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Concert & CD Review: Those Darn Accordions
Amped and Clownhead
Those Darn Accordions

Paul Rogers: accordion, lead vocals
Suzanne Garramone: accordion, vocals
Patty Brady: accordions, vocals
Lewis Wallace: bass guitar
Bill Schwartz: drums, vocals

CD 1 Amped:

Serious World
Mr. Slagle's Revenge
Magic Carpet Ride
Enter the Douse
Making Our Dreams Come True
Meaning of Life

Total Time: 17:25
Date of Release: 2001

CD 2 Amped:

They Came for Accordions
Hippie with a Banjo
Wail of Gum
Low Rider
Mucho De Nada
Lapis Lazuli
Love and Lies
First Bratwurst of Summer
Uncontrollable Urge
Kick My Butt
I Think About Stuff

Total Time: 45:47
Date of CD Release: 2000
Review Date: August 2001

Label: Globe Records

Review by Henry Doktorski:

When I heard that Those Darn Accordions, the San Francisco based accordion rock ensemble was coming to Pittsburgh, I said to my new bride, "Let's go! Any accordion group which could get an article in Newsweek and Time about their 'Accordion Raids' -- charging into swank restaurants and belting out a polka and then running out before the management could kick them out -- are cool in my book." (In a past life I did something very similar for several years in the mid-1980s.)

Mary Kay and I even delayed our honeymoon one day to see them. They were playing in a small club in the trendy South Side Neighborhood on Carson Street: Club Cafe. We settled in and ordered a couple drinks. When TDA! finally came on stage after a God-awful warmup singer there must have been 10-20 people in the audience, half of them elderly it seemed. (Then again, Mary Kay and I are in our mid-40s, so I guess we could be considered elderly also.)

What was it like? I cannot express it better than the publicity blurb found at their website:

"Ready to rock?

"San Francisco's accordion-fueled rock 'n' roll band pumps out quirky, catchy originals chronicling life in the weird lane. The five-piece group -- fronted by lead singer/squeezebox wizard Paul Rogers and bellows-pumping babes Patty Brady and Suzanne Garramone -- promises to forever rearrange your understanding of the accordion.

"Behind the wall of wheeze, drummer Bill Schwartz and bass player Lewis Wallace anchor the band, providing a firm foundation upon which the manic TDA! accordionists can layer huge slabs of sonic mayhem. With distortion boxes cranked to 11, the one-of-a-kind band blazes through a variety of musical genres and torches timeless classic rock tunes. You won't believe your ears."

We had fun. The group was entertaining, for the most part. Their bass player & drummer were excellent. Tight. I enjoyed listening to them. The accordions? Well.... To be frank, we couldn't hear them much, as the bass & drums & lead singer were the prominent sounds. But maybe it was planned that way.

The two girls on backup accordions seemed to be there only 'cause they were cute. Of course there's nothing wrong with visual appeal. Sexy hot babes do wonders for a group's ratings. But were they musicians? We spoke with one member of the group who said she was actually a pianist and just learned the accordion recently when there was an opening in the group. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! She was definitely good to look at.

The lead singer/accordionist Paul Roger did his awful best pretending to be sometimes Elvis Presley and sometimes Jimi Hendrix with only modest success at best.

Musically speaking, I wished he and the girls played MIDI accordions 'cause then they could get the sound levels up high enough to balance the bass & drums & voice without annoying feedback. Sometimes Paul would go into a searing accordion solo, kneeling down and his fingers flying all over the keys, but we really couldn't hear what he was playing. Not that we cared all that much. Their original material didn't get me excited.

The number of people in the club numbered perhaps 40 when TDA! performed the climax of their one hour set: Magic Carpet Ride, the sixties hit by Steppenwolf. Now the crowd began rocking and a few couples even began dancing. This was music! Mary Kay & I even began singing along, with a few drinks of course. Another hit by The Who brought back more fond memories of our teenage years.

When TDA! finally finished, we were glad we had come. We had a good time and I think you will also, if you like rock music with a hint of accordion.

Oh yeah, the CDs. (See description below.) We thought they were boring compared to the live show. But if you can't see them live, the CDs would be the next best thing. Keep an eye out. When TDA! comes to your town, go and give a listen!

"Clownhead" This San Francisco-based band's latest recording again explores the limitless sonic possibilities of the accordion. Featuring musical styles from traditional polka to hard rock, "Clownhead" offers listeners original rock songs about aliens ("They Came for Accordions"), couch-potato therapy ("Kick My Butt"), bluegrass nightmares ("Hippie With a Banjo") and a disaster that transpired in San Luis Obispo's famed Bubble Gum Alley ("Wall of Gum"). Polka fans can enjoy a Tex-Mex tale of torment ("Mucho De Nada") and bounce to a BBQ blast featuring rollicking vocals by 84-year-old tattooed crooner Clyde Forsman ("First Bratwurst of Summer"). A TDA!! tradition -- accordion "enhancements" of classic rock songs -- continues with faithful renditions of War's "Low Rider" and Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge."

"Amped" The new 6 song EP that captures the band's squeezebox-fueled sonic assault in all it's glory. On "Amped", the band pumps out four catchy songs chronicling life in the weird lane: "Serious World," "Mr Slagle's Revenge," "Enter the Douse," and "Meaning of Life." Along with these originals, the band includes covers of Steppenwolf's rock anthem "Magic Carpet Ride" and a raucous version of "Making Our Dreams Come True" (better known as the theme from "Laverne & Shirley").

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