Rob Reich

TV host Lawrence Welk helped popularize accordion music in the 1950s, often with polka dancers hopping behind him while he played. But local musician Rob Reich says the accordion is more than just a “cheesy instrument” limited to polka, but one with a versatile range that stretches from Klezmer music to jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. He joins us in-studio to perform songs from his new album, “Shadowbox,” and talks about how he’s trying to update the accordion’s image.

Rob Reich, accordionist and member of the ensembles Tin Hat, Gaucho and The Nice Guy Trio

  • Robert Thomas

    It’s hard to imagine that anyone who ever attended even an ordinary zydeco show )could think first of Lawrence Welk (who could wail, by the way) when accordion is mentioned. In our own back yard, Queen Ida and she and her brother’s Bon Temps Zydeco Band have played local venues and all over the globe for many years.

    Texas Tornados have allowed a wide audience the opportunity to see and hear the great conjunto player Flaco Jimenez – a national treasure – perform in his inimitable style that convolves indigenous and European sensibilities.

    What’s wrong with polka? Both traditional and radical reinterpretations of the form have been well loved for decades by billions around the world: Rotondi (Paul Lacques and Richie Lawrence); Polkacide (Ward Abronski); Brave Combo (Carl Finch) et al. etc.

    Any performance including sweet Garth Hudson on accordion

    Any Pogues recording

    If I should fall from grace with God
    Where no doctor can relieve me
    If I’m buried ‘neath the sod
    But the angels won’t receive me

    Let me go, boys
    Let me go, boys
    Let me go down in the mud
    Where the rivers all run dry

    [No connection between my North Dakota family and accordion playing is expressed or implied]

  • Lisa Cline

    I am actually related to Myron Floren (3rd cousin or some such), which was our family’s claim to fame when I was growing up in Minnesota and South Dakota. We were so proud of this connection and I’ve always hated that people make fun of the instrument. Thanks for helping to resurrect the reputation of what is a clearly a difficult and versatile instrument.

    • Robert Thomas

      MF: A God.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Remember in the late 70’s seeing Barry Manilow on some TV show playing a accordion. And on an Itzhak Perlman CD with the Klezmer Conservatory Band there is an accordion player.

  • Noelle

    I recommend “Pinata Protest”, a band from Texas:punk rock-TexMex fusion! Fun, high energy live shows! They were recently touring in this area! They were also recently featured on NPR Alt Latino.

  • Mason Gibb

    i hope that Pauline Oliveros of Mills College got a mention in this piece….she’s been playing avant-garde accordion for a few decades

    • Gabriela Quiros

      Rob did mention Pauline Oliveros — at the very beginning of the interview. She was his teacher at Oberlin.

      • Mason Gibb

        thanks for the response. i caught maybe 3/4ths of the live broadcast.
        another person to mention would be Astor Piazzolla and his Argentine tangos.

  • Another Mike

    No mention of Les Blank’s work chronicling the accordion players, from polka to zydeco to conjunto?

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