Tris Gour, Principal FounderI was born in 1960 and at the age of eight, started playing the accordion. Musically, I started at the prominent Gene Van Accordion Conservatory in Northern Indiana. Studying under the direction of Mr. Van, I won several state accordion championships in many divisions and finished as first runner-up in the AAA US Open Pop Solo category, with a duplicate effort in the US Open Jazz and Combo Categories.
I started playing professionally at the age of 13, first as a solo performer and then as a duo member. It was during this time that my love of the "organ accordion" began. The audience always seemed to love the sound of my Cordovox as well as the songs. On many occasions, the audience asked about the unique sound of my accordion. Usually this would be followed by a question about my song selection. It wasn't often that a young teenager would be playing songs like Misty, Mack the Knife, or I Left My Heart in San Francisco! Both questions were answered easily as I pointed to my father. My father, having never played a music instrument, carefully explained just how an "organ accordion" worked. He even impressed me as he covered every detail about how the "Leslie" rotating speaker system that I used worked. In answer to the song selection question, my father had to take credit for that. Even during the early 1970's, accordion players had very few quality accordion arrangements to choose from. Hence my journey continued with my first "Fake Book" in hand.
Music Theory, the Fakebook, and the Leap Into Popular MusicBy the time I was 11 years old, I yearned to play Jazz and popular music. After a brief discussion with Mr. Van, we embarked upon the study of music theory. As most know, music theory is a life-long learning process, but I was committed to the fullest. To this day, I can remember writing every major, minor, seventh, augmented, and diminished chord with all their inversions on staff paper. Mr. Van showed me no mercy and I was eager to please. I was also fascinated by the likes of Art Van Damme, Frank Marocco, Tony Dannon, and Tommy Gumina. If they could use a Fakebook, I'd just have my father pick the songs, and I'd learn the chords! But another side of me started to blossom as I listened to bands like Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, and the Tower of Power, to name a few.
The New Horizon -- My Life, Best Friends and So Much Talent!As the years progressed, my band, The New Horizon became a "first-call" entertainment act performing at popular hotel chains, prominent night clubs, private and corporate parties. It was even the occasional warm up act for larger named talents. Audiences in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and even Missouri were enamored by the talent of this young group—popular nightclub act that required the supervision of designated adults! When the audience appeal of the accordion was declining in the US, I still specified in our engagement contracts that the use of an electronic accordion be permitted.
As was the case for many accordion players during the 1970's, I ended up putting my accordion aside in the professional arena, while I ran to the music store to buy one or two electronic keyboards. The evolving synthesizer and its digital counterparts seemed to be the only way to go. Embracing new technology, the band was always in demand and rarely had a week off. This was largely attributed to our high-quality talent, unrivaled vocal harmonies, and strong desire to always please an audience. However, as the college years were upon us, it was evident that the "young kids" from Northern Indiana could no longer continue. But that didn't mean the music would stop.
A Love of Technology and a Mid-Life CrisisOver the years, I learned the new keyboards, continued to study music theory, play live, and even help out with commercial and film scoring projects. With my own recording studio, I was able to produce and record talent, work in product development with some major music equipment manufacturers, and aid in the development of a few software sample libraries. But something was missing, and I felt musically unsatisfied! What was missing was my "home instrument"—the accordion. Enter Gary Dahl ...
What Gary Dahl Did for MeMusic has always been an important part of my life. Since the age of eight, I've had to practice, play, compete, entertain, and work with a lot of personality types. I've also gained patience and realize that my education in music will never end. For this, I'm grateful.
My journey with Gary Dahl began during the year 2013. I embarked upon an even more intense study of the accordion. What started out as a student/teacher relationship blossomed into a friendship that will be treasured for the rest of my life. Under the tutelage of Gary, I experienced what has been and will continue to be the most fulfilling years of my musical career. I became content and enjoyed "musical peace". I was back to my "home instrument". I practiced relentlessly, absorbing every ounce of teaching that Gary had to offer. I learned much more about music theory, arrangements, technique, areas to improve upon, and the list goes on. Gary knew that I was not a beginner, and I thought this would be to my benefit. Gary saw it differently. We worked through the entire Getting Into Accordion book and followed with the Chord Melody Method for Accordion. Being a student of Gary's also gave me access to his extensive library of accordion arrangements, so the lack of arrangements was no longer an excuse. Although Gary is gone, he is still with me when I practice, play and perform. Speaking of which, I better head off to practice since Gary wouldn't want me to waste time writing about him!