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- Go check out squeezebox sounds from across the world at SA's International Accordion Festival this weekend.
Like the instrument itself, the International Accordion Festival is one of the most unique concerts in San Antonio. Where else does each headlining act play twice on the same day?
And where else could such far-flung genres cross-pollinate at a single show? Paying homage to the squeezebox's intrusion into folk cultures around the world, SA's Accordion Festival includes music from Bulgaria, South America, Louisiana, Paris, the Balkans, Louisiana, the Ukraine and our good ol' South Texas.
It's not just the accordion you're getting at La Villita this weekend. Because of its affordable price tag and loud-honk timbre, the instrument traveled from its homeland in Central Europe to become a staple of folk music worldwide.
Since a globe-trotting Saturday trip is only possible for Elon Musk and Air Force One, the squeezebox fest is a cheaper way to understand the instrument's importance outside of Tex-Mex genres. We've highlighted some of the musicians and genres so diverse and nice that they're playing on Saturday twice.click to enlarge
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. / 12:30pm (Arneson River Theatre) / 3pm (Maverick Plaza Stage)
If Flaco Jiménez is conjunto's ambassador to pop culture — on Rolling Stones records and lifetime Grammy presentations — then Santiago Jiménez, Jr. is the vanguard leader of the old-school style. Named after his father, the great bandleader and innovator, Santiago Jr. retains the verse-solo-verse structure of heyday conjunto, even preferring the acoustic tololoche bass to the electric rig common in tejano.
Since his recording début at 17 in 1958, Jiménez, Jr. has employed a sly and witty approach to the instrument. On tunes like "El Toro De Mi Rancho, " his drummer plays a straight snare groove, as Jiménez, Jr. swings the beat, creating an arresting layering of rhythm. In his bouncing solos, he can subtly inflect the cumbia rhythm.
In 2000, Jiménez, Jr. was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. It may not be as flashy as his brother's Lifetime Grammy (or Flaco's gold tooth), but it's a proper honor for this archivist of early conjunto. As anyone who's seen him at his near-weekly Sunday gigs at Carnitas Urapan, the 71-year-old accordionist is a living library of Tex-Mex culture.click to enlarge