I spent my Memorial Day weekend in Mendocino, lounging around my in-laws’ house, reading their subscription to Smithsonian magazine when I stumbled across an article about vallenato, the popular accordion-driven folk music from Colombia. It mentioned that on June 6, a new Smithsonian film about vallenato called The Accordion Kings will premiere at the National History Museum.
The documentary focuses on the annual accordion competition held at the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata in Valledupar. (We’ve shown clips of this festival on our site before.) Traditionally played with the accordion, caja (drum), and guacharaca (percussion stick), vallenato is a melting pot of African, European, and Colombian rhythms and sounds. Here’s a clip of five-time competition winner Hugo C Granados, who last year won the special Rey de Reyes (“King of Kings”) contest which is held only once every ten years.