Old Word Accordions: Gary Sredzienski in the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Gary Sredzienski
Gary Sredzienski at the top of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

Gary Sredzienski is known as an incredibly versatile accordionist, performing and recording as a solo artist and with his band, the Serfs. He’s hosted his popular weekly radio program, “Polka Party,” on WUNH-FM in Durham, NH, since 1986. Gary is also an avid year-round swimmer; he has completed several long-distance winter swims for a variety of causes, including lighthouse preservation.

Gary’s latest album is a collection of 27 tunes recorded in the watchroom of the 1878 Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. Why? Because there’s “nothing like the sound of an acoustic accordion inside a lighthouse,” according to Gary. For the recording sessions, engineer Jim Tierney placed microphones strategically around the tower interior. One of the microphones was hung out a window, and you can hear ocean waves in some of the quieter moments.

Gary’s wide repertoire encompasses the Polish music of his ancestry, music from a wide range of European traditions, and American music of the 1930s to 1950s. The selections on the new album are an eclectic mix of traditional tunes, ethnic music, classical pieces, and a few originals. The song “Keepers of the Light” was written by Gary specifically for this project to honor the lightkeepers of years past. Gary employed a variety of instruments from his vast collection to capture the appropriate mood and tone for each piece, and Jon Ross added guitar and mandolin on some of the tracks.

Old World Accordions - Gary Sredzienski

Track listing

1 Mermaid in the Creek – G. Sredzienski (BMI)
2 The Coach Road to Sligo/Money In Both Pockets – Irish traditional
3 Karaguna – Greek folk dance
4 All The Fish (The Westphalia Waltz) – Polish folk song
5 Obereks In Minor – Polish Mazurkas
6 Father Kelly’s – Irish traditional
7 Two Guitars – Russian Gypsy folk song
8 Sakkijarven Polka – The anthem of Finnish accordionists
9 Woolly and Georgey – English country dance, Playford, 1701
10 Pinewoods Reel/Loch Leven Castle – Scottish country dances
11 Folkevise (Grieg’s Folk Song ) – Edvard Grieg , Op. 38 Nr 2
12 Connecticut River – G. Sredzienski (BMI)
13 Hungarian Dance No. 6 – Johannes Brahms
14 Le Reel Carnaval – French Canadian reel
15 Newcastle – English Country Dance, Playford, 1651
16 Spruce Creek – G. Sredzienski (BMI)
17 Za Ebru Fala (By the Waterfall) – Polish waltz
18 Hora Staccato – Grigoras Dinicu , Romania
19 Nasz Chlopicki – Polish uprising song of 1830
20 The Foxhunter’s Reel – Irish traditional
21 Frank Gilruth/Jamie Hardy – James Scott Skinner, Scottish
22 Medley of Ukrainian Folk Songs – Ukraine
23 The Glen Road to Carrick – Irish traditional
24 Keepers of the Light – G. Sredzienski (BMI)
25 Sandy MacIntyre’s Trip to Boston/Dave MacDonald’s Wedding Reel – Cape Breton fiddle tunes
26 For David – G. Sredzienski (BMI)
27 Goodnight Ladies/A Hot time in the Old Town/Sailor’s Hornpipe – Old songs to close the dance

A portion of the sales benefits Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses. $17 each plus $3 shipping. Expected shipping date: April 1, 2012