There's a lot of recent news to share in the world of regional music. This week, I have a few follow-ups to past stories I've written, as well as news and information about upcoming events.
The 2014 search for future "Big Squeeze" champions has reached its conclusion. After making eight stops all across the state of Texas with their talent showcase events, and after viewing all the video entries submitted, we're finally going to learn who is advancing to the next level of this statewide competition.
The nine finalists will be announced at 5 p.m. today. Check out the results at texasfolklife.org and at their Facebook page.
The next stage of this contest will be held Saturday, April 26, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. The nine accordionists will compete that afternoon, with three of them being crowned "Big Squeeze" champions in the following categories: Polka (German, Czech and Polish music), Zydeco (Cajun, Creole and zydeco music) and Conjunto (norteño, tejano and conjunto music).
Recently, I wrote about Weslaco's Texas Sweethearts. Accordionist Elisa De Hoyos is holding a raffle to help fund the group's trip to the 33rd annual Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio. The tickets cost $5 each, and the top prize is a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes. The runner-up prize is a Mary Kay gift basket valued at $100. Tickets are still available, and the winner will be announced on the evening of Saturday, April 12, at Larry's Blue Bar in Mercedes. One does not need to be present to win. People interested in tickets can visit facebook.com/TexasSweethearts.
South Texas Conjunto Association (STCA) is looking for nominations and award suggestions for their 16th annual "Conjunto of the Year" awards ceremony. The event is scheduled to take place Sunday, July 13. STCA will honor the best in the past year in conjunto music with awards such as best album, best accordionist and best vocalist. After all the nominations are tallied, the official ballot will be released Saturday, May 31.
In 2013, The Hometown Boys walked away with the "Conjunto of the Year" award. Interested parties can place their nominations or suggestions at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NF9SJY5.
For more information, email Lupe Saenz at email@example.com.
Last year, I talked to accordion virtuoso Joel Guzman, who was raised in Sunnyside, Washington, but has ties to the Valley through his parents. One of the topics we broached was an idea he was discussing with Hohner Accordions.
Guzman explained to me how he envisioned a three-row box that featured a 40-bass section. Guzman has been a strong proponent of using the bass-side of the accordion, something that you don't often see in tejano, norteño and conjunto music. He told me that he pushes students to play the bass side so that they could be able to perform on the same level as European players. It's been a year since I've talked to him, but Guzman and Hohner Accordions recently announced a new Hohner Anacleto model that includes the 40-bass section that we previously discussed. The accordion looks stunning. To those interested in checking it out, visit facebook.com/HohnerAccordionsUSA.