John Volpi

2013 Honorary Director

I was born in Petaluma in 1936 to Silvio and Mary Volpi of Northern Italian Heritage.

My father took lessons from Professor Angelo Cagnazzo in the 1920s and later played with the Traveling Minstrels. Angelo Cagnazzo was also Dick Contino’s teacher. He taught mainly in San Francisco and played in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach in the evenings. Pa was also a well-known accordion teacher in his own right.

As a young boy, I was taught piano for 12 years. I took a few accordion lessons from Professor Cagnazzo before he passed away in the 1950’s, and from Guido Boccaleoni who was my father’s student. This Petaluma teacher taught an entire town and an entire generation of accordionists who came of age after World War II.

For the most part I was self-taught.

In 1925 my father purchased Volpi’s Grocery & Bar now known as Volpi’s Restaurant and Bar at 124 Washington Street here in Petaluma.

The Accordion Club of the Redwoods originally used our restaurant facilities to hold their monthly meeting until they outgrew our space. I was one of the original founders of the ACR.  Meetings are now held at Hermanns Sons Hall in Petaluma every third Monday.

I and my sister Silvia have both entertained for decades in the back bar (also a speakeasy during Prohibition) by singing and playing!

Other than my wife, Mary Lee and family, the accordion has always been the other great love of my life.

I appreciate this honor you have bestowed on me and I look forward to all the talented musicians who come to see us at Volpi’s and grace us with their playing.

The honor is ours ‑ Ed

Sheri Mignano wrote a wonderful tribute to John Volpi. John Volpi Article by Sheri Mignano

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