The Big Squeeze

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Last Saturday I watched The Big Squeeze, the semi-final round of the state-wide competition for young accordion players. This annual contest is sponsored by Texas Folk Life, a non-profit whose goal is to preserve Texas cultures and traditions. Several hundred people turned out to listen on the patio in front of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

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Master of ceremonies Joe Nick Patoski observed that the accordion is popular in a wide variety of musical genres including Zydeco, Western Swing, Texas-Czech, Texas-Polish, and Tejano music. The program started with a zydeco set by Houston accordionist Ruben Paul Moreno and his band. I briefly wondered if accordion should be my next hobby. But after watching Ruben’s vest frottoir player, I think the washboard would be more fun.

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Next came the eight semi-final contestants, seven boys and just one girl, ranging in age from 11 to 17. Each accordionist played two songs. Four of the boys (from Dallas, Brownsville, Grand Prairie and Mission) were selected by the judges to advance to the 23rd Annual Accordion Kings and Queens state competition, taking place early June in Houston.

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