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The Duluth Accordionaires — Music to Eat Pizza By (1967)

Album sleeve text:

Jeno’s Pizza Presents: Music to Eat Pizza By
Featuring the Duluth Accordionaires
Directed by John Copiskey

Welcome another new sound — the sound of, “would you believe,” 23 accordions? No, not just the sound of 23 accordions–the sound of The Duluth Accordionaires. And there is a distinct difference.

When the Accordionaires marched into RCA Victor’s Studio A in Chicago to record this LP, the RCA staff welcomed the group warmly, but their faces revealed a hint of skepticism at the sight of the 23 accordions.

But, during their first selection, that look changed to amazement and the first comment was “Hey, that’s an orchestra!”

All through the recording session, the music of the Accordionaires filtered through the studio doors and drew passing RCA personnel into the engineer’s booth where their appreciation of the sound was evident in tapping feet.

But, when the Accordionaires had completed the last take of the final selection, Recording Engineer Brian Christian paid them the highest compliment in suggesting that their sound could do for the accordion what the sound of the Tijuana Brass has done for the trumpet.

Yes, the Accordionaires are an orchestra. But — with the exception of sidemen Ralph Anderson (double bass) — the Accordionaires are 14-to-19-year-old music students of Director John Copiskey.

And, yes, the sound of The Duluth Accordionaires is new — but new only in the sense that until recently so few had been exposed to it.

John Copiskey began creating this sound with his first ensemble of accordion students in 1949. The following year the ensemble started competing in Minnesota, regional and national music contests. And, over the years, as the number of ensembles under his direction increased from one to seven, he continued to develop and refine the sound.

The ensembles have competed every year since 1950. And their sound has captured awards in every competition entered — the highest being the highest national honor awarded accordion ensembles, the American Accordion Association’s First Place Trophy for Virtuoso Ensemble Competition.

After capturing this coveted award, The Duluth Accordionaires were invited to tour Italy with America’s leading accordion artists and to appear on NBC-TV’s “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.

And, now this — their first record.

The sound of The Duluth Accordionaires is as new as a sound can be to one first hearing it — and as rich as a sound can be that has been almost two decades in the making.

So, welcome now another new sound — the surprising sound of The Duluth Accordionaires.

Recorded June 23, 1967, at RCA Studios, Chicago
Recording Engineer: Brian Christian
Cover & Liner Supervision: Deane Williams
Producer: Gene Gruba

There’s also an “I was a Duluth Accordionaire” Facebook page, with excellent photos like these:

18 Comments

Codie

about 7 years ago

I've listened to this on vinyl once before. Nothing but cheesy Italian pizzeria background music. (no pun intended) Still, pretty awesome!

Elden

about 7 years ago

I have another Duluth Accordionaires album burried somewhere deep in the basement. I don't remember what the album name is. There is a group shot on the back of the album with the 30 or so members lined up. I have no way to play vinyl, but the album cover was still worth the 25 cents I think I paid for it.

Jim M

about 7 years ago

I saw a vinyl copy of the Don Yoder classic "Because He Lives" in the used bin at the Fetus the other day. It's under the Y section.

NateL

about 7 years ago

I have this album hanging on my office wall at work.

Tomasz

about 7 years ago

As a fan of old-skul cheezy musak, I have to say that this is one *EPIC* find. NEED IT!

rykwon

about 7 years ago

I have a Duluth Accordianaires album somewhere, it's covered in American flags and such. I have never listened to it though.

Amy S.

about 7 years ago

That is SOOO my dad in the top photo!!

Paul Lundgren

about 7 years ago

Amy, I suspect it isn't an expression you're using, and that really is your dad. That photo is dated May 1980, by the way. I want to see the Accordionaires' 1967 appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Amy S.

about 7 years ago

Nope, really is my dad, Paul Swanoski. We're polka freaks.

Marios

about 7 years ago

I was a Duluth Accordionaire! Technically a Swingaire, and then an Accordion Ambassador after Copiskey passed away. Best music teacher ever! Crazy to see old pics of Johnny. Does anyone have old pics of Johnny's Music?

hbh1

about 7 years ago

Wasn't Lefty an Accordionaire?

sparhawk

about 7 years ago

I have this record and one of the guys who played on it (and is in the awesome band shot on the back) goes to the church I go to. Apparently this was one of Jeno Paulucci's big ideas -- pretty innovative, if you think about it -- "gotta rope in these teenagers!"

Adam

about 7 years ago

Anyone know of any local polka bands (besides the Chmielewski Funtime Band)? I need a polka band.

Pat

about 7 years ago

A big thanks for sharing my website, Vinyl from Hell. For anyone interesting in more Duluth Accordionaire music, the Vinyl Cave in Superior has many of their other releases.

Bad Cat!

about 7 years ago

This record is in my living room right now!

Paul Lundgren

about 7 years ago

Are you eating pizza?

Bad Cat!

about 7 years ago

Sadly no. I'm not sure if it was legal for me to listen to the record without pizza, but I risked it. My partner's mom was a Duluth Accordionaire back in the day, and asked me to rip the vinyl (which I don't have to do now because I see that someone beat me to it).

Frazgo Fraz

about 4 years ago

What a great little find this. A total stroll down memory lane. My cousin Terry Kasie, RIP, played with them when I was a kid. Both my Mom and my Aunt have this album stashed away somewhere. I was completely surprised to find it on a wall in a little Pizza Bistro in suburban L.A a couple of years ago. In my own daft nostalgic way I think I'd like a copy of my own for old times sake.

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