PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE - by Gordon Kohl
Hello ALSI accordion club friends:
A very special thank you to everyone of you accordionists and friends for making an
accordion club possible and successful in San Diego. So many faces have graced our club for 30
years. From the very first meetings at Frank Mezanics’ trailer park in Lakeside, accordionists
have enjoyed good times together.
I (Kjell) remember driving to this get-together in my old yellow truck with my old
Excelsior accordion, to play for people the Beer Barrel Polka and my favorite Hambo dance piece.
The time arose that a few accordionists were getting together monthly and some of us played Happy
Birthday on Channel 8 TV. It would not take long and the beginning of today’s ALSI came to be. -
Helen and Harold Estok became very involved and brought the club new faces and the
beginning of even an ensemble. Later, nearly 30 accordionists played in this group. Gloria
Ensign, Marian Sowell and Vicki Eriqat vivaciously carried on for years the duty of building and
helping this band—Wow!.
Local professional accordionists Al Jacobs, Smiling Jack, Ron Griffin, Louis Fanucchi
and Gordon Kohl drove the club forward to new heights and experiences. The prominence of an
accordion community was present in San Diego. ALSI was so inspirational in bringing concerts to
our club and city. The club worked to bring Dick Contino, Myron Floren, Jorgen Sundeqvist, Staz
Venglevski and the noteable Frank Moracco (jazz artist), and the stage man of accordion Tony
Lavello to San Diego over the years of the club!
The ideas for club activities came to us one by one. We created the Day of Accordion in Balboa
Park, a Heritage Music Festival, and a picnic, which are still part of the club activities.
Thanks to all of us, who have participated in our club. We share our love of the
accordion and enjoy friendships with other squeezers that seems to endure and bind us together.
So many thanks to Helen and Harold Estok for driving ALSI forward. As the years passed, new
friends continued to arrive at ALSI. Most of these members are people you know today. Some of
them are: Jerry O., Richard S., John C., Roni P., Vicki E., Sharon and Jack M., Bob W., Rena W.,
Marian S., and so many others.
We were all so blessed to have the Maestro Galla-rini accordion camp for years in San
Diego. Galla-rini was such an inspiration, a friend with a smile, and a driving force for players
of the accordion.
The club newsletter, the Reed Block, became an excellent means to attract members and give
direction to the club. Roy Wirta was the first publisher and helped make it a success. It was
originally a short newsletter in black and white. Today the newsletter is in full color and
still displays the original accordion icon that instantly reminds you what you have in hand.
Sharon Marotte has authored the Happiness section of the newsletter for over 20 years! Bob Warner
has written many-many reviews of artists that have performed at the club. Bob Page has maintained
the computer data and website for the club. He was also the publisher for 15 years and much of
the current format is his design.
Past presidents of the club that has keep the club alive and enthusiastic have been
Harold Estok, Ron Griffin, Kjell Holmes and Gloria Ensign. Gordon Kohl is now in the hot seat and
doing a great job of keeping things alive and well in the accordion world. Gordon’s wish is that
you all help one another including the ALSI committee to bring fun and music to us all for years.
Thank you all so very much for being there: Kjell Holmes
P.S. Thanks, dad, for getting me my first accordion as a child and giving me lessons with Hugo Helmer.