Merv Conn was known as the King of the Strolling Accordionists. Before he died in 2011 at 91, Conn was ubiquitous around Washington, turning up to entertain at “official embassy soirees, concerts on cruise ships, ice cream socials and private recitals for presidents Truman, Johnson and Nixon,” as The Washington Post put it in Conn’s obituary.
“Growing up in the D.C. metro area in the ‘70s, everyone attended a wedding, bar mitzvah or other Jewish function where the Merv Conn Orchestra played,” Avi Halpert recalls.
Halpert was instrumental in giving the Accordion Man the signal honor of a strolling musician: Conn’s own sidewalk.
As a dozen accordionists from the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society played on April 10, Halpert dedicated Merv Conn Way, a walking path linking Cameron Street and South Noyes Drive in the Woodside Park neighborhood of Silver Spring.
Conn once lived in a house nearby. Halpert’s biotechnology company, United Therapeutics, owns the property on which the path lies and the company is next to the walkway. More than 100 people came out to the ribbon-cutting, to eat the kosher platter lunch and have a slice of the accordion-themed cake.
Conn had said that the Beatles killed the accordion, but all thoughts of guitar music were left behind when Maria Cohen sang her father’s signature songs, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “You Made Me Love You.”
Once again the accordion was everyone’s main squeeze.