(article) Accordion Kings 2008 ready to launch June 7 in Houston

Audience to help pick Big Squeeze winner

Texas Folklife's 19th annual Accordion Kings concert is almost here and we're getting excited. Our Co-headliners are Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws and Tejano legends La Tropa F, and warming them up will be the Knights of Dixie Orchestra. And before that, we'll present the three finalists from our second Big Squeeze Accordion Contest.

As always, the Accordion Kings concert is free. The "mighty pleasin' squeezin'" fun begins at 7 p.m. at Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, Houston. The event is rain or shine. Out-of-towners interested in attending may call the Holiday Inn Houston Med Center at 713-528-7744 and mention Texas Folklife's Accordion Kings show for a special room rate.

Finalists Pic

The Big Squeeze contestants chosen as finalists are Brian Gallegos, 22, of Devine, John Ramirez, 16, of Houston and Heriberto Rodriguez, 15, of Edcouch (seen jamming at right with Speedy Villanueva of Los Texmaniacs after the semi-finals, held May 11 at the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin).

They will compete for the grand prize of $500 plus a day of recording time from the historic Sugar Hill Recording Studios (Texas' oldest recording facility). Participants also will be filmed for a documentary by Texas director Hector Galán and perform before thousands of accordion fans at our 19th annual Accordion Kings concert. Last year's winner, Juan Longoria Jr., will also perform and will serve as a judge. Other judges include SugarHill owner Dan Workman, a member of the Recording Academy's Texas Chapter Board of Governors; Arlyn Visentin, president of the Houston Accordion Association; Roger Wood, author of "Texas Zydeco" and "Down in Houston"; and Gus Garza, host of KPFT-FM's tejano music show, "Bailando en Tejas/Dancing in Texas."

Miller Outdoor Theatre is located at 100 Concert Drive in Hermann Park. Metro stop: Rice University station. For more information, go to www.milleroutdoortheatre.com or call 713-284-8352..

Accordion Kings and the Big Squeeze are funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Meadows Foundation, the Cogburn Family Foundation, the Still Water Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that "a great nation deserves great art." Support is also being provided by SugarHill Recording Studios, Gabbanelli Accordions, Hohner Inc., Embassy Suites Austin -- Downtown/Town Lake, Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Medical Center, Raven Grill, Sign Effects, Copy Sense, McCarthy Print, Los Texmaniacs, Cerronato and the Mexican American Cultural Center, Hotel Zaza Houston, Quattro at the Four Seasons Houston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science and other generous donors. The Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter has officially endorsed the contest.