Big Lou said she formed the band Those Darn Accordions just so she could fill an offered club date in San Francisco six years ago.
"The owner called me up and said if I could get a band together in a few hours, I could have the stage," said Big Lou during a telephone call from Alaska. "It was the club's opening night, and I've had a vision of an accordion band since I got my first accordion even before that."Those Darn Accordions, featuring accordionists Lou, Riff Borelli, Patty Brady, California Pete, Clyde Forsman, Suzanne Garramone, Paul Rogers, Tom Torrigilia; bassist Lewis Wallace and drummer Bill Schwartz, will play the Utah State Fair, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17.
"After that gig, we spent quite a bit of time doing publicity stunts," remembered Lou. "We actually did things as a joke and would set up on the steps of City Hall and burst into restaurants unannounced and play."
The stunts were all done in the spirit of fun, said Lou. And eventually Those Darn Accordions caught on with a following.
"I've been in many bands over the last 20 years, and this one is the best thing we could ever do," stated Lou, who cites the classic rock of Jimi Hendrix as a major influence. "I started off a country music performer, then I got an accordion and played in and out of punk accordion bands."
Two of those "punk-ordion" bands were Polkacide, which also featured Garra-mone, and the Ramonas - a take on the Ramones - that included Brady. But it was that fateful San Francisco date that grouped this band together. And it has remained together ever since.
"We've got quite a bit of style merges here," said Lou. "Clyde (the oldest band member at 80) is mainly a Swedish folk man, but we were able to get him to sing `Fire' (by Hendrix) for the album. He's not into rock, and we had to elbow him so he'd come in on time, but it worked well. He even sings Rod Stewart's `Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?' during our live shows, and he's a gem."
The band's new album is called "Squeeze This" and not only contains remake of "Fire," but Grand Funk's "We're an American Band," aptly renamed "We're an Accordion Band," a remake of the Charlie Daniels Band's hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and Elvis Cos-tello's "Pump It Up" as well.
"The accordion is just a portable acoustic organ," said Lou. "Other bands use organs in their rock songs, so I figured why can't we use accordions in our rock song remakes and originals? I know there are a lot of people out there that think the accordion shouldn't be used for rock music, but I tend to differ."
But rock 'n' roll isn't the only style of music Those Darn Accordions tackle. Ska, polka, folk, swing and Slavic styles are also targets of fun.
A remake of Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" are among originals "The Story of Lawrence Welk" and "Miner's Polka."
"It's important to have variety," concluded Lou. "That way it doesn't get boring."