(blog) Opening Remarks: The Big Squeeze Returns In 2017!


It’s that time of the year! Time to start gearing up and spreading the word about this year's round of Big Squeeze Auditions, Showcases and more... 

We, at Texas Folklife, are proud that the Big Squeeze is returning in 2017.  After taking a year off to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the contest, this splendid program will return in all its squeezebox glory to a city near you. And, I am proud to say; I am blessed and lucky enough to be leading the charge under the guidance and leadership of Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. 

There is nothing I am more passionate about in this world than Texas music. Furthermore, the preservation, promotion and continuance of our Texan musical and cultural traditions are themes I strongly believe in. Appreciation of our traditions is absolutely vital in today’s digital world, and even more so in our changing political landscape. 

Program Mission & How It Works

The Big Squeeze is an accordion contest for young musicians, ages 21 and under, in all genres of Texas traditional music – Conjunto, Tejano, Norteño, Cajun, Zydeco, Polka, Vallenato, Country Western, and more. The accordion, “the national instrument of Texas,” is a central instrument in the music of many cultural and ethnic groups in the state. The Big Squeeze aims to cultivate the next generation of musical culture bearers by creating opportunities for young musicians to showcase their skills. In the process, Texas Folklife contributes to the sustainability of traditional music practices and aids in the development of local economies through partnerships with small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
 
This statewidecontest is one of the ways in which Texas Folklife carries out its mission to preserve, present, and nurture Texas’s diverse cultural heritage.  Many past winners of the contest 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 hundreds of young, talented players in their efforts to carry on these community-based accordion music traditions.  

 Texas Folklife, bolstered by the help of various sponsors and community partners, hosts accordion showcase events in the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Greater Dallas Area, San Antonio and more! The Big Squeeze finals are held annually at the Bullock History Museum in Austin, while contest winners have the opportunity to perform at Texas Folklife's annual Accordion Kings & Queens concert at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston! 

The Big Squeeze program and showcase events are partnerships with local businesses, art galleries, record labels, non-profit arts organizations, local public school districts, and universities.  

This year, participants and patrons can expect the signature accordion showcases of the years past in the many parts of this great state. To be specific, Texas Folklife, bolstered by the help of various sponsors, will host roaming accordion showcases events in the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Greater Dallas Area, San Antonio and more! 

Each showcase will feature a filmed audition in front of a live audience. Accordion players, age 21 and younger can apply to participate in the following genres: Conjunto, Zydeco / Cajun and Polka. The Polka genre will include German, Czech and Polish traditions. The Zydeco genre will include Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And, the Conjunto genre will include Norteño and Tejano.

What can you expect at each roaming accordion showcase? Well, the default format of each showcase is the same, although there may be some workshops or exercises tacked on or worked into some. Each showcase will have: 

•Registration

•Opening Remarks

•Young Accordion Filmed Audition In Front of Live Audience

•Local Headliner To Close Out the Event

All auditions will be filmed and sent to our panel of judges who will then announce finalists in each category and region. Finalists will then be invited to compete for champion prizes in Austin on April 22, 2017 at The Bullock Texas State History Museum. Lodging and a travel stipend will be provided to finalists for their trip to Austin. 

All are competing for the title of the best of the state and one champion in each category will be showcased at the Accordion Kings and Queens Concert in Houston on June 3rd, 2017. 

How You Can Help 

As in years past, the program has identified a couple of areas you can help! Here is how: 

1. Help us recruit young accordion players! 

Once our application opens in late December, help us spread the word about our program to every young accordion player in your community.  We need entrants who are passionate about the accordion and music. Some details: 

•Program is open to applicants 21 years old or younger. Entrants that turn 22 on or before June 4, 2017 are not eligible.

•Applicants must currently reside in Texas.

•Applicants must include photo to be considered.

•Applicants must submit complete entry form to be considered. 

2. Be a sponsor – either individually or through your business! 

We are seeking individuals and businesses that can sponsor any of these young artists through transportation, food, and lodging to get them to Austin for the Finals Showcase at The Bullock Texas State History Museum on April 22, 2017. if you would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact 512-441-9255 or email bigsqueeze@texasfolklife.org

3. Donate to the Big Squeeze Program or Texas Folklife!

Texas Folklife accepts any and all donations - big, small or medium! We are seeking individuals and businesses that can sponsor any of these young artists through transportation, food, and lodging to get them to Austin for the Finals Showcase at The Bullock Texas State History Museum on April 22, 2017. We could even use supply or service donations for the Big Squeeze Program. What does that mean? Snack donations, paper goods, office supplies, bottled water, printing services, marketing services and more!Also, we are also always seeking financial donations for our organization. If interested, please visit www.texasfolklife.org/membership. Or mail a check to Texas Folklife with the words “Big Squeeze” on the note line to 1708 Houston St, Austin, TX 78756.

4. Attend an event! Invite your friends and family and post on social media about it! 

Help us with the program mission by being our guest andattending any of the regional events, as well as the finals in Austin. All events are free and open to the public. 

On behalf of all at Texas Folklife, I sincerely hope to see you and yours at the upcoming Big Squeeze Showcases. 

And, if you have questions, suggestions or concerns, please feel free to e-mail me directly at bigsqueeze@texasfolklife.org

Onward!

Alysha Nicole Hernández