20 June 2010

Russian Bayan Factory

This just one of many wonderful pictures of a Russian Bayan Factory on the blog of Sergei Mukhamedova.


The page is in Russian but can be translated by Google Translator.
Now, keep in mind not all translators are equal (some are much funnier than others); Google Translator claims the factory as founded in
1930 and residing in Tula, which may well be accurate.

09 June 2010

iPad Accordion

OK, so I challenge this as an accordion anything because where exactly are the reeds that would make this a free-reed instrument? But.....for those who are squeamish about traveling on the airlines with their accordions or happen to like bike touring, here you go!

26 May 2010

Na zdrave (to your health)!

What does it mean to 'play in a band'? I truly think 'play' is the important word here. In my last post you saw OBI very proper and quite serious. Um...these pictures are not very serious, unless you consider our intent to start the party after our last show at Minnesota's Renaisance Festival last year.

The weather was cold and dreary last October but that didn't stop us from having a good time. Natalie started the day of fun for us in full character with an Eastern European accent and sentence structure which proved so authentic that it compelled people to talk very simply, slowly and with sign language to her so she would understand they wanted to buy a CD. OBI (minus Colleen who had another gig and plus Sarah who fleeced the crowd for tips) created such a stir in the little open pub during performances that none of us had to spend our own money for drinks the rest of the day....and Natalie kept up her character's performance until we were all locked in the van and driving out of the parking lot. Na zdrave (to your health)!

24 May 2010

Orkestar Bez Ime

One might ask themselves, who is this 'band' she's talking about?

An excellent question.

Yes, even though I'm totally accordion-centric and encouraged to be so, I spend most of my musical life working with musicians that don't play the accordion. This is Orkestar Bez Ime, which means 'Orchestra without a name' in Bulgarian. The group has it's beginnings within Ethnic Dance Theatre's The EDT Folk Orchestra. EDT is a fine dance company in Minneapolis/St.Paul whose mission is to foster understanding and awareness of world cultures through the re-creation and presentation of traditional ethnic dance and music. http://www.ethnicdancetheatre.com.

Members of OBI work with EDT whenever possible from a small ensemble of dancers and lone musician (me) for Young Audience shows in Minnesota elementary schools, to larger productions in the Spring with the full company of 24 dancers and 9 musicians.

However, year round the six inhabitants of Rogaria (OBI's home country) perform together at festivals and dances throughout the Midwest. The members are L to R seated, Colleen Bertsch (violin), Katrina Mundinger (clarinet), Natalie Nowytski (vocals and percussion), Scott Keever (guitar, mandolin), L to R standing, Dee Langley (accordion), Matt Miller (bass).

22 May 2010

Closet Accordionist (for a night)

May 2010 - On tour OBI (rogaria.com) stayed for one night in a basement apartment behind Little Bucharest Bistro in Chicago. Very proudly I was shown to my private room.....a real treat while on tour. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was actually a walk-in closet with a bed. There on the floor in it's canvas backpack was my accordion. I wondered how in the world to explain that I was in the closet with my accordion for the first time in my life.

After settling in we went over to the bistro and started playing. And continued playing....until the owner was so happy he broke dishes while dancing and the Romanian Soccer team came in to celebrate. Somewhere around 3:00 a.m. the picture on the left was taken with the infamous saxophonist Gelu and OBI jamming. It was the first time I'd played with $20 bills tucked in my bellows as tips from the diners. What a night! And...I'm out of the closet. Thank you, Branko!

20 May 2010

Pictures and Explanations - OBI Midwest Tour 2010

Playing in a band can be a lot of fun, especially if the other folks are like you. Orkestar Bez Ime (OBI) rogaria.com just completed a tour of Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan. This is me with our bassist, Matt Milller, as we waited in line at the Des Plaines Oasis to buy a cup of coffee. May 13, 2010