The Meloche Accordion

Here is a picture of the "Acadian" Brand accordion hand crafted for me by Marc Savoy of Eunice, Louisiana.
It's made from "red pine" planks harvested over 125 years ago on the Savoy farm.

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On a visit to his shop a few years ago, I commissioned Marc to create a special accordion for me ... one that would represent the uniqueness of Louisiana where it was born.
Marc and I discussed the relative merits of woods indigenous to the area and settled on locust. Cypress and live oak were everywhere down there, but not good woods for building accordions, he assured me. The few sticks of locust which Marc had on hand looked pretty good. He had previously built a lovely instrument of locust for Tina Pilione. We selected bellows and button colors and decided to wait a bit before choosing a wood inlay pattern for the trim.

Some weeks later, Marc wrote to say that his shipment of locust had been disappointing ... nothing with a grain interesting enough to catch his eye. As we talked, I guess I wasn't masking my disappointment. All I could do was repeat my original intent ... to create the accordion out of really special materials with strong local significance. I could almost hear the ideas processing in Marc's mind. And what he came up with was, indeed, really special.

He asked, "How do you feel about some used wood?" That got my attention.

His "used wood" turned out to be what he called "red pine", from a tree which he claims can no longer be found in the region. How long has the "red pine" been gone? Marc didn't know. But this "red pine" was in the form of planks removed from the walls of a "buvette" or roadside refreshment stand built by his great-grandfather around the time of the  Civil War. Marc had acquired these planks while renovating the buvette into a guest house on the family property he inherited. The sticks he sent for my approval were wonderful ... I still have them. You can tell that they were trim pieces derived from squaring off the edges of the planks. There is a beautiful gray patina on the raw side of each stick which comes with their age ...over 125 years! One piece even sported a rusty nail hole.

The finished accordion is a real beauty, as you can no doubt see in the picture. It was the first accordion built by Marc from this beautiful and historic wood. The "red pine" grain is pronounced, honey-on-gold brought out by the finish. The bellows is red when extended, black when drawn closed. The clappers (valves) are brass and so is the metal trim. Red on the clapper ends adds an accent which matches the bellows folds. Marc suggested pearloid buttons ("they're so much warmer on the fingers than metal") and I bowed to his judgement.

Once he had completed his creation, Marc engraved the right side to my specification. It reads:

Jim Meloche   "Franšais de souche et de coeur"

                      "French at my roots and in my heart"

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