06 December 2011

Accordion at 4, love at first squeeze

It's true I played the accordion when I was 4 years old. My two older brothers, "Skeets" and Rick, were 12 and 8 when I was born. They were already playing the accordion and performing, when I was 2 years old I became part of the family 'act' and right out on stage I went introduced as 'our big sister'. Needless to say it was kind of cute as I played the first three notes of 'Silver Bells' on a tiny toy piano, my brothers would then finish the piece and I'd take my bow.
When I turned 4 I'd had enough of the toy piano and xylophone type of instruments and simply asked, "Where's MY accordion"! My parents wanted me to play anything but the accordion (we already had two in the family) but I would not back down. They came up with an 8 bass for me to play and I've never stopped playing. My parents raised three professional accordionists.

05 December 2011

The Lawrence Welk Show: Winter Underwear

From the Lawrence Welk Show, Guest Star: Stan Boreson (1957) - This song is a Minnesota favorite, seeing as we do winter well up here, ya know.

02 December 2011

Wish our Metro Transit had some style!

http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/outdoor/world-accordion-championship-the-accordion-bus-8892155/
The Outdoor Advert titled THE ACCORDION BUS was done by Uncle Grey Oslo advertising agency for product: World Accordion Championship (brand: Norwegian Accordion Association) in Norway. It was released in the Oct 2006.
A bendy bus in London from the bus company Arriva. The bus has been wrapped for the Camden Irish Music Festival.

30 November 2011

United States Artists Projects

Help!!
video 
Time is running out and I need your help at United States Artists Projects!

Please watch this video and then visit
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/ (USA Projects)

Search term 'langley" and help me realize this dream.

Tax deductible and good Karma!  Thank you!

13 May 2011

Wish I had been on vacation.......

EDT Folk Orchestra 2011, photo by Stefan Iwaskewvcz
Near to Far: Tim O'Keefe, Jim Parker, Scott Keever, Dee Langley, Katrina Mundinger, Kim Salisbury
.......I certainly haven't been either far from home or relaxed!  This is a picture of the show "Then and Now" opening tonight at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis presented by Ethnic Dance Theatre. One of the hallmarks of performing with the EDT Folk Orchestra is that you have to be willing to try new things in music.  Note that I'm playing a large frame drum way....look almost to the back of the photo.

Ethnic Dance Theatre presents THEN and NOW, its 37th Annual Spring Concert Series featuring the music and dance of Bosnia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Iran, Norway, Sweden, and Turkey at the Ritz Theater in NE Minneapolis.

One of the most compelling elements of a people's identity is its folk culture. EDT is known for the authenticity it brings to interpreting ethnic music and dance for the stage, and is respected for its work in promoting ethnic music, dance, and costume as art. The first half of the show--THEN--demonstrates our signature performance style at its best.

19 April 2011

Something Completely Unrelated to Accordions

Minnesota has snow, lots of it.  Minnesota has cold, severe and long-lasting.  Minnesota also has people like me who will decorate for holidays to keep the depressing darkness of winter away, hence one window of my spring display in one south window of our Minneapolis home. Any excuse for a party, I say!

18 April 2011

Laps, Chairs and Behind the Bar at Walker Ethnic Fest

from Natalie's cell phone: Dee and new friend

Last month I promised to publish some pictures from the Walker, Minnesota Ethnic Fest.  Here's my absolute favorite, it should be titled 'How to Play the Accordion While Sitting on a Lap of Someone You Do Not Know'. The answer is, smile!


OBI has told stories both in person and on the radio of our night in Walker at the American Legion Post sitting on laps, standing on chairs and performing behind the bar.
from Legion website: Katrina on chair
We think the fine folks in northern Minnesota enjoying pull-tabs, beer, great food and good friends didn't quite know what to do with us in our costumes playing Balkan music until we let it be known we'd take beer as a tip for playing.  In a flash we had never-ending pitchers of excellent beer and a whole room of new friends. During one rousing Albanian tune Katrina played her solo standing on a chair to cheers from the crowd.

from Legion website: OBI behind the bar
And just in case you think Katrina and I were the only ones having all the fun here's a picture of OBI behind performing behind the bar while the Post Commander took this picture and made a video of us to be shown on the Legion Post's big screen TVs throughout the year. Hmmm.....I think Colleen (violin) was sitting on the edge of the sink.

I have one thing to say about the evening........Spencer-Ross American Legion Post 134 in Walker, Minnesota you are the BEST!

17 April 2011

Life in 'Heaven'

The cast of  'Heaven' April 2011, the musicians are in the lower left corner.
One might ask where I've been for the last month.  The answer? In 'Heaven', the premiere of a new stage work presented at the Guthrie Theater by the Flying Foot Forum and directed by Joe Chvala.

It was an amazing story set in Bosnia during the war (ca. 1995).

22 March 2011

Ethnic Fest in Walker, Minnesota

When you are a musician there are all kinds of experiences to share. OBI (Orkestar Bez Ime) found more surprises than usual in Walker, Minnesota during Ethnic Days last year.  It was such a fun experience that we are delighted to be asked back for another party...um...I mean show!

This poster is from last year, I took it from the Facebook event page created for the new weekend in 2011, September 10 & 11.

This folk festival has special meaning for me because my maternal grandfather was born in Walker around 1880. Although he left that area to come to Minneapolis early in his life,the Leech Lake area of Minnesota has a nice 'coming home' feeling for me.  And...these folks know how to party! Pictures to follow.

21 March 2011

Squeezer in Folk Art:: Door County Folk Festival

Last year while OBI (Orkestar Bez Ime) was playing at Door County Folk Festival a delightful woman gave our friend Julie Hughes (Do Zore) a drawing of our two bands and dancers.  Thanks, Mary Prince, for sharing your gift with us!
by Mary Prince - Folk Artist

20 March 2011

Potent Accordion

Yesterday Wild Hollow performed at the Waconia Library in Carver County, Minnesota for the 'Live at the Library!' Concert Series.  The road trip was wonderful, the attendance was great. When we walked through the library door a big, "Hi, Dee!" greeted us and soon the same librarian handed me these two posted articles.  I was a little surprised to see that, even though Wild Hollow is a balanced classical group that plays string quartet material, they focused on the accordion alone.
Waconia Patriot
Carver County News













Thanks to the good folk of Carver County that were so excited to hear classical accordion, but also to my performance partners, Colleen Bertsch (violin) and Katrina Mundinger (clarinet) who have dedicated their talent to becoming proficient at working with the accordion. And also deepest appreciation to Phil Nusbaum who headed these library concerts.

16 March 2011

Best Handheld Recorder for Accordions

This is the Tascam DR1, my choice in hand held recorders. You could get more and pay more, but for economy and service this electronic device is superb. An accordion recorded with the Tascam DR 1 sounds like an accordion and not a pseudo distorted tin-like replication Alvin and the Chipmunks may have produced. It's well worth it's weight in acorns.

14 March 2011

Trending: Accordions

http://www.minnesotaorchestra.org/
Look closely at this new advertisement for the Minnesota Orchestra promoting their Classical Season Sampler Concert.  It's a trendy piece of art depicting downtown Minneapolis and our Orchestra Hall on Nicollet Mall.

Look closer.

In the right lower corner is an accordionist who is not dressed like a clown, in rags, or surrounded by angels with harps looking smug (per Gary Larson's 'Welcome to Heaven' cartoon posted on August 22, 2008). The trend is accordions, big or small, classical or folk. I'm happy, accordion is trendy.

13 March 2011

Guthrie Theater Production

When this show opens in a couple of weeks I'll be part of the live music.  It's an amazing production.

The text on this advertisement from the Guthrie Theater reads:

"Heaven is a mind-bending dance theater epic that follows an American war photographer on an odyssey through war-torn Bosnia in the early 1990's. Set to a hard-driving Balkan score, the dance and music fly through the realms of pop, rap, rock, percussion, and opera mixed with traditional and contemporary Balkan styles. The story is heart-wrenching and suspenseful, but surprisingly hopeful. It blasts off at the frenetic pace of a battle, stopping along the way to look at the humanity behind the suffering. It is a story of survival, hope, understanding, forgiveness and even beauty in the face some of the most horrific events the late 20th century has seen."

12 March 2011

Life Should Not Only be Lived - but Celebrated!

artwork by Amy Rice, amyrice.com
This is the birthday card I got from one of my Rogarian (Orkestar Bez Ime) band mates . The text on the cover of the card says

"She always believed life should not only be lived - but celebrated!"

Inside the card reads

"Happy Birthday! Laugh * Dance * Celebrate"

How true!

In Rogaria we believe in 'birthday seasons' not just one day, the celebrations go on for weeks whenever we see each other until the last present is given, last glass of wine drunk, and everyone has had a chance to party. And give each other a hug.  I love Rogaria (www.rogaria.com) and my five band mates who celebrate life there with me.

Thanks, Amy Rice, for capturing a very special side of my life with your art!

10 March 2011

Curious About Accordions

Dee's Left Hand
photo by Shelly Campbell
When new students come to take instruction I love to ask about their musical past. It helps me form a lesson plan when I know whether they have studied before and if they have, which instrument.

It's not uncommon for adults who had music lessons as children to pick up their studies once again. It's also not uncommon to have young people decide the accordion is fascinating and ask their parents to find them a teacher.

The most common student for me right now are people in their twenties who have either studied other instruments, are playing in a band that wants to add the sound of the accordion or who enjoy popular bands like Gogol Bordello, Devotchka or Beirut all of which use accordion in their groups.

Their challenge will be to learn how to use the bellows efficiently and what the heck all those little buttons on the left side (right side as you look at it) do. Left hand technique and bellow technique make the difference between a person who plays an accordion like a keyboard and an accordionist.

09 March 2011

One Day in the Life of Sonya

Just couldn't resist one more slow loris YouTube video..........

08 March 2011

Loris Bez Clue


Most everyone receives some type of nickname during their lifetime. In Rogaria, the country Orkestar Bez Ime hails from, it took almost six years for me to get mine, Loris Bez Clue. It seems I can do a pretty good imitation of this little animal and all Rogarians have the same last name, Bez Clue ('bez' means 'without' in Bulgarian).

Now before you run out and try to get a Slow Loris as a pet consider this information from Wikipedia:

"Slow lorises are threatened by deforestation, the exotic pet trade, and traditional medicine. All species are listed either as "Vulnerable" or "Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The slow loris has become a popular but illegal pet, mostly in Japan, but also in the United States. Its popularity has swelled due to popular YouTube videos showing them being tickled."

06 March 2011

Peaceful Musician

photo by Shelly Campbell
Sometimes when you're so happy and content while playing you can truly understand and enjoy the zen of music.....a picture from Black Dog Cafe & Wine bar February of 2011 during a performance with OBI.

04 March 2011

A Rare Moment

photo by Shelly Campbell
Last month (February, 2011) during our show at Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar OBI was lucky enough to have our favorite photographer come for a visit. At first glance I was delighted to see Mary Garvin and Donna Byrne leading the dance because they are wonderful friends of Orkestar Bez Ime and it's lovely to have a photograph of them. Then I noticed the band in back and did a double take; this is the first time I have ever seen a picture of me singing.  That's right, singing. Thanks to bandmate Natalie Nowytski for encouraging all Rogarians to reach outside the box and risk doing something a little different.

02 March 2011

Musical Game

http://balldroppings.com/js/
Music composition can take many forms. While I do confess to liking melodies and rhythms, I'm also fond of random tones. The link at the right will lead to a game that offers inspiration to those looking for something 'a little different' in music writing.........

01 March 2011

Accordion Radio Station on the Internet

 I'm pleased to say the owner of this fine collection of streaming accordion music is one of my students and a friend, John Elstad.  Thanks, John, for devoting your energy to such a great mix of music!

Infinite Accordion

27 February 2011

Teachers Should Always Keep Learning

A couple days ago I attended a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Faculty Forum about Promising Practices for Student Success on the Minneapolis Community and Technical College campus. I listened to the keynote speaker about the rewards and challenges students have in completing a degree program and the rewards and challenges we as educators have in guiding them to completion. Later in the morning I attended break out sessions on the importance and benefits of blogging and use of iPads in education.

All and all it was a stimulating day which left me with new ideas on how and why to develop this blog, whether or not I want to by an iPad or android and how I might use that technology teaching music; my interest in connecting with my students and helping them to succeed was refreshed.

It seems to me that if we want to encourage our students to work at learning new things we as their teachers should be good role models and keep learning ourselves.

Thanks MNSCU for providing the opportunity to help me think outside the box and be an active learner!

24 February 2011

Martenitsa, celebrating Spring the Bulgarian way

On March 3 Orkestar Bez Ime and Mila Vocal Ensemble will be collaborating in a celebration of Spring at the Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The event will bring Bulgaria and Macedonia to the West Bank area of the University of Minnesota. Martenitsa! For more information on the concert, visit http://www.rogaria.com/shows.html

I learned this about 'Martenitsa' from Wikipedia........

"This is an old pagan tradition and remains almost unchanged today. The common belief is that by wearing the red and white colours of the martenitsa people ask Baba Marta for mercy. They hope that it will make winter pass faster and bring spring. Many people wear more than one martenitsa. They receive them as presents from relatives, close friends and colleagues. Martenitsa is usually worn pinned on the clothes, near the collar, or tied around the wrist. The tradition calls for wearing the martenitsa until the person sees a stork or a blooming tree. The stork is considered a harbinger of spring and as evidence that Baba Marta is in a good mood and is about to retire.

The martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature. At that early-spring/late-winter time of the year, Nature seems full of hopes and expectations. The white symbolizes the purity of the melting white snow and the red symbolizes the setting of the sun which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses. These two natural resources are the source of life. They are also associated with the male and female beginnings.
Wearing one or more martenitsi is a very popular Bulgarian tradition. The martenitsa symbolizes new life, conception, fertility, and spring. The time during which it is worn is meant to be a joyful holiday commemorating health and long life. The colors of the martenitsa are interpreted as symbols of purity and life, as well as the need for harmony in Nature and in people's lives."

23 February 2011

Stolen Night Out

One of my favorite pictures from 2009 is on the right, it is of a 'stolen night out' away from the duties of the accordion festival we all were attending.  It is rather a historical picture as all three of us were presidents of accordion associations at the time.  On the left is Linda Soley Reed (American Accordionists Association),  Kevin Friedrich, (The Confederation Internationale des Accodeonistes), and myself, Dee Langley (Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International). The club was  "BB King's Blues Club" on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Good times with good friends.

22 February 2011

New Zealand, thinking of you.

Typical shopping street in North Shore City.
 Guess I've been in a reflective mood these last 24 hours as New Zealand struggles to rescue survivors of the recent earthquake.  The epicenter of the quake was on the South Island, in Christchurch, which I've not visited. These pictures are from the North Island where I stayed for a week in August of 2009 while attending the Coupe Mondiale as a representative of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International. My thoughts are now with New Zealand and her people in their time of need.
Silver Fern frond unfurling in the wild at a
park we visited. It is rare to find one
within viewing distance from
the ground, they are usually high at the
tops on the trees. The frond is a symbol of
new life, growth, strength and peace.

Cape Reigna at the northern tip of New Zealand, this
is the specific point where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans meet.

View of Auckland across the bay  from
my hotel room balcony in North Shore City

21 February 2011

Snow Day

There is no doubt in my mind that the band did indeed play as the Titanic sank.....we all know 'the show must go on'. The StarTribune had this to say about today's weather,  'A storm bearing heavy snow and fierce winds pounded southern Minnesota, including much of the metro area.'. I hate it when they're right.

I managed to make the first rehearsal scheduled for today but missed a party in the late afternoon. Thank goodness the evening rehearsal was canceled, so far I had managed to stop the car when needed.

David Joles, Star Tribune
From my email in response to the cancellation......
An excellent call.  I had a 1:00 rehearsal that I got to late after falling on the ice with the accordion and I'm now home, 2 hours later than planned.  It was an interesting drive, saw a car wrapped around a light pole, an SUV stuck 4 feet off the ground facing backwards on a snowdrift....oh, I could go on and on but you get the driving picture.

Tomorrow is President's Day, Monday.  I'm sleeping in and having cocoa before I get out the snow shovel to dig a path out of the house.  The car is not going anywhere; it's a bona fide snow day!

19 February 2011

Accordion and Orchestra

I count myself most fortunate to have played a number of times with both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. This picture rather rounds out my experiences with accordion, it is the serious side of my music. The picture was taken February 2010 during a performance with the SPCO at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It was a gift from someone in the audience.  A very nice gift.

18 February 2011

Aerobic Balkan Band OBI

Sometimes you just gotta be there......
Photo by Shelly Campbell
Last night Orkestar Bez Ime played their every third Thursday of the month gig at Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar in Lowertown of downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

This picture was taken by our photographer, Shelly Campbell, during an accordion intensive Bulgarian tune called 'Daichovo' which is in 9/16. For those of you counting Bulgarian rhythms with the aid of Mexican food, 9/16  is taco - taco - taco - burrito.

In this pic you can witness my adoring band mates adding their own personal comment on this complex meter during my accordion solo...oh my....!

(l to r) Natalie Nowytski with leg in the air, Colleen Bertsch with sideways violin and Scott Keever with upside down and backwards mandolin.  Behind me is Katrina Mundinger only visible by the clarinet bell growing out of the top of my bellows.

17 February 2011

View from a Pit


Today I was sitting dazed at the computer thinking of everything that is needing to be done from now until the end of May this year.  There are stacks of music and show books at my feet which need to be put into order for easy use during performances. Music needs to be written, learned, rehearsed; it can be a bit overwhelming.


There's quite a bit of difference from what I see as a musician and what the audience sees.  The image above is what I see, the image to the right is a pit-eye view of what the audience is seeing. These are cell phone pictures taken during technical rehearsals of a show by Ethnic Dance Theatre.

15 February 2011

Zest for Life

This is a wonderful animation that features the accordion as the catalyst for renewed zest for life!

from nfb.ca......

"A mixture of puppet and hand-drawn animation, The Necktie is the story of Valentin and his quest to find meaning in his life. Stuck in a dead-end job, he has forgotten all about the things that used to bring him joy. Years pass, and boredom replaces all his aspirations and hope for the future. It is only on his 40th birthday, when he rediscovers an old accordion hidden in the depths of his closet, that he regains his lust for life."

http://www.nfb.ca/film/necktie

14 February 2011

Festival of Nations surprise.....

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from one of my Orkestar Bez Ime band-mates that she recognized my fingers and accordion as a header on the Festival of Nations web site. Of course I couldn't resist checking it out, the headers revolve so it took me a lot of reloads before I got my picture...but here it is! This year OBI will again be the 'house band' in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium on festival Saturday and then representing Bulgaria all day on Sunday. The dates are May 6-8, St. Paul RiverCentre, St. Paul, Minnesota. Fun!