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Arts & Culture

A Salute to Accordions!

Chion Wolf
Cory Pesaturo is a multiple award-winning accordion player from Rhode Island.

Here are some songs from your life, "Backstreet Girl" by the Rolling Stones, "Joey" by Bob Dylan, "Road to Nowhere" by the Talking Heads, "Boy In The Bubble" by Paul Simon, "July Fourth, Asbury Park", better known as "Sandy" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys. They all rely heavily on the accordion.

"Wouldn't It Be Nice" is the biggest shock. Even if you know that song, it might never have occurred to you that Brian Wilson uses I'm pretty sure two accordions to make the primary propulsive musical fabric of that song.

The last two decades of indie music ought to have normalized the accordion - Tom Waits, REM, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists... I could go on. It has also endured years of ridicule here in the United States, even while it remained beloved and esteemed in Argentina, Paris, and almost everywhere else in the world. Now, it's enjoying a renaissance here in the States. This hour, we celebrate that with accordion rock stars of all styles.

You'll meet a man who is reclaiming the accordion, outfitting his latest version with MIDI controls, so it can mimic voice and other instruments, a woman who specializes in klezmer, and a man who plays his accordion in a trio alongside a guitar and tuba. You also meet other accordion rock stars, including James Fearnley from The Pogues. Just try to tell him that the squeezebox isn’t cool.

Comment below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.


  • Cory Pesaturo is a multiple award-winning accordion player from Rhode Island
  • Christina Crowder is an accordion player who specializes in klezmer and other Eastern European styles, and is a member of the Accordion/Violin/Viola trio, Bivolita
  • Will Holshouser is an accordion player and founder of the accordion/guitar/tuba trio, Musette Explosion
  • James Fearnley is the accordion player for The Pogues and the author of the memoir, Here Comes Everybody, The Story of The Pogues. He’s also a composer, and a founding member of The Low And Sweet Orchestra

Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on August 7, 2014.