Texas Folklife and the Latino Cultural Center present the annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians on March 22 at 3pm.

The Big Squeeze contest is open to Texas accordionists 21 years and younger. Contestants may register on site or in advance by calling Texas Folklife at (512) 441-9255 or online. Those who cannot attend the audition may mail or e-mail their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife no later than April 7. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online or by calling Texas Folklife.

In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife is restructuring the popular contest this year. The contest will go on the road again this spring in order to meet the young accordion players in their communities in talent showcases. Three Final Grand Prize Winners will be devoted to the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech and Polish traditions. Zydeco will include Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include norteño and Tejano.

The Dallas Big Squeeze talent showcase is free and open to the public and will begin at 3 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center. Immediately following the talent showcase at 4 p.m., Tejano star Michael Salgado will take to the stage on the Plaza for a free, public concert. Opening the show for Salgado, will be the reigning Big Squeeze Champ and Dallas native Michael Ramos who will be joined by Los Morales Boyz.

Nine finalists (three from each genre) will be chosen from the field of performers at the showcases (and those who send in their performances to Texas Folklife) by a panel of esteemed music professionalsAccordionists will be judged on their technical proficiency—skill in playing, and technical and musical accuracy—as well as their song interpretation (stylistic choices, innovation, and originality) and stage presence (level of comfort on stage and attention to personal appearance). The nine finalists will be announced on April 11. The finalists will perform at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on April 26. Three Grand Prize Winners will be selected (one winner for each accordion category). All three winners will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on June 7. The three Big Squeeze 2014 Grand Prize Winners will also receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion, performance opportunities in Austin and Houston, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities.

“When the Big Squeeze comes to Dallas magic happens,” Executive Director Cristina Ballí said. “The Metroplex has a wealth of young accordion talent, and the Latino Cultural Center, with its beautiful, open air Plaza is the perfect venue for an afternoon devoted to the "national instrument of Texas."

The Big Squeeze is supported by the members and Board of Texas Folklife and by Hohner, Inc.; by grants from Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Music Office, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Houston Endowment, and Texas Gas Service. Additional support is provided by regional businesses including SugarHill Recording Studios, Antone’s Records, Hacienda Records, and Frank+Victor Design.

Information provided by City of Dallas.