Pun Picks Jay's "Pun Picks" – a musician's view through video & photosjp@mojamusic.net

Tom Lasko – 2 originals & “Monticello”

Episode 16: ——- Dig what I’m doing? Consider donating $5 or more at the bottom of this post

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“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” so they say. For this next Pun Picks session, that saying definitely rings true. Tom Lasko is Morwenna’s father, a talented visual artist as well as a highly skilled musician. As I stated in my previous post, Tom is an awesome guitarist who knows a great deal about fine guitars and other instruments but he is also a killer accordionist.

I wasn’t too familiar with accordion music while growing up, except for the usual association with Polka music. When I heard that Tom played accordion in a group with Morwenna when she was younger, I was very intrigued. Early on in our career we toured throughout New England and stopped at their home in Maine on a day off between gigs. That day Morwenna and her dad played a few of the tunes from their repertoire in Café Musette, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing and hearing this father/daughter connection was fascinating and it sounded beautiful! That was my first introduction to the many voices that this unique instrument could offer.

This summer I was able to get back to the great state of Maine to film Tom playing a few tunes. Here he is performing a medley of original tunes “Jazz on the Ridge/The Hurricane Ridge” as well as a tune by Romane called “Monticello.” I was also able to get a short interview with him below. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to capture Morwenna and Tom in a duo session. 🙂

Part 1: “Jazz on the Ridge/The Hurricane Ridge” (Part 2 down below)

Jay Pun: Please tell me about when you started playing accordion.

Tom Lasko: I started piano accordion lessons at age 5 and took lessons for approximately 10 years. My teacher was Ed Zera and I was taught using the Palmer-Hughes accordion course books 1 thru 12. I then learned standard and popular tunes from fake books to expand my repertoire. I lost interest in the accordion as soon as the Beatles and the British Invasion took place in the mid sixties. I was in rock bands playing the Cordovox and Farfisa electric organ and developed an interest in the guitar at that point.

I didn’t get back into accordion until Morwenna was three years old which was when she started playing the violin and I started listening to Celtic Bands, Silly Wizard, Planxty etc. which have violin and accordion in them. Morwenna and I then started playing fiddle tunes around that time.

Who are some of your favorite accordionists?

Richard Galliano, Frank Marocco, Daniel Colin, Daniel Thonon, Phil Cunningham, Sivuca , Karen Tweed, Cathy Travers, Maria Kalaniermi

Accordion Makers?

Petosa, 1950’s American made Excelsiors, Brandoni

You played with Morwenna in a group called Café Musette for years when she was growing up, what kind of music did you all perform and what was that like?

We started as a duo playing “fiddle tunes,” then added a cello to form a trio and played waltzes. We became a quartet with guitar and expanded into gypsy jazz and musette music. That was a fun time and learning experience. We played many gigs of all kinds. Some were regular restaurant gigs. We also filmed a live show for public radio.

You are also a regular guest of ours when you are able to join us. How is that playing experience different from back in the day of Café Musette?

I play along with your tunes naturally although Morwenna and I sometimes do some of our old duet tunes from the Café Musette days. That was the name of our band back then. It’s fun playing tunes alongside both of you. You both are very accomplished musicians and it is truly an honor to share the stage with you both. I am also awe struck at watching Morwenna’s development over the years and to see what a stellar player she is today.

In addition to your accordion skills, you are also a great guitarist with a love and appreciation for fine acoustic guitars. Could you name some of your favorite luthiers as well as players who inspired you growing up, as well as some who inspire you today?

1930’s Martin acoustic guitars mostly smaller body sizes 0, 00, 000’s, same for Gibson guitars. Other modern luthiers include Bourgeois, Bruce Sexauer, John How, Laurent Brondel, James Goodall, and Schoenberg.

Some of my favorite Guitarists include: Tommy Emmanuel, Michael Hedges, Bill Frisell, Laurence Juber, Pierre Bensusan, Dan Ar Bras, Richard Thompson, Pat Methany, Mary Flower, Dean Magraw, and Jeff Beck.

Part 2: “Monticello” by Romane

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