It’s more than polka: Accordion players do it up fun, in style

By From page C1 | March 23, 2014


Jack Behseresht plays a song on his accordion during a recent meeting of the Vacaville Chapter of the Golden State Accordion Club. The club meets once a month at Pietro's #2 in Vacaville to play music and sing songs. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)

VACAVILLE — Absolutely yes, rock music can be played on an accordion.

Just ask David Hayward, who did a rousing rendition of the latin-infused “Tequila” and “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles on his accordion during a recent meeting of the nonprofit Golden State Accordion Club that boasts about 400 members in three locations.

Vacaville is the inaugural chapter.

“I know everyone has rhythm in their soul, so I need a little beat here,” he playfully said to his fellow members of the club.

Hayward, at 21, is one of the youngest members of the group but by no means is he the liveliest as witnessed during at the club’s usual monthly meeting place, Pietro’s No. 2. As soon as the restaurant’s front door opens, there is no need to ask where the accordion group is meeting. Like the Pied Piper leading the way with an accordion – follow the music, and the noise.

President Carole Enneking, a Fairfield resident, said the label of “meeting” shouldn’t fool anyone.

“It’s a party,” she said. “We have a lot of fun.”

She said that maybe five minutes of talk usually takes care of the group’s business.

Indeed, the March meeting saw most of the dozens of members at the meeting dressed in St. Patrick’s Day finery from a green Cat in the Hat shamrock hat worn by Jim Daniels to shamrock-shaped glasses, green clothes including T-shirts with Irish slogans, green beads, green everything.

At the start of the meeting, some of the group “jammed” while the onlookers egged them on – Liddy Behseresht multitasked while she listened to the group that included her husband, Jack Behseresht, ate and handed out raffle tickets that supports the active scholarship program the group has to support the younger generation in their accordion pursuits.

“It’s a great place to come when you want to feel young,” Liddy said, laughing. “It’s a wonderful group of people.”

While she doesn’t play, the Alamo resident said, in jest: “I guess you would call me an accordion groupie.”

It started by supporting her husband of 37 years – Jack played accordion as a young child in Iran but Liddy said that while the instrument came over from Iran with him, it stayed in the closet. That is, until the two stumbled on the group Golden State Accordion Club at the Cotati Accordion Festival.

“There is something about the accordion sound that resonates with me so when I heard it, I had to do it again,” Jack said.

He now has seven accordions and plays each depending upon the type of music he wants to play – as an example, he said he has one that is perfect for French music.

Accordion costs vary drastically from a couple of hundred to thousands upon thousands of dollars.

But, should the idea of learning to play pique an interest, Enneking said that members can borrow one of the club’s accordions to see if it’s something they like and eventually invest in. Enneking is one who didn’t own an accordion or know how to play before she joined – she took it up after she retired. Her father and sister play, however.

The club started in Solano County in 1991 – Enneking joined just a couple of years later – first meeting at Roseanne’s in downtown Vacaville and eventually moving to Pietro’s No. 2. The group got so large it eventually split into three chapters; the other two groups are in Sacramento and Humboldt.

The club’s scholarships are designed to be used for anything accordion related such as buying instruments, lessons or sheet music. The recipients are normally young, Enneking said, some as young as fourth grade. More than $50,000 has been given out over the years.

“They can use that scholarship money for whatever they feel is worthwhile to keep going with the accordion, and to keep them encouraged in playing the accordion,” Enneking said.

Hayward, a Vacaville native, would like to see more of his generation become interested in the instrument. He plays a wide variety of music spanning decades and genres – he likes Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.

“I grew up with the oldies in my house so I figure out how to it on my accordion,” Hayward said. “There are a lot of things that can be played on (it). My generation could get inspired by this. I hope to bring more of my generation into this (music).”

For more information, go to http://gsaccordionclub.netfirms.com.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.


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