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Balkan-Style Musician Leads Workshop for Brooklyn's Accordion Club

 The Brooklyn Accordian Club will be hosting a Balkan music workshop with Matthew Fass.
Accordionist Matthew Fass is Conducting a Balkan Music Workshop with the Brooklyn Accordion Club
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COBBLE HILL — For $200, Matthew “Max” Fass bought his first accordion at a garage sale in San Francisco and he’s been playing ever since.

Fass, who’s been playing the instrument for about 20 years, moved to Brooklyn in 2002 and quit his job to pursue music.

While Fass has met and performed with other accordionists in the borough, he recently attended the first meeting of the Brooklyn Accordion Club, a group of musicians coming together to celebrate the squeezebox.

The Brooklyn Accordion Club might be one-of-a-kind in recent times, but Fass believes there were clubs during the 40s, 50s and 60s when the instrument was extremely popular, he said.

“The accordion was bigger than the electric guitar,” he said. 

Along with musician Jenny Luna, Fass will be conducting a Balkan music workshop at the club’s meeting, June 9 at Local 61 found at 61 Bergen St., teaching members about odd-meters, scales and sounds of the European melody.

The workshop is open to musicians at all levels, said Fass.

Classical music accordionist Mayumi Miyaoka Pakola started the club in February, hoping to draw in players, young and old, in Brooklyn.

Pakola, who’s been playing the instrument for 10 years, started learning the accordion in New Jersey, later moving to Tokyo and San Francisco, each time meeting more accordion enthusiasts.

But when she moved in Brooklyn in 2010 and realized there was no music club, she decided to start her own.

“I was surprised by how many hidden accordionists there are here,” said Pakola, who is an academic librarian in Clinton Hill.

The club has experimented with different kinds of music from French to classical and even sea shanties.

For the Balkan music workshop, a range of instruments are welcomed, including violins, guitars, flutes, tubas, bagpipes, ukuleles since the style is amenable to different sounds, said Pakola.

Fass fell in love with the Balkan-style of music, which comes from the region’s unique geographical location, he said.

“It’s the crossroads between the east and the west,” said Fass, who plays for “Raya Brass Brand,” a Balkan-style music band.

Pakola, originally from Japan, expects about 30 members to attend the Sunday event, charging $3 to $5 for each meeting. She’s also applying for a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council to fund the club.

Professionals, amateurs and beginners are encouraged to perform for members and people who just wish to stop by and listen, said Pakola.

Playing the instrument is like giving it a “literal hugging,” she said, making it a very personal experience.

“You become a part of the instrument.”

For more information about the Brooklyn Accordion Club and to attend the workshop, visit this website.