Accordions are the ultimate people’s instrument—hearty, loud and portable. A one-man band, with rhythm and melody all in one. Born in Austria in the mid 1800’s, the accordion quickly made its way across the Atlantic with the waves of hopeful immigrants coming to America to make a new life, and a new identity.
San Francisco was the center of it all. Italian immigrants made the city the hub of accordion manufacturing in the United States. In fact, the accordion is the official instrument of San Francisco.
But when rock and roll hit the scene, the accordion fell from grace. Now the instrument, long the butt of many jokes, is enjoying a renaissance. This is an excerpt from our upcoming documentary, Squeezebox Stories, that aired on KQED’s The California Report.