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John Kimmel, “The Irish Dutchman,” was a virtuoso of the ten-key melodeon (one-row button accordion). The Brooklyn native played an instrument invented by his German forebears, but his repertoire featured the traditional reels, jigs, and hornpipes of Ireland, as well as marches, popular song airs, polkas and minstrel show tunes. His prolific recording career began in 1904 during the cylinder days and continued in the 78 rpm era. When the Roaring 20s expired with the Great Depression, Kimmel’s career on record ended. His playing strongly influenced Irish-American box players, notably Boston’s Joe Derrane, and had a lasting impact on button accordionists in Québec.

Medley of Irish jigs

John Kimmel / Unidentified photographer