Hi-Top Sneakers – Dan Newton – Review

Hi-Top Sneakers
self-released DN0048 (2008)

It’s hard to imagine a bad time with Daddy Squeeze (a.k.a. Dan Newton) in the house. On his latest, the Minneapolis accordionist is joined by 14 of his closest pals, who play everything from guitars. fiddles, mandolins, and Dobros to string basses, harmonicas. tubas, and even a guiro. a hollow wooden rhythm instrument from Latin America. With such a rotating lineup. Newton tackles everything from a tribute to his favorite foot­wear (hi-top sneakers). caffein­ated odes to that morning-saving brew, old folks struts to how cheap suits can make one feel like S3.50 when only S3.00 was spent at the thrift store. The lyrics are usually clever, such as Put Your Snout to the Spout, which isn’t about drinking but keeping one’s spirit alive with passion.

While several songs feature tuba player Tom Wells, who completes the bouncy jugband/hokum flavor, Brand New Fiddle finds Gary Raynor bowing his upright bass to emulate the tuba’s rumbling sound. If you want a little sexy Latin dancing. Newton’s got infectious instrumentals for that, too: the cumbia-inspired Elizabeta and Cumborro, which combines the Columbian cumbia and Brazilian forro.

But everyone knows that those who swear by the sneakers are really rockers at heart. regardless of their music. Newton is no exception. transforming Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode into its plausible Minnesota counterpart. The Yohnnie B Goode Polka. replete with a fakey foreign accent. It’s hysterical. really, an accordion-tuba splattered bi-sonic tune that can’t decide if it’s a rock ‘n’ roller or a polka at heart. What’s not to like?

- Dan Willging (Denver. CO) Dirty Linen 2008