The Voice of the Accordion: DiGiuseppe Brings New Trio to Town for Sunset Rhythms

By Tom Dillon, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.

May 11--David DiGiuseppe says the subtitle beneath the name of his new David D Trio -- "accordion nouveau" -- is part of his effort at an accordion renaissance, if you will.

If you talk about the "old world accordion," he said, many people will get an instant picture of Lawrence Welk and his bubble music. "So many people associate the accordion with that style," he said, "and it's not always positive." But the instrument has many more capabilities and dimensions than what came across on those old-time television shows, he said. There's an awful lot more there, and it really needs demonstrating.

"I feel like I'm giving the accordion a new voice," he said. Area music fans will be able to hear the result when the new trio performs at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Willowbrook Park in Burlington in the second of this spring's Sunset Rhythms concerts.

DiGiuseppe knows whereof he speaks. He's known for his sensitive playing, and he's equally at home playing Irish pub tunes, French musettes and contra or Cajun or French Canadian dance music. (Musettes are, boiled down, bagpipe music in waltz time on the accordion, if you were curious.) He's an encyclopedia of musical styles, also playing banjo, dulcimer, guitar, cittern, mandolin and concertina, among other instruments. And so are his bandmates, Beverly Botsford and Robbie Link.

Botsford spent more than 10 years playing percussion with the Chuck Davis African-American Dance Ensemble. She taught for 14 years at the American Dance Festival at Duke University, and she's shared the stage with, among others, Tito Puente and Sir Roland Hanna.

She recently returned from a concert trip to Portugal with jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, with whom she's a frequent performer.

Link is a teacher and performer on double bass, electric bass, viola da gamba and cello who performs with both symphony orchestras -- the North Carolina, Richmond and Louisville symphonies are on his resume -- and with jazz notables like Mose Alison and Margaret Whiting.

"He fits into many categories," DiGiuseppe said, and indeed, that's true of all three musicians. What they play isn't folk, jazz or roots music, or even classical, but it has elements of all of them.

DiGiuseppe, 52, has been playing the accordion for a long time, though he's loathe to say how long. When he was eight years old, he started taking lessons, he said. "But then the Beatles became popular, and we all started playing guitars," he said.

He got serious about the accordion again in the late 1980s, and his life since then has been a journey of discovery. Besides the David D Trio, he plays with the acclaimed contra dance band Footloose, with the contra-jazz fusion band Contrazz, with guitarist Danny Gotham and solo, telling stories along with his music.

He performs regularly in schools, libraries, and teacher workshops. One of those programs, with Rex McGee, is "Bound for Carolina," examining Scottish and Irish traditions as they manifested themselves in the developing South. Sunday evening's concert is sponsored by the Burlington Recreation and Parks Department and is open free to the public. If it rains, the concert will be relocated to Thataways teen center at 1334 Overbrook Road. Next on the schedule after Sunday is Martha and the Moodswingers at 6:30 p.m. May 19, this year's first show at the Depot amphitheater downtown.

Willowbrook Park is off South Church Street two blocks east of Williams High School. Call 229-3148 or 222-5002 for more information. Visit for more on David DiGiuseppe.

Copyright (c) 2006, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.

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This page last updated on November 23, 2006.