Gay Kahkonen (GK) and Joyce Kahkonen (JK)
JK: He loved music. He loved performing. He played, you know, always with tux, always looking nice, shiny shoes.
GK: What kind of music would he play?
JK: Lots of polkas, upbeat waltzes, and the old standards that everyone knew.
GK: You and your sister, and your brother all learned to play the accordion.
JK: Yes. We certainly did. We had no choice.
JK: We have family pictures where we’re all sporting an accordion: my sister, who was so good, my brother, and my mother who didn’t play but would put an accordion on for the family portrait.
In the 50’s my father started his own accordion studio in this old, rickety, wooden frame house. It was a great location because my father drew students from all Pittsburgh areas. They could all get their by trolley and drag their accordion up to our studio.
He would book anything. If you had a church and you had a calendar party and you needed 10 accordionists, guess what? We were there. We played mental hospitals, we played nursing homes. We played for anybody that wanted music.
GK: Now, your father had a very famous saying.
JK: Yes, I sometimes was good, and sometimes my fingers would just get ahead of themselves and I wasn’t very good. He used to say to me ’honey, remember one thing: if you can’t play good, play loud. Let them know you’re there!’ And I come home from a job and he would say ’oh how’d you do today?’ and I’d say ’well, I played loud’.