Open and shut 

Mama's not the only one with a squeezebox, and daddy may be glad he can't sleep at night. But businessmen looking for a quiet stay at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn this week are in for a surprise. As part of 2005 American Accordionists' Association (AAA) Festival, hundreds of accordionists and accordion aficionados from all over the world will descend upon the Dearborn hotel for a celebration of all-things squeezebox.

For four days straight, the hotel will teem with jubilant concerts, awards ceremonies, competitions, workshops and parties — all centered on the virtues of one of the world's most misunderstood instruments. There's a joke in here somewhere.

But local concert accordionist and Wayne State associate professor of music Peter Soave doesn't see anything funny about those who squawk about the box, and can't wait for this weekend's festivities. He's a longtime member of the AAA. "This festival hasn't been in Detroit for 20 years," Soave says.

As a touring accordionist, Soave knows what kind of merriment a gathering like this will bring to the Motor City. He's played the accordion since he was a kid and says that being the child of Italian immigrants made his fascination with the instrument all the more passionate.

"There's not a folk music out there that doesn't incorporate the accordion," Soave says. "A lot of people don't know this, but the accordion was first created in China. It's everywhere."

Despite its slightly nerdy reputation, Soave insists that the accordion is a very serious instrument. "The accordion is very sexy," he says. "You have to caress the sound out of the instrument. It cries at you."

Highlights from this year's festival include:

The Giant Squeeze Off and Polka Party on Wednesday, July 6. This kickoff event is the perfect way to jump-start the merriment. There will be a special focus on polka, and continuous accordion music from 6 to 10 p.m.

Thursday, July 7, brings the Vivian Vivio Stolaruk International Entertainment Competition, in which contenders from the United States, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico, France and Italy compete for a $15,000 grand prize.

On Friday, July 8, the motherlode of accordion offerings will come to a head with the Massed Band Performance — more than 100 accordion players on the same stage at the same time. Is there a Phil Spector-style "wall of accordions" in the making?


Wednesday July 6 through Sunday, July 10, in the Hyatt Regency, 600 Town Center Dr., Dearborn; 313-593-1234;

Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to

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