Author: Joe Petrucci

‘Squeeze This’ Author to Present ‘Living History of Accordion’ at Liberty Bellows on Oct. 26


In her book Squeeze This, A Cultural History of the Accordion in America, Marion Jacobson, an author, ethnomusicologist and musician from Northern New Jersey, traces the instrument’s development through six key moments of transition, from vaudeville to world music.

Jacobson will bring that history to life for the Philadelphia Accordion Club on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Liberty Bellows (216 S. 2nd St.), marking her first promotional appearance in Philadelphia. Her one-of-a-kind, interactive presentation, A Living History of the Accordion, will spotlight the instrument’s evolution through the last century. She’ll be showcasing some of the most valuable and interesting accordions in the vast collection at Liberty Bellows’ three-story facility just off South Street.

“I’m very excited,” said Jacobson, who has performed with klezmer bands and on New York City subway platforms. “This presentation is very unique.”

The Philadelphia Accordion Club’s monthly gathering will begin at 12:30 p.m. with a performance from Liberty Bellows’ house group, Philly Squeeze. Following club business at 1 p.m., Jacobson’s performance will begin, taking the audience on a whirlwind tour of the accordion that highlights the instrument’s many transformations and how they impacted its development.

Copies of Jacobson’s book will be available for purchase and she will also sign copies for attendees. The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be made available.

The six moments of transition that Jacobson focuses her book on include:
- the Americanization of the piano accordion
- 1920s transformation from expensive, exotic vaudeville instrument to mass-marketed product
- accordion craze of the 1930s and 1940s, including development of “accordion industrial complex”
- peak popularity in the 1950s exemplified by Lawrence Welk and Dick Contino
- the instrument’s marginalization in the 1960s
- accordion revival in the 1980s

Oh and by the way, today is Jacobson’s birthday. So if you seek her out in social media land, be sure to wish her a “wunnerful, wunnerful” day.

Marion Jacobson on WNYC

Babies, Bellows and Bach: Philadelphia Accordion Club’s June Gathering

Liberty Bellows owner Michael Bulboff and his young son greet members of the Philadelphia Accordion Club.

National leaders, education pioneers and young prodigies were among the 25 people who packed Liberty Bellows near South St. in Philadelphia for the inaugural gathering of the Philadelphia Accordion Club in late June.

Linda Reed, president of the American Accordionists Association, welcomed an enthusiastic group for a workshop on ethnic music by Washington D.C.-based accordionist Joan Grauman and a performance by two members of the Brooklyn Accordion Club, itself a new group that formed in January.

Reed also talked about the AAA’s 75th anniversary festival, set for Aug. 14-18 in New York. She was impressed with the local organization’s turnout, which included Stanley and Joanna Darrow, the couple behind the enduring Acme Accordion School in Haddonfield that has nurtured accordionists for more than 50 years.

Many different musical styles were represented among the local attendees, including Lithuanian, French musette, folk/pop and classical, to name a few.

Mayumi Miyaoka and Robert Duncan, who have only been playing together for months, made the trip from Brooklyn to entertain and did not disappoint. Their nearly hour-long set included classical standards and accordion rarities, including:

Generation Relation by Stas Venglevski

Preludes & Fugues, BWV 553 by Johann Sebastian Bach

Here’s Philadelphia Accordion Club co-founder Dallas Vietty, a French musette expert who teaches on Saturdays at Liberty Bellows and gigs regularly between Philly and Brooklyn, performing with Lancaster 10 year-old Cody McSherry, an award-winning prodigy who was attending the summer accordion camp at Liberty Bellows.

Arabic music is on the menu when the Philadelphia Accordion Club reconvenes on Saturday, July 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Liberty Bellows (second floor at 614 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia). All accordionists and the accordion-curious are invited, so please feel free to share with others and bring a friend.

Here’s what’s on tap:
1:30 p.m. — performance by Philly Squeeze
2 p.m. — Philadelphia Accordion Club meeting and open mic
2:45 p.m. — performance by Melody Ben Flah, a multiple award-winning accordion competition champion currently performing with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, a Philadelphia Arab music ensemble. She will perform with a percussionist.
3:15 p.m. — workshop, The Accordion in Arabic Music, by Melody Ben Flah (a hands-on session)

Here’s Melody performing with others for a traditional belly dance.

American Accordion Association President to Welcome Re-Born Philadelphia Accordion Club on 6/29

American Accordion Association