Accordion players of all types, styles, and abilities are invited to join the new Akkordeon Klub starting up on Sept 4. The group plans to meet the first Wednesdays of each month at St. Joseph’s Halle for informal playing, jamming, and fun. Photo by Phil Houseal
The Akkordeon Klub invites players of all types of accordions–Piano, Button, Concertina–to attend the first Wednesdays of each month beginning September 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm at St. Joseph’s Halle, 212 W. San Antonio St., Fredericksburg, TX. All levels of skill or experience, for group playing, jamming, and open mic. Call 830-669-2481 for information.
by Phil Houseal
Sept 4, 2013
I first picked up the accordion thinking it would be an easy way to play piano at jam sessions without having to plug anything in.
I quickly put it down. Playing accordion was too much like doing isometric exercise, with all the pushing and pulling. And I never did learn how to use all those blasted bass buttons.
But I did tone my pecs.
What entices me to try it again with the new Akkordeon Klub starting tonight is that no talent is required.
Linda Scott and Brenda Boenig are the musical minds behind this club, although each seems reluctant to take credit.
“Be sure to talk to Linda on what this deal is all about,” said Boenig when I asked for information about the new club.
“It was really Brenda’s idea,” retorted Linda Scott when I called her. “She talked me into it.”
But they both agree on the purpose: to share German heritage and provide an outlet for all those former accordion players.
Boenig related a story. “The other day a retired acquaintence told me she had pulled out the accordion she played when she was 12 years old. It was irreparable, so she went out and bought a new 48-bass model. She is so excited… this has given her a new lease on life.”
The instrument itself follows a similar arc. The accordion, like the ukulele, dulcimer, and autoharp, falls in and out of favor over the decades. It is currently experiencing a resurgence.
“In the 1950s there were a lot of accordion studios around,” said Scott, who is one-half of Dutch Treat with her husband, Melvin Scott (Scottie). “That got a lot of people playing and it’s how I got started. Accordions were being pushed by the manufacturers.”
Those old instruments are still out there, stashed in the backs of closets. Linda’s husband, Scottie, works at refurbishing, cleaning, and tuning the complex instruments, which are not inexpensive to purchase new.
When it came to select a name for the group, they wanted to tip the tri-corner hat to their German heritage, but not something as politically incorrect as “The Squareheads.” That actually was the original name of the last active local accordion group. They became known as the Fredericksburg Knutsch Band under the direction of Gus Friedrich and his brothers and friends. They performed through the 1970s and ‘80s on the German button squeezeboxes.
Hence, “Akkordeon Klub.”
“We decided to spell it the German way,” Boenig explained. “Since we are using St. Joseph’s Halle, we wanted to encourage the ethnic connection.”
The hope is the Akkordeon Klub will give players of all abilities and backgrounds the opportunity to come out to play.
The pair plans to have an organized two-hour get-together. They’ll start with 30 minutes of group playing, with some simple tunes written out so all can follow along. Midway, there will be an open mic, when a limited number of people will schedule a solo or small group song to play in front of the others.
“This helps people overcome stage fright,” Scott explained. “The only way to get over it is to get up there and do it.”
The rest of the time will be spent in a standard jam format, with the choice of tune traveling around the circle of players.
This is open to anyone. If you play by ear or read music, there will be both types of playing. One thing it will not be is a time for instruction.
“I plan to give tips I have learned, but this is not a place to learn,” Scott explained. “My hope is that those who come can play a little bit and maybe read music.”
Boenig is one of those musical adventurers who plays everything: piano, ukulele, mandolin, violin, and recorder, and sings in the German Mixed Choir. But for her, this club is about more than playing one more instrument. She wants to share the heritage with the community, playing at nursing homes, festivals, or “wherever we might be asked to play.”
“It seems to me in the 20 years I’ve been involved with Fredericksburg, the German influence has declined,” said Boenig, who lived in Germany for three years. “The German influence is what made the town what it is; some of us moved here for that very reason. Not that playing accordion music will bring it back, but it will be another chance to enjoy it.”
And to blast your lats.