We’ve been following Walter Kuehr of Main Squeeze Accordians, 19 Essex Street, since The Lo-Down’s Jesse Jiryu Davis photographed him more than a year ago. So we were interested to hear the profile that just aired on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
The story is about Kuehr, but also about The Main Squeeze Orchestra, the all-female ensemble he created in 2002. As we’ve mentioned in past stories, they have made a CD and have big plans for the future. NPR’s Stephanie Coleman notes the accordian doesn’t always get a lot of respect:
Let’s face it. The typical reaction to this instrument is best summed up in a one-liner. Like, what’s the difference between an onion and an accordion? Answer: You cry when you cut up an onion. Kelly Alba, (a) member of the Main Squeeze Orchestra, says her reaction was just the opposite the first time she held the instrument. “This is the part that I never know how to say in a not-corny way,” she says. “But I just put it on, and it was a sword-in-the-stone moment. It just felt right, and everything in the world made sense.”
As Kuehr explained, the idea for the Orchestra came to him in a dream. A decade later, however, it’s a real-life success story, even if not everyone shares his love for the much-maligned instrument:
For Kuehr, the orchestra is the realization of his own American dream — one he’s had since his very first days as an immigrant in New York City. “When I arrived here 20 years ago in America, I had a suitcase and my accordion,” he says. “I never let go of it. I always stuck with it.” No matter how they may feel, New Yorkers are stuck with it, too. Kuehr and the Main Squeeze Orchestra are plotting to make themselves inescapable in the spring, with more concerts and even another album.
You can hear the complete story on NPR’s web site.