Los Fresnos News

Texas Folklife Announces the 15th Annual Big Squeeze Accordion Competition

About the Program
This is the 15th year for The Big Squeeze Accordion Contest and we are so excited to showcase young accordionists from
across Texas! The Big Squeeze is a statewide contest where youth accordion players showcase their performance abilities
in FOUR main accordion genre categories: Polka, Zydeco, Cajun, and Conjunto. The Polka genre will include German,
Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco will include Creole, and Conjunto will include Conjunto, Norteño and Tejano. Please
contact Texas Folklife if you are unsure of which category your music fits.
NEW FOR 2021
This year, the Zydeco & Cajun categories will be two separate categories to give deeper focus on the distinct history of each.
Also new in 2021, the Cajun and Zydeco categories will be open to Louisiana residents ages 25 and under. The Conjunto
age categories have changed slightly to be 16 and Under and 17-21. There have been many more younger contestants in
the last few years and we want to balance the competition and be able to award an equal amount of semi-finalists and
finalists in both age categories. Finally, in 2021 the Big Squeeze will be entirely virtual to maintain the health and safety of
our participants, their families and our staff.
Other changes made in recent years: we will have the addition of the Conjunto Semi-Finals Round, due to the overwhelming
amount of conjunto entries in recent years. We will also award a small amount of Rising Star awards to talented players that
don’t happen to make it to the finals, especially in the younger age brackets. This is to further give recognition to the
difference in skill at different ages. These recipients will be notified after the semi-finals on April 17 and will be eligible to
apply again in 2022 for the contest.
Contestants can have one accompanist during their audition which is not provided by Texas Folklife. This accompanist
cannot be drums or electric bass and the contestant cannot sing so as to focus on the accordion performance in the
videotaped audition.
As always, The Big Squeeze Contest and Texas Folklife strive to represent the state’s geographic and cultural diversity.
Since 2007, over 350 young musicians from more than 40 Texas towns and cities have participated. Contestants represent
communities across this great state, including the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Gulf Coast, Greater Dallas Area, San
Antonio, Lubbock, the Permian Basin and more!
The Big Squeeze is supported by the members and board of Texas Folklife and Hohner, Inc.; and by grants from the Texas
Commission on the Arts, the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department, H-E-B, Texas
Music Office, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, and Rancho Alegre Radio. Additional support
is provided by regional partners including zydecoevents.com, Texas Polka News, La Joya Independent School District, Los
Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District, Roma Independent School District, Museum of South Texas History,
Conjunto Heritage Taller, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and more!
More details on how to enter on the next page!
Big Squeeze Genre Categories (no minimum age)
Conjunto Category
● Conjunto Grand Prize, Ages 16 and under
● Anthony Ortiz, Jr. Conjunto Grand Prize, Ages 17-21
Zydeco Category
● Zydeco Grand Prize, Ages 25 and under
Cajun Category
● Cajun Grand Prize, Ages 25 and under
Polka Category
● Polka Grand Prize, Ages 25 and under
Big Squeeze Important Dates
● March 31, 2021 April 7, 2021 – extended deadline to send in video entries
● April 17, 2021 – Conjunto Semi-Finals (virtual)
● May 8, 2021 – Finals From Home (virtual)
Read section below called “How To Enter The Big Squeeze 2021.”
Big Squeeze 2021 Prizes
● Category Finalist(s) win:
o Promotional support and performance opportunities from Texas Folklife;
o $100 cash;
o Other items to be announced.
● The Grand Prize Winners win:
o Promotional support and performance opportunities from Texas Folklife;
o Additional cash award;
o An accordion;
o Additional sponsorship opportunities & prizes to be announced.
All selections, contest outcomes and prizes are awarded at the discretion of Texas Folklife and Big Squeeze judges. This
contest may be canceled at any time at the sole discretion of Texas Folklife.
How to Enter The Big Squeeze 2021
Want to participate in the Big Squeeze 2020? Follow these steps!
Accordionists can enter by submitting a video entry digitally, by e-mail or mail. It must show you performing two songs in the category you choose with no more than one accompanist

  1. Read this whole document.
  2. Fill out the entry form.
    a. For the paper version, go to: texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2021. For an online version, go to:
  3. Prepare your video(s)
    a. Applicants can enter by performing two songs and submitting a video entry digitally, by mail or e-mail.
    i. E-mailing a video from your phone and a photo to bigsqueeze@texasfolklife.org (Note: we will be sharing more
    tips for best ways to send video files soon!)
    ii. E-mailing a private YouTube Link with video and a photo to bigsqueeze@texasfolklife.org(link sends e-mail)
    iii. Mailing a USB Drive with video and photo to The Big Squeeze at: Texas Folklife c/o The Big Squeeze 1708
    Houston Street Austin, TX 78756
    iv. Mailing a DVD with my video and photo to The Big Squeeze at: Texas Folklife c/o The Big Squeeze 1708
    Houston Street Austin, TX 78756
    Big Squeeze 2021 Judging & Rounds
    ● Preliminaries: All entrants submit their songs digitally. The four accordion genre categories: Polka, Zydeco,
    Cajun, and Conjunto.
    o After receiving submissions, a panel of esteemed musicians and music industry judges will use a
    numerical ranking system to select up to ten Conjunto semi-finalists and three finalists in the Cajun,
    Zydeco and Polka categories.
    o Judging criteria will include: Technical Proficiency, Song Interpretation, and Stage Presence.
    Details and scoring weight of each judging criteria section:
    ▪ Technical Proficiency: Accuracy, Execution, & Chops (40%)
    ▪ Song Interpretation: Stylistic Choices, Innovation, & Originality (40%)
    ▪ “Stage Presence”: Level of Comfort during Performance, Engagement, Poise (20%)
    ▪ Note: we recognize that stage presence is difficult to portray on a video audition, but this contest
    still prioritizes skill level in during judging and stage presence is given a lower weighted score.
    o FOR CONJUNTO ONLY – Up to five (5) contestants from each of the two Conjunto age categories will be
    chosen to advance to the next round, the Conjunto Semi-Finals. The Conjunto Semi-Finalists will be
    announced on April 15, 2021.
    ● Semi-Finals: FOR CONJUNTO ONLY
    Up to ten (10) Conjunto Semi-Finalists will be showcased on April 17, 2021. During this virtual event, up to three
    Finalists in each of the two age categories for the Conjunto category will be chosen. The 3 finalists for Cajun,
    Zydeco and Polka categories will also be announced at this time.
    ● Finals: One Grand Prize Winner in each of the four accordion genre categories (Polka, Zydeco & Cajun and
    Conjunto) will be announced live on May 8, 2021 during the Finals From Home virtual event.
    o We may ask these Finalists to submit an additional video or perform live on May 8. Please stay tuned for
    more details on that.
    o The five (5) Grand Prize Winners may be asked to perform one of their songs live at Accordion Kings &
    Queens on at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre.
    Big Squeeze Criteria For Entry
    ● Applicants must fit age requirements of applicable category as of April 17, 2021. Applicants that turn do not fit age
    requirements of applicable category on or before April 17, 2021 are not eligible.
    ● Entrants confirm that if under 18 and picked as a finalist, they are required to provide written permission from a
    parent or guardian.
    ● Applicants MUST currently be a resident of the State of Texas, or Louisiana for Cajun or Zydeco categories.
    ● Applicants MUST include press-worthy photo with entry form to be considered.
    ● Applicants MUST submit complete entry form to be considered.
    ● Applicants can enter by performing two songs at a showcase where they will be videotaped by Texas Folklife or
    submit a video entry digitally, by mail or e-mail. APPLICANTS DO NOT HAVE TO DO BOTH
    ● If chosen for the contest, the two songs submitted with their application or showcase performance MUST be
    ● If selected as a Conjunto Semi-Finalist, contestants MUST be available to participate via Zoom in the live virtual
    Conjunto Semi-Finals from Home on April 17, 2021.
    ● If selected as a Finalist, entrants MUST be available to participate via Zoom in the live virtual Finals from Home on
    May 8, 2021.
    ● Entrants agree to participate in video, audio, archival and social media documentation of the contest.
    ● Entrants grant Texas Folklife or its representatives the right to record and reproduce their performances and allow
    the use of their names and likenesses in promotion. Texas Folklife upholds all copyright laws, the contestants will
    not be held liable for any rights infringement.
    ● Entrants have read and understand the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest 2021 Official Rules.
    ● Entrants confirm that their contact information will be provided to Texas Folklife for future years of this program and
    for our Public Relations and Community Outreach efforts within the participating communities and their media
    ● Entrants authorize the verification of the information provided on this form.
    ● Entrants understand they can be disqualified at any time, at the sole discretion of Texas Folklife.
    ● Entrants understand that all selections, contest outcomes and prizes are awarded at the sole discretion of Texas
    ● Entrants understand that this contest and its events may be canceled at any time.
    Questions? Comments? Concerns? Send an email to bigsqueeze@texasfolklife.org.
    The search is on for the next generation of accordion stars!

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