Podcast: The Accordion Episode with Marié Abe

The accordion, one of the most fascinating, unique and without question culturally important musical instruments that all of us pelangueros can’t get enough of. Yet to be honest, we actually know very little about these squeezable typewriter-looking devices. That is why we knew we had to dedicate an entire episode to the accordion and why we were so excited to welcome Professor of Ethnomusicology at Boston University, Co-Producer of Public Radio International’s Squeeze Box Stories and bad-ass acordeonista of the group Debo BandMarié Abe. Listen as we learn about the accordion’s origins and its travels through Europe, Africa, the Americas and all the way to Japan.


Ferew HiluEshururu
Debo BandAmbassel
Debo BandDC Flower
Los Cholos de PastoCumbia de O. Vreeskin
Alejo DuránMi pedazo de acordeón
Squeezebox Stories – Trailer
Los YukinosDe party con las malandrinas
Los PerlasTener o no tener
El Cieguito de NaguaLa bailadora
José Santiago VegaNo me hable estrujao
北原謙二 – 銀座パチャンが通り  (Kenji KitaharaGinza Pachanga)
Ferro GaitaTareza
Petar RalchevTo the north of Bulgaria
Fred FrithHands of the juggler

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José Santiago Vega

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Here we have 7″ single by José Santiago Vega (Tite) con Los Sureños. Like many artists who played traditional folkloric music his name turns up very little on the internet. For these types of artist, specifically from Puerto Rico who didn’t play Salsa there wasn’t much commercial success for them. But I’m very grateful that these artists keep these musical traditions alive. In this case Plena — a form of music over 100 years old and like other traditional caribbean music played the role of caring news from town to town. The music is lead by the Pandero (a tambourine-like percussion instrument) accompanied by a guiro, a conga drum, a cuarto guitar  and sometimes like on this record an accordion. For me the accordion adds a whole other dimension that brings out the melody to it’s fullness.

On Side A we have the song El Mosquito which features someone ripping it up on the accordion.

El Mosquito

Side B is the song No Me Hables Estrujao

No Me Hables Estrujao

Maybe this is just me, but I often have thought that if someone added electric guitars and a drum kit to Plena and put more political lyrics to the same melodies you’d have incredible punk music. Nonetheless, I love traditional Plena and will do my part to continue to give these artists the shine they deserve.

Me Voy A Puerto Rico


Tickets are in hand, and the bags are packed. I’m off with my girl friend and parents to spend Christmas and New Years in Puerto Rico. With this trip in mind naturally my ears have been tuning to the sounds of musica puertorriquena more and more, specifically christmas music from the pearl island. For most of my life I’ve hated Christmas music. But that was when I thought all Christmas music was either Christmas carols or sappy nostalgia records. I was overjoyed when I finally found Christmas music that was rich with all the ingredients for the pelanga we love to cook up. There is a wealth of Christmas cumbia, merengue and guaracha that goes perfectly with dancing, drinking and lechon. Here are some of my favorite jíbara records that I’ve I packed for the trip.

Fiesta Campesina—El Gran Trio

Fiesta Campesina

Cadenas NavideñasEl Chuito de Bayamon, an absolute legend of the jíbaro tradition and someone who we’ll feature more of soon.

Caneas Navidades

Consejo de NavidadDavilita

Despierta Ciriaco—Machuchal

Gozando la Navidad—Jose Santiago Vega con el Conjunto Los Sureños de Lajas y Coro

Gozando la Navidad

As a little present you can download all these songs plus few more here. ¡Feliz Navidad!