Congratulations to the three finalists in the polka category of Texas Folk Life's Big Squeeze Contest - Rebecca Huck of Harker Heights, Chris Trojacek of Ennis and Garrett Neubauer of Altair! They will compete for the grand prize at the Bullock Texas State History Museum on Saturday, April 26. The event will be held from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on the Lone Star Plaza in front of the museum (in case of rain it will be held inside), and is free and open to the public.
Finalists in the other categories are: zydeco - Randall Jackson of Dallas, Je'an-Trel Jolivette of Marvel and DeJe'an Jolivette of Marvel and conjunto - Aaron Salinas of San Antonio, Luis Gonzales of Grand Prairie and Mariano Resendez of La Joya. The contest this year attracted 49 contestants, the largest number in its history. Seventy-five percent of the contestants were conjunto accordion players. Because of the larger number of conjunto contestants, there were three Honorable Mentions in that category: Rito Peña of San Antonio, Alan Guerra of Mission, and Nizhoni Begay of San Antonio.
The Big Squeeze finalists will perform before the judges and the public at the Bullock Museum. While the judges deliberate on the winners, the crowd will be entertained by an all-star musical line-up. This year’s program is headlined by Grammy Award-winning Sunny Sauceda, a Tejano star who likes to collaborate and “mix it up” in other genres, allowing him to stand out, breakout and crossover into one of the top solo artists performing today. Also on this dynamite program are zydeco accordionist Curtis Poullard and the Creole Zydeco Band and the Austin-based Fabulous Polkasonics famous for their “old country polkas.” And Michael Ramos, the 2013 Big Squeeze Champ, will join this exciting group of musicians who will no doubt wow the crowd with all things accordion.
After the event, from 7:00-10:00 p.m., join Texas Folklife for the “Big Squeeze Backyard Bash,” an evening of food, drink, and live music. All proceeds support the Big Squeeze program. To purchase tickets and for more information, including the location of this fabulous party: http://www.bigsqueeze2014.brownpapertickets.com/browse.html
This is the eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians, 21 years of age or younger. In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife expanded the popular contest this year. Instead of one Big Squeeze Champ, there will be three Final Grand Prize Winners chosen to represent the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre includes German, Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco includes Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto includes norteño and Tejano.
All three grand prize 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! In addition, 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.