Accordion makerRandy Falcon

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A musician, Falcon was born in Crowley, La., and grew up with Cajun music: his cousin Joe Falcon (1900–1965), an accordion player, is best known for making the first record featuring a Cajun song (“Allons à Lafayette” in 1928). Randy Falcon didn’t just play Cajun music, he also became a well regarded accordion maker: the instrument is at the center of Cajun music. He also repaired and tuned them. “I truly believe that Randy’s tuning was the best,” said popular Cajun musician Wayne Toups, who was also born in Crowley. “He was a musician who knew what he wanted in an accordion to make it better and play the best.”

Falcon playing one of his instruments. (Photo: Falcon Accordions)

In the late 1980s, Falcon was watching Toups perform. Toups’ signature sound required two accordions — each in a different key — and he would switch mid-song, which was cumbersome because the instrument is strapped to the player’s body. That gave Falcon an idea: why not create an accordion that could play more than one key, switching on the fly? He invented it — the first major improvement made in Cajun accordions. He filed for a patent on the invention in 1990, and it was granted two years later. “That was his big accomplishment,” says Zydeco music historian Herman Fuselier. “He made history with that.” Last year, Falcon was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” He turned his business over to a younger apprentice, who estimates Falcon made around 500 traditional accordions, plus 55–60 double accordions. Falcon died on May 23, at 69.

From This is True for 24 May 2020