Starting in 2008, the Accordion Noir mission was expanded to include an annual festival, to build interest in accordion music by pushing toward a certain critical mass of awareness of it.
Year 1 was a single-night sold-out showcase at Vancouver’s historic Railway Club, Oct 3rd, 2008, headlined by Geoff Berner, featuring performances from Seattle’s Amy Denio, Victoria’s Natasha Enquist (“Natasha Lena”), and the Creaking Planks.
Year 2 was a three-day extravaganza, Sept 10-12, 2009: it launched with an installment of the Vancouver Squeezebox Circle at Spartacus books; the next day saw a launch party at Cafe Montmartre featuring performances by Joanna Chapman-Smith, Dawn Zoe, Andy Fielding with Haike Kingma, Barbara Adler, Tina Tew with Dave Chokroun, Mezamazing and the Creaking Planks. The headliner stage was the following day at the WISE Hall, beginning with an accordion parade from Grandview Park, workshops from Rickey Mann, Andy Fielding, and Bruce Triggs, a screening of Steve Mobia’s documentary Behind the Bellows, and musical sets by Katheryn Petersen, Sam “Story” Wight from PEI, Geoff Berner, and Jason Webley from Washington.
Year 3 presented over a week of programming, Sept 19-26, 2010. It began with an accordion parade to the launch party at Cafe Deux Soleils. Then, for two evenings in a row we shared wonderful music at the Yaletown Trees Organic Coffee, including sets by San Francisco’s Ilya Kreymer, Todd Wong, Ben Alija, Victor Lange, Andy Fielding with Haike Kingma, and Anna B and the Heartbones (feat. Simon Kendall). Night four was a concert by the Fugitives at the WISE Hall; night five was Accordion Film Night at Spartacus Books with performances by Katheryn Petersen, Nothofagus, and the Greenbelt Collective; then we had a huge dance party at the Grandview Legion Hall with the Creaking Planks, Maria in the Shower, Mezamazing and the Orkestar Slivovica. The festival mainstage was on night seven, at the Ukrainian Hall in Strathcona, with Ursula from Vancouver Island, Something About Reptiles, and Geoff Berner. The closing party was on night eight at Cafe Montmartre, with sets by Tina & Dave, Andy Fielding, Ben Alija, Dawn Zoe and Rosie Delight, and Prince George’s Scotty Dunbar.
Year 4, Sept 23-25, 2011, scaled back the number of events but boosted overall attendance: it started with its sold-out mainstage show, Maria in the Shower and Panstereorama presenting Geoff Berner, the Orkestar Slivovica, and Fang at the Waldorf Hotel, along with a screening of Black Cat White Cat, DJ sets by Tarran the Tailor and Taal Mala, magic by Dr. T. and the Birdmann, shadow puppets by Mind of a Snail, and burlesque performances. Day 2 was the Underdog Instrument Grudge Match at the Little Mountain Gallery, hosted by Barbara Adler, with performances from Todd Wong, Rowan Lipkovits, Jack Garton, Yvon Raoul, Len Imberry, Dawn Zoe, Jill Binder, Zee Kessler, Martin Fietkiewicz, Deirdre Morgan, Will Varda, John Barbour, Devon Bates, and Sean Cronin (phew!) … and day 3 was to be a closing party at Cafe Deux Soleils with the Creaking Planks and California’s Duckmandu, bolstered with guest appearances from Barbara Adler, Katheryn Petersen and Geoff Berner.
Year 5, Sept 13-16 2012, began with an accordion parade to the Big Squeeze at 917 Cobalt, where crowds were entertained by Lache Cercel and the Roma Swing Ensemble feat. Ben Meti, Alison Jenkins with Sarah May Redmond, Elliot Vaughan with Elise Cheadle, Barbara Adler with Proud Animal, and Guro von Germeten from Norway, all with Geoff Berner hosting. The following night was the accordion dance party at the Grandview Legion Hall featuring performances from the Creaking Planks, High Society, the Flying Folk Army, and a guest appearance from Renee de la Prade. Renee was back Saturday night for Panstereorama at the Waldorf with Maria in the Shower, Geoff Berner, Dr. T., the Orkestar Slivovica, Little Miss Risk, Luciterra, Glittering Kingdom and a screening of Emir Kustirica’s Arizona Dream. Sunday was Accordion Day at the ANZA Club, presented by Barbara Adler, opening with the intergenerational youth orchestra exploring “Mistakes I’ve Lived Through” with Proud Animal, Dawn Zoe and Katheryn Peterson, followed by an open mic, an accordion repair and maintenance workshop by Renee de la Prade and Melodona from Montreal, and a closing accordion parade to the second Underdog Instrument Grudge Match — The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, with Paul Silveria, T.Nile and Steve Charles as Team Banjo, John Barbour, Jill Binder, Zee Kessler and Martin Fietkiewicz as Team Ukulele, and Travis Bernhardt, Jack Garton, and Renee de la Prade as Team Accordion!
Year 6, Sept 12-15 2013, was the first time we managed to plan out use of a single facility, the Russian Hall in Strathcona, for the entire festival. Opening night, the Accordeon Cafe, featured the Creaking Planks debuting an experimental “choose-your-own-adventure” song suite entitled “With A Little Help From Our Friends”, Victoria’s David P. Smith with Rachelle Reath, and Quebec’s Steve Normandin. Friday evening saw an in-store performance by David P. Smith at Red Cat Records, and then back at the Russian Hall was the traditional Accordion Dance Party, with the VaudeVille Vagabonds, the Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra, and a special presentation from Barbara Adler and Fang, reinterpreting the songs of Johnny Horton with the assistance of the Company B Singers. (The afterparty at Chai saw Steve Normandin jamming with Lache Cercel.) Saturday evening featured our festival’s first food event, the Harvest Dinner, MC’d by Steve Normandin with performances by Australia’s Nice Verdes, Ontario’s Willow Rutherford, Andy Fielding with Doug Thordarson (as “D ‘n A”), Scotland’s Lewis Kane, Catherine McNeill, Alyssa Semczyszyn, and a youth duo of Mateo and his sister performing a selection by Radiohead. Saturday night Jack Garton presented a slate of Rebel Bellows, with his band Jack of Hearts, Something About Reptiles, and a local band backing up California’s Renee de la Prade, plus magic from Travis Bernhardt and burlesque from Tristan Risk. Sunday afternoon featured another repair/maintenance workshop from Renee de la Prade, Rickey Mann, and Montreal’s Melodona, and Sunday night culminated in the latest instalment of the sold-out Underdog Instrument Grudge Matches, with Team Accordion (Hirome Iwase, Willow Rutherford, David P. Smith and Steve Normandin) facing off against Team High School Jazz Band (Tim Sars, Ellan Marple, Bryan Milks, Jamie Carter, Russell Sholberg and Roisin Adams) and Team Abomination (PrOphecy Sun, Travis Bernhardt, Jim Black and Jack Garton), with official exclusion of Team Ukulele.
The seventh annual Accordion Noir Festival saw a return to the Russian Hall, plus satellite venues at the Fox Cabaret opening night, Thursday Sept 11, and the Orpheum Annex on closing night, Sunday Sept 14. Opening night, “Squeezebox Confession”, saw us bringing Montreal’s Socalled to Vancouver, on a bill that included Barbara Adler in Pathetic Fallacy and DJ Prom Night. Friday night, “Accordion Speakeasy”, featured New Orleans’ one-man band Lonesome Leash, Jack Garton’s Demon Squadron, the Orkestar Slivovica with guest accordionist Citizen OfXee from Seattle’s Bucharest Drinking Team, and opened with a surprise set from 2013 headliner Steve Normandin from Quebec, filling in for Geoff Berner on short notice following a family emergency. Saturday night opened early with a repair booth run by Melodona of Montreal, a Romani music workshop led by Ben Meti, an accordion open mic, youth accordion performance and a “Kitchen Party” supper show set by Robyn Carrigan to the tastes of Chef Ianna Yelchinko. Following an outdoor set by Lindy and the Crow’s Nest during changeover inside, the “Squeezebox Rendezvous” show began inside featuring the Wintermitts, the Plodes, Montreal’s Ol’ Crocodile, and the final Accordion Noir Festival performance by the Creaking Planks. Sunday’s show, “Free (Reed) Association” was a co-production with Vancouver New Music, presenting Sick Boss, Elysse Cheadle’s “Scenes from Snortoise”, and Portland’s Miss Murgatroid. Most nights also featured acts from Dr. Jack’s Jackpot of Cabaret Curios, including Little Miss Risk, Kat Single-Dain, Nayana Filkow, Candace Curlypaws, Christache Ross, Elliot Vaughan, Robert Leveroos, and magic by Dr. T.
Year 8 of our festival opened Thurs Sept 10 with the co-production “Tentacles” at the Western Front, featuring “Flying Machines” by Elliot Vaughan and Elysse Cheadle with Aryo Khakpour, intermission streetside cabaret by Steve Normandin from Quebec, and a set by headliners Angelica Negron and Shayna Dunkelman (New York). Fri Sept 11 brought “Deep Squeeze” at the WISE Hall, hosted by Haisla Collins, with The Wayward Hearts, Svetka and the Raven (Victoria), Rattletrap Ruckus with Lucas Hicks (Bellingham), local cabaret artists (April O’Peel, Sharon Bayly, Paul Silveria, The Dahling Mermaid Dahlings, Brigid Normand, and Aaron Goodwin with Arthur Witzke Inna Jarovich), and headlining was an album release set by Wendy McNeill (Spain/Canada). Sat Sept 12th was “Davy Jones’ Dance Hall”, also at the WISE Hall, hosted by Ana Bonbon, featuring the Kate and Rich Duo from Halifax, Compassion Gorilla (Victoria) and headlined with an album release set by Geoff Berner. The festival wrapped Sun Sept 12 at Spartacus Books, following an impromptu accordion parade around Trout Lake, with a repair booth by Melodona (Montreal), our Youth Incentives Showcase, a performance by Steve Normandin and guest hosted by the Kate and Rich Duo.
Our ninth year began Thurs Sept 8 at Lanalou’s with “Kissing Everything In Sight”, an all-ages celebration featuring Magic in the Woods (Pemberton), Breaking Boundaries (Colombia), and the Battle of the Buskers — Messica Wild, Aaron Goodwin, Brigid Lane, Megan Gerbrandt, and City Rat Songster — all hosted by Alexa Fraser from The Plodes. The fun continued Friday Sept 9th at “Love Potion Cabaret” at the York Theatre, hosted by Geoff Berner and featuring Nefertiti in the Kitchen (France), Jet Black Pearl (France), Patrick Farrell and Ben Holmes (Brooklyn) doing a multimedia performance of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm”, and the premiere of “Paleomagnetism” by Nathan Shubert featuring Tim Chan on sheng. (Afterparty was at the WISE Hall Lounge with Rio Samaya and Howard Schmenge Chapman from Calgary joined by Sue Baines.) Saturday night, September 10th, we got to “Move the Mess Around” upstairs at the WISE Hall (1882 Adanac), where Barbara Adler and Kathleen Nisbett hosted Gunther Kablutsiak (Nunavut) with Viper Central players & the V’ni Dansi Métis Dance Troupe, San Antonio’s Piñata Protest, Mayne Island’s Dirty Grace Trio, the Duo Finelli and latest album launch from Jack Garton’s Demon Squadron. We wrapped Sunday, September 11th with “Accordion Crimes” at Spartacus Books, featuring the Duo Finelli, a comedy Accordion Repair workshop by Melodona (Montreal), a sheng and accordion demonstration by Nathan Schubert and Tim Chan, the youth showcase, a performance by the Squeezebox Circle Orchestra, and a highlights-reel screening of Roberta Cantow’s “Accordions Rising”.
The tenth annual Accordion Noir Festival started off early with a Wednesday night pre-fest show at the WISE Lounge featuring the Creaking Planks and the Secret Emchy Society. Thursday things got underway proper with Drink-O Bingo at the Russian Hall hosted by Grayson Walker, presenting performances by Shelder the Electric Clamfish, Ana Bon-Bon, the Clown Committee and Something About Reptiles. Friday night saw two events underway: Part 1 of Accordion Alchemy featured a Vancouver New Music co-presentation at St. James’ Anglican Church with Giorgio Magnanensi complementing Douglas Schmidt’s bandoneon with electronics on “Raw Meat and Butterflies”, followed by Finland’s Antti Paalanen making his North American debut, with the East Van Phonograph Company providing some audio connective tissue. Later that night Accordion Alchemy 2 saw Balkan Schmalkan open at the Russian Hall for St. Petersburg’s IVA NOVA in a debut of their own. After Shelder’s set at the Trout Lake Farmers Market, Saturday afternoon the Russian Hall hosted our Community Day, including an open mic, our youth stage, a performance by the Squeezebox Circle Orchestra and workshops by Ana Bon-Bon, Melodona (Montreal), Sue Bains and Howard “Schmenge” Chapman… all just prelude to Geoff Berner’s album release party there later that night for “Canadiana Grotesquica”, featuring Victoria’s Button & String (releasing their own album at the same time!) and more unforgettable sets by Antti Paalanen and IVA NOVA. And Sunday… Barbara Adler ushered in the grand return of the Underdog Instrument Grudge Match, featuring fearsome competition between Team Trad, Team Musical Theatre, and Team Silicon Valley North.
The eleventh annual Accordion Noir Festival warmed up with a Wednesday afternoon session with the Creaking Planks and the Squeezebox Circle Orchestra at the Main Street Farmers’ Market, progressing into another appearance by the Orchestra on Accordion Noir Radio with Teapot in the Tuba. The following night, a pre-fest concert was held at Creative Coworkers with Teapot in the Tuba, the Squeezebox Circle Orchestra, the Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra and the Creaking Planks all performing at the “Echoes and Ripples” art opening of visual art on musical themes by Elin Jonsson, Darren Williams, Fire-Man and Jenny Ritter. Friday night the festival began in earnest with the mainstage at the WISE Hall opening with the Secret Emchy Society, followed by sets by Amy Denio, Geoff Berner and Jason Webley. Saturday night was our dance party, set off by Tsunami Pinata, followed by the Argyle Embargo, Polka Time!, and culminating in a set by Dogtooth & Nail. Finally, we wrapped Sunday with sets by Illiteratty, Teapot in the Tuba, Basilissa and Wendy McNeill.
The 12th annual Accordion Noir Festival tightened things up with a November 15th mainstage concert of headliners Sudanda, Duo VILDÁ, Wolfbrood and Nuvo Zydeco at the WISE Hall. It was followed by a Community Day program at Spartacus Books the following afternoon, featuring a set of Accordion cartoons, live music performance by Andy Fielding and the Squeezebox Circle Orchestra, and a reading by accordion historian Bruce Triggs.
The “lucky” 13th annual Accordion Noir Festival had its activities starkly curtailed by Covid-19 pandemic precautions, but we still shared a lively five-day videostream program. It began with a live combination radio / videostream performance by Ana Bon-bon from the CFRO studios on November 4th. The following day, Nov 5th, we shared a highlights reel from that summer’s Music in Maclean Park series, featuring recordings of Sudanda, the Junk Oy! Klezmer band, Breaking Boundaries and Geoff Berner. Our International Underdog Instrument Grudge Match program Nov 6th was beset by technical difficulties, but in its place we presented a slate of performances from the Accordion Babes’ weekly Accordion Fridays stream, followed by a Twitch afterparty by DJ Lykaire. Saturday Nov 7th hosted our festival mainstage, featuring sets by Jack Garton, Renee de la Prade, Dylan Blackthorn and TC Costello, and finally, Sunday Nov 8th saw us wind things up with a “community day” accordion open stage event over Zoom, featuring performances by Anton Van Oosbree. See you next year!
We are currently booking, planning, strategizing and fundraising for the lucky thirteenth annual Accordion Noir Festival in autumn of 2021. If you have an interest in participating in our festival, as performer, volunteer or sponsor, please don’t hesitate to contact us!