Cotati Accordion Festival 2005 Honorary Director
Ruth Edwards (formerly Ruth Peckham), the Lady of Spain and accordion Diva, has been squeezing out songs on her accordion (currently a blue and red Bugari) since the tender age of nine. In the third grade, she was innocently sitting in her classroom in Santa Rosa when a classmate’s mom brought her big black accordion to school and played Rock Around the Clock. It was the first accordion Ruth had ever seen, and was so enchantingly beautiful with so many moving parts. She went home that day with the word “Dacordion” (misspelled) on a strip of paper in her pocket. She proudly told her parents that she found the instrument she wanted to play. Her parents didn’t understand her odd choice, but soon had her studying under the Late Great Guido Canevari. Her dad, Lamar, decided that he loved the accordion too when Ruth learned to play Over the Waves, which turned into one of his favorite songs.
After studying for a number of years, she stopped playing accordion for a decade, but the accordion was always right there in the closet, because her mother, Kay, had made her promise to always keep it. In 1992 she picked it up again, after meeting Gordon Piatenesi of Colombo Accordions, and hearing about the San Francisco Main Squeeze contest, which she entered and lost. After entering the contest, in which she performed a polka medley written by Frank Impina, accordion teacher from Carmichael, there was no turning back from the accordion, especially after she won the contest the next year.
Since that time, she has performed in front of politicians, celebrities, and everyone in between. She performs solo, and in combos with Tom Torriglia, such as Roma 59 and the Squeegees, and with her klezmer band, Simka. She has performed as the Lady of Spain for the last five years, and loves the job and only wishes that her idol, Jim Boggio, could be up on stage with her. At her June wedding to handsome Sonoman Gary Edwards, who is in the cheese business, he surprised her with a 40-lb. accordion made out of extra sharp cheddar cheese. Gary aspires to play the accordion too, and is writing an accordion themed book. Ruth is a new member of the Cotati Accordion Festival Board of Directors.