Accordion, Instrument of the Gods

The benefits of taking accordion lessons

Thanks to “Papa Joe” Clemente for the find!

Damn right.

(And if the accordion isn’t the instrument that “speaks to you,” find one that does. Playing an instrument has so many benefits for your brain.)

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me

Happy New Year…Oops, wrong house!

Us in November at one of our “locals,” Southern Brewing and Winemaking.
We don’t have any photos of us showing up to the wrong house,
but we pretty much looked like this.

We started off our New Year’s Eve at the wrong house.

We meant to go to our friend Shelley’s house for her New Year’s Eve party. It’s a meaningful spot for us, because when we started dating eleven years ago, Anitra took me to the same party, and we looked like this:

Us at the same party in 2012.
Click the photo to read the original blog post.

With the pandemic and other parties, it had been a while since we’d been to Shelley’s, and I led us to the wrong house — one that was two doors west of Shelley’s. We rang the doorbell, and an unfamiliar face answered.

“Hello!,” said the gentleman at the door. He was maybe about my age, maybe a little older, with glasses and close-cropped hair and a goatee. He looked like he could’ve been one of Shelley’s friends whom I didn’t know, and I instinctively walked in.

As soon as we were completely inside the house, we knew we were in the wrong place. We’d walked into a smaller gathering, made up of the couple who owned the house, and another couple who were visiting. They’d been sitting in their living room, and from the looks of it, they were having a nice conversation over what looked like a bottle of Lagavulin. Nice.

We all had a good laugh as we introduced each other and shook hands. Anitra and I were about to leave when I had an idea.

“Hey,” taking a quick guess as to their preferred era of rock music. “Have you ever heard AC/DC on accordion?

They hadn’t — at least until last night.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music

The November 23 gig

Jay, Dave, and Tom, the other members of the band setting up on our “stage” — the dock of Bayou Bistro, which opens up onto Tarpon Bay. A beautiful sunset in the background.
Tap to view at full size.

Another Wednesday, another fun gig with Tom Hood and the Tropical Sons, the house band for open mic night at Bayou Bistro in Tarpon Springs. It was a fun pre-Thanksgiving celebration, and a chance to play some good ol’ classic rock with great local musicians at a very friendly bar with tasty seafood.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to rock out!

A selfie featuring Joey deVilla in an aloha shirt with his accordion in the foreground, and Tom Hood and the Tropical Suns in the background. Behind them is Tarpon Bay and a Florida sunset.
Tap to view at full size.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me

Tell your kids this was Parliament/Funkadelic

Tell your kids this was Parliament/Funkadelic:

…and tell your kids this was Bootsy Collins:

(Actually, it’s me and the band from the Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway, which happened a couple of weekends ago.)

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway 2022 (or: Birthday stretch 2.0)

Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway banner with added photo of Joey deVilla on accordionLast year, the Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway (TBUG for short) took place on my birthday. The 2022 edition happens this weekend, and we’re going to be there!

Anitra wanted to go, and I thought it would be a fun birthday activity to try my hand at a stringed instrument, which I’m normally terrible at playing. (My “keytar” period, and later the accordion, stem from being a frustrated attempted guitar player.)

TBUG takes place at the Sirata Resort on St. Pete Beach, right next door to where we got married:

Joey deVilla and Anitra Pavka on St. Pete Beach.

It turned out better than expected. For starters, Anitra won the grand prize at the raffle…

Anitra Pavka and the ukulele she won.

…I found a very reliable local purveyor of high-quality aloha shirts in Emily and Mike Stehle (my old go-to had closed up shop…

Joey deVilla in one of his new aloha shirts.

…and I also found Tom Hood, who invited me to join him and his band, Tom Hood and the Tropical Sons, on a number of local gigs!

Joey deVilla playing accordion on a pier with Tom Hood and Tropical Sons.This year, I’m not just an attendee, but part of the lineup of evening performers. I’ll be playing originals and classic rock/blues covers with Tom Hood and the Tropical Sons, as well as helping out with the special ’80s jams — mostly on accordion, but maybe a little ukulele as well.

Best of all, I’ll get to be on stage on Saturday, which happens to be my birthday. For me, that’s a great birthday treat.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

I’m playing at Bayou Bistro in Tarpon Springs tonight!

Collage of photos of Joey deVilla and Tom Hood and the Tropical Sons playing on the dock at Bayou Bistro
Tap to view at full size.

I’m playing with the house band — Tom Hood and the Tropical Sons — for open mic night at Bayou Bistro in Tarpon Springs from 5:30 to about 8:30 or so tonight! If you’re in the area and like seafood, beer, and great live music, come on over! If you want to play with us, bring your instrument!

If you’re curious, here are photos from last week’s gig.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

Scenes from last night’s gig

I arrived a little early for last night’s gig with Tom Hood and the Tropical Sons. We were the house band for open mic night at Bayou Bistro in Tarpon Springs, which gave me the chance to get some work (writing an article about developing apps for Android phones) in this setting:

It was mid-afternoon when I arrived, which made me the youngest person in the bar, not counting the staff. Florida can be youth-affirming in that way.

In just over a week, it’ll have been a year since I met Tom, who was one of the organizers at the 2021 Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway, which I attended as part of my birthday celebration that year as a “birthday stretch”. I had a great time, and while I did learn a little ukulele (despite being historically terrible with stringed instruments), I was a big hit with the accordion and ended up playing it most of my time there.

Since then, I’ve had regular invitations to play accordion at various ukulele events, including gigs with the Tropical Sons. It’s mostly classic rock and some blues, which nobody expects to hear coming from an accordion, but the band likes how I round out the sound.

When the rest of the band arrived, I pulled out my gear — the “street” accordion, the “dress” accordion, my amplifier (a 15″ Electro-Voice powered speaker), mic and stand and set up:

I managed to get some photos between numbers, but not many. Most of these were shot with the same one-hand technique for playing accordion while drinking beer: do everything with the left-hand chord buttons, leaving the right hand free.

Gigs at sunset are fun…

…but it really helps to bring sunglasses. It also works with the band’s “tropical” theme:

The place filled up during our first set…

…and then, break time! One of the customers bought a round of beers for the band, and I thanked him on behalf of the band and musicians everywhere.

I put in an order for a mahi-mahi sandwich, chatted with some folks at the bar, and listened to some of the local musicians who stepped up to the open mic.

A sandwich, a beer, some music, and open water. Can’t argue with that!

We played until just before nine and called it a night.

This happens every Wednesday, and Tom invited me to next week’s show as part of rehearsal for our gig on the Saturday night show at this year’s Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway. I think I’ll go!