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11/23/13 - Martin Accordions

Saturday, 11/23/13

Accordions are a big part of the Cajun music culture and today Betty took us campers to the home of Martin Accordions  http://martinaccordions.com      I was afraid we'd just walk around and look at a bunch of old accordions and learn a little history, boy was I wrong!  

When I think of accordions I think of polka music and big, heavy accordions (and my dad).  Those kind of accordions are called "piano accordions"   The accordions made by the Martin family are Melodeons a smaller, lighter version perfect for playing Cajun and Zydeco music.   Not only did we learn the history of how the accordion became such a big part of the Cajun culture, we were also treated to a mini-concert.


The Martin Accordion Company is a family run business.  Clarence "Junior" Martin is 73 years old.  He was always musically inclined but to support his family he was a  woodworker and cabinet maker.   He had a friend who made accordions and when Junior expressed an interest in building one for himself he was told "you can't just build one" and sure enough when he was finished he had built seven, one of which his 26 year old grandson, Joel, still plays.   He started the Martin Accordion Company about 32 years  ago with those seven accordions.  When asked how many they make each year he said it differs because each  is a special order.   In their busiest year they made 150!
Note the crawfish on the bellows,
they've copyrighted that and
it's hand painted on each
accordion at customer request

His daughter, Penny, is a school principal and plays with the family whenever she can.  She explained to us the history of the accordion and it's importance in both Cajun and Zydeco music.   Cajun music is played in either a waltz tempo or in a two step tempo.   Zydeco has influences from Cajun and Creole and is more "bluesy" and "rhythmic".    I never knew the difference but now I can hear it.
Penny, Junior, and Joel
Hmmmm, I bet I could play this.  
Penny plays guitar, triangle and bass.   Junior's favorite instrument is the steel guitar (another fascinating instrument) and Joel plays five instruments with the Melodeon being his favorite.    Joel has a CD out with some amazing music on it, of course we bought one.   His Cajun rendition of "Amazing Grace" was absolutely beautiful.  

We arrived here at 10:00 A.M. and left around noon, it was the quickest two hours I've spent in a long time.    Heading back to Abbeyville we stopped at "Cheddars" for lunch and sat with Vicky and Jay from Washington state.    Lunch wasn't very good (the service was terrible) but the company was and we did some more "brain-picking".  

After lunch we made a quick stop at a meat market, Hebert's, where we picked up a local specialty, boudin.  Boudin is a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings which is blending together and then stuffed into a sausage casing.  We bought that kind but there are lots of different ones; alligator, crawfish, shrimp - anything they have down here they can make it with.