Musicians from the USA to as far away as Japan are mourning the loss of Larry Miller’s accordion shop in Iota, which a fire destroyed Sunday night (January 14th). For 40 years, Miller used the shop to build his brand name “Bon Tee Cajun” accordions, a popular model played by Cajun and zydeco musicians.
The shop also served as a cultural learning center. Through the years, Miller, along with his grandson Jay Miller, taught apprentices how to build accordions in a program requiring at least 240 hours of instruction.
Miller’s shop also contained nine antique accordions, including rare, German models from the 1930s and one by the late Sidney Brown of Lake Charles, considered the first builder in Louisiana. Miller used the antiques as teaching tools locally and at cultural presentations across the country.
News of the blaze drew hundreds of disappointed responses on Facebook. Yoshi-take Nakabayashi, leader of the Zydeco Kicks band in Tokyo, wrote “The workshop that made my accordion burned … Fortunately, there was no injury.”
Miller plans to rebuild, with assistance from volunteers and former apprentices who plan to level the workshop remains Saturday.
“We’re going to remove whatever we can now and get ready for the wrecking ball,” said Miller, 81, a retired educator. “We’re going to wreck the building and the slab, and pour some dirt to raise it back up. It may be a little bit smaller and a little bit simpler.” He also went on to say that fire officials believe electrical wiring started the blaze.
“I discovered the fire after about 20 minutes,” said Miller. “I tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher, but it was a little too far gone. The fire department worked at it and they put it out.”
Family members and volunteers began arriving Monday to help Miller salvage woodworking tools and other items that survived. Although Miller had retired a year and a half ago from accordion building he was still making repairs and helping his grandson to start his own business.
Original source: Herman Fuselier www.theadvertiser.com