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Book Review
An A to Z of the Accordion and related instruments - Volume 3
by Rob Howard

In December 2003, when I reviewed volume 1 of Rob Howard's A-Z of the Accordion, I said, "What is remarkable is the style of writing, which always remains easy to read and yet interesting. Although the articles have been written by various writers they maintain a high standard of clarity and accuracy throughout, which is a tribute to Rob's editing and the proof reading of his wife Marj and daughter Jane." I then finished my review with, "The book can be used as a reference book, simply dipped into by reading certain articles or read in its entirety. All entries are very readable and of interest to the accordionist. This is a book that has filled a void in the accordion scene in Britain where, although there have been a number of magazines published over the years, there has been no one reference publication that one can learn about the instrument and its place in British society. Fortunately this has been filled by an excellent book, which I cannot praise too highly." To my amazement Rob then came up with a second volume in November 2005. I was pleased to be able to say of this, "I have now received my copy of Volume 2 and am happy to learn that it is as good in every way as Volume 1 and, of course, a completely new book with entirely new material.

Those who have a copy of Volume 1 and/or Volume 2 need only be assured that volume 3 admirably lives up to the high standard of previous volumes and they will surely be eager to get a copy of Rob's latest work. I am amazed that after learning so much about the accordion movement in "the British Isles" in volume 1 and then even more about the movement in "Great Britain and Ireland.. and a look beyond these shores" in Volume 2 that there was enough material to write a third volume. Happily, I was wrong, because Rob is one of those devotees who, with a "degree of zeal that verges on the fanatical" (I quote from page 239 of Volume 3), has a detective-like ability and perseverance to uncover material of great interest. He asked me whether I had any suggestions for inclusion in the new volume and as a result was delighted to find interesting articles on Arthur Bell and Eric Winstone, complete with photographs. There are also many other such nostalgic articles that remind me of personalities from the accordion world in which I grew up and some of which I had never known, but nonetheless find fascinating to read.

As with previous volumes, it is not only a reference book containing many biographies, but it also contains useful articles for those wishing to improve their knowledge and playing abilities. Some of those aimed at performance include Memorising and Aural Training (Gerald Crossman), Practising - three separate articles, (Pearl Fawcett-Adriano, Toralf Tollefsen and Kenneth Hacking), Technique (Charles Camilleri), Vocal Accompaniment (Jack Emblow), Writing and Arranging (Gerald Crossman), How To Adjust Your Accordion Straps Correctly (Roger Nightingale) and Medley Mania (John Kirkpatrick). Those providing information about the instrument include Accordions Tunings (Graham Romani), Couplers (Rob Howard) and Roland Virtual Accordion (Mike O'Regan). There are also many interesting articles about accordion activities, such as Accordion Clubs, Accordion Festivals, The Auvergne, Bal Musette, Busking, Cajun & Zydeco, The 'Fiddler on the Roof' Experience, Going Out Gigging, Morris Dancing, Recordings, Record Reviews, Russian Accordionists in the UK, Accordions in the Theatre, Irish Accordion Association, Ireland's Ceili Bands, Northern Ireland's Accordion Heritage, Orkney & Shetland and Scottish Dance Bands. I especially enjoyed reading the historic visits by English accordionists to other countries, such as Adrian Dante's American Journey in 1949, Gerald Crossman's diary account of his 11-day Trip to Paris in 1950 (when his return rail fare cost £12 and he returned with £20 unspent, out of a total £50 currency allowance), his subsequent Visit to America in 1950 when he met many luminaries of the American accordion scene (but to his great disappointment missed visiting the broadcast studio at 7.30am to see Pietro Frosini perform because "owing to too many late nights, I just couldn't get out of bed in time!") and Pearl Fawcett-Adriano's Historic Tour of 1976 to the USSR.

In format and size this volume is identical to volume 2 with 240 pages printed on high quality glossy paper. (Volume 1 has 256 pages.) Whereas volumes 1 and 2 were printed in black and white, with just the covers printed in colour, in volume 3 there are seven pages containing coloured 32 photographs. Volume 1 contains about 100 photographs and nearly 300 articles, Volume 2 has 250 photographs 200+ articles and Volume 3 has 250 photographs and pictures and 200 articles.
These statistics give no indication of the readability of the latest publication, which is of the highest order. Although the book can be used as a reference book or simply dipped into by reading certain articles it can easily be read in its entirety. This is what I did and it sustained my interest throughout, no doubt due to its excellent editing and the varied articles submitted by numerous contributors.

As the final article states, "Despite its low public profile, the accordion doggedly retains an intensely loyal following amongst it devotees that usually surprises those new to the instrument." It is comforting to discover in the wealth of articles in this book that there are, and have been, so many other devotees to the instrument apart from those that one already knows.

Once again I can enthusiastically recommend this latest volume as essential reading for all those who play or enjoy the sound of the accordion.

Peter Ayers, MD
Norvic Concordia - August 2007

Book Review
An A to Z of the Accordion and related instruments - Volume 3
by Rob Howard

Just when you thought it was safe to resume your social life Rob's done it again. A third 240-page masterpiece packed with facts and (over 200) photographs which, together with Volumes 1 and 2 creates a lasting record of everything that's been happening in our accordion world for the last 70 years. Although it may be just over a year since Volume 2 appeared, again it's Rob's tireless enthusiasm and dedication over a lifetime that is encapsulated in these books. Basically we have a very readable reference book with probably everything you would ever want to know about "accordion-lore" in the UK (and in many cases beyond).

Once again Scotland is well represented with articles on Billy Anderson, Bill Black, Sandy Brechin, John Carmichael, John Crawford, Ian Cruickshanks, Colin Dewar, Graham Geddes, Gregor Lowrie, Ian Lowthian, Roya MacLean, Iain MacPhail, Fergie, McDonald, Ian Muir's (both of them), Tom Orr, Morag Robertson, Donald Shaw, Emily Smith, and many others. From a Scottish perspective it's good to have so many current names appearing since there tends to be an assumption beyond our borders that accordion music started and finished with Sir Jimmy.

This together with the English and International accordion stars, plus the historical articles by accordion greats such as Adrian Dante's
American Journey, Gerald Crossman's Visit to America, and a wealth of other accordion (and occasionally harmonica) related odds and ends make this book a superb read. But if you have Volumes 1 and 2 you'll know already that Rob has a winning formula.

And as if all that wasn't enough Rob has held the price steady. An A to Z of Accordions and Related Instruments Volume 3 is available in hardback from Rob Howard at Robaccord Publications, 42 Avondale Road, Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK3 9NY at a cost of £15 + £4 p&p (Cheques payable to Rob Howard). Tel 0161 480 8858, or email for further information. Copies of the reprinted Volumes 1 and 2 are still available. No-one who has Volumes 1 and 2 will hesitate to add this to their collection and for those of you who haven't started yet, now's the time.

Full marks to Rob for the endless hours he must have ploughed into this project - going where no man dared to go before - and giving us all a fascinating record of how the accordion has developed to the point we find ourselves at today.

Charlie Todd,
Box & Fiddle, Scotland

The Trilogy!!!
Brand New - published in August 2007
The ideal present for any accordion enthusiast!!!

This popular series of reference books now becomes a trilogy - one more celebration of the accordion & its close relatives in Great Britain, Ireland…and a look elsewhere. Over 200 articles and biographies, with 250 photographs and pictures, some in colour, including:

Accordion Clubs This article looks at the origins of the accordion clubs in Great Britain, from 1930 to the present day. All present day clubs in Great Britain are listed.
Accordion Festivals Revisited an extended article that reviews three of the most significant festivals: Sands Bay (1982), Caister (1986) and Caister (2006)
Accordion to Caroline! and Accordion to Ken two illustrated articles showcasing a few of the instruments from these two renowned accordion collectors. All pictures are in colour
Accordions Tunings an archive article, by Graham Romani, in which he discusses 'straight' and 'tremolo' (musette) accordion tunings
All-Ireland Champions lists of the 2-row button and piano accordion champions
American Journey An archive article in which Adrian Dante writes about his trip to the USA in 1949, meetings many of the American accordion luminaries of the time.
Among My Memories Gerald Crossman writes about some of his various experiences as a professional accordionist.
Auvergne and the Accordion Paul Elliot writes about a visit to a region in central France that has strong present and past accordion connections.
Bal Musette Revisited looking back at the origins (and revival) of French musette
The Beatles and Me the opening page of a yet to be published book by accordionist Shirley Evans about her memories of playing in the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour
Bellows Shaking an archive article written by the legendary Pietro Frosini.
Busking a look at busking and buskers
Cajun & Zydeco an introduction to these accordion-based styles that have in recent years broken out of their Louisiana, USA, homeland and are now spreading internationally
Ceili House a regular Saturday night feature of Radio Eireann since the 1950s.
Conducting Brian Jenkins, Stockport Accordion Orchestra MD, explains some of the principles of the art of conducting.
Couplers an article that explores and encourages the use of accordion couplers
Diary of a Visit to Paris Gerald Crossman's diary account of his trip to Paris in 1950 offers a nostalgic look back in time…
DVD lists of currently available accordion performance and tuition DVDs
Gerald Crossman's Visit to America an account of Crossman's trip to New York in 1950, where he met many of the leading American accordion personalities of the era…
The 'Fiddler on the Roof' Experience Rosemary Wright discusses the trials and tribulations of playing this challenging accordion part.
Going Out Gigging the author shares some memories of playing one night stands…
How to Adjust Your Accordion Straps Correctly an in-depth discussion of a neglected topic, written by Roger Nightingale, from New Zealand
Humour A few accordion jokes, not to be taken too seriously!
Irish Accordion Association formed in 1971 by Paddy Kavanagh and Sean Kearney
Ireland's Ceili Bands - a look at this sub-genre of Irish music, with brief details of many of the leading ceili bands…
The Jazz and Swing Accordion Story This landmark 4 CD set includes recordings by many of the leading European and US jazz accordionists from the 1930s/1970s period.
Johnny Handle's Accordion Tales humorous, illustrated, true anecdotes told by Johnny Handle, legendary Geordie folk singer, accordionist and songwriter…
The Charles Magnante Story details of a book/CD, giving a unique overview of the life, career and works of America's legendary Charles Magnante (1905-86)
Medley Mania a thought-provoking article written by John Kirkpatrick
Memorising and Aural Training an in-depth look at memorising and aural training, written by Gerald Crossman
Morris Dancing a look at the world of Morris dancing
Northern Ireland's Accordion Heritage the accordion in the Six Counties
Orkney & Shetland the musical traditions of the most northerly part of the UK
Practising three separate articles, written by Pearl Fawcett-Adriano, Toralf Tollefsen and Kenneth Hacking
Recordings contact details of retailers for accordion CDs and DVDs
Record Reviews a selection of CD reviews
Roland Virtual Accordion a detailed summary of the features of the Roland V Accordion, written by enthusiast Mike O'Regan
Russian Accordionists in the UK an article looking at appearances in this country by leading accordionists from the former USSR
Scottish Dance Bands a look at some of the leading dance bands
The Sound of Shand Jimmy Shand recordings available from the Shand family
Take the Floor BBC Radio Scotland's long running Saturday evening programme
Tales & Trivia an assortment of stories concerning accordions and accordionists
Accordions in the Theatre theatrical productions involving the accordion
Pearl's Historic Tour Pearl Fawcett-Adriano looks back at her 1976 tour of the USSR
Vocal Accompaniment Jack Emblow writes about accompanying singers
The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy Dorset-born novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was also an enthusiastic fiddle player and collector of country-dance tunes. This article looks at his life and times…
White Heather Club an article about a much loved television programme
Writing and Arranging some advice from Gerald Crossman
Yesteryear photographs and advertisements through the years...
Zeppelins, accordions and changing times a reflection on changing times and trends
Accordion clubs Chester, Derwentside, Fairtykes, Guildford, Leyland, Middlesbrough, North Staffs, Sheffield, Soar Valley, South East Cornwall, Stockport, Uxbridge, West Dorset Accordion Group, White Horse AC
Bands Cherish the Ladies, High Level Ranters, Hoghton Band, Hoover the Dog, Horsham Accordion Band, Irish Weavers, Laurie Accordion Schools & Orchestras, Shaskeen. Tameside Junior Accordion Band, Weaver Valley Accordion Band
Biographies Billy Anderson, Declan Aungier, Ruth Askew, Jim Bainbridge, Joss Baselli (Jo Basile), Janet Beale, Seamus Begley, Arthur Bell, Wolmer Beltrami, Mickey Binelli, Ronald Binge, Bill Black, Mark Bousie, Craig Bradley, Sandy Brechin, Shane Brogan, Charles Camilleri, John Carmichael, Mauro Carra, Pat Casey, Ronald Chesney, Gerry Conlon & Seamus O'Sullivan, John Crawford, Ian Cruickshanks, Jackie Daly, Colin Dewar, Brian Dexter, Pamby Dick, Keith Dickson, Henry Doktorski, Luciano Fancelli, Lindsay Garvin, Graham Geddes, Johnny Grande, Billy Grogan, Keith Hancock, Fred Hanna, William Hannah, Heather Hawthorn, Brian Hibbert, Shona Holmes, Graham Irvine, Carl Jularbo, Paddy Kavanagh, James Keane, Jimmy Keane, Alan Kelly, Gorni Kramer, John Leslie, Gregor Lowrie, Ian Lowthian, Francis Mabbutt, Fergie McDonald, John MacDonald, Roya MacLean, Iain MacPhail, Donnie McKenzie, Nicol McLaren, Rene Mairis, Barbara Ann Martindale, Johnny Meijer, Milos Milivojevic, Ian Muir, Ian Muir, Jean-Louis Noton, David Oliver, Tom Orr, Johnnie Owens, Trefor Owens, Petulengros, Harry Pitch, Eddie Quinn, Reed & Delroy, Ed Rennie, Morag Robertson, Lindsay Ross, James Scott Skinner, Donald Shaw, Emily Smith, Gigi Stok, Rod Stradling, Rod Stradling, Douglas Tate, John Tilt, Lynn Tocker, Arthur Tolcher, Dave Townsend, Adamo Volpi, Wilf Walker, Marie Walsh, Lindsay Weir, Eric Winstone, Rudolf Wurthner, Daniel & Peter Wyper
Autobiographie Peter Ayers, Julie Best, Johnny Coleclough, Fred Dunn, Norman English, Jean Hanger, Raymond Jones and Heather Smith

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