Here’s something you don’t see–or hear–every day! A great performance of the great Toto song, “Africa,” with an accordionist in the band. And not just any accordionist, but the one and only “Weird Al” Yankovic. Enjoy it, courtesy of the Nerdist site.
And I do think you’ll enjoy it because I’ve become more and more of an advocate for the accordion during my 2017-2018 year of personal growth, career expansion, and so-called “refirement.” My embrace of the accordion–you really do embrace it, you know–has included a return to performing the accordion as a soloist and group member, as well as teaching the accordion with The Music Village around this region, offering an accordion course with South Bend’s Forever Learning Institute, and even writing songs again like I did during my young adulthood on Long Island.
The accordion is such a versatile instrument, beloved in many cultures! I’m inspired by one of my students, who grew up listening to Tejano music and wants to learn the accordion so he can bring that vibrant Hispanic sound to others. I’m learning about that from him! Want to hear some Tejano music? This video by Siggno was recommended to me.
The pattern of American immigrant groups bringing their accordions with them is repeating itself. On Long Island, lots of families with Italian and German heritage made sure their kids learned the accordion. In South Bend, the large Polish heritage population flocked to a wonderful accordion teacher, the recently deceased Gene Van, to make the accordion part of their life in America. Weird Al’s father, Frankie Yankovic, used his polka music to become something of an American celebrity in his day, half a century ago.
That brings me back to my “accordion advocate” role. To sample how the versatile accordion can connect generations, world cultures, and musical styles with a virtuosity and wit that creates absolute hilarity, catch this video of Weird Al and two celebrity friends performing his polka version of the soundtrack from the Broadway musical, “Hamilton.”