Accordionaires Accordion Club

“FOTA” as in “Friends of the Accordion”  

Before the Accordionaires there was FOTA 

 

 

FOTA was, by all accounts, the first “open to everyone” club in the US.  There had been other organizations and associations, but FOTA brought to light the need for a club of players with all levels of ability.  In recent conversations with Frank Marocco, Lou D’Elia, Sam Costabile, and Nick Ariondo it was evident FOTA was an important musical element here in southern California.  Its membership grew rapidly from a handful to more than 365 people in just a few years.  And this happened after the accordion’s hay-day.  FOTA began in 1985 more than 20 years after America’s youth switched from the accordion to the guitar as their favorite instrument.  So why did FOTA take off? 

 

Each of the folks mentioned above had the same message.  FOTA brought together the best professional players ever found in one place.  Frank was very active bringing famous accordionists from around the world to FOTA meetings.  Frank said LA did have an advantage in that many accordionists came here to perform in movies or just to see California and world famous Hollywood.  But everyone agrees Frank had a real touch when it came to finding out when these people would be available, and the salesmanship to get them to visit FOTA.  Names like Zhang Guoping, Christian Di-Maccio, Oleg Saharov, Jack Emblow, Galla-Rini, VanDamme to mention just a few, were all there for the FOTA audience.   

 

Besides the pros the club also attracted amateurs from all over the world.  FOTA had members from all states and many foreign countries.  Frank Marocco commented that the accordion isn’t dead now, wasn’t dead during the FOTA years, and won’t ever die because it is an integral part of folk music throughout the world.  As people learned about FOTA they came by in person or wrote in to join and receive a copy of the newsletter, THE BELLOWS.  The FOTA newsletter provided information about recent meetings and had specialty articles from experts like Lou D’Elia who regularly wrote about accordion maintenance and repair.  Nick Ariondo and others provided reviews of tapes, records, and performances.  Many amateurs were delighted to have the opportunity to learn from the pros. Numerous FOTA members were also members of the Professional Musicians Local 47 of LA so pros and amateurs alike were often treated to the music of groups who played along with the accordionists.   

 

FOTA, like the Accordionaires had its annual picnic, Christmas party and special occasions.  FOTA successfully promoted the accordion in California and internationally until December 31, 1997.   

 

Thank you to Nick Ariondo, Sam Costabile, and Lou D’Elia for their donation of past newsletters and reference papers used in this article.