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The accordion is “the most maligned instrument in the world,” according to the Monsters of Accordion's website.
You can find out for yourself if that moniker fits at Luigi’s Fungarden, the music venue attached to the Downtown pizza joint, where the tour will be making a stop on Aug. 31. Seattle-based accordionist Jason Webley organized the tour and is also playing on all dates.
“I meet so many amazing, freaky accordion players in my travels now, and I am lucky to count many of them as my friends,” said Webley via e-mail.
The Monsters of Accordion came together “several years ago” when Webley was invited to play at an accordion shop in Oakland.
“The event was incredibly fun, and was perhaps the first time I became aware that there were other people playing something other than polkas on the accordion," Webley said.
That same night, Webley met two Bay Area accordionists, Daniel Ari and Aaron Seeman. “The next year, we decided to do a tour together, which was the first Monsters of Accordion,” he said.
While the current tour consists of Webley, Steven Iancu, Geoff Berner and Eric Stern, its lineup has changed with the past few iterations.
“It’s hard, actually,” said Webley of the task of picking performers each year. “At first we had the same players on the tour, but now that I’ve been doing the tour for a few years, my goal is to find the right balance between familiar face and new acts.”
Those acts are as unique as the instrument they play, and as such there is not a particular accordion playing music “scene” as there often is with other music styles.
Despite the fact that accordionists of Webley and company’s caliber are few and far between (Iancu hails from Tokyo, for example), the crowds at the shows “can be really diverse, just like the music played on the accordion," Webley said.
Webley takes his claim of diversity to heart. Though his influences don’t often show in his music, he draws inspiration from a broad range of artists and styles.
“I grew up listening to Michael Jackson and punk music,” Webley said. “Later I studied world music, classical music, and I have tried to steep myself in the works of the great singer-songwriters of different eras and geographies. But I think in the end, the earliest influences had the biggest effect on me.”
There are currently no plans to take the Monsters of Accordion tour past the West Coast, but Webley said he would “LOVE to do an East Coast Monster run someday!”
For now, the lucky residents of a few major cities in the west will have a chance to catch the folksy drinking songs, ballads and ribald tales as told by Webley and his equally eccentric contemporaries.
The all ages show starts at 8 p.m. Luigi's is on 1050 20th St. Tickets are $10.