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Concertina used in Zydeco Music


Tammy Lee
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Hello Everyone. I just purchased a 20 button concertina for my husband for Christmas. Neither of us have ever played one so we are newbies. He will probably enjoy it - if I ever put it down. I am absolutely smitten with this instrument and can already see the need for a 30 button. I play the pedal harp and native american flute also. Chris plays the uke and mandolin. All of our boys play instruments - fiddle, guitar, flute, spoons, bodhran, bass, ocarina, etc.

 

My question: About 9 years ago, my husband was at a Zydeco festival in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and saw a man playing a small concertina size instrument that had metal levers instead of buttons. They had a booth where they were selling this instruments. Does anyone know what instrument this is or where to purchase one? My husband said it was great sounding and seemed very easy to play and that the man called them "Zydecos."

 

Tammy Lee

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I've never seen or heard of a concertina being used in a true zydeco band (not enough volume). This instrument was most likely a one row melodeon or button accordion, although three row button and piano accordions are also sometimes used. You can search the web for "Cajun accordion builders" to find a list of makers. The three major Cajun accordion builders are Mark Savoy (Acadian), Junior Martin, and Jay Miller (Bon Cajun), but there are several others who make comparably fine instruments.

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I've never seen or heard of a concertina being used in a true zydeco band (not enough volume). This instrument was most likely a one row melodeon or button accordion, although three row button and piano accordions are also sometimes used. You can search the web for "Cajun accordion builders" to find a list of makers. The three major Cajun accordion builders are Mark Savoy (Acadian), Junior Martin, and Jay Miller (Bon Cajun), but there are several others who make comparably fine instruments.

 

Perhaps you mean Larry Miller, who uses the Bon Cajun trademark? I got to spend several days with Larry Miller some years ago and learned a lot from him. The three builders Jim named are full time; there are several dozen part time builders also, some of whom make really superb instruments. The moniker "concertina" for these instruments in Louisiana (especially in the old days) is a usage you'll run into; I have also encountered it in maritime Canada among old-timers.

 

I have an Acadian in C. I only waited two months for it and it cost barely what a modern hybrid anglo does - what a contrast in price and waiting times with a top anglo concertina! Laissez le bon temps roulez!

 

Ken

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Does anyone know what instrument this is or where to purchase one?

It's a 1-row button accordion. For that type of music the favored box has 4 stops and is in the key of C with the 3rds detuned 15 cents. There are several makers of very good boxes (noted by others here) and a few makes of mass-manufactured ones which range from mediocre to pretty decent. The Button Box sells several models of the pretty decent sort. Check accordion stores in your area for the same makes (or you can order from the BBox).

 

-- Rich --

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Does anyone know what instrument this is or where to purchase one?

It's a 1-row button accordion. For that type of music the favored box has 4 stops and is in the key of C with the 3rds detuned 15 cents. There are several makers of very good boxes (noted by others here) and a few makes of mass-manufactured ones which range from mediocre to pretty decent. The Button Box sells several models of the pretty decent sort. Check accordion stores in your area for the same makes (or you can order from the BBox).

 

-- Rich --

 

 

We currently own a cajun accordion. The instrument in question was the shape and size of a concertina and had metal spoon sharped levers instead of buttons. I have search the internet and can find nothing.

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