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Saturday
May052012

Main Squeeze

I find a lot of things to write and post about at TWM by pure accident and this is one of those cases. Years ago when I first moved here and was doing some freelance writing for New York Newsday, I had written about a shop in midtown that only sold accordions. I wondered if it was still in business, so I Googled, “accordions nyc” and while I didn’t find the shop in midtown, I think I found something and someone more interesting. Intrigued? Then come along as I take a little trip to a shop called, Main Squeeze owned by Walter Kühr on the Lower East Side.

And here we are at Main Squeeze on Essex street, love the neon in the window! This shop was opened in May, 1996. Let’s go inside and see what’s happening.

It’s a long, narrow space. I had called Walter in advance to see if it was okay to do this and he told me to stop by. He’s in the back office and told me to take a look around and he’d be out in a little bit. So let’s take a tour of Main Squeeze.

A Main squeeze window poster hangs in the window. It turns out that the woman in the picture is the same woman that got Walter interested in the accordion at the tender age of 6-years-old in his homeland of Germany.

Walter also uses this image on a postcard he sells in the shop, a beautiful photo and a beautiful woman!

I haven’t seen this many accordions in one room since I did my New York Newsday story. The cool thing about accordions is how each one has its own distinctive look and style.

There’s accordions on display in display cases...

And up on shelves. It’s like a Myron Floren wet dream in here!

This is a cool one, I like the blue color.

It’s a double A accordion, Alfred and Arnold.

An accordion that’s doubling up as a hat stand for this fedora.

A Hohner melodica, I just got a Hooter’s flashback!

There’s more than accordions for sale in here, here’s a whole wall of accordion and polka CD’s.

Love this accordion postcard!

A vintage accordion album cover hangs on the wall. Ooh la la!

There’s also bins of sheet music for sale in here.

Papa John would love this, Monday, Monday for the accordion.

In addition to Main Squeeze, Walter has a nine piece Latin jazz band called The Last of the International Playboys and he’s the conductor and mastermind of the Main Squeeze Orchestera which is an 14 piece, all female accordion orchestra. “Girls Gone Weill,” ha ha ha!

A picture of the orchestra is proudly displayed on the stores wall. Four years ago Walter’s mother was in town celebrating her 80th birthday and the orchestra was playing at the Zipper Factory and they played “Happy Birthday” to her. Walter said it was a great moment for the woman who inspired him to play the accordion as a child.

Here’s the women of the very first orchestra. The Main Squeeze orchestra is truly a dream come true for Walter. I asked him how he thought of such a unique orchestra and he told me he had a dream of 18 women in pigtails and white shirts on a tour bus heading home after a concert. When he woke up he said it was something he new he had to do and he did it. Here’s a picture of the original orchestra from 2002. Since then, he’s pared it down to 14 women, an amazing and unique idea!

And if you’re curious about this and are in the New York area, you can see them live tomorrow night at the Bowery Poetry club. This is the flyer and here’s more information about the show.

There’s lots of cool little items in this display case ranging from an accordion key chain, to tie pins to burlesque playing cards to...

Accordion neckties, I may have to get one of these!

And here’s a portrait of the musician squeezing his true love, the accordion. Walter told me that people shopping online at sites like eBay have hurt his sales and wondered why people don’t like to go out and shop and intermingle with other people. “They don’t know what they’re losing,” he told me and I agree.

He also said that it’s a shame about all the chain stores popping up in New York. One more point I agree with Walter on, I wish there were more unique shops like Main Squeeze around town. I’m glad it’s still there and hope it thrives, stop by and buy a tie if you’re in the neighborhood.

I did!

And one glance at the backward neon and it’s out the door we go.

Main Squeeze
19 Essex St.
212-614-3109


Further Reading: accordion to karen, NY Times and Hey Girl.

Everybody’s lookin’ for something.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

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Bonus Album Cover Art By Danny The Freelancer!

Danny the Freelancer turned Friday's Happy Hour into album cover art, check it out! Very cool, Thanks, Danny!

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Bonus CBBM Mutation Sighting By blue glass!

Blue glass found this Cardboard Box Man mutation photo and sent it in along with this message: "Guests found the chimney’s expression unsettling, though Roger insisted upon its benevolence. This turned out to be his undoing." Aaahhhh!

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    trippingwithmarty - (Almost) Live, From New York City! - Main Squeeze
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Reader Comments (18)

I love the women's Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra especially the one with big boobs, must be a tough chore directing those boobies and trying not to get them stuck all over again. No wonder she looks so very happy, has a good performance every time.

Cool trip ! I never would have guessed there was a accordion store in existence ? Neat. Like the orchestra also. Danny made a great album cover ! That photo might be the most iconic Marty photo ever.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

Marty, great post today. What an unusual shop. 8 women in pigtails and white shirts playing the accordian, Why is that so fuckin sexy.

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: Ha ha ha! Nice observation on the MSO!

@GENE: It's a really cool store and Walter's a great guy, a great trip! And I agree, Danny's TMW album cover is great!

@Danny the freelancer: Thanks, glad you liked the post and I agree with you on the sexiness factor of that orchestra! And thanks for creating and sending in the TMW album cover art, very cool!

May 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

That tie is definitely going to land you your dream job!
Well if not, you can always become The Last Of The Famous International Playboys.
Oh la la.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

The musical score for West Side Story arranged for ACCORDION?!? Well, being a Minnesotan, I guess I shouldn't be surprized...if you hit enough bars in Nordeast Minneapolish, eventually you'd get a chance to hear that...they're very proud of their Polish and Swedish roots there, and when they talk they really do sound like the movie Fargo...doooon'tcha knoooow.....pie yimminy....PhHa!
Well. ooohkay den.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

A great and very interesting post today.
I like the 'out of the ordinary' ones.
Speaking of...
The Orchestra.
Middle Row, Third from Left, may need arm extenders to properly play the Accordion.
Definitely 'points for style'!
Keep on Trippin' Daddio!

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

You just don't find stores like this around anymore,,,,only in NY. A wonderful instrument to play and I still remember those old polka albums they used to sell on TV back in the sixties. There was Beer Barrel polka, Too Fat Polka, Pennsylvania Polka, etc. And you find squeeze boxes all over the land during Oktoberfest, those German gals bringing me those giant steins of pilsner,,,,with a hot pretzel.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

@csp: Here's to finding y dream job with the accordion tie. Nce linkage!

@Jaws: Ha ha ha! Like the dialect in that comment!

@"Boris:" Glad you enjoyed the post, Daddio! Third from the left seems to be getting all the attention!

@Al: I remember those albums too! And it's getting tougher and tougher to find unique places like this in NYC, but if you look hard enough there's still some left! I bet you remember Myron Floren from Lawerence Welk!

May 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

another classic post!...an interestin' intriguin' and informational "trip"...third from the left—appears better equipped for a wind instrument....man i'd like to hear the tunes inside that album cover...that CBM mutation looked fired up and ready to devour any thing in it's path—includin' relatives...

I am not a demon. I am a lizard, a shark, a heat-seeking panther. I want to be Bob Denver on acid playing the accordion.
Nicolas Cage

rr

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

Here in Toulouse there is allot of Accordion Players, I know a few. You will always find an old man playing in the street for money here too, but France is Famous for It!!! Zioum Zioum best friend plays one & plays Sax.
Cheers

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

@rr: Glad you enjoyed this trip, doing this blog takes me to places I never would've experienced and that's what I love about it! Great Nicolas Cage quote, I've never seen that one, perfect!

JHwang: I had no idea the accordion was that popular in France! Can you imagine if Jerry Lewis ever took up the accordion? The country would go wild! Cheers!

May 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Buckwheat Zydeco forever!!!

Did you know that Dick Contino's Blues was the title of James Ellroy crime/mystery book?

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

@DaveW: I had no idea about that, but now I do! Thanks for the trivia!

May 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Holy Shit...They eat trees and snort fire too? No wonder you're scared of those things.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrandall

@randall: I hear you, the end is surely near!

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Wow! Totally cool shop! I like that blue one, too.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Biff: It's a real cool store and I agree, the blue one rules!

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

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