ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - From polkas to waltzes, you can hear accordions across all musical genres. A St. Paul music store says the centuries-old instrument is seeing a surge in popularity.
"It’s very versatile, accordions are used in every culture you can imagine,” Ken Mahler, owner of Mahler Music Center, said.
The squeeze box has been Mahler's main squeeze since he first learned how to play as a teen -- "I guess I took to it like a fish in water,” he said.
And Mahler's been spreading the news ever since – buying, selling, and repairing accordions in all shapes and sizes out of the store he’s owned for more than 30 years, while teaching the ins and outs to a new generation of accordion aficionados both young and old.
12-year-old Adam Swanson picked up the instrument four years ago. He spends a couple hours every other Saturday at Mahler Music Center fine-tuning his playing skills.
"Its a unique instrument that combines two instruments, and I can play a lot of different types of music. And overall its fun," Swanson said.
70-year-old Duane Schlobohm let the air out of his hobby for more than half a century after learning how to play.
"Popular in the late 50's, everyone was doing it so I joined in too -- really enjoyed it at the time,” Schlobohm said.
That is, until a few years ago, when he decided to strap on the accordion again in his golden years.
"I'm just so thankful I have this as a hobby, two to three hours a day,” Schlobohm said. “It’s always there waiting to be picked up. I enjoy that part too."
It’s fitting that Mahler's internet business is called “Accordion Heaven,” because he'll continue helping others make beautiful music until he leaves this earth.
"I'm thinking I'll be on a gurney when they pull me out of here,” Mahler joked. “I don’t have any plans on retiring. I enjoy the business and especially the people I meet."