Texas Folklife’s BIG SQUEEZE Accordion Contest Returns to the Rio Grande Valley


Talent Showcase Highlighting Conjunto will be held in Los Fresnos on Saturday, February 4

Special to Los Fresnos News

Austin, Texas – Texas Folklife is thrilled to announce that the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest is back in 2017. This will be the 11th year for the Big Squeeze program that supports up-and-coming Texas musicians who are 21 years of age or younger. The contest is one of the ways in which Texas Folklife carries out its mission to preserve and present Texas’s diverse cultural heritage. The contest recruits players in all genres of the Lone Star State’s accordion-based music.

This year, Texas Folklife will hit the road again and hold Big Squeeze showcases in communities throughout the state to search for young accordion talent. Three Final Grand Prize Winners will be devoted to the three main accordion genres—polka, Cajun / zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech, and Polish polka traditions. Cajun / Zydeco will include zydeco, Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include conjunto, norteño and Tejano. The showcases will be free and open to the public, and will feature music by established accordion artists as well as showcase the young musicians.

The first talent showcase of this year’s contest will be held at Los Fresnos High School on Saturday, February 4, from 2:00-4:00, in the cafetorium. It is free and open to the public. This showcase will emphasize conjunto, but all interested players are encouraged to reserve a showcase slot by contacting Texas Folklife. Those wishing to perform should either register online by 1:00 p.m. or should arrive by 1:00 p.m. the day of the showcase.

Those players who cannot attend the showcase may mail or e-mail their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife no later than March 31, 2017. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online at www.texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2017 or by calling (512) 441-9255. Immediately following the talent showcase, former Big Squeeze Champ and director of the Conjunto Program at LFHS, Juan Longoria Jr., will perform with Conjunto Halcon of Los Fresnos High School.

Up to nine finalists (three from each genre) will be selected the week of April 3rd by a panel of judges, and will perform at the Big Squeeze Concert and Finals at the Bullock Museum on Saturday, April 22. At that time, three Grand Prize Winners will be selected. The three Big Squeeze 2017 Grand Prize Winners will receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion, performance opportunities with Texas Folklife, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities. Additionally, the Grand Prize Winners will perform onstage with legendary Texas musicians at Texas Folklife’s Accordion Kings & Queens Concert, held at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre in June.

“The Rio Grande Valley is the home of Juan Longoria Jr., our first Big Squeeze Champ,” said Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “We are proud to continue our relationship with him as director of the Conjunto Program at Los Fresnos High School. The Big Squeeze program enables Texas Folklife to focus on one of our main priorities and our mission—to help preserve the traditional arts in the state. In this case it is conjunto, the homegrown music found in the Valley, featuring the accordion, the ‘national instrument of Texas.’”

The Big Squeeze is supported by Hohner, Inc., The Texas Music Office, by grants from H-E-B, Texas Commission on the Arts, the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, and the Houston Endowment. Regional community and venue partners include Hacienda Records, Cajun Sounds Internet Radio, www.zydecoevents.com, Conjunto Heritage Taller, McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi, Café 4212, Multicultural Education & Counseling through the Arts, Larry’s French Market & Cajun Restaurant, 508 Amphitheater at Encore Park and the Museum of Street Culture, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Los Fresnos High School, La Joya Independent School District, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State, and is designated by the National Endowment for the Arts as the Folk & Traditional Arts organization for the state. For over 30 years, Texas Folklife has honored cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences.

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