Putting 'the Whole Thing Together'

Alfred Missbrenner was like a lot of boys in the early '60s, an accordion player with a buzz cut whose immigrant parents listened to Lawrence Welk.

In high school, "when I realized the accordion wasn't cool," Missbrenner said, he gave it up and went into electronics. Three years ago, Missbrenner reacquainted himself with his old squeeze box and has been entertaining people since.

On Tuesday, Missbrenner, 37, and the Atlantic Crossing, pluckers of Appalachian-style country music, will fill Liberty Park in Cerritos with traditional tunes and dancing. The band shares the stage with Lee Schmidt, official caller, dance instructor and singer.

Schmidt teaches basic country-Western steps--the Texas two-step, line dances--as well as the electric slide. Why electric? "It's blood-boiling," Schmidt said. "It's a slide, slide, slide, touch, slide, slide, slide, touch, walk back four steps, one, two, three, four, balance forward, balance back, forward turn, slide, slide, slide.

"You lose about five pounds every time you do it," Schmidt said. "Well, about 3 1/2 at least."

The evening starts with a lesson, followed by some practice and then "you put the whole thing together with music and everybody dances," Schmidt said. "Course that depends on how old they are and whether or not they had a big lunch."

Country music night is part of the Liberty and Heritage parks summer series of concerts and children's shows, including a range of free entertainment, from calypso and Irish folk music to puppet shows and movies (with free popcorn). Tuesday night's program is scheduled to run an hour, but Missbrenner said they plan to stay longer. "If they don't stop us," he said, "we'll definitely go over."

Atlantic Crossing is three women and two men singing three-part harmony and playing the accordion, fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and electric bass.

The band's name "is supposed to make you think of immigrants coming over from Europe," Missbrenner said. "The music was established in the colonies, then moved to the mountain areas. Now that same music has recrossed the Atlantic and is influencing modern Irish and English music."

Missbrenner and company plan to rosin up the bows between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m., so arrive early for good seats at Liberty Park, 19211 Studebaker Road, Cerritos.

On Mondays, Liberty Park sponsors free movies. This Monday, "One 101 Dalmatians" will be shown at 8:15 p.m. The rest of the Monday night shows begin at 7:45 and include: Aug. 3, "Cheetah"; Aug. 10, "The Snowball Express"; Aug. 17, "The Shaggy D.A.," and Aug. 24, "Beauty and the Beast."

The rest of the summer's entertainment includes:

* Wednesday: Stories for hearing-impaired children, Liberty Park, 6 p.m.

* Thursday: Long Beach Community Band and marches, Heritage Park, 18600 Bloomfield St., Cerritos, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 4: Steel drum, calypso and reggae by the Calypso Pirates, Liberty Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 5: Cerritos dance groups perform for children, Liberty Park, 6 p.m.

* Aug. 6: Reggae and calypso performed by Sapadilla, Heritage Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 11: Irish folk music performed by Blackthorn, Liberty Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 12: Magician Bob Stone performs, Liberty Park, 6 p.m.

* Aug. 13: Big Band and swing with the Swing Savant band, Heritage Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 18: Dance and music from the South Pacific, presented by Kamalu Productions, Liberty Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 19: Children's music by Dan Crow, Liberty Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 20: Rock-a-billy blues with the Rock Island Blues Band, Heritage Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 25: 1950s and '60s rock 'n' roll with Jitters, Liberty Park, 7 p.m.

* Aug. 26: Theater troupe performance by Cabbages and Kings, Liberty Park, 6 p.m.

* Aug. 27: 1960s and '70s British invasion music by the band Shout!, Heritage Park, 7 p.m.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
66°