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I've noticed something that seems interesting to me here and in another forum I follow: many people who are taking up the concertina or smallish accordions seem to be doing so to play in punk or indie rock bands. I'm having trouble mentally hearing this. Does anyone know of a source where I can hear such a band playing with an accordion or concertina? I'm interested in YouTube, but I have no problem paying to buy a song or two on iTunes if needed to get a feel for this style.

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Your question is quite hard really - especially because of what exactly do you call punk and indie rock?


You could look at something called gypsy punk - try bands like Gogol Bordello, Kozak System or Haydamaky, plenty of their songs on YT.

Then there is nordic folk-metal: Korpiklaani for example.

In more indie areas, there are bands like Dansbanan, Beirut or Tesco Value.

Another area: Irish folk-punk bands like Dropkick Murphys.

And many, many more...


But unfortunately, all of this is accordion. I have never heard (or heard about) any band with such concertina use. And only a small number of people on concertinas trying to play covers of such songs on YT.

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Give me a couple of days; I just played a gig last Tuesday on Duet concertina as part of an indie-rock trio, in the overall drone/psych-pop genre. We also threw in a Beatles' cover, "Norwegian Wood", with the concertina subbing for a harmonium subbing for sitar.


A buddy recorded some snippets of the gig on her cellphone, and after a week of not seeing her I ran across her at the local pub's trivia competition, and she mentioned that she'd got some decent footage and would upload it to YouTube for me.



On the more professional side, though it was with a Chemnitzer concertina, the Americana rock band 16 Horsepower had some great concertina bits on songs like "American Wheeze": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THlgU-8dMYg



...a bit more tangential, but in the context of non-intuitive instruments being used in such genres, there's a NYC band called The Spines that does some great work on autoharp, here covering the Velvet Underground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9plWSiQ_aN8


EDIT: here's a 2010 Cnet thread on a related issue: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=10094

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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  • 1 year later...

Yes, there has been another thread about this phenom. I think the OP in that thread used a different generic label than "punk/indie," but they were pointing out that they and other younger players who were taking up concertina were interested in this. I think that person called it, pop, or singer-songwriter stuff, I can't remember. Anyway, I personally, think that rock/pop, etc ., etc., sounds asinine on the concertina but it would be great if there was a huge groundswell of punk, orckabilly, acid rock, funk, concertina, you name it. As the other poster pointed out, folk instruments have long been used for folk-flavored elements in all kinds of rock/pop genres, including punk, if you look at Gogol Bordello or the Pogues. The band Brave Combo was famous for accordion and genre-bending. I'd guess concertina has gotten little use in rock/punk bands because it is so easily drowned out. The accordion has more of a fighting chance. But also, bringing us back to another frequent topic, fast, playable concertinas usable for fast, energetic musical genres, are more expensive than your typical punk rocker can afford. A DIY, punk artist might view them as an elitist toy for rich snobs.

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Anyway, I personally, think that rock/pop, etc ., etc., sounds asinine on the concertina but it would be great if there was a huge groundswell of punk, orckabilly, acid rock, funk, concertina, you name it.

On my gigs, I play Rock/Pop and even songs that have a kind of punksound to them. The reactions are really good. I honestly think that a Concertina is an underestimated Heavy-Rock instrument.

That means - if you can solve the feedback problem. On a Concertina you have to use microphones. If you add distortion (like a guitar does) you´ll easily get a feedback that´s deafening. I found ways for me to work around that, it took a long time though.

I think of a Duet Concertina (maybe for an English it´s just the same) as an organ with bellows. It can sound like a harmonica. Harmonicas are used in Blues a lot. Often with distortion.

I also would compare the sound of a Concertina to an electric guitar. Electric guitars dont have a very rich overtones, Concertinas too. That´s good for adding effects. And you can play with distortion very well as long as you play like a guitarplayer, that means - powerchords (no thirds). Then it´s a lot of fun - you have much more sustain than a guitar.

Here is an example, even though I´m not happy with the recording (I´m working on a CD right now): https://soundcloud.com/squeezer-stefan/highway-hell-test1

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[[[Or they might simply find them too expensive, without feeling the need to demean concertinas and concertina players.]]]


Perhaps a review of Sex Pistols themes and lyrics, might be illuminating. "Demean" was too mild for the classic punks of the bad ole days, whose rhetorical flourishes made John Lennon telling those in the cheap seats to clap, and the Royal Family and the aristos, "to just rattle your jewelry," sound like a little old lady feeding her kitty-cats.


[[[-if you can solve the feedback problem]] Hmmmm. I do sometimes have access to a metal-ended Crane whose previous owner supposedly used it in a rock band. And with no mikng or amplification of any kind, it is the sole instrument I've had under my roof that makes the cat cry. Johnny Rotten might have put it to good use for a rousing rendition of, "God Save The Queen, Your Fascist Regime . . . . " :rolleyes:


I actually read much of Johnny Rotten's (real and current name, John Lydon) newly-out second volume of memoirs over the weekend. Titled, "Anger Is an Energy: My Life, Uncensored." He is a hilarious and perceptive character who grew up in London's Irish slums, and whose father was a Galway man who prior to emigration to The Fog, played . . . accordion in show bands. The first volume I believe came out in the early/mid '90s, and is a great read and helluva punk autobio, title is "Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs."

Edited by ceemonster
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Indie rock & punk? that was the late 70's & 80's wasn't it? I'm not sure what they call it these days but I don't think it's punk and indie rock.


But ah... good ole rock 'n roll, there's nothing quite like AC/DC!


On my gigs, I play Rock/Pop and even songs that have a kind of punksound to them. The reactions are really good. I honestly think that a Concertina is an underestimated Heavy-Rock instrument.


Here is an example, https://soundcloud.com/squeezer-stefan/highway-hell-test1



You know these days I think concertina is underestimated generally in regard to contemporary music.


But ho Stefan, you are an innovator. Highway to Hell on concertina, wacko! Except with the distortion it doesn't sound like a concer. Can that be backed off a little to bring the concertina sound through a bit? That's not a criticism, just wondering? Carry on.


The future for the concertina depends upon younger people taking it up, and if that means their sort of music so be it. However it's not happening in Australia. Will the concertina carry on or just die with all of us old blokes?


Cheers Steve.

Edited by Steve Wilson
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Hi Steve, I think you are right regarding contemporary music, there are endless possibilities. And I think Ceemonster is right in a way too, if he thinks that " rock/pop, etc ., etc., sounds asinine on the concertina". That is - if you try to play that music in a "traditional" way. That, many times, sounds only funny.

My approach is different. I love the acoustic sound of a concertina of course, but when I play with my equipment I try to think of the instrument as the basic motor of the whole system. Like an electric guitar is nothing without its amplifier.


So Highway to Hell doesn´t sound like a concertina? Well - it sounds like a distortion-concertina and that´s ok to me. Actually I´m not happy with the sound on that recording, it´s kind of "plastic". I could do that better now. And maybe I´ll change the sound to a little more natural...

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Yes, labels do change, don't they? "Real" punk was early to mid 70s, late '70s if you're stretching it. Then there was "post-punk." There are still current bands that think of themselves as punk bands, long may it wave. The terms "indie" and "alternative,' or "alt-rock," came in when, in the '90s, I think.

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"Indie" was aroundin the mid-80s as a signifier of


(a) music released on independent labels and

(B) as "indiepop" -- independently-released slightly shambolic guitar-pop.


The idea of "Indie" as a genre (as distinct from indiepop) came with the post-Oasis dadrock stuff in the mid-90s, Coldplay being the most obvious (and most upsetting) example. ;)

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