The Styles of Squeeze: a guide to the International Accordion Festival

Tejano / Conjunto

Ah, the homegrown heroes. Emerging from South Texas, tejano and conjunto often get jumbled into the same category, so we’ll break them down first by instrument. Conjunto is played with the accordion, bajo sexto, tololoche (North Mexican mini-double-bass) and drums. Add keys, guitar and brass instruments for tejano.

By style, tejano and conjunto have a rich and entwined history. As German settlers immigrated to South Texas and Northern Mexico in the late 19th century, local musicians adapted the accordion and the oompah rhythm of the polka into the region’s Spanish-influenced folk music to create conjunto. The working class music of early 20th-century Texas, the conjunto tradition developed in the icehouses, weddings and quinceañeras of San Anto and the Valley. Later, as dynamic multi-part harmonies and straight-ahead rock and country became embedded in the music, conjunto became tejano.

Tejano/conjunto artists at the IAF: Eva Ybarra y Su Conjunto (5pm, Maverick Plaza Stage), jam session and workshop with Conjunto Puro Corazon (2pm, Bolivar Hall).


As early instances of Cajun blues came in contact with the French import of the accordion in the late 19th century, zydeco was born. A fast-paced music, traditional zydeco is grounded in the scratching, two-step rhythms of the washboard and the crunching melody of the accordion.

After WWII, zydeco took on an exciting new form when accordionists like Clifton Chenier injected ’50s R&B into the Louisiana folk style. Signed to Specialty and Chess Records, Chenier’s discography is a delightful affair of foot-stomping splendor and James Brown yelps. Crossover artists like Chenier helped bring wide acclaim to the regional style, eventually establishing the brief Grammy award for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album in 2007 (the award was lumped in with the Best Regional Roots Music Album in 2011).

Zydeco at the IAF: Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers (8pm, Maverick Plaza Stage).


From the stiletto heel of the Italian boot, the pizzica is both music and dance based on an ancient folk medicinal tradition. Called the pizzica tarantata, it involves shaking loose the poison from a tarantula bite in a frenzied dance. The music itself is rooted in the pulsing rhythm of the tamburello drum, two-step accordion rhythm and a repeated melody sung by all.

Pizzica at the IAF: workshop and demonstration with Italy’s Canzionere Grecanico Salention (3pm, Juarez Stage)


Wildly popular in Northeastern Brazil, the forró features three primary instruments: the accordion, the triangle and the zabumba, an onomatopoeic Brazilian bass drum. Considered the father of the forró, 20th-century accordionist Luiz Gonzaga established this trio of instruments as the genre’s standard lineup.

More importantly, he infused the baião, a polyrhythmic, bass-heavy rhythm, into the forró. With the triangle on top flashing a straight rhythm, a madman beat on the zabumba and the accordion punching out the melody, the forró may be the most infectious of all styles on display.

Forró at the IAF: Matuto (6pm, Maverick Plaza Stage)


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