An army of accordion-bearing musicians will descend on Seven Hills Park in Davis Square on Saturday, June 15 from 1 to 6 p.m. Somerville-based musician Matt Morin, who moonlights as the saucy Polish lunch lady Kielbasia, will emcee the SqueezeBox Slam and will whip out his old-school music maker for the masses.
Morin chats about his drag alter ego, his disdain for Polish food and the art of squeezebox “enfabulating.” Perogies, anyone?
What initially attracted you to the so-called squeezebox?
“My Polish grandfather brought his accordion from the Old Country and used to play it on Sundays for the family. I was fascinated with it as a kid and I still have it on my shelf. It was the only heirloom from the Polish side of the family that was kept after the grandparents died – that and the recipes. I hated the smell of the Polish food cooking, but the sense memory is very strong. Hence, the accordion-playing Polish lunch lady.”
Has your accordion-playing drag alter ego, Kielbasia, taught you a few tricks of the trade?
“I actually learned to play accordion for Kielbasia. At first she was just a drag character act – storytelling and comedy. The idea for the accordion came later, so I spent years taking lessons and practicing. As Kielbasia, I’m able to banter and joke like a showbiz diva and use the music to enliven the experience.”
Was it odd performing at the SqueezeBox Slam without the makeup?
“Performing at the 2011 Slam with no makeup felt natural, because no one else was dressed up.”
Kielbasia is rather saucy. What do you think she would say about the SqueezeBox Slam?
“Great work, kids – fantastic music, but dammit put on some glitter. It’s showbiz. Give us a little razzle-dazzle!”
Having lived and performed on the Left Coast, how does Somerville’s music scene compare?
“The Boston and Somerville scene is very different from the West Coast. We have incredibly talented, highly skilled musicians here. The quality of musicianship and level of playing is fantastic, with all the music schools and hard-work ethic. But we all dress like we’re going to chop wood or dig clams. The West Coast, San Francisco in particular, is all about presentation and beauty. Here we spend months learning an intricate chord progression and throw on the LL Bean and a baseball cap for the show. I hope to change that. Add a little pizazz to the Piazzola.”
As the Squeezebox Slam emcee, what exactly are your duties?
“As emcee, I’ll be introducing the acts and I assume I’ll be playing a number or two, getting the crowd going. In short, enfabulating.”
How difficult is it to learn the accordion?
“It’s very difficult to learn the accordion, especially for a non-musician like me. Took years of lessons and practice.”
Out of Kielbasia’s illustrious repertoire, what song would sum up your life right now?
“The song that best sums up my life right now is Beaten by a Porn Star, the ditty I wrote for the summer I played in Provincetown and had to compete with an old porn star for an audience.” –Sam Baltrusis