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April Newsletter

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Now available:  A M E R I C A N A  Accordions



p e t o s a' s latest evolution in accordion manufacturing; AMERICANA combines the best of quality and value in an attractive and affordable package offered direct from factory to consumer.
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Artist Spotlight: Rob Curto
 
   Rob Curto is an accordionist, composer, and pianist based in Philadelphia and New York City.  Curto has a prolific career touring and composing, gaining notoriety for his mastery of the piano accordion, exciting harmonic blends, and general musicianship across genres and musical boundaries. He is a founding member of the "Brazilian Bluegrass" band Matuto,which gained a following across the US and Canada, was selected to showcase at WOMEX, and toured extensively across Africa, Asia, Europe, and other areas, chosen to represent the US State Department overseas. 

​He has released several CDs and EPs as a band leader and is a prolific composer/arranger, including his latest musical project, the unabashedly accordion-centric American roots band, Fish Harmonics, featuring smokin' accordion along with bass fiddle, groove-oriented drumming, and old-timey strings. Fish Harmonics' debut EP, ONE, is available streaming in all the places.

His musical collaborations include performing and recording with Latin Grammy award winner Lila Downs, Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, trumpeter/composer Frank London, Punjabi Indian singer Kiran Ahluwalia and icon of Brazilian Forró, the great accordionist Dominguinhos. He is widely regarded as forró’s foremost ambassador in the States. An early devotee of North American swing music, bebop piano, funk, rock, and blues, he has combined these influences with his mastery of their Brazilian counterparts forró, chorinho, samba, maracatu, and frevo to produce stunning new results. He spent years living and playing in Brazil, completely absorbing and interpreting the country’s musical traditions.

​Since relocating to Philadelphia, Curto has developed an interest in Irish button box, adding B/C button accordion to his repertoire. He studies with NEA National Heritage Fellow and multi-All Ireland Champion, Billy McComisky, and occasionally with John Whelan and PJ Hernon. Curto is profoundly interested in the (relatively) recent history of accordion in traditional Irish music, a passion that has brought him zig-zagging around West Kerry and Co. Sligo, joining sessions and absorbing tradition and tunes.

​Curto has many compositional credits, including his own albums as well as TV (Bear in the Big Blue House), documentaries (The Same Heart), independent compositions, and other commissions for theater, film, and commercials.

 

Q: I read somewhere that your grandfather played accordion, was this your inspiration to play accordion? How old were you when you started? 

A:   I’m pretty sure that my grandfather, who was originally from Sicily, did not play the accordion. But I know that my grandmother would have loved for my father, who grew up in New York in the 1940’s, to pick up the instrument. He opted for the tenor saxophone, which was sort of the king of instruments at the time, and represented the ascendancy of jazz as the most important popular music of the day. I grew up as a jazz pianist, listening to and obsessed with mainly swing-era American popular music and culture. As the next generation in my family, I think I felt freer to connect with my heritage through the accordion and I began playing when I was around 25. Inspired by a concert I witnessed of Buckwheat Zydeco and band, outdoors at the 120th anniversary of the Museum of Natural History in New York. 

The accordion has provided me with not only a means of connection to my cultural background, but a way to explore the world. Following my curiosity through this instrument has helped me to understand other cultures better, and assume a role as a citizen of the planet, and I hope, an open and compassionate mind. 

Q:   Do you have a favorite piece to play on the accordion and if so what is it and why? 

A: Hmmm, there is so much wonderful and varied music that I listen to and play, so I don’t think that I have one particular tune or composition. I’m very interested in musicians that learn music in a personal way, by ear, from other musicians or recordings, and build repertoire within a tradition. I’ve been fortunate and privileged enough to spend time in Brazil, totally focused on learning and playing tunes from Choro and Forró traditions with musicians who grew up inside those genres of music. More recently I’ve been exploring Irish traditional music and playing a B/C diatonic accordion. One important aspect that all of these musical forms have in common is the ’session’; seisiún in Irish, or the “Roda de Choro” in Portuguese. This means that the music is shared in an informal setting, usually sitting around a table (often with drinks), playing tune after tune for hours. Often these are musicians who make their money during the day doing something other than playing music, but connect socially in the evening through this shared ritual. These forms of music also have a dance component of some form and are therefore even more deeply connect to social life. And of course, amazing, technically proficient and creative professional musicians have emerged from these communities, with successful touring and recording careers. I’m inspired by all of them and believe that their influence shows up in my composition and original music. 

Q:   You've recently started playing more diatonic accordion, what is it like switching from the stradella system? 

A: The diatonic accordion is a totally different creature. It has certain limitations, especially in the area of the bass and in what keys make the most sense to play in. The B/C, or semitone box, has two diatonic rows tuned a half step apart, so theoretically any single line melody can be played in any key, but certain keys make more sense than others. For Irish music the majority of tunes are in D,G,C, Emi, Ami, Dmi and sometimes A. Keys like Eb or Ab are a good deal more challenging on the B/C box. I’ve been fortunate to have some excellent teachers including National Heritage Award winner Billy McComiskey who is really one of the best Irish style box players in the world. Billy’s a great player, but also deeply knowledgable about the music and its roots. Something really interesting is the fact that a semi-tone box with two rows tuned in B and C became popular in only two places in the world that I know of, Ireland and the Northeast of Brazil. I have a current project along in collaboration with some great musicians and dancers which is dedicated to exploring this connection. 

Q:  Who are your top 5 accordionists you admire or recommend we listen to?

A:  Billy McComiskey, Sean McComiskey, Dominguinhos, Arlindo Dos Oito Baixos, The Calixto family; Zé or Luizinho


Q:   What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

A:   I wake up early to try and get as much out of the day as possible. I feel most creative, and the least self-critical, first thing in the morning so it’s when I feel most comfortable writing music and coming up with new ideas. I try to at the very minimum touch both the piano accordion and diatonic box every single day, even if it is just to play a few tunes. Once I’ve got the thing in my hands or I’m strapped in, it is easy to spend a lot of time with it. I like to say that I’ve gotten to the point where practicing music by myself feels like procrastination. I enjoy it deeply and it sometimes keeps me from attending to the more mundane tasks of music business and life. I find performance to be a totally different process, much more about communication, with an audience, but also on a profound level with other musicians. I think I lean on the that sense of connection to anyone sharing a stage with me, to keep me in the moment and to avoid self-doubt, or too much evaluation. 
 

Q:  What’s the best advice you have received about playing music/ the accordion?

A:  Take small units of musical vocabulary and practice them in all 12 keys, in time with a metronome. 

 

Q:   The past few months have been an adjustment for all of us, what are some ways your music or projects has adapted? 

A: I felt some degree of panic and deep anxiety at the beginning of the pandemic, but also very connected on some kind of spiritual/molecular level with other musicians within my community and in the world at large. I responded by composing often, and making videos of what I was writing. I collaborated on a song about the experience of a musician heading to a gig only to realize that it had been cancelled. The tune is called “Theater Marquee” and was co-written with my friend and colleague Walter Parks. I was really fortunate after the initial phase to connect with some wonderful students whom I still am teaching weekly online. I’ve poured a lot of energy into creating educational materials and thinking deeply about how I can best help my students to not only improve as accordion players, but to enjoy music and make it a bigger part of their lives. The almost daily interaction with them has definitely been therapeutic as well as helping to sustain me through this. More recently I began to wake up a few hours earlier and head into my studio space to write music, and have written the music for a new recording project, which I hope will sort of fuse together my influences, American, Brazilian and Celtic, into a more genuine expression of myself as an artist. It has kind of a literary or story-telling component and I’m very excited about it. More to come!

Q: Anything else you'd like our readers to know? 

A: Please visit my website: robcurto.com or Follow on facebook/instagram:

https://www.facebook.com/RobCurtoLessons

https://www.facebook.com/robcurtoforro

https://www.facebook.com/fishharmonics

https://www.facebook.com/MaggiesBoots

https://www.instagram.com/robcurto/

 

Website

Rob Curto w/ Fish Harmonics "One"

Available on Bandcamp: Accordion-driven American Roots Reinvented
From accordion master Rob Curto, featuring Chris Coyle (acoustic bass), Brennen Ernst (guitar, banjo), & Doug Hirlinger with special guests Mazz Swift & Isaac Stanford

released January 20, 2019
Buy Now

Exploring Washington State Podcast features Toby Hanson
Toby grew up in Pierce County. His first exposure to the accordion was as a child at family gatherings.  Later he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Toby plays accordion and piano in multiple musical acts.  His Polka band The Smilin' Scandinavians has been together since 1995. 

During the conversation we hear stories about Toby's journey with the accordion and he shares technical information on how the instrument works. Toby performs Frankie Yankovic's Just Because. It is obvious that Toby is comfortable in front of an audience and behind a microphone. 

Listen
Accordion Friday's 
Every Friday Renee De La Prade of Accordion Babes, hosts "Accordion Friday" a virtual day of concerts encompassing an array of accordionist from around the globe.  Tune in on Facebook
Website

The Passing of Dick Myking

It is with great sorrow we share the news of Dick Myking's passing.  He was a longtime friend and asset to the entire accordion community.  He will be greatly missed and we all send our sincere sympathy to the Myking Family.   

The accordion was Dick's loved vocation. He started playing the accordion at age 6. Dick, a long term teacher, participated in festivals and accordion camps all over the country. The family plans to establish a scholarship in his honor which will provide lessons to new aspiring accordion students through the Northwest Accordion Society. 

 

Cotati Accordion Festival 2021 

The team at the Cotati Accordion Festival would like to update our fans as to what the status is of the festival this year. First of all, we have August 21 & 22, 2021 listed as the dates of our "live" event. This declaration is made in case the possibility of a live event, in some form, is allowed to take place. We are fully cognizant of the perilous nature of that date being a reality.

We would like everyone to know that the decision is not ours as to whether or not a festival takes place. It is up to Sonoma County and the City of Cotati. If the city refuses to issue a permit then we have no event. At this point in time the city has refused to even accept an application for a permit, but has not ruled anything out. They have told me that they have no idea if we will be able to apply for a permit or not. Our hands could not be tied behind our backs any more securely.

Meanwhile, we have frozen other dates in La Plaza Park. We froze the 25th & 26th of September 2021 and the 16th & 17th of October 2021 as back up possibilities. We also have the possibility of a virtual show on August 21 & 22, 2021. However, even that is at risk. While we have to wait on the city to decide what they will do we have our accordion acts getting booked all over the US this summer and fall. A sought after act is not going to play a virtual show while they are getting offerings of bookings at live events during the same time in other counties and states.

We are fully aware that this statement does not help anyone who wants to make plans around our annual treasured event. We apologize and pledge to keep the public updated as to any additional information that is revealed in the near future.”

Thank you,
Scott Goree
Executive Director
Cotati Accordion Festival
Website

Featured Product

V-100 Classic Straps

Leather straps with velvet padding. Petosa straps are exclusively handcrafted in Italy made from the finest quality materials and artisan workmanship. Unlike other strap manufacturers, petosa straps are handmade without the use of mid-grade materials or mass production techniques; only top-tier leather that will endure the test of time and will not crack or fade. For full-size accordion (19 inch keyboard or 37-41 keys)
*available in different sizes

$75

Buy Now

Feature Accordion
Giulietti 115

A great opportunity to own a 2020 Giulietti F-115 with Harmonik AC 5001-PLUS microphone system in 'like new' condition.  

Details: 

41 treble keys - 120 bass buttons
11 treble registers - 7 bass registers
4/5 sets of TaM reeds
Tuning: LMMH +6 cents
26 lbs (11.8kg)

Includes: Shoulder straps & Hard case

2 Year Warranty
10 Day Trial
Certified Pre-owned Exchange Guarantee
$49 shipping & insurance (Cont. 48 States)
0% Interest available

 

More info

petosa accordions | 206 632 2700 | petosa@petosa.com
19503 56th Ave W Ste B Lynnwood, WA 98036     


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