Paul Stein (accordionist)
Paul Stein is an accordionist, singer, and songwriter who doubles on the melodica and claviola. He is known for his musical support of struggles for progressive social change. Stein is one of the founding members of The Occuponics and is a member of the Filthy Rotten System band. Stein appeared as a guest member of the Kirov Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev at Avery Fisher Hall in the first Lincoln Center Festival on July 22, 1996. He has been a featured entertainer and interviewee on WNBC TV's Live at Five and other television and radio outlets. Stein has been on the program all 19 years of the annual Master Class & Concert series in Manhattan produced by his teacher Dr. William Schimmel for the American Accordionists' Association. Since 1983, he has performed (alone and in ensembles) for tens of thousands of diners at Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners at YM/YWCA's and at The Goddard Riverside Community Center in New York City. In the past 30 years, he has provided entertainment at Christmas parties for thousands of children whose families are clients of The Legal Aid Society in New York City. He has also entertained at senior centers, nursing homes, and hospitals around New York City. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Stein's accordion was heard regularly at shelters housing hundreds of displaced survivors. The Occuponics were a fixture at Occupy Wall Street events in Zuccotti Park and around New York City from 2011 to 2013.
Stein's instrumental compositions range from klezmer to tango to big band music. His songs range from country to labor songs to romantic show tunes. He wrote a one act musical that was presented in concert format in Manhattan. He has created numerous political songs on topics that include Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, John Boehner, Trayvon Martin, Superstorm Sandy, Walmart, the war in Iraq, post 9/11 health and safety issues, and unemployment, among others. His earliest musical influences were The Weavers, Lead Belly, Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers and Hammerstein, other broadway composers and lyricists, Yiddish folk music, Lawrence Welk, and World War II era standards. These are all reflected in and explain the eclectic nature of Stein's creative output.
Stein's repertoire includes standards in English and Yiddish and a large mix of ethnic favorites and folk and protest music. He has entertained at the The People's Voice Cafe, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and numerous other venues. A union activist, Paul was featured one year on the New York State Public Employees Federation float (a pickup truck with a public address system) in the New York City Labor Day Parade and plays on picket lines and at other union functions. In 1968, while a student tourist, he played a borrowed accordion on the steps of the main synagogue in Moscow, attracting negative attention from Intourist, the state-run tourist agency. As a ceremony accompanist and strolling accordionist, Stein can occasionally be heard at weddings and other celebrations. He has written what many consider to be the definitive article on performing as a strolling musician - The Ten Commandments of Strolling.