Sparks fly when Finland’s “extreme” accordionist steps onstage with his squeeze-box.
Kimmo Pohjonen is telling me about the history of the accordion in his native Finland when he casually mentions that it was played, in a very specific setting, to drown out the sound of human flatulence.
“From the 1920s to the end of the ‘60s, there was live music for wrestling matches,” he explains. “At that time accordion was a very cool instrument and they used it to get more ladies to watch costumed wrestling; it was meant to cover the sound of farts when the wrestlers squeezed each other, and there was time for dancing after the matches.”
Detractors may argue that playing accordion is very much like breaking wind, but Pohjonen is on a mission to shatter the widespread perception of the instrument as old-fashioned, ungainly and dull. The latest in a string of innovative and downright kooky collaborations saw the intrepid musician recreate the spectacle of grappling throwdowns accompanied by jaunty polkas – with a modern twist.
“It was an unbelievable project,” he enthuses. But it’s totally believable that Pohjonen would think so radically outside the squeeze-box. Although his entourage of beefy, sweaty men aren’t currently touring...