Accordions popular again in all of USA since 1950.
#1
Been reading where the accordion might again be as popular as the guitar throughout the USA, like it was before the 1950s. That would be great if it's actually true .
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#2
Hmmmmm, it would be great but I don't really think it will happen.
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#3
There are limiting factors to the accordion's regaining its popularity in the US. They are:

1. Except for the least expensive models, accordions are not mass-marketed in the US. Quality accordions, even student models, tend to be more expensive than other instruments.

2. Accordion dealers, service facilities, and teachers are relatively few and far between. I know that some accordion teachers are now using Skype to do remote lessons, but there's nothing like having a teacher physically present with you.

However, accordions are getting more and more exposure in the US these days. Rock bands often have them, movie sound tracks feature them, etc, The generation that scorned accordions and accordion music is now replaced by young, musically curious people. In some ethnic enclaves in the US, the accordion never lost its popularity, and the music that's produced in those areas is beginning to get national attention. The jazz fans among us can testify to an increase in talented jazz accordions. The development of first midi accordions and then digital accordions are also contributing to an increase in the popularity of the instrument.

We can only guess whether the positive factors will outweigh the negatives. I certainly hope so.
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#4
If the accordion ever becomes more popular than the guitar anywhere in the world, how many accordions can I buy for a Jazzmaster, a Jaguar, and a Strat?

Here in Europe a decent top of the range accordion costs upwards of 12000 Euros, so I wouldn't even get half an accordion for the price of my three guitars, even if they had platinum strings.
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#5
Video 
It will only become popular again in the US (the non-cajun/zydeco/tejano communities) if a new musical style/genre emerges in which the accordion is one of the main instruments. I don’t expect French musette accordion music or morris accordion music to ever be “hip” again, unless it gets a huge make over/face lift.

I like some of what the hipsters come up with:



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#6
Not sure why you’re segregating styles of American music.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#7
Don't know about the US at all, and it is difficult to generalise elsewhere, as there are so many types of music that feature the accordion, melodeon, and other variations of those.

French musette was popular from about 1900 -1960, although the style of playing changed a few times during that era. Top players earned big money selling their recordings to a public who considered it was "all the rage" at the time, and that's what the problem was. It was a "fashion" that caught on and remained for a long time. As it's popularity waned in the early 60s, a lot of French players started playing pop music on their accordions and dancing around on the stage in an effort to keep the accordion alive. By that time it was already considered as old fashioned and the young set wanted the "political" type of singers and guitars. The very best players were "signed up" as accompaniment to some of those singers, who were of a mind to keep the accordion sound in their music. The situation was that a large number of French accordionists had played other instruments professionally, and some of them simply went back to playing what they did before they played accordion. It was even worse in Italy where the accordion took an even bigger popularity hit.

The accordion "boom" was over, but has been kept going to this day by enthusiasts, often playing exclusively for the benefit of enthusiast audiences, despite what appears to be the growing lack of interest worldwide. Those Italian makers who have survived will tell you that their main customers are now players in the Balkan countries, where the accordion still has a degree of popularity compared with elsewhere.

A lot of forum members are past middle age, and most of us are probably here because we remember the halcyon accordion days of old, and don't want to ever see the total demise of the instrument. Photos and videos of kids playing are bandied around as though to prove that there is a "revival", and the light at the end of the tunnel is dazzling. If you dare, as I do, to put any negative comments about the status quo, people will be very quick to tell you that they have just attended such and such a festival with an audience of thousands, so how can the accordion not be popular? Or they've been to their local club and there were more people there than they've ever seen since 1955 etc.

All I'm asking people to do is take a couple of steps back and look at the facts. Where are all the accordion stores and the majority of accordion manufacturers?

I'm as passionate as anybody else about the accordion, and am of the firm opinion that the instrument will ultimately find its own destiny regardless of any efforts to promote it or adapt it to modern music styles. Fortunately it has already been adapted to play what are referred to as "traditional" styles of music that existed well before the accordion, and some of those styles seem set to be perpetuated by their devotees for a long time to come. Given that an accordion can last for a lifetime, there should be no shortage of available instruments for some considerable time yet. That will please everybody, except the people who are trying to make a living out of making and selling them.

As a kid at school in the 60s I was fascinated by the bassoon and my music teacher told me I should apply to join the school orchestra and play bassoon. What she failed to realise was a bassoon cost more than an accordion, as it does now, and was a very niche instrument. The guy in charge of the orchestra told me to calm down as there wasn't a bassoon teacher within light years of the school, and in any case they couldn't afford to buy a bassoon. I was handed a trumpet and jacked it in within a couple of years.

Years later I (almost) got my wish. I bought an accordion and it had bassoon reeds in it! However, it was a CBA and there wasn't a teacher within light years of where I lived. It was a very niche instrument, and people tried to tell me I had bought a dinosaur (it was about 1985). I never believed them and just taught myself to play (after a fashion).

It seems there will continue to be accordion devotees for some time, regardless of its place in the popularity stakes, and as far as I'm aware some orchestras still feature bassoons, although I've never actually seen a bassoon in my life. Had I been really interested I'd have probably bought one, but I guess it must have just been a "fad" with me.

I'd better stop there, I think.
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#8
(10-02-2019, 09:51 AM)A maugein96 Wrote: All I'm asking people to do is take a couple of steps back and look at the facts. Where are all the accordion stores and the majority of accordion manufacturers?

I'm as passionate as anybody else about the accordion, and am of the firm opinion that the instrument will ultimately find its own destiny regardless of any efforts to promote it or adapt it to modern music styles.
John Shy
Well put!
With a few exceptions, most of us are simply feeding our nostalgia!
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that: whatever floats your boat Smile
I myself am an unashamed nostalgia freak.
In addition to owning several accordions, I have a collection of Victorian novels, several film cameras (yes, you can still buy, use and process film), and simply don’t care for most music or literature post the seventies or eighties!  Smile
My house was built in 1913, a genuine antique!
My attitude is: my gear will never date...it’s dated already! Big Grin
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#9
Hi Dingo,

I would never suggest that people stop liking the accordion. I just get fed up with all the hype about "revival", which would have happened long ago if it was ever going to happen at all. Some people are tickled when they see accordions being played in musical situations not normally associated with them, and there is nothing wrong with that.

My house was built in 1894, and I share your passion for nostalgia. My accordion interest is unusual as it is focused away from the country where I live. My main interest has always been French musette, along with a few other "foreign" styles, so as a consequence of that I'm in a somewhat unreal accordion world already. I only have a passing interest in any of the accordion music found in the UK and Ireland, and if it wasn't there tomorrow I probably wouldn't even notice.

I try and maintain a realistic outlook with regard to my accordion interest, and have found that the music of my choice was usually created before about 1970. It is old music on an old instrument and that's what I'm into. I do post clips of various music on here then realise that I'm unlikely to receive much feedback as it is one man's choice among hundreds of active members. If somebody keeps posting clips of naked punk rockers playing their favourite tunes on an accordion then that's their choice and I respect that. Just so long as nobody tries to tell me that all the manufacturers and accordion shops will be re-opening next week as a result.

In the very unlikely case of the accordion becoming more popular again, then the $64,000 question is "For how long this time?"

The world contains both "half full" and "half empty" types, and we all need to accept that. I can't make up my mind which category I'm in, as I stood on one of my granddaughter's roller skates, put my head through a glass display cabinet, and smashed my cup on the floor. It was half full at the time and there was a hell of a mess. I wish it had been half empty!
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#10
My house was built in 1898, but I myself am not so old as to remember the good years for the accordion. I grew up in the guitar world - which happened without the aid of teachers or service facilities, the way I remember it. There were stores, but at the time that was how everyone bought stuff, that or Sears & Roebuck catalogue order.

Like any musical instrument, it lives or dies by music. The guitar had music on its side. The accordion could too.
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#11
It would be interesting to know how sales of electronic accordions are doing. I’m primarily a pianist, and am very familiar with the drop in sales of real pianos through the tales of my piano store friends. Electronic keyboards, however, are selling very well. Price, fad, ascent of computers in music making, all account for this.
My love of the accordion has nothing to do with nostalgia. Like most rockers, I thought the thing was terminally corny. In fact, it was African, Mexican, Zydeco, Cajun, and Baltic Music that drew me in. Now, after listening a lot, I love all iterations and variations of accordion music, and think it can be a strong voice in music of the future.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#12
(10-02-2019, 05:22 PM)Eddy Yates Wrote: It would be interesting to know how sales of electronic accordions are doing. I’m primarily a pianist, and am very familiar with the drop in sales of real pianos through the tales of my piano store friends. Electronic keyboards, however, are selling very well. Price, fad, ascent of computers in music making, all account for this.
My love of the accordion has nothing to do with nostalgia. Like most rockers, I thought the thing was terminally corny. In fact, it was African, Mexican, Zydeco, Cajun, and Baltic Music that drew me in. Now, after listening a lot, I love all iterations and variations of accordion music, and think it can be a strong voice in music of the future.

Eddy,

Here in what's left of the UK, some music stores who previously never dealt in accordions now stock digital models, although whether they are selling many is unknown to me. Cavagnolo in France are now apparently making almost equal numbers of acoustic and digital instruments, but they don't give much away. At a guess digital or electronic instruments may well be the instruments of the future, once we old nostalgic types stop decrying them as being "fake". Certainly, if they are set up correctly, they are capable of producing some quite sophisticated sounds, and more than satisfy the needs of those who are looking for maximum flexibility from a lightweight accordion. Judging by some of the posts on here, they do still seem to be quite difficult for newbies to get the hang of. 

Those of us who use the accordion to get the big nostalgia hit have seen the decline in popularity over the years, but some people just don't like talking about it, and I've been crucified on here before for playing the Aces of Doom and Gloom in the same hand. 

Every now and then we're made aware of pro musicians like yourself taking an interest in the accordion, with a view to adapting it to the music you play. If that results in the accordion getting pulled out of the dumpster and shoved into centre stage, that has to be good for the instrument. 

Part of the issue is in certain parts of the world the instrument has been long associated with certain music styles which are now way out of date, and when those styles went out of date so did our favourite instrument. 

The cumbersome nature of the instrument, and delicate nature of the internal workings sort of combined to accelerate its demise, together with the high purchase price. If you look on here you'll read about various people who are struggling to cope with the weight of a full sized instrument, and everybody is looking for one which only weighs as much as a guitar, so that they can dance with it, stroll with it, and maybe even play it now and again. In its heyday the Italians made them big and heavy to last a lifetime, and maybe that's what part of the problem was/is. I just don't know. 

What we need is a million guys like yourself to throw all the traditions out of the window and just play the damn things in whatever music style you fancy. Who knows, they might become the rocker's best friend, even if by then it means you can only buy them on Mars for 7000 Mega Zogs each. Don't think I'll see that day, but you never know.
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#13
Well, I'm getting to the age where I can't remember some of my nostalgia. Anyway, I play my accordion for one reason and that is because I enjoy it. I'm not at all concerned that others don't. They don't have to listen and , in fact, whenever I start to play my wife hastily leaves for other parts of the house.

My accordion teachers book is full. He told me he has no slots available for new students and sometimes works from 9am to 11pm teaching. Said other accordion teachers are experiencing similar trends.

The other day I was going to the supermarket and outside was this man busking with a button accordion, playing rather well actually. Button accordions are rather rare here in the US and he was gathering quite a crowd and he had quite a bit of money in his case.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
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#14
Hello All,

The lack of popularity of our instrument has been adequately covered by several members, so I don't intend to labour points which have already been discussed.

People do like accordions, however, as I have discovered many times when I have played in public places. Even young teens have made very positive comments about the accordion, even though they have never heard one being played before.

A couple of years ago, surrounded by trees and far away from any source of electricity, a young lad of about eight or nine asked me: "Where do you plug it in?" I explained the principles as simply as I could, which also benefitted the boy's parents. Anyway, this kid loved the music and the instrument. Success !!!

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#15
Well, first of all, we don't know the context of the article or statement the OP is referencing, that kicked off this discussion. That would be interesting to look over, and might help get some perspective for discussion.


RE affordability of instruments:

[[[Here in Europe a decent top of the range accordion costs upwards of 12000 Euros]]]---No one needs or wants that range of accordion to play the types of music or in the types of settings involved when speaking of the accordion becoming "popular again." Speaking of new instruments, and speaking of PAs (since we're talking, the US), you can get a highly playable accordion to learn, busk, and gig on for under $2,000---Weltmeister or Hohner Bravo--and move up to a fabulous Italian accordion for $6K and sometimes less. A Brandoni or Beltuna 34/72 or 30/72 can be had in that range with TAM or a mano reeds and would be incredible for all manner of rock, blues, Cajun, Americana, and all manner of other performance genres. That is not even to mention some of the great vintage stuff that is available for a lot less money.

RE accordion gaining popularity in the US---Actually, a big % of the increase is in the Tex-Mex sector. I'm pretty sure it's documented that diatonic 3-row bisonorics are the biggest sellers in the new accordion market here at the moment.

Finally, let's not forget that another way accordion popularity could even up with that of guitar is . . . LOWER guitar sales. And that is definitely a fact at the moment in the US.
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#16
The post at the beginning of the thread is a bit vague indeed, but conveyed that the accordion was about to wipe the floor with the guitar. As I play both instruments I thought I'd get involved, but maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

OK, you don't need a 12000 Euro accordion to start playing, but if the bug gets hold of you and you get tired with a succession of "make do" instruments then that's what lies ahead. There is a culture among players that they are ready to move on up to the next level, and that usually means sizing up a more refined instrument. Most of us don't have that sort of money to spend on a leisure concept. These instruments are aimed at top pros, and we all know what happened to them (at least in Europe).

Now, it took the two big French makers quite a while to realise that making 12000 Euro accordions was one thing, but finding buyers for them was another, and one of them has been treading water for a long time. It appears they are being kept afloat by local funding and sponsorship, but the situation isn't very clear. Both of those "Big Two" probably only employ about 30 or 40 people between them, so that's where we're at. Anybody looking to put their toe in the water with the accordion is going to look at the cheapest used model they can find, regardless of what they're going to use it for. In France, particularly, there is a glut of unwanted used accordions gathering dust on the ever dwindling number of dealers' shelves, and that's a fact. I appreciate that France is not typical of the situation elsewhere, but I can tell you that there is an accordion shop/store about 60 miles away from where I live in Scotland, and their used stock has remained pretty static for years. Very occasionally you might see a slight price drop, but business acumen means they'd rather keep dusting them than sell them for peanuts. From what I've learned that is precisely what happens elsewhere. Dealers just cannot bear to sell used accordions at a loss.

I'd better not get into guitars too much, but Fender flooded the market with cheap retro guitars with their "Squier" brand, aimed at people who wanted the look and sound of the 50s and 60s, at prices around 1/10th of the equivalent Fender brand name. The fact that those instruments were manufactured in Asia caused people to be sceptical about them, until we actually got to play them and realised they weren't very far off the real thing at all. Eventually they realised they were giving great guitars way to the detriment of their main range, and I'm pretty sure that a significant part of the slump in guitar sales relates to the higher end models that are handmade for the "stars", and those who believe they are stars. They certainly hiked the prices of their Squiers in recent years, and no doubt that will have had an effect on sales of that range too. The world is now saturated with cheap guitars that are gathering dust etc. It would appear that supply simply now outweighs demand, and Fender weren't the only "culprits". The fact that most of the "Squier" range concentrated on retro guitars was interesting. Is the electric guitar now becoming outdated, and beginning its path on the rocky road to oblivion, and will it ever overtake the accordion? Don't think I'll bet on it.

Accordion makers have attempted to do the same thing with the Elena Soprani and Castellani makes now being offered for sale in Castelfidardo, but the best they can manage is maybe a third or even a quarter of the price of a "genuine" Italian accordion. It's not their fault. Times are hard and they have to do what they can to stay afloat. In the accordion world, we're constantly reminded that anything with a brand name that doesn't command respect is useless budget crap. They tried to give us credible budget accordions, and it would appear they never succeeded, so where do we go from here?
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#17
accordion (top)
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other keys instruments
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the mundane guitar (bottom)



the accordion should remain somewhat exclusive Tongue
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#18
(09-02-2019, 08:04 AM)Fireblaze1 Wrote: Been reading where the accordion might again be as popular as the guitar throughout the USA, like it was before the 1950s. That would be great if it's actually true .

I'd be really interested in reading more about these numbers if you get a source. That'd be cool.

In my amusing project to formally propose an Accordion emoji to be on everybody's phones, you have to do comparisons with various related things. You can do a simple web search and see that guitars have far more people talking about them. (There's maybe 40 accordion related books for sale online, and at least 40,000 books about guitars.) Interestingly though, online interest in guitars has been falling significantly. (Finally...) Perhaps of concern though, searches for "music" as a whole have been falling as well. Not sure what that means.

[Image: p.jpeg?size_mode=5]

For those curious to try this out, you can plug in terms of your choice. For perspective, the ukulele has exhibited a much more significant revival in interest than the accordion. One reason: Ukes are so low barrier, cheap ones are practically free.
https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=accordion,ukulele

[Image: p.jpeg?size_mode=5]

I can't imagine accordions selling more than guitars though. I don't even know how they'd make enough accordions to sell that many unless they made a lot less guitars. Guitar makers have mass production down and they can have like twelve moving parts. Accordions are just more complicated. Even electronic accordions with the bellows cost way more than a comparable midi keyboard. 

I've long thought that amplification was a major thing that did in the accordion. But it was a combination of things. Eventually I made a "top ten" list of reasons. I think the one to think about for the future is availability of instruments. If the stock of used instruments eventually wears out, there needs to be affordable replacements. I'm not sure we'll see a highly skilled low-wage workforce like post-war Italy and Germany that can make the quality instruments that filled schools and homes years ago. They're just harder to make compared to more affordable electronic music-makers that get stamped out by machines. But somebody will keep making them as long as there's a demand. There's always a call for truly acoustic instruments, but it will remain a niche market I suspect.

If you've read this far, here's my:

Top-Ten Reasons the Accordion Never Made It in Rock 'n' Roll 

  1. Early blues players abandoned accordions around 1915, cutting the instrument off from most of the African American music that fed into rock.


  2. White folk revivalists dropped accordion-friendly ethnic traditions when they took up Southern blues and folk guitar.


  3. Accordion music wasn’t invested with enough rebellious energy. The Jewish Polish-American owners of Chicago’s Chess Records didn’t record loud, distorted klezmer or polkas. 


  4. Fender’s bass made accordionists’ left hand (and a lot of other instruments) redundant. “Two guitars, bass, drums” became an efficient money-maker.


  5. It was (and remains) formidably tricky to amplify accordions. 


  6. Guitars were cheap, easy to play, loud, and sexy. Heavy 120-bass accordions were generally not.


  7. No one ever saw Clifton Chenier on national television. Rock accordion never had any mind-blowing icons like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis. 


  8. After decades of rising sales, the glut of existing instruments burst the industry’s money-making bubble.


  9. Lawrence Welk didn’t end the accordion on his own—but he helped secure its anti-rock image.


  10. With sales already dropping, the panicking accordion industry didn’t adapt to the rough and ready new music. Kids knew where they weren’t wanted and begged their parents for keyboards, drums and guitars. 

(11-02-2019, 09:59 AM)AccordionUprising Wrote:
(09-02-2019, 08:04 AM)Fireblaze1 Wrote: Been reading where the accordion might again be as popular as the guitar throughout the USA, like it was before the 1950s. That would be great if it's actually true .

Perhaps of concern though, searches for "music" as a whole have been falling as well. Not sure what that means.

[Image: p.jpeg?size_mode=5]

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore...ll&q=music

If I had to guess, the lowered numbers for music may have to do with less people looking for specific things to buy (or pirate). If they're streaming from other sources they don't need to search google for the latest tunes. But the music industry as a whole obviously took a huge hit since their apex when they were selling overpriced CD's.

Interesting.
Bruce Triggs
Accordion Noir Radio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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#19
Bruce,

I promised myself I wouldn't post any more on this thread, and I think you just about covered it. Your post is probably the most interesting in the thread.

I think we often get distorted views on the forum, as membership obviously comprises those of us who are interested in the accordion, regardless of any perceived global or local popularity. The list of 52 countries where the instrument is most popular is interesting, with most English speaking countries being well down that list. The US is listed at 46 out of 52, yet it's being inferred there is an upturn in interest there. Would that mean the US might rise up to number 45?

It has been mentioned elsewhere that Tex-Mex probably accounts for most renewed interest in popularity in the US, and You Tube is currently full of tuition videos on three row diatonics. I like that sort of music, as well as some other "American" styles, but most of them feature a different type of accordion to what I play myself. There isn't a list of popularity of accordions by type? Only joking!

Similarly, Ireland is well up there at number 4, but again the typical Irish "accordion" these days is the two row melodeon, and a lot of people don't want to listen to anything else.

The old Transatlantic difference creeps in yet again with the mention of Lawrence Welk. Very few people on this side of the flood plain will know who Lawrence Welk was, but having seen clips of his show I can understand the situation.

In Italy particularly, the electric bass has indeed made a lot of left hands redundant, and most pro players don't even bother to pretend that they are playing the basses. In fact, if you watch some of them playing it would appear that the bass reeds have been taken out, or dare I even suggest it, were never actually there at all.

After all that I have an idea. I'm just going to see what gauge strings suits my Cavagnolo best, and I'm nearly good to go! It just hasn't got any sex appeal at all the way it is.

Thanks for the extremely enlightening post, although I think you'd better prepare for those who are inclined to disbelieve statistics. Anybody interested in an accordion commune in Sri Lanka?

EDIT:- Ireland has just slipped to 5th place and the US to 47, although another country has muscled in to make a total of 53, possibly Morocco, which has replaced Ireland at number 4, and is now the undisputed accordion leader in Africa. France down from 10 to 18, and UK down from 27 to 30 (devastated!). Must be due to Brexit?

Even if the stats are variable your thoughts are spot on.
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#20
Actually, you can buy a new 72 bass artigianale Italian made accordion for €1800 or less, or not much more than a higher level American made Fender Strat. And even that is not, as has been mentioned, necessary to go out and play. Fun music and connection with your audience is 100 times more important. Anyway, I concur that most people are fascinated to see an accordion actually played when it comes right down to it. And also agree that it's (non) popularity is based on difficulty of playing and maintaining relative to other instruments.

I love nostalgia as much as the next guy but I have no nostalgia for the accordion, I hated those happy bubbles as a kid and loved rock and roll. I watch a ton of accordion on youtube, but only contemporary players, often playing traditional or contemporary versions of traditional music. I only got into this business because someone gave me one at work and once I got my hands on it I never let go.
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