The Big Squeeze is an annual accordion contest for kids. But Texas Folklife Executive Director Charlie Lockwood says it’s more than an opportunity for musicians to compete. It’s a celebration of an instrument that’s part of many Texan cultures and musical styles, from mariachi to polka to zydeco to conjunto, Lockwood says. This year marks the 13th edition of The Big Squeeze, and finals took place last weekend in Austin.
“It’s more than history,” Lockwood says. “It’s also part of the future. When the organization started this program, the idea was to encourage young people to continue playing this music and this instrument that’s central to all these different traditions.”
Lockwood says the contest also offers a chance for participants and audiences to be exposed to music they haven’t heard before.
“That’s a critical part of it for me,” he says. “Bringing people together and really celebrating the diversity we have, celebrating different perspectives.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.