Minneapolis street musician soothes the urban soul

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Outdoor buskers beat on empty plastic pails, blurt on corroded coronets or squawk on saxophones when warm weather arrives in the city.

There certainly is a wide range of sound and quality among street musicians.

Accordionist Dan Turpening, above, is one of the best. The photo is from a warm spring evening in late April on the east shore of Lake Calhoun.

If you place a donation in his hat he asks if you have a request. Minutes before this photo was snapped a Spanish speaking couple with a young daughter asked for a tune from “southern Mexico.” Dan obliged with a selection from the vast collection of music in his head.

Turpening’s “business model,” for making a living as a musician goes like this. Learn to repair and play accordions, give lessons, hire out as a wedding and party musician, walk dogs, house sit and repair cars.

Tours of Minneapolis should include a stop at Turpening’s northeast Minneapolis studio, office and accordion warehouse. Folks would have to take turns as they wedge their way into and through the rooms where nearly every square foot is devoted to musical instruments, mostly accordions, floor to ceiling. It’s like a shrine, a temple of bellows and keys, living proof that music from one of Minnesota’s best known and loved instruments has an urgent care clinic for repairs performed by a practitioner with gifted hands.

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