If you have never had the opportunity to experience Radoslav Lorkovic, you are missing a master at work. Whether it be his virtuosic piano playing or his uncanny way of adding just the right touches from his beautiful red accordion, concert-goers are in for a real treat. It truly doesn’t matter who he is playing with; he’s played with so many of the A list musicians in the country and each and every show that he is involved with is an utter pleasure and delight. Born in Croatia, but his musical pedigree comes from many years on the road all around the world—traveling and doing his thing with the best of the best and on his own. Rad’s music is unique; it’s atmospheric; it’s jazz and blues-infused. Give your ears a treat and listen!
Note: This is a repeat of a blog I wrote in the past.
To learn more about this formidable and most talented musician, check out his website.
Watch Rad playing a haunting song called “Northwind.”
Here’s a fantastic video of him playing with Odetta.
Has music always been a major part of your life?
It’s really all I remember. My singer Grandma was teaching me Slavic folk songs as classical music played. I had a whole set learned by age three which I would perform for my Gramp’s pals. They would throw money. As a toddler, I would wander around the place singing several key passages to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
I understand that you that your grandmother, Melita Lorkovic, was a classical pianist. Is anyone else in your accomplished family musical?
Melita headed the list. The list is quite long. My maternal great grandfather conducted the opera in Ljubljana. Hilarius Benishek. Melitas brother Mladen Pozaic conducted the symphony in Sarajevo. My father’s cousin Nikolai Debelic was the conductor of the Dubrovnik Symphony and Radovan Lorkovic, my uncle who is a violinist and music history professor in Switzerland He Is currently whipping me into shape as a classical accompanist.
Was practicing something that you did willingly?
Absolutely not! I was a teacher’s nightmare. My assignment was likely “Mary had a Little Lamb.” My diligent teacher asked “Radoslav, did you practice?” I said no. After a few more unproductive sessions I arrived not knowing the assignment but I did learn a Bach two-part invention instead
You may have studied classical music but you grew to love popular music. So you were one of those kids who had a transistor stuck to your ear all the time? Do you recall what songs captivated you during those early years?
It was a green transistor radio. It was tuned to WDGY. Minneapolis. I liked “Sweet Pea” and “Red Rubber Ball” but likely had the top 40 memorized. This led to the subsequent slippery slope which led to blues.
When did you first start playing the accordion? Was the main reason because of its portability? Did you find that having an accordion at a folk festival is a lot easier than relying on a decent piano?
An accordion literally landed in my lap at a party in Iowa City. Everyone had guitars so I made do. Took it to soundcheck with Bo (Ramsey) the next day. He said. “Keep doing that.” I fell I love with Clifton Chenier and Flaco Jimenez simultaneously and did my best to imitate them
What are your fondest memories of your days working with Bo Ramsey and Greg Brown?
Many of them I am unable to discuss :). But it was basically living the dream playing with those guys. Still livin/ it.
How did your tours in Europe come about? I’m intrigued about you getting to play in castles and exotic other locations!
My first European tour came about by accident and fate. Dave Moore had a hit record in Italy. He said to stop by and sit in on one show. I did. The promoter went nuts and added me to the whole month-long tour. The rest was history. I met most of my folk scene friends in Italy
There’s a video of you accompanying the legendary Odetta. When did you first meet her and discover that you’d be a good combination?
My friend Seth Farber was running out of substitute pianists. He was Odetta’s principal pianist. She disliked most that he sent as a result of his music directorship for “Hairspray.” It was musical love at first sight at our first show at Maine’s Flye Point Festival
You’ve probably seen it all—huge capacity festivals to small, intimate house concerts. Is there any rhyme or reason to the music business?
I’m writing this from the humblest of house concerts. No reason buts lots of rhyme. It never made any sense. That’s why I love it!