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Accordion Music - Showmanship

The Accordion Express, June 2002

Entertainment Review
By Jerry Smeiska

What Did You Expect?

Tony Lovello is often referred to as “The Liberace of the Accordion”. From the standpoint of showmanship, musical skills and Italianate good looks, I guess we have to agree. But…while his shirt was kind of sparkly, it didn’t hold a candle to Liberace’s bejeweled jackets. And speaking of candles, did you see any candelabra anywhere? And…to top it all off, his accordion is nowhere as big as one of Libby’s grand pianos. Nor was Tony backed by a 30-piece string orchestra…or anyone else for that matter. He performed completely alone. Oh! And remember that Liberace is playing somewhere in the afterlife while Lovello is still alive. Very alive, indeed!

All these handicaps aside, Lovello was still able to hold the rapt attention of the members and guests assembled on May 29th. With nothing more than a 30-year old Petosa accordion equipped with a high quality Sure brand Wireless Microphone system and 50 to 60 years accordion experience he held our undivided attention from his patriotic opening of America played from the back of the audience to an encore performance of Cumana.

By the time Tony had played his way to the front of the audience he had everyone standing and signing God Bless America. His rendition of Bye Bye Blackbird was followed by Mala Femmena (Bad Woman). For guessing the English meaning of the title, Phil Pipia was awarded one of Tony’s CD’s. For Once In My Life showcased the vibrato technique he had demonstrated during the seminar portion of the evening.

Lovello of course had to have a medley of Italian songs and he moved deftly from Finiculi Finicula to Oh Sole Mio. Then his dramatic rendition of Malaguena brought the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation.

Interesting anecdotes from time to time added background and depth to the program. Tony noted that while he was managing a hotel, his brother was producing the famous and lucrative Hee Haw television program. Tony missed his chance to be a cowboy…or maybe a hillbilly. We wonder if he had any reservations about the hotel business.

Arividerci Roma allowed him to demonstrate his famous bellow shake and a flashy polka showed he could even shake that thing and walk at the same time…(and here I am still trying to play both hands at once and not fall off the stool.) Next the ‘eyes’ had it, both the green ones and the blue Spanish kind.

Lovello, who had toured with The Three Suns, is a brave man, but not brave enough to tell the audience that he didn’t want to play Twilight Time, so play it he did, then for Frank Ricchio, who was in the front row, he played Ricchio’s composition Dreamy Serenade which Lovello had recorded some years ago. You could almost write a story around his wrap-up songs. Peg ‘O My Heart, You Made Me Love You, but I’ll Be Seeing You.

The audience came to its feet and would not let Tony quit so he obliged with a spectacular rendition of Cumana that was so fast I swear that his fingers were just a blur. And I was sitting quite close!

How can one sum up such a dynamic show of flash, glitz, and skill? How about “Spectaculariffic” or “Fantashmagorically Splendiferous”. Oh heck! Insert your own superlatives in here!! My vocabulary is too limited.

Officially, there was no pre-meeting entertainment. Instead there was Tony Lovello’s seminar on accordion tips and technique. However, it would be difficult to find anyone not entertained by his presentation. Tony’s major message was “control” and he demonstrated numerous ways to achieve it starting with the accordion strapped tight enough to prevent movement on the body. Tony explained the importance of a bass strap tight enough so the left hand will not slip during bellow shakes. Tony is also a firm believer in proper warm-ups and cajoled the audience to their feet to learn how to do some finger flexibility exercises. He then demonstrated some daily scale exercises which are designed to reinforce technical mastery of such things as octaves, chords, endings, and bass. A high point of his seminar had to be his discourse on the mastery of bellow shakes. All this dull academic stuff was presented with such humor and showmanship that most of us did not realize we were in class.

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