Dan Newton - Accordian Player
After winning the Nebraska State Accordion Contest at the Czech Festival in Wilber in 1987, Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton moved to Minnesota and has been wowing Twin Cities music lovers ever since. Equally at home playing Celtic, Tex-Mex, Cajun, blues, jazz, Scandinavian, French musette, polka, and pop, Dan heads up a bunch of different groups, including Jumbo Ya Ya, the Rockin' Pinecones, and the incomparable Cafe Accordion Orchestra. We caught up with Dan to see what he's been up to . . .
What have you been up to this past year without touring and live concerts?
This pandemic year has been rough for everyone, but has had some silver linings. I've taken a lot more walks with Elizabeth (my wife) and added more birds to our life list. When the lakes and parks got too crowded last spring we started walking in cemeteries (a much safer situation for everyone) where I started collecting a list of curious names from headstones. (e.g. Jasper Tarbox, Minnie Suits and Nene Mambo come to mind) I spent a lot of time going through old compositions I had forgotten and eventually recorded an album of solo original instrumentals in my living room. Most of the tunes had their origins in a dream state, hence the title "Out of My Dreams".
Any new Technology challenges you've overcome during the pandemic?
I did my first ever live-stream concert on March 17, 2020, the day after the Shelter-In-Place order started for Minnesota. As of March 17, 2021 I have done 65 concerts with Elizabeth from the comfort of my living room and have been fortunate enough to develop an on-line community that helps us feel less isolated. We continue to perform live streams every Monday at noon, CT, you can watch them live or later at https://www.facebook.com/
Any favorite A Prairie Home Companion memories?
I have a lot of great memories from my days with APHC. It's likely my favorite moments were on the set of the Prairie Home movie with GK, Robert Altman and all the cast and crew. Watching Pop Wagner give rope twirling lessons to John C Reilly and Woody Harrelson was a gas, as was having Kevin Kline ask me if it would be OK if he sat in and sang with my band after rehearsal. (Would it be "OK"!) It was a real treat hanging around with all the PHC musician regulars, waiting for our chance to get on stage and play musicians waiting for a chance to get on stage!
Big plans as we more people get vaccinated and things return to a somewhat normal state?
As Spring approaches I'm looking forward to more walks, bird-watching during the migration, getting vaccinated (fingers crossed) and the return of live music with in-person audiences. I can't wait to start playing again with former PHC regulars Pat Donohue and the Prairie All Stars, including Gary Raynor, Peter Johnson, Richard Kriehn, Joe Savage and (some times!) Richie Dworsky. What a great joy it is to play music with that group!
WATCH Salsipuedes (which they once played on A Prairie Home Companion)
As LIVE performances return, keep up with Dan's activities, either solo or with his many bands, as well as all other activities on his website DaddySqueeze.com.