Texas Folklife Will Search for Top Young Accordion Talent in Showcases Across the State


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


Austin, Texas – January 24, 2017 – Texas Folklife is thrilled to announce that the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest is back in 2017. This will be the 11th year for the Big Squeeze 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, including German, Czech, and Polish polka; Creole, Cajun, and zydeco; conjunto, norteño, and Tejano.

Last year, for the Big Squeeze’s 10th anniversary, Texas Folklife held a celebratory concert at the Bullock Texas State History Museum that featured past winners of the contest who are now leading accordion stars and teachers in their communities across the state. Through the Big Squeeze program, Texas Folklife has built a reputation as a champion of Texas accordion music genres, and has supported over 200 young, talented players in their efforts to carry on these community-based accordion music traditions.

This year, Texas Folklife will hit the road again and hold Big Squeeze showcases in communities throughout the state to search for young accordion talent. Three Final Grand Prize Winners will be devoted to the three main accordion genres—polka, Cajun / zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech, and Polish polka traditions. Cajun / Zydeco will include zydeco, Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include conjunto, norteño and Tejano. The showcases will be free and open to the public, and will feature music by established accordion artists as well as showcase the young musicians.

The Big Squeeze talent showcases for 2017:

·      February 4:       Los Fresnos High School in Los Fresnos

·      February 11:     La Joya Independent School District in La Joya

·      February 12:     McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi

·      February 18:     Café 4212 in Houston

·      February 19:     Multicultural Education & Counseling through the Arts in Houston

·      March 4:          Larry’s French Market & Cajun Restaurant in Nederland/Groves

·      March 25:         508 Amphitheater at Encore Park in Dallas

·      March 26:         Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio

·      April 22:           Big Squeeze Finals: Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin

Up to nine finalists (three from each genre) will be selected the week of April 3rd by a panel of judges, and will perform at the Big Squeeze Concert and Finals at the Bullock Museum on Saturday, April 22. At that time, three Grand Prize Winners will be selected. The three 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, professional development, and other professional 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 in June.

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 March 31, 2017. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online at www.texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2017 or by calling (512) 441-9255.

This is a special time in Texas Folklife’s history. The thirty-two year old non-profit has a lot of fresh, young faces leading it. Charlie Lockwood is Texas Folklife’s new Executive Director, appointed in October 2016. Lockwood has worked with the organization since 2012, and previously served as Programs, Operations, Development Director and Acting Director. And a new Big Squeeze Program Director is taking the helm this year. Local event producer and writer Alysha Hernández will be leading the Big Squeeze Program in 2017. Hernández brings a decade of experience in communications, film, and live event production. She is a native Texan, born in San Antonio and has spent much of her life in the Rio Grande Valley. 


A new initiative for Big Squeeze 2017 is the opportunity for individuals and organizations to become sponsors of the program. There is information on the website on how to become a Big Squeeze Sponsor at: www.texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2017 or please contact us by phone at 512-441-9255


“I can’t wait to get started on the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest for 2017,” said Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “We at Texas Folklife have a lot of new energy for this year’s program. I’m particularly pleased that Alysha Hernández will be joining us. She brings a deep knowledge of historically important areas in the state for the contest, stellar experience in event production and management, and a lot of passion for our work. The Big Squeeze is one of our most popular and most important programs—I’m glad it is back!”   


The Big Squeeze is supported by Hohner, Inc., The Texas Music Office, by grants from H-E-B, Texas Commission on the Arts, 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, 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, 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. For over 30 years, 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 512-922-5483sheree.scarborough@gmail.com


Program inquiries:

Alysha Hernández 210-286-1999 / bigsqueeze@texasfolklife.org