Five Places to Squeeze Out a Tune

Smythe's Accordions, Oakland

Smythe’s Accordions, Oakland

Glass sculptor Dale Chihuly collects them. Well-known practitioners include Charles Dickens, Richard Nixon and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket). Long associated with lederhosen and bubble machines, the accordion is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and is showing up in modern music in imaginative, new ways. Accordions are hip and increasingly ubiquitous. Whether you want to get your arms around this hot new trend, or just catch a live gig, here are five places to dive into squeezebox culture.

Petosa Accordion Museum, Seattle
The Petosa family has been making handcrafted accordions since 1922. Adjoining the factory, which is open to visitors, is the largest accordion museum on the West Coast. A collection of 100 instruments are on display, including some that date back to the nineteenth century. Factory and museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. 313 NE 45th Street. (206) 632-2733.

Jim Boggio Monument, Cotati
This statue of Jim Boggio, who died in 1996, serves as a tribute to the beloved accordionist and as a year round reminder of the Cotati Accordion Festival, co-founded by Boggio in 1991. Thousands of people gather in the center of town each August to pay homage to the stomach Steinway. La Plaza Park, 60 West Cotati Avenue. (707) 664-0444.

Accordion Apocalypse Music Night JAM, San Francisco
Pros and enthusiasts alike can hone their craft and connect with other squeezers at this monthly jam session led by Skyler Fell, local musician and owner of the Accordion Apocalypse store, repair shop and museum. Other instruments are also welcome. 7-10 p.m. on the third Friday of the month in the upstairs repair shop. 255 10th Street. (415) 596-5952.

Dave’s Accordion School, Los Angeles
Front man for Dave’s Accordion Band in the 1970s, Dave Caballero and his wife have been operating this music and dance school for 30 years. Providing instruction for both adults and children in two locations, tuition for 4 classes per month ranges from $75-$240. Tuesday-Thursday 12-8 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 3058 Glendale Boulevard. (323) 663-1907.

Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, Berkeley
If you’re looking for a live button box performance, this club is a good bet on many nights. Ashkenaz’s monthly calendar is routinely littered with accordion music – Balkan, Creole, Brazilian, Tango and Gypsy are just a few of the many styles on tap. Tuesday- Sunday. Doors usually open between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. 1317 San Pablo Avenue. (510) 525-3630.

A modified version of this piece originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Travel section on September 9, 2012.

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