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Kip Peltoniemi hails from Minnesota’s famous “Finnish Triangle,” which is located in the southern part of the center of the eastern section of the western part of the southern portion of northern Minnesota. Sadly, Kip is the last of the old-time button accordion players from the Triangle. Efforts by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to reintroduce button accordion players to the Triangle have failed, so you better see Kip while you have the chance!
Kip learned to play button accordion on his Great-Uncle Einar’s knee. He was 25-years-old at the time. The button accordion is a physical instrument and difficult to play. It is even more difficult when a 200 pound “boy” is sitting on your knee. When Einar extended the bellows, Kip would often get knocked over. Undeterred and missing some teeth, he would crawl back up again, until Einar eventually tossed the accordion at him and told him it was his.
Decades later, Kip has performed from the East Coast to Colorado. His one-man show features unusual accordion instrumentals, humorous songs, dubious folklore and out-and-out lies. All of Kip’s music has been independently tested, graded and certified, achieving an incredible 99.7 %--or Grade AAA—ethnicity rating. This is the second highest ever, after Swen Torgersen of Rothsay, Minnesota!
Despite the comedic songs and tongue-in-cheek humor, Kip is serious about his accordion playing and has taught as Sibelius Academy in Helsinki on two occasions. Kip’s 2002 solo album “Minnesota Tango” was named “Folk Album of the Year” by Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest paper, and many of his songs and instrumentals have been recorded by other artists and have received airplay in over 10 countries. He has been the subject of a documentary on YLE, Finnish public television. Although ensconced in Finnish culture, Kip is also of Norwegian and Swedish ancestry, and performs music from all Scandinavian countries. “I’m a Pandanavian, he says, “I like it all.”