The (Controversial?) International Accordion Festival

This weekend, accordion lovers will flock to San Antonio for the 9th annual International Accordion Festival. This free, two-day outdoor festival always features a stellar lineup of concerts and workshops featuring accordionists from around the world in a variety of genres — from Balkan to Basque, Acadian to Arabic, and beyond. Performers at this year’s festival include Buckwheat Zydeco, Guy Klucevsek, Ivan Milev, the George Lammam Ensemble, and many others. There’s also a pre-festival concert on Friday night featuring conjunto/Tejano greats like Mingo Saldivar and Joel Guzman.

So where’s the controversy? Some conservatives have singled out the $25,000 grant given to the festival by the National Endowment of the Arts as an example of misguided government spending during the economic downturn. The SA Current has a good rebuttal from festival organizers, as well as local restaurant and shop owners who benefit greatly from the tourists that the festival draws to downtown San Antonio. Clearly anyone who doesn’t think an accordion festival will help stimulate the economy — or at least stimulate the people attending — has never been to an accordion festival.

Election ’08: Palin Polka & Obama Zydeco

Back in February, we noted how both the Clinton and Obama campaigns courted Hispanic voters in Texas through cumbia and mariachi tunes. In the wake of last week’s presidential election, we found a couple of grassroots, accordion-fueled videos paying homage to presidential and vice presidential candidates alike.

First up is the “I’m in Love with Sarah Palin Polka”, from a band called “Joe and the Plumbers.” Led by Joe Rodgers — who some may recognize from posts on — the band uses classic Cleveland-style polka instrumentation including the accordion, banjo, and plunger:

On a more serious note, a group of Zydeco musicans came together in Opelousas, Louisiana, to record “Oui, On Peut” (“Yes, We Can”) — a tribute to Barack Obama (and his campaign slogan). The all-star band includes Jeffrey Broussard (of the Creole Cowboys) on accordion:

Campaigns Get Musical in Texas

With so much riding on next week’s Democratic primary in Texas, it’s no surprise the Obama and Clinton campaigns are pulling out all the stops to court Hispanic voters in the Lone Star State. In the past week, both campaigns have turned to music as a vehicle for getting out the vote.

First, the Obama campaign released a song and video called “Viva Obama!” that (literally) sings the praises of Barack Obama to a catchy mariachi beat supplied by Mariachi Aguilas de Mexico. Today, the Clinton campaign released an accordion-infused cumbia called “Hillary, Hillary Clinton”, written and performed by Walter Suhr and the Mango Punch. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the song will be played at rallies, parties and other campaign events across Texas.

Who knows, maybe one of these songs will become the next “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”

Ed Fallon’s Squeezebox Politics

You can feel it in the air — the sound of attack ads, the smell of mud slinging, the sight of old men kissing babies — it’s political primary season! In Iowa, though, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon is spreading his message while accompanied by his own accordion soundtrack. Fallon has been playing since he was seven (taught by his grandmother) and even took 2nd place at the 2005 Iowa State Fair accordion competition (he’s actually won twice before). Of course, we at Let’s Polka don’t generally endorse political candidates, but having an accordion-playing governor couldn’t be all bad, could it?