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August 16, 2005


Meeting Notes

What a wonderful, energizing and entertaining meeting we had last week, thanks to Merv Conn. With a career spanning more than 70 years, Merv had lots to tell - and he illustrated each step with music. It all began in 1932, when Merv appeared as a vocalist on Joe Brown's Kiddies show on WOL radio and saw accordionist Matt Winsor strolling. The rest is history: Merv took a trial accordion course at Kitt's Music Store and then studied with Sylvia Kaplowitz.

In 1938 he played "Dark Eyes" with a Gypsy act that opened for Red Skelton at the Capital Theatre. Graduating from Benjamin Franklin University in 1940, Merv wrote the school song.

In 1945 he started an accordion school with three teachers. By the early 1950s, 300 students per week took lessons from six teachers, and the D.C. Recreation Department sponsored a concert each June.

In 1949-50 Merv taught the children of Major General Wallace Graham, President Truman's physician. One day the two children and their teacher played a concert for the Trumans in their White House living room. Several years later, Tricia and Julie Nixon were Merv's students. One day, Pat Nixon remarked, "Julie is my little jitterbug," and Merv went home and wrote "Jitterbug Rock," which Pietro Deiro published.

Between 1964 and 1969, Merv played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on the Cordavox for the Senators games. "It was a very good arrangement but the public didn't appreciate it - that's why I have 500 copies left," Merv said. Club members relieved him of a few copies.

Between 1970 and 1980 Merv was the music director for various beauty pageants in the Washington area. "They used to pay me with the third-place winner," he joked.

These days, Merv plays every Tuesday for the Kiwanis Club and the Scottish Rite Masons. He also plays occasional other gigs and continues to teach.

Following Merv's program, Joan's group (the Potomac Ensemble) played a few pieces, including two Christmas arrangements by Mike Surratt, so Mike could decide if the pieces needed more tinkering. Dale Wise and others played a few pieces as well.

Don't miss next month's meeting, when Kraig Greff of the great Baltimore band the Crawdaddies will be on the program. Some of us were lucky enough to hear this band at the AAMS festival in Wayne, Pa., in March.


Michael B. Rubin will be offering swing and salsa classes at George Washington University's Marvin Center, Room 307, starting Saturday, August 20, from 7 to 9 pm. The first class is $5 per person; subsequent classes will be $12.50 per person. (Part of the proceeds will benefit an NYU charity.) You MUST sign up with Mike ahead of time (mbr_music_dnc@yahoo.com).

Mike Surratt and the Continentals will be opening for Brave Combo August 31 at Blob's Park. If people are interested in going as a WMAS group, Karen and Luis will be attending and will be glad to save a table. Just email them at wmas2002@cox.net so they know how many people to expect.

Brave Combo/Mike Surratt and the Continentals

Wednesday, August 31, 2005, 7 pm
Blob's Park
8024 Blob's Park Road
(MD Rt. 175 @ Baltimore-Washington Parkway)
Jessup, MD 20794
(410) 799-0155
$25.00 per person, includes buffet dinner

By the way, Mike has a new CD called "The Accordion Project" and he's selling it for only $5. Email Mike at mikzcardz@aol.com if you'd like a copy.

Holiday Concert

Please be sure to mark your personal calendar for the December 4 concert. Rehearsals will be held on Tuesdays in November. Everyone is welcome to join the concert orchestra -- there will be music for every level -- but you must attend the rehearsals so we can shape the pieces together.

Besides the orchestra pieces, we will have our usual solos, duets, trios and small groups. So figure out what you'd like to play in the concert and send the information to Karen so she can start to compile a program.

Also, if you have any Christmas music that you think would be appropriate for the full orchestra to play, please get it to Joan ASAP.


Last year we won second place for adult bands in the Vienna, Va., Halloween Parade. Now they have invited us back; this year's event will be October 26 at 7 pm. We will need people to play, set up the float and break it down. The theme this year is "Best Town in America-Fourth in the USA, #1 In Our Hearts." If you have ideas for music or decorations, please contact Lee Paulson at Paulson@erols.com or Karen at wmas2002@cox.net.

For the Fourth of July parade in Fairfax we took third place for musical groups and received a beautiful white ribbon. This was outstanding -- we were not even aware the floats would be judged. Way to go, Lee and Ron!!!

WMAS Calendar

September 13 meeting: Kraig Greff of the Crawdaddies on "Expanding the Functionality of the Accordion"

October 11 meeting : Oktoberfest - This will be another dance night when everyone will have a chance to play. Please let Karen know what you will be playing, and, if it will be a piece people can sing along to, please bring copies or send the words to Karen at wmas2002@cox.net so she can include them in the program.

November 1: rehearsal for holiday concert at 7:30

November 8 meeting: Stella Allison & Joan Grauman at 7:30, rehearsal

November 15: rehearsal for holiday concert at 7:30

November 29: rehearsal for holiday concert at 7:30

December 4, Sunday: Holiday Concert at 4 pm (rehearsal beforehand)