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Main Squeeze Orchestra at the Bowery Poetry Club

Last week I took a trip to Main Squeeze accordion shop and met the owner, Walter Kühr. Walter told me about his unique 14 women accordion orchestra called, appropriately enough, The Main Squeeze Orchestra. I was quite intrigued by this unusual musical orchestra idea and decided to go check them out tonight at The Bowery Poetry Club and Cafe. I’ve never been to the Bowery Poetry Club and have always wanted to check it out, so tonight we kill two birds with one stone and fourteen accordions!

I came here early to get a ticket, because I had a feeling it might sell out, but they told me that they don't sell tickets in advance and to come back a little bit before the show, which is about an hour and a half away. Okay, time to improvise.

I was going to go to Milano's bar and have a few beers, but as I passed by Emilio's Ballato Italian restaurant, I decided to have a Sunday dinner in here instead. I've always wanted to stop in here and tonight's the night.

Inside it's a classic, old-school red sauce joint.

This is my table armed with fresh bread and Peroni beer. My waiter told me he thinks this restaurant has been on the block since 1956.

A view from my table, there's pictures all over the place and you could spend the entire evening looking at them.

Here's a signed photo of Andy Warhol who once proclaimed that everyone would be Italian for fifteen minutes.

And here comes dinner, I started off with the house salad and it was as good as it looks.

One of the specials of the night was spaghetti and meatballs, so I had to order that. It was the best I've ever had!

Burp! Delicious, now let's see if they're letting people into the Main Squeeze Orchestra show.

Okay, let's try this again.

They're still not selling tickets, so I hung out in the front coffee house area.

The lovely and friendly Bailey was working the counter and was happy to pose for a photo. Great smile!

There's tables, chairs and a booth opposite the coffee counter to sit and relax in.

And sitting at one of the tables is part of the Main Squeeze Orchestra, Rebecca and Stephanie. After a quick chat, I decided to check on the ticket situation.

Well, I'm glad i got there when I did,  shortly after I approached the ticket area a line formed out the door.

Finally, they started letting people into the theater.

Inside the orchestra was getting in place on stage.

As you can see, it's a full house. The Main Squeeze Orchestra packs them in!

It looks like the orchestra is in place and waiting to begin the show.

And here's conductor and band leader, Walter on stage checking things out.

Here he is giving out last minute instructions and chatting with the women of the orchestra.

Okay, the left side is ready...

And the right looks ready to start squeezing and playing away...

The conductor's sheet music is in place on the stage, front and center.

Walter takes his place...

And, boom, they're off and the concert has begun. It's amazing to hear all these accordions at once, with the way it's arranged, it sounds like a full orchestra.

The concert is an all Russian-themed show. The songs are all Russian tunes written by Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. In between the music, Russian Studies scholar Alexa Voytek gives an introduction of the upcoming song. Educational and very entertaining.

This is one of the most unique and fun shows I've ever been to.

Lots of photos are being taken in the crowd.

And this woman was video-taping the whole show, maybe you'll be able to get a copy in the future, keep your eyes on the MSO website!

But even when there's something so unique and fun as this show, some people just can't stop checking their phones. Sheesh!

The Main Squeeze Orchestra is projected on the screen behind the musicians.

After the show, Walter thanked the crowd and introduced each member of the orchestra.

He gives a final bow and the show is over. It was really a great and unusual evening of music and fun and I highly recommend seeing them if you get a chance.

Further Reading: New York Magazine, Paris Review and NPR.

Sweet dreams are made of this.

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


Bonus Letter of Reference by Tim “Clacky” Clack!

My mate in Australia, Clacky threatened promised to write a letter of reference for me, since I’m job hunting these days. And he came through with his threat promise for me and here it is! Thanks, Clacky!...I think?


 To Whom It May Concern:
I’m writing in regards to offering a sound character and professional employment reference for my esteemed acquaintance and friend, Marty Wombacher.
I’ve only known Marty for a very brief number of years, and have only been in his immediate presence on a mere 4…maybe 5 occasions, but I feel that I am highly qualified to offer my positive endorsement, even though 4 or maybe 5 of those occasions I was indeed under the influence of, not only Marty’s generous hospitality, but full strength alcohol….(hiccup!).
From what I can recall, Marty is a fully focused and driven individual that kicks goals and makes friends wherever he goes, but lets face it, bar flies will talk to anyone. They even talked to me!
Marty is a hard worker and will not kiss your ass in fact, he’ll tear you a new one. If that is what it is that your desire, but don’t let that deter you, he also has a soft side. I don’t know where it is though. I assume it is kept in the fridge next to the mustard and cheese whiz.
I would have no hesitation offering Marty full time employment with your company. That’s because it is your company.  Not mine. I don’t have a company.
Please don’t call him in to work on the weekends or public holidays. That would just piss him off. Pissing Marty off is usually not the best option. Just because he is a Midwestern native is no reason to assume that he hasn’t developed a strong New York personality.  
All in all, Marty is the freakin’ Peoples Champion!! Give him a crack!
If you would like to contact me for further discussion, please feel free to go eat a shit. I’m not available.
Tim Clack
Owner proprietor (unlicensed)
Bunt’s Bar and suburban Resort and Spa


Bonus Beatnik Art From Jaws!

Jaws the Cabbie sent in this kooky beatnik art to accompany the fantasy he described in his comment. Cool beans, Jaws, thanks!

Reader Comments (25)

I was looking for the accordion player with the nice big boobs, give her a kiss for me, I'm just lonely for her melodies.
You have very groovy friends, I'm sure a good job will be yours in no time.

Hmmmm...poetry...this post triggered a long term fantasy I've had (for some weird reason), of jumping into a time machine, going back to Greenwich Village in the very early sixties while wearing a black turtleneck sweater and a beret hat for a night of bongo pounding and finger snapping and expresso guzzling until enery nerve in my body is tied in a tight little knot. Then afterwards, I track down Sylvia Plath, force feed her some prozac and sweep her off her feet and take her into the future with me for a grand tour of things to come. Then I take her back to her own time and see what kind of poetry she comes up with 50 years later...

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

Nice Restaurant & Great Looking Food. Did the meat balls have pork in it? Got to have pork , that's where the flavor is ( Good Fellows Quote ). Love The Decor !!!!
Never seen an Accordion Band. Sounded Great. Left is Ready here in France too with our New President, The Right wasn't ready for that. Woman in green dress seemed aggressive, even thou The Accordion was almost bigger then her.
Clacky's Letter To Much !! Love The Ending.
Now Go Eat A Shit & Cheers !

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

Good Italian food ... accordion music ... great letter from Clacky ! ...... a lot going on today ! BRAVO !!!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

This is way, way, way too fabulous. Love it!

I would have to be sober, though, or I would have requested my favorite Who song :)

Nice job to Clacky. I think he should have a side job writing letters of recommendation.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterroadsidewonders

Ha ha!
Bonus Marx for the Warhol pun.
I believe it was accordion to Khrushchev who stated he was Russian to squeeze US.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Whoa there must've been some draft in the room from all that squeezin'!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlegitimate beef

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: If our paths cross I'll indeed give her a big kiss, if she's up for it! Clacky's a great mate, glad you liked the letter!

@Jaws: That is one wild Greenwich Village beatnik fantasy, thanks for sharing it!

@JHwang: I think the meatballs did have pork, they were the best I've ever had. And the pasta and red sauce were delicious, a great Sunday dinner! The show was really cool. Clacky does know how to end a letter on a high note! Cheers to you, France and your new President!

@GENE: It was a great night, wonderful dinner and a great concert! And Clacky's letter is the cherry on the post!

@roadsidewonders: Glad you liked the post, I thought about that Who song last night too! And if I get a job, I wonder if I owe Clacky a royalty?

@csp: Glad you liked the Warhol pun! Nice Krushcev pun by you! And perfect linkage, thanks!

@legitimate beef: Ha ha ha! Good one!

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

HA HA HA! Atta boy, Clacky!

Your dinner looked scrumpdillyicious! And I would love to see that orchestra in concert. In the meantime, I'll dream about pairing my coffee with Bailey. Hubba hubba.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

Now that you've got me on the subject...check your e-mail!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Biff: I think that was the best Italian dinner I've ever had! In total agreement about the hubba hubba regarding Bailey!

@Jaws: I'm just getting ready to head out the door, I'll check it when I get back this afternoon!

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

I've always loved MSO and have a fantasy that some day I can join them. Glad you got to hear them in person - the show looks great.

And, that's the best reference letter I've ever read! Nice one, Clacky!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGoggla

Always been curious about Emilio's restaurant next to Milano's bar. I thought it would be good and you went and it was fabulous right? Nothing better after a great meal than to settle down to some live music, accordion music is not heard that often and I'm glad that you and your fellow NYers can appreciate that. After such a nice evening I would of walked back to Milano's to repair with a few beers and shots. Tim Clack Down Under can certainly write great letters,,,very funny ending today.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

I want meatballs now!
right fucking now
nic enight out..i have a fear of accordions.. but this might help me get over it..
awesome letter from clackster!
i'd hire you!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

@Goggla: You should talk to Walter and take some lessons from him! If you get into the orchestra, I volunteer to be your roadie!

@Al: Everytime I walk by Emilio's I tell myself that I'm going to stop in there someday, well last night I finally did and it was such a good meal! The restaurant is a classic too, great photos on the wall! And that concert was so much fun, never heard anything like it in my life!

@Gidget: If I could FedEx you those meatballs, I would Gidget! They were unbelievable! Your fear of accordions cracked me up! You definitely would have no fear after seeing the MSO in action, they're really something to see! Clacky's letter is a hoot! And I'll take the job, when do I start?

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Now THAT looks like a great evening. Excellent post, Marty!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteronemorefoldedsunset

Ah, now this post takes me back. In the 60s, as a tadpole, I was in the Schenectady Accordion Symphony. Either I was good enough or the leader (my accordion teacher) was desperate enough to make me one of the 1st Accordions--we got to play the hardest parts. Can't remember much of what we played, I mean, the late 60s, the 70s and the 80s have all come in between and I'm lucky I can remember I was in the group at all. But we did a mean rendition of a march written by our leader, and also of Tschaikovksy's Pathetique symphony. I don't think we ever played that one outside of rehersals, though. Maybe our rendition was actually pretty 'pathetique'! lol

Btw, Marty, did you see the that photo booth from the Lakeside Lounge is now at Hi Fi on Ave. A? Just another reason to go back there....

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdark1p

Who Stole The Cabbage Rolls.... Great post Marty. Accordians = Shmenge Brothers

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertehennessey

@onemorefoldedsunset: Thanks, glad you liked the post! It was a fun night out!

@dark1p: Great story! You should stop by the Main Squeeze store and check it out, do you still play? And yeah, I saw that about the photo booth over at EV Grieve, very cool, I'll have to stop back soon!

@tehennessey: Christmas in Leutonia!

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Nice chandeliers in the Italian place.

Why no dessert?

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

@DaveW: Did you see the size of those meatballs? I had no room for dessert! Plus I had two plates of the homemade bread!

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

great lookin' eats...an evening w/ MSO...Clacky's recommendation...Jaws the beatnik...ah anything i could add that hasn't already been said would be ah like super redundant...

You don't carry in your countenance a letter of recommendation.
Charles Dickens


May 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

Weird Al Yankovic would be proud as punch!
Glad y'all liked the letter. Marty if you get Trumpy's job you owe me several drinks when we meet up next.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClacky

I love the first photo here. Great shot with the reflection on the sign !

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@rr: It was a great night out! Love that Charles Dickens quote!

@Clacky: I met Weird Al once and he was indeed weird! Thanks again for your letter, too funny and even if I don't get Trumpy's job, I owe you a few drinks for it!

@GENE: Thanks! I get lucky now and again!

May 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

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