CATONSVILLE, MD (February 23, 2016) -- Chris Buppert's outlook on life has always been simple: be positive and find the humor in everything. So when he decided to participate in a recent variety show at Charlestown, there was no question his aim would be to make people laugh.
"I kid around with everyone I meet," says Chris, a computer programmer who retired from the Social Security Administration. "I have only done stand-up comedy informally at my church, but I have been performing with choirs and musically my whole life, so I'm not afraid to be out in front of a crowd and make a complete fool of myself."
Chris moved to Charlestown at the age of 66, just four months prior to his performance in the Follies variety show.
"Charlestown residents have a lot of talent and so much love," says Program Assistant Kathleen Long, who organized the Follies. "They enjoy sharing their special gifts."
Performances in the hour-long Follies included Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" The Honeymooners, an Irish song vocalist, a pianist, and songs by Al Jolson and Elvis Presley.
Like Chris, Annette McDaniels performed in the Follies show. She got the crowd going with a polka she played on the accordion.
"I hadn't played in a while, so I just trusted blind faith and jumped in and did it," says Annette. "My goal was to get people stomping and romping and clapping and having a good time."
Annette learned to play the accordion nearly two decades ago from a local music teacher majoring in the accordion at Peabody Institute in Baltimore.
"I was in my 40s when I learned to play," says Annette. "My father lived in Montana, and they all played the accordion. Whenever I went to visit him, it was like polka party time. I already knew how to play the piano, so it wasn't that difficult to pick up [the accordion]. I remember listening to my teacher playing Mozart, and I would think to myself, 'Gee I would like to do that.'"
Although Annette typically sits when she plays, the accordion, which weighs almost 19 pounds, can still be difficult to maneuver.
"The bellows almost breathe in a way," says Annette. "The air goes in and the sound comes out. The sound is created by whichever buttons you are pressing. The buttons on the left side are the bass line and the keyboard produces the melody. The challenge is to make it all work together. It can get heavy at times, and it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination."