Leif and Sunnie Accordion Duo to perform at Seattle’s Syttende Mai

Leif Holmes and Sunnie Sundquist will be performing at the Nordic Heritage Museum on the 17th of May before heading to the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in Finland

Photo: Leslie Lindskog
The Leif and Sunnie Accordion Duo.

Solveig Lee
Mount Vernon, Wash.

Many children were instilled with a love for the music of Scandinavia under the direction of Swede Hugo Helmer, a well-known musician and accordion teacher in Mount Vernon, Wash. Both Leif Holmes and Sunnie Sundquist took lessons from Helmer, and for both of them the love for music—particularly Nordic tunes—has prevailed.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Holmes and Sundquist were playing in the Hugo Helmer Marching Band in Mount Vernon, the only accordion marching band in the United States at that time. This band played everywhere from Vancouver, B.C., to Seattle. They well remember one time in Vancouver when the band played such tunes as “The Beer-Barrel Polka” and marched for 5.2 miles.

Five decades passed. Both Holmes and Sundquist had their careers and traveled around the world. A Hugo Helmer band reunion took place in Mount Vernon, and out came their accordions. In 2005, Holmes became the director of the Hugo’s Accordion Band in Mount Vernon, and Sundquist joined as a member.

In 2015, Holmes and Sundquist began to perform as a duo. They have performed for retirement parties, a variety of organizations, events at several Sons of Norway lodges, at the Nordic Heritage Museum for Viking Days and the 17th of May, and at the Farmhouse Restaurant in Skagit County during their Lutefisk and Scandinavian Buffet.

The Leif and Sunnie Accordion Duo has been honored to be included as Performing Artists in the 50th Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in Finland from July 10 to 16, 2017. It is the largest annual folk music festival in the Nordic countries.

Before they leave for Finland, you can visit the Nordic Heritage Museum on the 17th of May to listen to their performance here in the U.S. They will be on stage at the Nordic Café from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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