Joe Fertitta, 82-year-old president of the Maryland Accordion Club, talks about his love for the accordion at his home in Catonsville on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2014.
Joe Fertitta sat on the brick steps of his Cape Cod style home in Catonsville last Thursday, dancing his fingers across the keyboard of his accordion to play his favorite Italian tune, "Flight of the Angels."
It's a sound unlike most popular music heard today.
"We're trying to bring this accordion back alive again, for the young people to learn to play," Fertitta, 82, said.
The instrument reached its heyday in the first half of the 20th century, but has made a comeback through indie and folk rock bands like Beirut, Arcade Fire and The Decemberists.
When the rock 'n' roll era hit, accordions fell out of style because the music was at such a high volume that accordions couldn't be heard, said Duffy Llama, 53, a member of the Maryland Accordion Club and a friend of Fertitta.
After retiring from a maintenance position with the U.S. Postal Service in 2003, Fertitta began repairing and selling his favorite instrument in his home, where figurines of accordion players are displayed on a white bookshelf in the entrance.
That same year, he established the Maryland Accordion Club. Fertitta is president of the club, which meets the second Saturday of each month from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Bloomsbury Community Center in Catonsville.
The club has about 65 members from across the state. "They can play all kinds of music — even rock," Fertitta said.
About 12 to 15 members march in the Catonsville 4th of July Parade each year, raising awareness of what the instrument, invented in Europe in the 1800s as a type of portable organ, can do.
When the club first began, it had 100 members, Fertitta said. But membership is shrinking as members die, retire or move away.