This year's Big Squeeze Contest sponsored by Texas Folklife is going to be bigger and better this year. Instead of one grand prize winner, three will be chosen, one in each category - Polka, Zydeco and Conjunto. Yay! The Texas Folklife folks had been trying to figure out a way to encourage more polka and zydeco contestants and I think this is a great solution!
Here are the details:
Texas Folklife announces its eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians, 21 years of age or younger. The non-profit that endeavors to preserve and promote Texas’s diverse cultural heritage is looking for great players in all genres of the Lone Star State’s accordion-based music, including German, Czech, and Polish polka; Creole, Cajun, and zydeco; and conjunto, norteño, and Tejano.
In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife is restructuring the popular contest this year. The contest will go on the road again this spring in order to meet the young accordion players in their communities in “talent showcases.” Three Final Grand Prize Winners will be devoted to the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco will include Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include norteño and Tejano. The showcases will be free, open to the public, and feature performances by local musicians.
The Big Squeeze 2014 talent showcases:
· February 1: Houston Creole Festival
· February 8: La Joya High School
· February 9: McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi
· February 22: Texas Polka Festival & Symposium in Schulenburg
· February 23: MECA [Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts] in Houston
· March 23: Latino Cultural Center in Dallas
· March 29: Los Fresnos High School
· April 4: Gallista Gallery with Conjunto Heritage Taller in San Antonio
Nine finalists (three from each genre) will be chosen from the field of performers at the showcases (and those who send in their performances to Texas Folklife) by a panel of esteemed music professionals. Accordionists will be judged on their technical proficiency—skill in playing, and technical and musical accuracy—as well as their song interpretation (stylistic choices, innovation, and originality) and stage presence (level of comfort on stage and attention to personal appearance). The nine finalists will be announced on April 11.
The finalists will perform at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on Saturday, April 26. Three Grand Prize Winners will be selected. There will be one winner for each accordion category—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. All three winners will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The three young winners will hit the jackpot because this will be a special year to perform at Accordion Kings & Queens as it will be the 25th anniversary!
Interested players are encouraged to reserve a showcase slot at a venue in their region by contacting Texas Folklife. Those who cannot attend a showcase may also mail or e-mail their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife no later than April 7, 2014. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online at www.texasfolklife.org or by calling (512) 441-9255.
The three Big Squeeze 2014 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 in Austin and Houston, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities.
“The Big Squeeze contest is becoming a tradition across the state,” says Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “We are truly gratified by the way the contest has been embraced by local communities. But what we have discovered in our travels and seeking out the best young Texas accordion players is that a larger emphasis needs to be placed on certain accordion traditions. We have broadened the scope of the contest by creating three Grand Prize Winners, one winner for each genre. In particular, we are focusing on zydeco and polka at several of the showcase events and are developing more ways to safeguard their important place in Texas music.”
The Big Squeeze is supported by the members and Board of Texas Folklife and by Hohner, Inc.; by grants from Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Music Office, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Houston Endowment, Humanities Texas, H.E.B., and Texas Gas Service. Additional support is provided by regional businesses including SugarHill Recording Studios, Antone’s Records, Hacienda Records, Frank+Victor Design, and Embassy Suites Hotel in Austin.
About Texas Folklife
Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. Celebrating its 30thanniversary in 2014, Texas Folklife has honored the authentic cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences. It is located in Austin, Texas, in the SoCo neighborhood—one of the city’s vibrant commercial and arts district.