- without smashing accordions

Photos: © fo2:r2 and © fo2:2re

Translated by: Selwyn Wright


More pictures

>> Back to Norwegian version

The accordion activities continue to grow in the USA. In 2005, the Southeast States created the Southeast Accordion Association (SAA), and is continually arranging both small and large events. From 9th to 11th November the seventh annual SMASH was held in Orlando, Florida. The interest in the SMASH has grown into such a large event that the organizers, the Florida Accordion Association (FAA), felt the need to hold the event at a larger venue. They chose the Holiday Inn on International Drive, which had much more space allowing for instruments to be displayed.


Although they had a larger venue with bigger facilities, the delegates were less than expected. The most likely cause being due to the fact that the Coupe Mondiale (World Cup) in Washington D.C. was held in August and then with another event taking place shortly afterwards, it became too costly especially having regard to the long distances involved for many. 





  Friday evening was the usual informal accordion playing in the hotel’s café. Apart from the fact that Americans are friendly and polite, they are also very sociable and receive visitors with open arms.       Everyone can take part, no matter musical level. Alvaro “Beaver” Barsi (pictured), who has his mother in Italy, was as usual in charge to keep the long list of volunteer players in updated order.   





  Jerry Tramontozzi       Joe Zalewski (left), Maggie Valley, NC and Corky Hall, Orlando, FL  





  And we also missed the name of this fine Bugari player...       Al Ulle  





  Strolling i the dining area       Strolling i the dining area  





The official program started promptly at 8.30am. Karen Adam, president of both SAA and FAA, as usual had worked hard to ensure a trouble free, interesting and varied program. In quite a formal opening ceremony, the flag of the United States of America was carried onto the stage to the sound delegates singing the US national anthem, accompanied by Jerry Tramontozzi. The Veterans Day is celebrated the following Monday, where the USA’s many war dead are remembered. Although from a slightly older regiment, there is a reason why Jerry is known affectionately as ”The Energizer Rabbit”. His repertoire is varied and endless. What a brilliant performance he gave entertaining with a breakfast concert on Sunday.


Despite the fact that the continent of the US is so big, you don’t have to attend many accordion events before you remember quite a few names of the participants. This year we recognised Walter ”K” from the famous ”K” trio (Walter Kasprzyk). His sister, Mary Tokarski, took part together with the Daytona Beach String Quartet, Nick Ballarini, Carmen Vitanza and Tony ”Liberace of the Accordion” Lovello.


  Jerry Tramontozzi ("Energizer Rabbit")          





  John Kolbrich from The Europa Band also runs a music school and studio. He had with him his nephew Phil on drums, included in their repertoire was some Alpine style music.       John Kolbrich  


There was more European flavor from Mercedes Mendive from Nevada. She has had training from the world famous musician, composer and accordionist Bernardo Yanci, she has a good understanding of the Basque-rhythm which she has grown up with. This she has taken with her into her own musical career, resulting in her writing some very fine compositions, which she kindly demonstrated at the SMASH. Although she was without a guitarist and other instruments, she used a Rowland digital accordion which produced an almost perfectly authentic sound.





  Mercedes Mendive          





  Mary Tokarski together with Daytona Beach String Quartet          





  Carmen Vitanza          





  Alvaro "Beaver" Barsi strolling with his Roland       More strolling in the dining area  





  Musician and displayer Nick Ballarini        Walter Kasprzyk and Mary Tokarski from the "K" Trio did a duet of "The Jolly Caballero"  






The festival orchestra led by Mary Tokarski, were also able to demonstrate what they had managed to practice the day before.

      Festival Accordion Orchestra  





  Festival Accordion Orchestra       Festival Accordion Orchestra  





Tony Lovello – ”Liberace of the Accordion” opened the concert on Saturday evening, Tony is 75 years young and has played the accordion since the age of five. Even though Tony has been touring with Debbie Reynolds and Frank Sinatra, he is possibly still unknown to most people in Norway. When you do see Tony perform it is something you will never ever forget. It was accordion fireworks and full speed from start to finish, he loves to walk down amongst the rows of seats to have a more direct contact with his audience. Tony’s enthusiastic and spirited performance was really entertaining.


  Karen Adam and Mary Tokarski with the perfect Florida baton - a palm leaf          





  Tony Lovello          






The years main artist was kept til last. The Polish born Lidia Kaminska from Philadelphia has won several competitions and is the only person in the US that has received a Doctors Grade in Musical Arts in in Accordion Performance. In addition she is a winner of the Astral Artistic Services 2007 National Auditions. She had almost one hour for her performance keeping the audience captivated during her renditions from classical composers such as Bach and Scarlatti as well as some from Piazzolla. After finishing her performance Lidia was inundated by autograph hunters, but not long after that she could be found ‘buskin’. She continued playing amongst the other performers that had started to play their accordions again at the hotels café, and continued into the wee small hours.




  Lidia Kaminska          





  Lidia Kaminska at the concert       Lidia inundated by autograph hunters  





  "Buskin"       "Buskin" at the displayer's stand  





  Jerry Tramontozzi and wife are always dressed elegant...       ...and have not forgotten how to dance...  





  If you are not able to play by yourself or just don't feel for it, you can now buy the ultimate pre programmed accordion that does it all for you - (Decap).       Displayer Fred Trepper - the man behind Decap Automatic Music Instruments