Was there anything more unexpected in season three of Mad Men than the scene in which Joan brought out her cherry-red squeezebox, and serenaded a dinner party with "C'est Magnifique?" Accordions were once a bastion of adult gatherings; there were bona fide accordion stars — Dick Contino, who played San Francisco's Barbary Coast in the 1940s, made it on the pop charts — but in this century, they've left the mainstream, resurging underground in pockets of klezmer, pirate polka, Tejano music, and gypsy jazz.
In her new biography, Squeeze This, writer-musician Marion Jacobson delves deep into the history of the instrument and contemplates its place as a cultural technology. At an event this week, Jacobson will likely discuss some of her findings with the Accordion Apocalypse crew (and sign copies of her book), followed by squeezebox-filled performances by Luz Gaxiola, the Mad Maggies, and Sheri Mignano.
In anticipation of her appearance, I asked Jacobson to give us a list of her favorite accordion acts, young and old, traditionalists and rule-breakers. See her responses below:
Marion Jacobson’s Top Five Accordion Acts
Alex Meixner: my definition of an “accordion idol”
Gogol Bordello: gypsy punk
Five-time Grammy winner Flaco Jimenez, the soul of Chicano and Tejano music
Dick Contino: 1950s accordion idol turned hip elder statesman
Weird Al Yankovic: parody + accordion = sublime masterpieces
Two Accordionists to Watch Out For
Cory Pesaturo: no accordionist today has better improv chops
Ginny Mac: she sings, too!
In a Category of Their Own Making
Those Darn Accordions: Welcome to hell, here’s your accordion
Squeeze This! A Cultural History of the Accordion book event
With author Marion Jacobson, music by Luz Gaxiola, with the Mad Maggies, and Sheri Mignano
Thu/16, 7pm, free
255 10th St., SF