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The Accordion in the AmericasKlezmer, Polka, Tango, Zydeco, and More!$
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Helena Simonett

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037207

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037207.001.0001

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Accordions and Working-Class Culture along Lake Superior’s South Shore

Accordions and Working-Class Culture along Lake Superior’s South Shore

(p.136) 7 Accordions and Working-Class Culture along Lake Superior’s South Shore
The Accordion in the Americas

James P. Leary

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the accordion culture along the south shore of Lake Superior. From the late nineteenth century through the present, the accordion has reigned in the area as the most ubiquitous and emblematic folk-musical instrument. A downright working-class instrument, it fostered egalitarian social relations and interethnic alliances—a kind of alliance only possible in the New World, where the politics of ethnic identity has come to govern many social relations. The chapter focuses in the following: (1) how South Shore musicians acquired and learned to play assorted accordions; (2) the audiences for whom and contexts within which they performed; and (3) the sources and nature of their repertoires. The resulting cumulative historical and ethnographic portrait illuminates the accordion's significant role in establishing a common, creolized, regional, and enduring working-class culture that was substantially formed between the 1890s and the 1930s.

Keywords:   accordion culture, accordions, musical instruments, South Shore, working class culture, social relations, interethnic alliances

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