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Texas Folklife Announces the 2017 Big Squeeze Champs

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[Photo included: Big Squeeze Champs 2017 (from left to right): Luis Gonzalez, Donovan Bourque, and Mason Nesvadba, Photograph by David L. Dodd, Courtesy Texas Folklife]



Sheree Scarborough




Free Concert and Contest Finals Held at the Bullock Museum on Saturday, April 22

 Grand Prize Winners selected in each category: Polka, Cajun / Zydeco, and Conjunto


Austin, Texas – April 24, 2017 – Texas Folklife is pleased to announce the names of the young accordionists who were chosen as this year’s Big Squeeze Accordion Contest Champs. They are: Donovan Bourque, 16, from Beaumont, Grand Prize Winner for Cajun/Zydeco; Mason Nesvadba, 20, from Guy, Grand Prize Winner for Polka; and Luis Gonzalez, 21, from Grand Prairie, Grand Prize Winner for Conjunto.


The winners were chosen at the Big Squeeze Statewide Accordion Contest Finals and Concert that was held on the Lone Star Plaza at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on Saturday, April 22, where 10 finalists competed for the three titles. It was an afternoon celebrating Texas’s vibrant roots music and all things accordion with more than 400 in attendance—many dancing to music by Rio Jordan, Ruben Paul Moreno, and the Gulf Coast Playboys. Congratulations to our new Big Squeeze Champs, the finalists and all of this year’s contestants—thank you for keeping the accordion tradition alive in Texas.


This was the 11th year for the statewide program that supports up-and-coming Texas musicians who are 21 years of age or younger. 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 produced 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 digital and 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 7 judges representing a variety of Texas-based accordion genres who judged the showcases and the Big Squeeze Finals.

The Big Squeeze 2017 Grand Prize Winners 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 be given the chance to perform onstage with legendary Texas musicians at Texas Folklife’s Accordion Kings & Queens Concert, held at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 3.


“Congratulations to our 2017 Big Squeeze Champs,” said Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “The 2017 contest brought us 29 young musicians from all parts of the state with accordion skills in every genre. We had a great turnout at every showcase and an incredible group of young contestants this year. I am grateful to all who participated—our sponsors, our venue hosts, our talented musicians at the showcases and the Finals Concert, and especially the contestants and their families. Thank you.   


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,, 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.


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, and is designated by the National Endowment for the Arts as the Folk & Traditional Arts organization for the state. Since 1984, Texas Folklife has honored cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences.


1708 Houston St.
Austin, Texas 78756

Media inquiries:

Sheree Scarborough


Program inquiries:

Alysha Hernández 210-286-1999 /