Earlier this summer, whilst providing crepe catering at a private party near Chelmsford, Essex, we met an interesting musician called Alex Southgate (click here for his website) who made his living playing the accordion. For those who don’t know, an accordion is a bellows-driven instrument, meaning that air is forced through the instrument which in turn vibrates reeds to produce a sound. The musician (or accordionist, to use the correct title) plays a melody and rhythm using a keyboard and various buttons. Our mobile crepe stand has been hired for many weddings and parties, but we had never met an accordionist before.
The party was hosted by a Frenchman and his wife, and it was clear that the evening was designed with a French feeling in mind – the wine was French, the music was French – and of course, crêpes are French too. The French music definitely helped add that continental element to the evening and a nice warm summers evening also helped considerably!
In conversation with Alex, who is based in Essex, we learned that he played the accordion pretty much full time. Although he was a member of a band, much of his work involved playing solo at private parties and interestingly, playing at care homes on a regular basis. And much like ourselves, he travelled the entire country – immediately after the party gig in Essex, he was heading up to a wedding the following day on Anglesey in North Wales.
Although our crepe cart was situated away from where Alex was sited, we could still hear the sound of Alex singing along with the accordion and at times Alex involved the guests in sing-a-longs to songs such as “Que Sera Sera”. One definite advantage to hiring Alex is that he provides his own amplification – it’s built into the accordion! This also means he doesn’t have to remain in a fixed location, and we saw him wandering about the garden “minstrel-style” (which was a nice touch) though most of the time he was seated beneath a gazebo.
Unfortunately, as he was playing continuously and having fun with the guests, Alex didn’t get to sample one of our crepes (which he was disappointed about) as by the time he had finished playing, we had loaded our mobile creperie into our van and were about to head off on our way.
However, hopefully our paths will cross again at some point – maybe at another private party with crepes and the accordion adding a touch of French je ne sais quoi.