Maggie Martin of the Mad Maggies

The producers and the board of the 2015 Cotati Accordion Festival 
is proud to announce the 

Maggie is a native San Franciscan who has been musically inclined as far back as she can remember. She sang in church choirs as a child, played piano when she could, listened to jazz LPs on the family’s large Blaupunkt Hi-Fi stereo and went to sleep to classical music playing on a small AM radio most nights.  

She taught herself guitar at 13 and soon formed an all-girl rock and roll band called “the Anti…” . An unexpected love affair with opera led her to voice lessons and eventually to enroll in the music program at Sonoma State University in 1985.

In 1987 she formed a theater company called “Mixed Company” with choreographer Diana Keener. She wrote and performed in 6 mixed media theater pieces integrating her original music, dance, spoken word, sculpture, film and projections. The company performed throughout Sonoma County, as well as Theater Artaud in San Francisco and CalArts in Valencia.  

Since 2004 she has directed and performed in the Mad Maggies.

It was the events of 1991, twenty-five years ago, that began her story with accordions, love and the Cotati Accordion Festival.

Thank you to the board members of the Cotati Accordion Festival for selecting me as the honorary director this year.  (Thank you Mags for stepping up this year in such a capable way. Maggie volunteered to be our social media guru and took on the job of Grand Finale coordinator – producing and directing this Accordion Extravaganza. I know it will be fabulous. — ED)

I was startled to receive this honor but even more startled to review the past twenty-five years and see how much the festival and my life as a musician have been entwined since 1991.

That fateful year started off with a friend giving me two Hohner accordions which she had inherited. Knowing I was a musician, she figured I would know what to do with them. One was a dry-tuned student model Hohner, the other was a musette-tuned 1932 Hohner “Carmen”. It was love at first hearing. 

Just days later, on February 12th, Gary Wium and I, already falling in love, connected in the biblical sense and began, what is still, our wild adventure together.

In June, I graduated from Sonoma State University with a B. A. in Music cum laude, with distinction. It was a modest accomplishment but, for my iconoclastic temperament, a milestone. 

That August, Gary and I were living in Cotati when we heard about an upcoming accordion festival in La Plaza Park. Of course I had to go. I hauled my old Carmen to the plaza and, when the moment came, I joined in on the “Lady of Spain-A-Ring”.  Thus, my very first public appearance as an accordionist was at the first Cotati Accordion Festival twenty-five years ago. I have been a fan and supporter ever since.

That September, in a moment of true daring, I entered the first San Francisco “Main Squeeze” contest at the Cannery which was organized by Tom Torriglia (Bella Ciao). I took second place, certainly more for my chutzpah than my fledgling accordion chops. I sang a Cajun/Zydeco inspired song called “Street Dog” that I had written for Gary. He had come to support me in the audience but didn’t know about the tune. I loved surprising him in front of the hundreds of spectators. Cotati Festival founder Jim Boggio was one of the judges. He told me how much he liked my tune. I was thrilled. An accordion babe was born. I still have the gold-colored tin crown hanging in my studio.

Years of accordion-laced activities followed. 

In 1994, I joined Polkacide and survived thirteen years playing punk polkas, gigging throughout the Bay Area and touring the West and Midwest.

In 2004, I gathered together fellow musicians to realize and record some of my compositions. The Mad Maggies began with that first album recording. Now eleven years and 6 albums later, we are still going strong. We’ve played all over Northern California and have toured the Northwest and Midwest. The Cotati Accordion festival is, hands down, one of our favorite shows to play.

I have volunteered several times to talk up the festival on local radio stations, joining festival stalwart Richard Cullinen and others, often entirely too early in the morning.

More times then I can recall, I have perched on the back of the Goree’s decorated convertible — the official Cotati Accordion Festival float — to wave and play to crowds in the Penngrove Parade, the Santa Rosa Rose Parade, Petaluma Butter & Eggs Days Parade and the Cotati’s Kid’s Day Parade. The crowds always respond to the accordion music with smiles and cheers. We received lots of good press for the festival and even won a few awards.

I have met many wonderful musicians, fans and accordion lovers from around the world. For five years in a row, I was a babe in the Accordion Babes Album and Pinup Calendar along with other fabulous accordionistas. Several authors and various media have interviewed me about accordions in contemporary music.

I continue to write music and plan for the Mad Maggies’ future.

All this because of the events of 1991 and those beloved bellows. 

Happy 25th, Cotati Accordion Festival! I can’t wait to see what the next twenty five years bring.

yours in a mad, mad world,



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