There's a quiet storm brewing in the shadowy back rooms of restaurants and bars across Long Island, a storm that crashes and booms with mighty bellows of the blackest night. It's the accordion. And it's back.
Dominic Karcic of Commack is the force behind this second-coming of the accordion. His club, the , meets bi-weekly around Long Island to play, listen to, and celebrate the instrument and all its glorious ephemera.
On Aug 2. the Alliance celebrated its anniversary with a private party at restaurant in East Northport and entertained a cadre of 40 enthusiasts from as far away as the Bronx. The dim lights, family-style dishes, and enthusiastic foot-thumping were reminiscent of the old country-- be it Spain, France, Italy, or Russia-- where accordion music had its heyday at the first half of the twentieth century.
"It was up until that Beatle-music," explained Karcic, who's been playing the accordion for nearly 60 years. "From the 1920's to the 1960's it was a big time industry. Anybody that was from that era played accordion. With the advent of rock and roll accordion music faded away, but now there’s a comeback.”
Karcic adheres to the "if you build it, they will come" philosophy. His organization's core mission is to promote and proliferate accordion music, and the best way to do that, he said, is to provide a venue. Since he formed the Alliance in Aug. 2010, his events, held at restaurants twice a month, have coaxed an increasing number of enthusiasts from the woodwork.
“We have an eleven year old kid, and a teacher who played as a child and is now returning to the instrument," he said. "She uses the accordion to teach English to non-English speakers by incorporating it into her lessons."
Karcic acknowledges the accordion's bad rap in the U.S. and said it stems from a rash of very loud, very bad, and very prolific amateurs that prompted many Americans to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Really, he said, the accordion is quite a gentle instrument with remarkable versatility.
"They're even playing jazz right now," he said, pointing to the ensemble of men coordinating bellows and sweeping piano keys.
Eleven year old Ben Cicale from Calverton said the accordion can be challenging. Four years ago he began playing when his cousin made an off-hand suggestion; now he loves it but has trouble with syncopation. Despite that, what he considers the hardest song to play, "It Never Rains In California," is his favorite performance piece.
La Villini would have been fairly quiet that night were it not for the Alliance. Owner Frank Catana said it was good for business, and Karcic said it was good for the accordion, so it seems to be a match made in heaven.
"I feel like tonight was a success,” said Karcic. "This is a great thing for amateurs. It motivates them and in most cases they come back with another piece of music. That’s why we do it.”