has become my home. But I still feel like a child of the Midwest.
I was born in Cleveland, the oldest child of a Scottish immigrant
father and a Slovenian-American mother. When I was in my teens,
we moved to a suburb of Chicago, the city where I would spend much
of my adult life.
I graduated from the University of Chicago, where I met and married
Steve Tabak, a fellow student. I went on to earn a Ph.D. in clinical
and personality psychology from Duke University. I have worked as
a psychologist ever since-as a university professor, program administrator,
clinical supervisor, and psychotherapist.
After graduate school, Steve and I settled down in Chicago, where
our sons Alec and Nate were born. My life changed when I took a
fateful birthday trip to New Orleans, and I developed an unexpected
passion for the Cajun accordion.
In 1997, my family and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. After
a few years of immersion in the local Cajun-Creole music scene,
I decided to put together a band of my own-starting with my fiddler-husband.
Sauce Piquante has been performing since 1999. We have released
one recording, with a second on the way.
Blair and Steve, with Sauce Piquante at Ashkenaz
Today, I divide my time between music and writing. I also maintain
a private practice in psychotherapy. Not surprisingly, I have a
special interest in life transitions, women's issues, and creativity.
How I Came to Write Accordion Dreams
I never set out to write a book.
I already had enough to do, trying to balance my unlikely new passion
for Cajun-Creole music with the demands I faced as a psychologist,
wife and mother. Writing was an early dream, one I'd left behind.
Or so I thought. But then it slipped back into my life, just like
the memories of my half-forgotten schoolgirl French.
Moving from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area helped trigger
the need to write. Writing seems to be in the air here, just like
the tangy but unsettling scent of eucalyptus I'll always associate
with my first weeks in Berkeley.
I started out writing letters and e-mails to friends, and then
moved on to reviews and short personal essays. I found a creative
writing class. I felt driven to communicate my passion for the unique
music and culture of south Louisiana--and for the vital music community
I had discovered in Northern California. I wanted to touch readers
in the same way this journey had transformed me.
Gradually, I began to realize my story was also about something
broader and more personal: midlife awakening, opening up to passion
and change, taking risks at every stage of life. Listening to your
dreams-no matter how improbable they might be.
Still, I hesitated at the thought of writing a book, even when
other people began to push me in that direction. Then Danny Poullard
died. He was a renowned Creole accordionist, the guiding spirit
of the San Francisco Bay Area's Cajun-zydeco music scene. He was
my friend and mentor.
So that's when I knew for certain. I had to write a book--to remember
Danny, and to give something back to a community that had offered
so much to me.
And if I can inspire readers to honor their own dreams--well, so
much the better!