COSTA MESA – I'll admit that I was at first a little hesitant to attend a festival full of accordions. I once played in a band with a song featuring an accordion, but that was the extent of my experience with it.
The accordion and its so-called ugly-duckling cousin, the bagpipe, may be the most stigmatized and stereotyped of all instruments. Many find their sound, even under the hands of a skilled player, akin to an irritable substitute science teacher scratching her nails down a chalkboard.
But perhaps it's that very reputation — and the desire to dispel it — that brings out such an enthusiastic crowd to play and listen to these instrumental underdogs. That's the sense I got when wandering the four stages Sunday afternoon of the second annual Orange County Accordion Festival, affectionately known as "The Big Squeeze," at the Orange County Market Place.
There was a whole lot of squeezing going on of those funny boxes that were supported by some guitars, a harp, drums, penny whistles, synthesizers and fiddles.