Friday Video: The Big Squeeze

Rodolfo Salinas Jr. tries out with older sister on bajo sexto

Non-profit organization Texas Folklife has been in operation for twenty-five years, working to preserve and present the living heritage and diversity of the state.   They lead apprenticeships, engage in community education, and produce various forms of media that showcase and support Texas’s rich cultural heritage.

A few ago at the Folklorists in the South retreat, I met Sarah Rucker, Program and Events manager for the organization.  She gave a wonderful and inspiring presentation about The Big Squeeze Accordion Contest , a yearly event that engages young people in Texas music traditions.

Every year youth from all over the state, ages 21 and under, are recruited to enter the contest in their region.  After  a series of regional finals the final contests receive a chance to play at the annual Kings and Queens of Accordion Festival in Houston.  In the process, the young people develop strong friendships with fellow players, work with accordion mentors, have the chance to play with a full band, and gain a new sense of pride in their musical heritage. The contest builds bridges across generations and cultures and helps keep this musical traditions alive and well.

Ruben Paul Moreno and band. From Texas Folklife.

One of the most interesting things about the festival is the wide range of styles presented.  All genres of accordion playing are welcome including Tejano, Zydico, and Polka, just to name a few.

In 2009 Director Hector Galán produced the documentary film The Big Squeeze for PBS and the Texas Folklife Program, which highlights how the contest builds bridges and honors heritage.  To see clips from that film click here (this film is not available for embedding).  We had a chance to watch part of this film at the conference and it was wonderful!

The semi-finals of the contest took place earlier this month and the finalists will play at the Kings and Queens Contest Saturday June 2nd.  The semi-finalists for this year are Peter Anzaldua from Brownsville, Omar Garza from Mission, Luis Gonzalez of Grand Prairie, and Michael Ramos of Dallas.    To see more photos from this year’s Big Squeeze go here.

Reigning Champ Nachito Morales with his little brother, Rudy, on bajo sexto. From Texas Folklife.

Below is a video from the Texas Folklife, which gives you an idea of what the contest offers young people.

Have you attended the contest? We’d love to hear about it!



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