Showing Off the Accordion’s Hip Side

 

Richard Perry/The New York Times

Les Poissons Voyageurs, a Montreal group, is one of the acts in the Accordions Around the World festival this summer in Bryant Park.

By LARRY ROHTER/New York Yimes
Published: June 26, 2013

The accordion just can’t get no respect

Guitar players have Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix as avatars; accordionists are stuck, at least in the public mind, with Lawrence Welk and Frankie Yankovic. Pianists have the works of Bach, Chopin and Scriabin to challenge them; accordion players are saddled with requests for “Lady of Spain” and the monotonous oompah oompah of the polka.

But the free Accordions Around the World festival at Bryant Park this summer is offering accordionists an opportunity to change the stodgy image of their instrument, which was invented in Europe in the 19th century. Every Thursday through Aug. 29, from 5 p.m. onward, accordion players are stationed around the park, where they perform a varied repertory meant to show off their instrument’s versatility and range.

In keeping with its name, the festival’s emphasis is on folk and international genres like zydeco, vallenato, tango, klezmer, musette, qawwali, forró, bachata and the music of the Balkans. But last week’s edition, with 20 accordionists involved, also found Matt Dallow playing the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” Phillip Racz covering Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia” and Art Linowitz, who performs as Art Now, serving up Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.”

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