Honorary Director of the 1997 Cotati Accordion Festival
By Steven Rubenstein
Published in the San Francisco Chronicle November 21, 1996
A MEMORIAL gathering will be held in Petaluma on Sunday for Jim Boggio, master accordionist, the self-proclaimed
“King of the Stomach Steinway” and the founder of the beloved Cotati Accordion Festival. Mr. Boggio, 56, died November 6 of heart failure in his Rohnert Park home.
Mr. Boggio, a remarkable musician who could play three instruments at once and play while asleep, was funny, loud and as large as the beer barrel in the polka he was too often called on to perform.
He loved the accordion, and he loved battling the nerdy reputation that the accordion acquired – courtesy of TV bandleader Lawrence Welk. “I do not want to throw rocks at Lawrence”, Mr. Boggio said in a 1992 interview. “I’m truly sorry Lawrence died. But he placed a stigma on this instrument that has taken us 20 years to overcome.”
Mr. Boggio overcame it with energy, style
A native of
In the 1970s, as those bands became fewer and smaller, Mr. Boggio was often called upon to play more than one instrument at the same time. Colleagues recall
In the late 1980s, Mr. Boggio was a co-founder of the Cotati Accordion Festival, the
A highlight of the festival was Mr. Boggio presiding over the “Lady of Spain-a-ring”, in which anyone with an accordion was invited on stage to play in unison the accordionist’s anthem, “Lady of Spain.” Hundreds would play together and laugh at themselves.
Mr. Boggio also performed at the annual San Francisco Accordion Festival at Fisherman’s Wharf. He was known for his radio voice-over parts and for acting in commercials. He played and sang with such groups as the Swamp Dogs, Alto Madness, David Grisman, and Dan Hicks and his Acoustic Warriors.
With the Swamp Dogs, he was known for belting out an original tune called “Mojo Mama”: “Mojo Mama! Tell me what you gonna do! Mojo Mama! I wanna make love to you!”
In recent years, he played old standards in the piano bar of the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, where he would occasionally fall asleep during a number. While snoring, and with his eyes closed, he would continue to play. “Jim was just as
He is survived by his son, James Wood, of Placentia, Orange County; daughter, Jill Johnson, of Colorado; and his mother, Millie
Jim Boggio: Keys to a Musical Genius
Keys to a Musical Genius
by Sheri Mignano Crawford