EntertainmentLive Music

Brett Barest on Upstate Music: Mama’s Got A Squeeze Box (Festival)

I do not remember at what exact point in my life I understood the meaning of “double entendre” but I am pretty sure that The Who’s “Mama’s Got A Squeeze Box” probably played a part in the lesson. While the band itself plays a bit coy about the actual meaning of the song, it is pretty obvious to even the most oblivious listener that the “Mama” in question is playing with a lot more than an accordion. As such, I have never in my time on this Earth been referring to a musical instrument if I uttered those words.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that the Swamp Rabbit Squeeze Box Fest Festival was going down this weekend at The Velo Fellow instead of, say, The Trophy Club.  Despite my initial surprise, however, I was thrilled to find that this is a celebration of actual accordions which, if I am being honest, is still something I never expected to see in the Upstate. Even better is the fact that one glance at the lineup of acts and festivities reveals that The Velo Fellow is not playing around.

The fun kicks off on Saturday evening with an Irish dinner in the bar followed by three bands on stage in The Velo Fellow’s listening room. David Donar, TC Costello, and Wasted Wine which means the evening will deliver traditional Cajun sounds, accordion driven punk rock, and gypsy rock respectively for an incredibly eclectic evening of music. That alone would be worth the trip to Velo Fellow and would pay proper homage to the accordion but the fun does not quietly stop there.

Sunday afternoon kicks off with a Murder Ballad Brunch which is an open mic extravaganza with participants encouraged to play (duh) the murder ballads of their choosing. TC Costello then returns with his second set of the weekend and is followed by a full day of music courtesy of Tail Light Rebellion, Resonant Rogues, and The Reedy River Shanty Choir. This is as diverse and varied a lineup as one could possibly imagine with the lone common denominator being the presence of the accordions on stage.  

All of this comes together not just to celebrate the accordion but also to raise money for a friend recovering from a hit and run accident. A $10 donation to the effort is suggested, as is the purchase of raffle tickets and t-shirts. Also, please try to refrain from giggling like Beavis and/or Butthead every time you hear the words “squeeze box” (I admit I am talking to myself here).

In the non-accordion world of music, The Radio Room has the predictably impressive lineup of bands in the days ahead. Nashville’s Indianola will be in town Friday night and brings just the type of stripped down throwback garage rock sound that I never get tired of. Charleston rockers The High Divers will be there on Saturday and always delivers a good time when they visit the Upstate. Finally, next Tuesday sees the unlikeliest guest of The Radio Room with John McLaughlin in the house. The pianist and singer songwriter has seen his work used in everything from an episode of Scrubs to the Disney film Enchanted, the latter of which received an Oscar nomination and led to McLaughlin performing at the Academy Awards. While The Radio Room on a Tuesday in Greenville might seem like an odd place to catch an artist like this, but it will no doubt make for a memorable evening of music.


From squeeze boxes to pianos, there is much to love about the Upstate music scene and it is hard to argue that there is not a little something for everybody. Whatever your tastes and wherever you end up, just enjoy the show.   

Upstate South Carolina Concert Calendar

Comment via Facebook

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close