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