Accordions of Orange County: The Big Squeeze

Bellows are king at the OC Marketplace in Costa Mesa.

THE SEASON OF THE ACCORDION: If instruments were tied to seasons, how would you pair 'em up? We'd probably place the piano with winter, given all of those deep and sonorous sonatas that can feel like a swirling snowstorm. The harp would be matched with spring -- all of those lilts and flourishes summoning the breaking open of buds -- and guitars? Totally summer, what with their laid-back, languorous chords. As for the accordion? It belongs to autumn. Think about the movies you've seen that take place among falling leaves and sweater-weathering characters, and think of the background music. Were there a few wheezes? Some slightly melancholy riffs? The feel of walking down a rain-wet sweet in a faraway country? Yep, accordions + autumn 4evr. That relationship will be on full seasonal display when a bevy of accordions, and their accordionists, head for the OC Market Place in Costa Mesa on the first Sunday of autumn. That's Sunday, Sept. 28, the day when bellows and keys shall sound at The Big Squeeze, one of the state's major accordion gatherings.

BRING YOUR SQUEEZEBOX... or just show up to hear the likes of Jim Gilman's Oktoberfest Band, The Ploughboys, or one of the strolling accordionists. (Question: Is there another instrument that pairs as often with "strolling"? We do believe that the accordion is king in this category.) There's also an open jam -- hence the reason you'll want to show with your own accordion -- and free lessons, too. Plus, gratis appraisals of instruments'll be going down from noon to 3 p.m. If you couldn't make Cotati in NorCal over the summer -- you know the weekend where a whole bunch of accordionists play "Lady of Spain" -- this is your spot. But The Big Squeeze, now in its sixth year, is a big bellows bash in its own right. Nope, a SoCal autumn day might not bring falling leaves or rained-on cobblestones, but the accordion music can summon that quintessential cinematic feeling.

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