Costa Mesa, CA --Most of the performers at “The Big Squeeze“, the 1st Orange County Accordion Festival, have had decades of experience on their instruments. Not Jordan Elliott. Only 18-years-old, Elliott of Costa Mesa didn’t begin playing the accordion until three years ago when he glanced at an advertisement for one on craigslist and decided to buy it.
At “The Big Squeeze“, Sunday, October 11 at the Orange County Market Place in Costa Mesa, the weekend swap meet at the fairgrounds, Elliott, along with more than 40 other accordionists and musicians, ranging in ages 8 to 91 will showcase a variety of music styles to demonstrate the squeeze box’s versatility and cross cultural appeal including Cajun, zydeco, folk, jazz, gypsy, French, German, tango, Russian, Tex-Mex, Latin, blues, rock and much more
The self-taught Elliott quickly took to the instrument and, three years later, has created a gypsy-style, accordion-playing character: The Jester.
“It was always my nickname in high school and I kind of based a persona out of that,” says Elliott, who graduated from the Orange County High School of the Arts and plans on studying film at the Pasadena Art College.
Elliott, who plays a bandoneon, a smallish accordion from South America, describes his style as French gypsy. He wasn’t a musical novice when he purchased his accordion. He plays several instruments, including ukulele, keyboards and guitar and has a wide range of musical interests.
Two of his favorite bands while still in high school were the Canadian ensemble Arcade Fire and the Portland, OR.,-based The Decembrists. Both are rock bands with a decided folk influence, and each uses the accordion as a major component of their sound.
Then, a few years ago, Elliott saw the gypsy punk band, Gogol Bordello, and was amazed by its use of the accordion.
“There was just something about the sound that really hooked me,” he said. “It has a unique sound, something that can’t easily be mimicked by a machine.”
Elliott has blended his love of the accordion with his passion for film, even producing an eight-minute documentary on You Tube called “Are the Bellows Rusted?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1gp5utrqFY
“A lot of people my age have no idea what it’s capable of,” Elliott said. “They think it’s an old-fashioned instrument that only people in Germany play. But it’s a world-renowned instrument and the documentary is about the accordion in American society and discusses the stereotypes that people have about the accordion.”
Elliott, in jester costume, will be a strolling performer during the Festival, which he will do from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then play on stage at 3 p.m.
Along with his musical talent, Elliott also dabbles as an artist and created the artwork being used in the promotional materials for “The Big Squeeze.” It is a stylized photo of himself dressed in his jester costume that he has enhanced through Adobe Photoshop.
Along with Elliott there will be four stages of simultaneous accordion music and accordion based bands and orchestras performing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition there will be free dance lessons and a section for specialty vendors in the Main Squeeze Stage area. Along with the Festival is the regular base of Market Place vendors, food operations and other attractions.
Though the talent is rich, the Accordion Festival will not put a squeeze on your wallet. All activities including entrance to the swap meet are included in the price of Market Place admission, which is $2 or FREE with a canned food item to help the Orange County Food Bank. Children 12 and under are free. A complete schedule for “The Big Squeeze” is available at the website www.ocmarketplace.com.
All attendees will have the opportunity to win a FREE Hohner Bravo 48 II accordion donated by Hohner USA. Free sign up to win the accordion, which is ideal for beginners, will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Big Squeeze information booth. The winner, who must be present to win, will be announced at 2:30 p.m.
In its 40th year the Orange County Market Place is held every weekend (except during the Orange County Fair) at the O.C. Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information on these events may be obtained by visiting www.ocmarketplace.com or calling 949-723-6660.