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Fans Toon into popular gigs

It is probably fair to say the accordion, despite a worldwide presence, is not one of the coolest instruments on the music scene.

It is probably fair to say the accordion, despite a worldwide presence, is not one of the coolest instruments on the music scene.

Although it is hugely popular in Scottish, folk, cajun, Tex-Mex, klezmer, Latin and East European music, it has not had the same good fortune, in terms of image, as the guitar, for example.

Also, it has not really penetrated the jazz scene to any major extent. Well, along comes Karen Street to try to put that right!

Street is at Heaton's Corner House next Thursday with her quartet, Accordion Crimes. The former British Virtuoso Champion of some 25 years ago has actually worked with some of the UK's key jazz composers and band-leaders, Tim Garland (in Lammas) and Mike Westbrook, to name but two. Ticket info from the venue on (0191) 265 9602.

THE same night, the Tyneside Irish Centre in Gallowgate has the renowned accordion/melodeon player, Tony McMahon, with the Australian-born multi-instrumentalist, Steve Cooney.

McMahon has developed a stellar reputation in Irish traditional music, playing with many of the great names.

He has also worked with the Kronos Quartet. Cooney, a former member of the band Stockton's Wing, moved back to the land of his forefathers some years ago and he, too, has worked with a long list of the genre's elite.

Before that double helping of squeeze-box, there are two interesting shows on Tuesday. The Cluny has more jazz in the shape of Neil Yates' New Origins sextet.

Yates (trumpet, whistles) is said to have the tone of Miles Davis with a Celtic sensibility. Whatever, he has a line-up which includes the highly-regarded young Scots guitarist, Stuart McCallum.

Bassist Gavin Barras and pianist Les Chisnall also have formidable reputations gained by work with some of the UK's front-rank jazz performers.

Again on Tuesday, the Jumpin' Hot Club has yet another US musician to check out.

This time, it is the Virginian, AJ Roach and his trio with a solid slice of his home state's folk heritage. Raised in the same area, Scott County, that produced the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers, AJ (that's Anthony John for the inquisitive) has spent almost his entire 31 years assimilating Appalachian music.

The gig is at the Morden Tower and tickets can be obtained from the Cluny.

There is a whole weekend of all things Americana to look forward to next month.

The final weekend in July sees the return of last year's successful SummerTyne Festival with some great headliners at the Sage and a free stage just outside the east entrance.

The big names start with Glen Campbell (26th), and then on consecutive nights there's Nanci Griffith (27th), Blind Boys of Alabama (28th), Kris Kristofferson (29th) and then the great country/bluegrass star, Ricky Skaggs, and his band Kentucky Thunder on July 30.

The Saturday and Sunday Jumpin' Hot Club free stage line-up is excellent, too.

There will be representatives from rockabilly, country, soul, bluegrass, folk and every conceivable niche in-between.

Old Americana favourites, Richmond Fontaine, top the Saturday bill with JC & Angelina Grimshaw and the UK's Jackie Leven and John Lewis & the Country Casuals, Holly Golightly and John Lewis & his Hot Rock n Roll Trio.

The following day has a similarly varied schedule which includes the bluegrass of Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Endrick Brothers, Bill Kirchen, the Southern Tenant Folk Union, Shawn Lee's Soul Visa and Edgar Jones & the Jones. The weather last year was outstanding so, hopefully a repeat performance on that score will result in another bumper crowd.

Also included in a superb few days of music are films about one of the primary US folklorists, Alan Lomax (son of John), the Texas bluesman, Mance Lipscomb, Norteno/Tex-Mex star, Flaco Jiminez and a profile of the cajun Balfa/Savoy families. It's an ethno-musicology course in one weekend.

There is also the chance to catch the Norwegian-based Californian blues performer, Seasick Steve, who recently rocked a sold-out Cluny with his three-string guitar and pumice-stone vocals.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer