American soldiers left for the Second World War with the sounds of American popular music ringing in their ears. City boys were humming the big-band sounds of Goodman and Miller, Southerners were whistling Carter Family tunes and Westerners were tapping their boots to the Western Swing of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. When they returned from Europe, though, our G.I.s had a different musical sound bouncing around in their heads: the folk music of France, Germany and Italy, a sound dominated by accordions.
Accordions were not a new sound to Americans; they had been a regular part of American popular music since Vaudeville. Accordions were regularly used by travelling music groups as a substitute for piano, which was not always available at performing venues. Bob Wills had an accordion player in his band and for a while, so did Bill Monroe and the Carters. But accordion didn’t start to move to the forefront of American popular music until after World War Two. Radio stars like Frankie Yankovic (father of “Weird Al” Yankovic) and TV stars such as Myron Floren of “The Lawrence Welk Show” brought the accordion to new heights of popularity. Soon, school children all over America were lining up to take accordion lessons. In the early 1950s, accordion was arguably the most popular folk instrument in America. Read More
Originally posted 2013-12-16 12:30:00.