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Hard times forcing sale of his accordion

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Darryl Bain conducts an impromptu concert outside his Manteca home.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED August 10, 2013 2:38 a.m.

Darryl Bain sat on the concrete step outside his girlfriend’s Southside Park duplex, revealing a weathered, taped-together suitcase.

From within, Manteca’s Music Man pulled a black Recanati-120 Base accordion. As he slipped the instrument over his shoulders, it began to play.

Without command.

Without a single keystroke.

“Ah, fiddlesticks,” he said. “It drives me nuts. There are three notes that won’t shut off. I’ve tried to fix it myself. ... It’s been such a good accordion.”

Bain hopes this won’t be its last performance, either.

The former music director for the Salvation Army has reluctantly put the Recanati-120 up for sale. His advertisement appears in today’s Bulletin.

Bain is asking $70, realizing the instrument – once gifted to him by a stranger – needs a little TLC. He says three notes stick as a result of mild moisture damage.

(In December, Bain played the accordion through a driving rain for holiday shoppers.)

He doesn’t want to let the accordion go, but he and his girlfriend, Shaire Romero, have fallen on hard times as of late.

“We’re pinching for the money – plus, I don’t think I can get together the money to get the repairs done,” Bain said, the honesty reflected in his droopy eyes and sad smile.

The driver’s-side windows on his van have been busted out – “Been trying to get those fixed for awhile now,” he says – and for the last few years, he’s been without a home of his own.

Though the Recanati-120 isn’t in mint condition, Bain believes there’s still magic inside that music box. He’s owned it for approximately 18 months. It was given to him by a stranger out front of K-Mart during the 2011 holiday season.

“I was dumbfounded,” he said. “It was such a blessing, because my other one (a 1930s Camareno) wasn’t holding up in the weather.”

He hopes the Recanti-120’s next owner can unlock the magic, delighting crowds big and small.

“It’s given me a chance to minister to people,” Bain said. “I’ve been able to play for people who have lost their moms and dads. It gives them such ... such uplift, you know.”

Bain inherited his passion for music from his mother, the late Ethel Bain. He learned to play the piano at the age of 3 and began tinkering with a toy accordion at 10.

He can also play the organ, guitar, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and saxophone.

His face, however, lights up when he’s grooving on an accordion. Bain held a makeshift concert outside his home on Friday evening, playing a small selection of songs, including an original piece.

His fingers, worn and dirty, glided smoothly over the keys and buttons. His toe tapped and head bobbed with the music.

Over the years, Bain estimates he’s logged 35,000 hours on his original Camareno accordion for the Salvation Army. He’s played for nursery homes, churches and hospitals.

He knows full well the power of music – and the unique quality of the accordion. It’s a special instrument, he says, because of its versatility and complete sound.

His favorite stage?

Easy, he says.

Bain once played for a lady battling cancer. He played Philip Cameron’s “He brought me through.”

“It took me back to when I was fighting (testicular) cancer and was about to lose my life from it,” he said.

Do you know somebody with an interesting back story? If so, contact James Burns at

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