FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Free Concert and Contest Finals to be held at the Bullock Museum on
Grand Prize Winners will be selected in each category: Polka, Cajun / Zydeco, and Conjunto
The judges’ decisions are in! Texas Folklife is pleased to announce the names of the finalists for this year’s Big Squeeze Accordion Contest. There are ten finalists who will compete for three grand prizes in three categories. There will be a Grand Prize Winner for Cajun/Zydeco, a Grand Prize Winner for Czech/German/Polish Polka, and a Grand Prize Winner for Conjunto.
The finalists in the Cajun/Zydeco category are: Steven Williams, age 13, from Humble; Donovan Bourque, age 16, from Beaumont; and Chloe Johnson, age 16, from Moscow, Texas. The finalists in Polka are: Mason Nesvadba, age 20, from Guy, Texas; Robert Suttie, age 17, from Meadows Place; and Charlie Bubenik, age 16, also from Meadows Place. The finalists in the Conjunto category are: Luis Gonzalez, age 21, from Grand Prairie; Jesus F. Venegas, age 20, from Brownsville; and there was a tie between Paul Resendez, age 17, from Mission, and Ricky G. Casarez, age 12, from Houston—so both will advance to the finals. Congratulations to all of the finalists and contestants, who are helping to keep the accordion tradition alive in Texas.
The contest is one of the ways in which Texas Folklife carries out its mission to preserve and present Texas’s diverse cultural heritage. The contest recruits players in all genres of the Lone Star State’s accordion-based music.
This spring Texas Folklife held 8 Big Squeeze talent showcases in communities throughout the state to search for young accordion talent. Showcases were held in the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas, Houston, Southeast Texas, Dallas and San Antonio so that the squeezeboxers could display their accordion skills at public performances in their communities. Texas Folklife also accepted mail-in entries. A panel of esteemed music professionals judged the contestants 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. There were 6 judges representing a variety of Texas-based accordion genres.
The finalists will perform at the Big Squeeze Finals and Concert on before the panel of judges and the public. At that time Three Grand Prize Winners will be selected. The winners will be chosen to represent the three main accordion genres—Polka, Cajun/Zydeco, and Conjunto. The Big Squeeze 2017 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 with Texas Folklife, publicity, and other professional development opportunities. Additionally, the Grand Prize Winners will perform onstage with legendary Texas musicians at Texas Folklife’s Accordion Kings & Queens Concert, held at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on .
Following the finalists’ performances (and while the judges deliberate) a free concert will be held. The afternoon concert will feature conjunto masters Rio Jordan from San Antonio, Houston zydeco powerhouse Ruben Paul Moreno, and the ever-popular Cajun sounds of the Gulf Coast Playboys.
“We are almost at the end of another successful Big Squeeze Contest,” said Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “The 2017 contest brought us 29 young squeezeboxers from all parts of the state with accordion skills in every genre. After taking a year off from the contest in 2016 to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a blockbuster concert, we were glad to go back on the road again this year and reconnect with our community partners. But the best is yet to come. At the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest Finals and Concert we will not only crown our new Big Squeeze Champs, we will celebrate all things accordion with an afternoon of Texas music. Come to the Bullock on and bring your dancing shoes!
The Big Squeeze is supported by Hohner Inc., the Texas Music Office, and Rancho Alegre Radio, by grants from H-E-B, Texas Commission on the Arts with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, and the Houston Endowment. Regional community and venue partners include Hacienda Records, Texas Polka News, Cajun Sounds Internet Radio, www.zydecoevents.com, Conjunto Heritage Taller, McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi, Café 4212, Multicultural Education & Counseling through the Arts, Larry’s French Market & Cajun Restaurant, 508 Amphitheater at Encore Park and the Museum of Street Culture, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Los Fresnos High School, La Joya Independent School District, Central Texas Accordion Association, Motorblade Postering Service, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum.