A couple years ago I found a cassette at my mom's house. It said "Papu Acor" on it. Her father, Giuseppe Seminara, is who we all knew as Papu, my grandpa, and "Acor" was short for accordion (looks like she ran out of room on the label). He was born in Maropati, Italy, came to the US, went out to California, worked in the steel mills in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and finally settled as a cobbler in New Castle, PA.
Papu died when I was four, but I remember him playing music all the time. He played accordion, guitar, mandolin, and violin. He even made a little banjo for my cousin. He was very good and gave a shot at being a professional musician. He had an original song of his published in the 40's, which is where the title and album cover come from. (The photo on the cover is taken from around the same time as the recordings). "By The Sea" was his sheet music that got put out by B. Quattrociocche in Steubenville Ohio, who published the likes of Guido Deiro and were likely the first accordion music publishers in the US.
Papu's brother Rocco played guitar as well, and my two uncles played and sang with him too. On Sundays, when all the aunts and uncles and cousins would meet at his house, you could count on him playing at some point. When he died his instruments got given to different grand kids. I have his mandolin that he stuck a pickup on with shoe putty.
His interest in music was always important to me, especially as I get older and realize what I missed out on. I knew that there were recordings of him playing, but I always remembered hearing the ones of him playing at parties or at my uncle's pizza shop. I didn't think there were any without much background noise or people talking. I put on the cassette from my mom's house and after sifting through an entire side of my cousin watching and singing along to 'The Dukes of Hazard' I came across the 11 songs he recorded here. It seems like he just sat down one day and pulled out his tape recorder and played straight through these songs. Sometimes you can hear other people (like my mom at the beginning of Reginella Campagnola), but for the most part it is just him. It's sloppy at times and imperfect, but it's also a good snapshot of him just playing for fun.
I thought it'd be fun to take his accordion parts and play along and do my best at being his rag tag band. I tried to make my new recordings simple, with mistakes left in (since I didn't know most of these songs I had to learn by listening and following his recordings) and did my best to make it sound like four guys in a tiny living room playing into a crappy tape player.
In the end I think it came out nice. It was fun to see that Papu and I were doing pretty much the same thing; sitting at home making little recordings, trying our best to not have to do any real work. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know if you know any of the missing song titles!
released May 1, 2015
Accordion performed and recorded by Giuseppe Seminara at home in New Castle, PA some time in 1980.
Drums/Bass/Guitar performed and recorded by Anthony LaMarca at home in Brooklyn, NY, June 25th, 2013.
Cassette transfer by John Mosloskie.
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