Accordion Tribe, an all-star group of world-renowned accordionists, originally assembled for a brief project in the late '90s. American accordionist Guy Klucevsek brought together Sweden's Lars Hollmer (Samla Mammas Manna), Finland's Maria Kalaniemi, Austria's Otto Lechner, and Slovenia's Bratko Bibic (Begnagrad, Nimal). Each of the musicians contributed repertoire to the ensemble, drawing from the accordion's traditional role in European folk music but also introducing a contemporary and even avant-garde edge. They first convened in Gent, Belgium, for three days of rehearsals in May 1996, ending with a show in Vooruit. After a successful performance, the quintet did a three-week tour through Austria, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland, and Finland, recording the performances as they went. Lars Hollmer took the recordings and put together their self-titled 1997 release on Intuition Records.
In 1998, Klucevsek organized a likeminded quartet with Alan Bern, Amy Denio, and Pauline Oliveros; Accordion Tribe II had a two-week European tour that spring under the title Four Accordions of the Apocalypse. In late May of that year, the original Tribe regrouped for a performance that brought down the house at a new music festival in Quebec, Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. In the 2000s, Accordion Tribe continued touring and recording, and released two additional CDs on the Intuition label, 2003's Sea of Reeds and 2006's Lunghorn Twist, both studio releases recorded at the Chickenhouse, Hollmer's studio in Uppsala, Sweden. A documentary of the quintet was also filmed and released on DVD; simply titled Accordion Tribe (with the subtitle Music Travels), it won the Schweizer Filmpreis (Swiss Film Prize) for Best Documentary in 2005, awarded at the Solothurn Film Festival in the Baroque city of Solothurn, north of Bern.
During 2008 Lars Hollmer became seriously ill and withdrew from an Accordion Tribe tour of Germany and Belgium scheduled for July of that year; Amy Denio performed during the tour in Hollmer's place. Although the members of the Tribe and Hollmer's fans worldwide wished him a quick recovery, Hollmer lost his battle with cancer and died on Christmas Day 2008. Upon Lars' passing, Guy Klucevsek wrote that Accordion Tribe "continue to this day, although there will be a gaping void on-stage and in our hearts from now on." The group's management later announced that a planned April 2009 tour of Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Switzerland would proceed, with the Tribe performing as a quartet, "in memory of their friend and colleague." However, in a January 2011 interview, Klucevsek indicated that he had decided to "let the group come to a graceful ending." ~ Joslyn Layne & Dave Lynch, Rovi