Friday, April 27, 2007

Gardenia interviews mister anchovy

When did you first begin playing the accordian and why this particular music maker?
I took accordion lessons for 3 months or so when I was 7 or 8 years old and hated every second of it. Nobody I knew played the accordion or even liked the accordion. I didn't know about zydeco, conjunto, cajun music, trikitixa, cumbia, nor did I know just how spectacular a polka can be in the right hands. In the 80s, a number of zydeco players came to Toronto to play, such as Queen Ida, Terence Simien and the Mallet Playboys, and Fernest Arsenault and the Thunders, and I went to the clubs to see them at every occasion. I was deeply immersed in all kinds of roots music by that time, and pretty much ignored the "80s music" that some of my friends were enjoying.

I decided to learn the button accordion 4 or 5 years ago. We live in a Portuguese neighbourhood and I learned quickly that there was a fantastic button accordion tradition in that culture - the Portuguese call the 3 row button accordion a 'concertina', which confused me as I always associated that word with the little Anglo Concertinas. I did some research on the internet, which led me to contact a woman who plays the Alpine style button box. It turned out she had a 3 row Hohner box sitting in a closet, and she was willing to give me a good deal on it - but stipulated that I was to learn it and not resell it. I bought the instrument, and it is a beautiful vintage Hohner in great shape. I started to learn on my own, then found a teacher. A couple years later, I started on the piano accordion as well.

There are certain advantages to accordion. One instrument plays melody, harmony and bass - it's like an orchestra in one. Plus it is an instrument well suited for the folk music I love, and is adaptable to many styles. I also appreciated the fact that it was no longer a 'mainstream' instrument. I was interested in making home-made jam, rather than the stuff that comes out of a jam factory.

What do you hope to accomplish before life is over and why?
I don't think in terms of life's scorecard. I don't have a list. I just try to live a full rich life. In general, I want to keep painting and keep making music as long as I can. I wrote a book once that never saw the light of day (called One-fingered Gloves and Violins). I'd like to write another one along the way that does. I'm open to some new adventures.... Most of the activities that turn my crank aren't very good for making a living, so I have a day job. I like my job, but it would be delicious to not have to work.

You are an artist, gardener and busker. What is something that most people do not know about you?
For a couple years, I was active in the story-telling community, and regularly told stories at a weekly event called 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling.

If you were creating your own island and could not leave it for five years, what would you put on and in this island?
Well, I sure hope I could take Tuffy P. along, and some good friends, a squeezebox, a Go set, a stream that holds some pretty trout and a couple fly rods....

Who would you be if you did not create? Especially in terms of art, music, writing, creating your space around you?
I don't know how to answer who would you be if questions. I can't make somebody else's choices.

If anyone else has any questions, ask away.....


Timmer said...

Great answers Mr. A. Not having to work would be very tasty!

Gardenia said...

Ah, thank you Mr. Anchovy - well, you have given me a new found love for accordian music of every type, and appreciation for this versatile instrument.

Yeh, I hate day jobs, seem to waste time when we could be painting - but they pay the bills while we wait to become famous - you, Candy M. and I need some patrons like the artists of old - er, wait a minute, I think maybe too many artists had too much control over the artist's creation!

Good answers, and interesting. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

If you were a twee what kinda twee would you bee?

Anonymous said...

When's your next dinner party?

(that's what everyone really wants to know)

mister anchovy said...

Dear anonymous....the answer to you question may well change every day, but today, I'd be a willow tree. will be after I make the new back patio.....I'll keep you posted.