Accordion club larger pic

By Ilona Merritt

Looking for an inexpensive evening out?  Dinner, drinks and entertainment?  Try the Elks Lodge on the second Wednesday of each month.  The SouthShore Accordion Club, formerly the Accordion Club of Sun City Center, will entertain you and the Elks welcome you to be their guests for the best spaghetti dinner in town. Details are at the end of this article.   

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of accordions…the “button” accordion, and the “piano” accordion. If the treble side is made up of buttons, then the accordion is a button box. If the treble side of the accordion is made up of black and white piano keys, then it’s a piano accordion. To play an accordion one must pull the bellows to move air through the reeds. The diatonic accordion is a button accordion, and have two or four rows of buttons. Each row is tuned to a specific key, having only the notes of that scale. They are also almost always bisonoric; each button produces different pitches depending on the direction of the bellow action. If a player needs air, it means changing direction and this is where it gets tricky, now the key changes and the note is in a different location.

In 2009 Larry and Connie Lundeen had moved from St. Petersburg to Sun City Center. Larry is an enthusiastic accordion player and felt that we should have an Accordion Club in SCC.  He got together a group of players and listeners and so the club was formed in October 2009. The sole purpose of the SCC Club is to promote the enjoyment of playing and listening to accordion music and to provide a monthly gathering for friendship and socializing of SCC accordion players and listeners. All types of accordions are acceptable. Several Piano accordion players joined along with a number of button box players. Eventually a Concertina player joined the group making it even more diverse. Quite a combination since the art of playing these accordions is each very different. But it worked and we have fun and new members are always welcome.

Keeping this club going has been a real challenge for Larry. Fortunately accordions are portable since over the years the club has had many homes: the Caper room, the Old Castle restaurant ( the local German restaurant) and the Lawn Bowling building.

But with outsiders wanting to play with us it became a double-edged sword. The outsiders are excellent players (many of them had played professionally) and some of us novices learned from their experience. Most of the outside players were from clubs in Sarasota and St. Petersburg and our welcomed our club to their facilities. However, we did not want to break any CA rules so it was time to look for another place for the group to play.

The Sun City Center Club has now been integrated with accordion players from Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Tampa, creating the Ruskin Accordion Club which plays at the South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672, 1630 US Hwy 41S., Ruskin, FL on the second Wednesday of each month.  This move has an additional benefit. Wednesdays the Elk’s serve the best spaghetti in town from 5 to 7 p.m. and the accordion club plays until 8 p.m. We play individually, duets, trios and at the end of the evening we all get together and do some jamming.


Who’s in the picture

Wally McIntire, Ilona Merritt and Marie Therese Koseki all play the Steirische Harmonika, which is popular in the Alpine regions of Europe. Russ Merritt and Larry Lundeen playing Piano Accordions.