfillment center from my last order!

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods

Playing the accordion vs. recording while playing it

Funny because it’s true. Thanks to Roy Stegman for the find!

Every 🪗 damned 🪗 time.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods

Happy World Accordion Day 2021!

It’s May 6th, and since 2009, this day has been designated World Accordion Day by the CIA! In this case, the CIA is not the Central Intelligence Agency, but the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes, the International Confederation of Accordionists, which was founded in 1935.

World Accordion Day was created to be “a unified global effort to celebrate and promote the Accordion”, which is something I can get behind. You can find out more about what’s going on today at or by checking out the 2021 World Accordion Day video below:

How I became the Accordion Guy

That’s an interesting story, and you can find it here.

A few performances

Here’s one with Seattle band The Beatniks at Safeco Field:

The accordion karaoke performance where I won an iPad:

Entertaining a delayed flight:

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods Geek Slice of Life

Christmas purchase of 2018, meet the Christmas purchase of 2020

This year’s purchase is less pricey than the 2018 one by a factor of 20 or so. Tap to view at full size.

Cyberpunk 2077 just arrived today, but I’m not playing it until Saturday evening. I’ve got lots to do between now and then, including writing content for the Auth0 blog, revising the Auth0 native mobile “quickstart” kits, teaching the final 12 hours of an online Python class for Computer Coach, and giving a remote presentation for mDevConf 2020, a mobile developer conference in La Paz, Bolivia.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods

Just putting this out there…

Photo: “We must do more research on accordion music” — featuring woman in red dancing in the street
Tap to view at full size.
Accordion, Instrument of the Gods The Current Situation

Tucker Carlson: “The dog ate my October Surprise!”

Photo: Tucker Carlson claiming “Damning Hunter documents suddenly vanish”.”

Tucker Carlson, spoiled frozen-food heir pretending to be a journalist, claims that a shipment of “damning” documents linked to Hunter and Joe Biden “mysteriously disappeared” in transit to Los Angeles.

Here’s the story, from Fox News themselves:

“We texted a producer in New York and asked him to send those documents to us in L.A, ” Carlson explained. “And he did that, so Monday afternoon of this week, he shipped the documents overnight to California with a large national carrier, a brand-name company that we’ve used, you’ve used, countless times with never a single problem.”

But the documents never arrived in Los Angeles, Carlson said.

“Tuesday morning we received word from the shipping company that our package had been opened and the contents were missing. The documents had disappeared.”

It’s strange that they wouldn’t have simply sent someone to personally take the  documents with them and book a flight to Los Angeles, as one might do when one has the budget and is transporting incredibly sensitive (but not restricted) items.

There’s also the safeguard of scanning or at least photographing the documents first. And hey, we live in a time and place where everyone has a high-resolution camera/scanner/video recorder in their pocket!

And finally, there’s the receipt and tracking number. Assuming of course, the shipment existed.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me

Le bateleur

Photo: Framed woodcut of “Le Bateleur”, a tarot card featuring an accordion-playing fisherman seated in front of a table overflowing with cod.
Tap to view at full size.

I finally got around to framing and hanging our Le bateleur (which translates from French as “juggler,” “street performer,” or “busker”) tarot card woodcut print. It’s the perfect size to go under one of the sconces in the hallway leading to our offices, and it looks pretty damned good.

It’s a gift that our Toronto friends Natalie and Eldon gave to us during our visit to Toronto last October, just before we flew off to visit the Philippines.

(It’ll be nice to be able to travel again…someday.)

Le bateleur is one of Canadian artist Graham Blair’s woodcut prints. Here’s how he describes it:

The earliest known tarot card decks date to the early 1400s, and for several centuries they were used simply as game cards, becoming associated with divination only after the 1780s. While the first tarot cards were hand-painted, for most of their existence they were printed from woodcuts using the same techniques that I use today.

This design is my North Atlantic interpretation of the first and one of the most famous trump cards – Le Bateleur – which traditionally depicts a sleight-of-hand magician sitting in front of his table of tricks, the image of a skillful trickster and master of the material world. In my version, the magician is an accordion-playing fisherman seated in front of a table overflowing with cod. On the deck of his ship are the tools of his trade – a cod jigger and splitting knife – and the tail of a humpback whale can be seen in the distance. This magician’s sleight-of-hand is manifest in the jigs and reels he coaxes from his accordion.