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ENT_omar-garzaAUSTIN – Folklife’s 22nd annual Accordion Kings and Queens Festival will be another chance to dance the night away to accordion greats playing conjunto, zydeco, and polka in Houston. This year’s Festival will feature Brave Combo, Corey Ledet and Mickey y sus Carnalez, as well as the finale to The Big Squeeze contest. Popular Texas journalist Joe Nick Patoski will again emcee the star-studded affair on Saturday, June 4, at 6 p.m. and it is free and open to the public.

Festival goers wanting seats in the pavilion area can pick up their free tickets the day of the festival at the Miller Box Office or become members of Texas Folklife and receive up to four reserved tickets. Fans should plan to “scoot their boots” because the night promises to be a squeezebox extravaganza.

Revving the crowd to a perfect pitch of accordion fever will be The Big Squeeze. Texas Folklife’s Big Squeeze accordion contest 2011 finalists will compete for a grand-prize package valued at $4,500, including a $1,000 cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion and recording time at the historic Hacienda Records in Corpus Christi, as well as promotional support from Hohner, Inc., Hacienda Records and Texas Folklife, and other professional opportunities. The four finalists selected during a playoff at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on April 30 are Joseph Garcia, age 13, from Victoria; Omar Garza, age 16, from La Joya; Ignacio Morales, age 15, from Dallas; and Isaiah Tellez, age 12, from Pasadena.

Omar Garza is a sophomore at Palmview High School (PHS). He has been playing the accordion for three years and is one of Palmview’s conjunto students.

“He’s done great,” said Mayra Garcia, Garza’s teacher at PHS. “We expect great things from him.”

brave-combo-highres-2011Following the Big Squeeze, the Accordion Kings and Queens Festival turns to the accordion stars. Seven times nominated and two-time Grammy award-winning Brave Combo headline this year's lineup. This Denton, Texas group almost defies description. Described as “America’s Premier Dance Band,” for over three decades Brave Combo has perfected a world music mix that includes polka, zydeco, rock, the blues, conjunto, cumbia, cha cha, salsa, merengue, classical, and more. Brave Combo has performed soundtracks for films and TV and has appeared everywhere from Deutchenfest in Pflugerville to Lincoln Center in New York City.

Corey Ledet and His Zydeco Band are also performing at this year’s festival. Ledet plays a powerhouse accordion and excels at the urban zydeco sounds of his hometown of Houston and the Creole sounds of his forbearers in Louisiana. Corey comes from a long line of musicians. His grandfather played drums with Clifton Chenier among others, and his cousins Greg Potier and Leon Sam have performed with him live and on CDs. Ledet is a versatile musician who can play any style and on any accordion, whether single-row, triple row, or piano, and writes many of his songs. Come out and hear Ledet and His Zydeco Band play for his hometown, and maybe his songs “Dance All Night” and “Wanna Dance” will be on the playlist.

Mickey y sus Carnalez will round out the evening putting the Queen in Accordion Kings & Queens! She is an awesome singer, accordionista, and manager of this award-winning conjunto band that has been together since 2007. In a very short time, Mickey y sus Carnalez has recorded two albums, performed throughout Texas, and won several awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year in 2010 by the South Texas Conjunto Association.

The Accordion Kings and Queens Festival and The Big Squeeze are funded in part by the Board of Texas Folklife, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Houston Endowment, Hohner Inc., The Raven Grill, Flashbang Media and Sign Effects.  Additional support for the contest is provided by Hacienda Records, South Central Music Source, Cactus Music & Record Ranch, SugarHill Recording Studios, La Michoacana Stores, Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown Austin, the Still Water Foundation and the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

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