Texas Folklife will bring its annual celebration of the state’s accordion roots music to Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre from 7-11 pm on Sat., June 2. In keeping with its mission to preserve and present Texas’s diverse musical heritage, the concert will feature Texas accordion music legends in polka, Cajun, zydeco, and conjunto.

This year’s accordion stars will include the 2017 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow Eva Ybarra and her band Conjunto Siempre, Keyun Dickson & The Zydeco Masters, JesseLége& Bayou Brew, Czech & Then Some, and the recently crowned 2018 Big Squeeze Accordion Contest Champs - Polka: Peter Gresser, Weatherford; Cajun/Zydeco: Steven Williams, Humble; Conjunto, Melenie Lissette Gonzalez, Rio Grande City; and Anthony Ortiz Jr. Conjunto Prize: Jesus F. Venegas, Brownsville.

This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area in the pavilion. Free tickets are available (while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the event (4 tickets per person) from 10:30 am-1 pm. If any tickets remain at 1 pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, there will be open seating on the hill behind the pavilion.

The best way to receive free, assigned covered seating for Accordion Kings & Queens 2018 is to be or become a Texas Folklife member by noon on Sat., June

2. Contact Texas Folklife to request (up to 4 tickets) seats in the covered seating area. Tickets will be held at the Texas Folklife Information Will Call Table the day of the event from 5 until 6:55 pm, and then released if not claimed. To become a member or renew your membership call 512-441-9255 or visit texasfolklife.org.


Eva Ybarra the undisputed “Queen of the Accordion” (La Reina del Acordeón) became a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow in 2017, after a lifetime of performing music. She is one of only a few professional women accordionists in conjunto music, and has been a star from an early age when she began performing in her hometown of San Antonio. She and her band Conjunto Siempre have produced numerous recordings.

In addition to being a professional musician, Ybarra is also a music educator. She has taught in colleges across the country, participated as a master teaching artist in Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeship Program, and currently fosters the development of young conjunto players by teaching at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio. She has been inducted into many Halls of Fame, including the Tejano Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum and has won many awards.


Keyun Dickson was the first zydeco Grand Prize Winner for Texas Folklife’s Big Squeeze Accordion Contest in 2010. He hails from Humble, Texas, in the greater Houston area and has been playing the accordion and wowing audiences from an early age. His mother and grandmother were instrumental in his musicianship, which started when he picked up an accordion at the age of 3. At the ripe age of 12, he formed his band Keyun & The Zydeco Masters and they perform all over the Greater Houston and East Texas regions of the state.


Jesse Lége is one of the most admired accordionists and vocalists from Southwest Louisiana. He has been playing a variety of Cajun music for over 40 years. He has recorded five CDs, and has garnered numerous Cajun French Music Association awards, known as the “Cajun Grammys,” and has been inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame.

In 2017 he participated as a Master Artist in Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeship Program, and is serving as a judge for the 2018 Big Squeeze Accordion Contest. He will perform with members of Bayou Brew (Darren Wallace on fiddle, Missy Roser on fiddle and vocals, Evelyn Schneider on bass, Erica Weiss on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Keith Garovoy on drums and vocal).


Hailing from Ennis, Texas, one of the hotbeds of Texas Czech culture, Czech & Then Some has been playing music together since January 1997. They play a variety of music consisting of polkas, waltzes, country music, and fun dances. CATS has performed at many functions, such as National Polka Festival in Ennis, Westfest, Accordion Kings in Stephenville, Six Flags Over Texas for the Texas Heritage Festival, Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, Praha Picnic, and the Czech embassy in Washington, D.C. They are active as event organizers and performers in the Texas Czech community statewide and have released six albums.

Not Just OOM-PAH! Accordion Workshop & Concert Set

Sign up for an amazing accordion workshop to be held Sat. & Sun., June 16-17 at Texas Folklife Resources in Austin. Saturday’s workshop begins with Jan Flemming presenting South American rhythms, then Ginny Mac will teach Hot Gypsy Jazz tunes, followed by Shirley Johnson introducing Eastern European music. Later in the evening learn “How to Create a YouTube Video” and record your own video. Sunday morning, Mario Pedone leads a class in playing accordion duets and trios with Eclectic World music.

The workshop is $150 per accordionist, $60 per non-accordionist, and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, plus one concert ticket. A scholarship will be awarded to an accordionist under 18. Check the webiste for details. Registration is due on May 30. Nick Ballerini will be there both days for all your accordion and accessory needs.

On Sun., June 17 from 3–5 pm there is a Father’s Day Accordion Concert open to the public at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin, TX. 7875. Workshop instructors Mario Pedone, Ginny Mac, and Jan Flemming with Grupo Massa will be performing. This will be a dynamic concert! Donation $10 at the door as well as online.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Econmic Development Department. Additional support is from Texas Folklife.

It’s an Accordion Free-For-All

The Central Texas Accordion Association will host its 17th Annual Accordion Free-For-All, Tues., June 12, at 7 pm. The program is being held in the Lamar Senior Activity Center on 2874 Shoal Crest Ave, Austin.

The crowd-pleasing program features 10 to 12 accordionists who are given approximately 10 minutes each to showcase their skills, as well as one or two accordion bands. All genres of music, such as country and western, big band, polkas, and European styles will possibly be performed. Some accordionists perform solo and some have a rhythmic-backing musician.

The CTAA, 40 members strong, meets monthly (usually the fourth Monday of the month) at Casa Chapala Mexican Restaurant for programs and jams. Remember June is National Accordion Month so come on down to see what all this squeezing is about.

Texas Polka News

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