Paul Hamilton's earliest memories of accordion music date back to his boyhood days on Bell Island when his father and the late Harry Hibbs would get together with their squeezeboxes.
"Every time Harry came home, he came to the house to see Dad (the late Leo Hamilton). The two of them would sit down over a cold one. They'd play and they'd pass the accordions back and forth," Hamilton recalls.
Before he reached age six, Hamilton was bugging his dad to let him play.
His father, he says, feared he'd drop the instrument.
"But Harry said, 'Give it to him.' As soon as I took it, I played The Wild Colonial Boy, Hamilton recalls.
Hamilton learned to play the accordion by ear.
"Dad was a shy person. He'd go into his room and he'd play and play and play. And I'd sit outside and listen."
By age 12, Hamilton was entertaining on the tuna boat Miss Molson.
At age 14 he appeared as a guest on "All Around the Circle" with John White and the band.
In 1995, Hamilton placed third among 30 contestants from across Canada who competed in the Harry Hibbs Folk Festival on Bell Island.
"When they started the accordion idol contest on Bell Island in 2007, I came second and last year I came first," Hamilton says.
Ed Didham of Colliers, St. Mary's Bay, took the title in 2007.
As winner of the 2008 Newfoundland Button Accordion Idol Show, Hamilton moves on to judge the third annual event taking place today and Sunday at the Monsignor Bartlett Memorial Arena on Bell Island.
"We're getting constant calls about the show ... and we anticipate about 1,000 people showing up at the area, all with accordions," said committee chairwoman Linda Hickey.
While events today take place at the Monsignor Bartlett arena, Sunday is sha-ping up to be a great family day, Hickey said, with entertai ment and aw-ards planned to take place on Lance Cove Beach.
Hickey said today's show starts about 3 p.m. with a full lineup expected to continue until about 3 a.m. Sunday.
The highlight of the day is expected to be an accordion performance by six-year-old David Bemister. Early this evening, all contestants will perform on stage in a tribute to the late Harry Hibbs.
Hibbs will then be named the first inductee into the Music Hall of Fame.
Following a tribute to the late Ray McLean and the Newfoundland Showband and a thank you by the organizing committee, the House Band will kick
off tonight's dance. During the awards ceremony on Sunday, the Top 3 winners will walk away with their share of $3,000 in prize money.
Hickey said the weekend event has the support of the Accordion Idol team, the Town of Wabana, the Lance Cove Beach Development Fund and the entire community. From a town perspective, she said, Mayor Gary Gosine has always backed the idol team. "He's been with us since Day 1 doing everything he can to make sure the show is a success. Gary is dependable and reliable and we can always count on him," Hickey said.
Economically, she said, the show is a great boost to the island as well as an initiative to increase tourism in the area.
"It's a good social event that happens in the middle of the summer."
Marion McCarthy, who grew up in Chapel's Cove, is lead singer with the House Band.
"My father is a Ryan from Ferryland and all his brothers and sisters played (accordion)" she said. Being part of show helps her keep the tradition alive.
"I get the enjoyment of the music and the heritage of the accordion," McCarthy said.
"The show is all about music and friends," Hickey said.
"We'd like to encourage everyone to come out and support us."
For more information on the show call 709-488-6641, 709-229-6364 or 709-745-7577.
Third Annual Newfoundland Button Accordian Idol Show
Saturday, July 25 - at Monsignor Bartlett Arena, Bell Island
Sunday, July 26 -entertainment and awards at Lance Cove Beach
$3,000 in prize money to be won
1st prize, $1,500
2nd prize, $1,000
3rd prize, $500
For further information or to purchase tickets call 709-488-6641, 709-229-6364 or 709-745-7577
Admittance fee for general public to attend show and dance, $10