Forget Lawrence Welk: Accordions speak many languages.


Posting after an event, after I’ve been there and have taken photos, is much more enjoyable than writing about it in advance. But this is important.

You would be angry with me for not alerting you ahead of time because this is San Antonio’s best festival. Well, second best. Right after the San Antonio Book Festival. And that says a lot in a city known for non-stop-fiesta-ing.

(Pause here and scroll to the bottom first if you would like a soundtrack to get you in the mood for this post.)

The International Accordion Festival takes place Saturday, September 13, from noon to 11 p.m., throughout La Villita. And it’s admission-free.

Expect a United Nations of sound. Some traditional. Some contemporary. All highly addictive. And it’s admission-free.

Expect the unexpected.

Accordion with a dizi, Chinese bamboo flute, and a pipa, Chinese four-string lute, employed by the Cross-Strait Trio. Chinese and Taiwanese musicians who collided while studying ethnomusicology in Texas.

The New York-based Matuto. “Appalachia-gone-Afro-Brazilian sound.”

Tsuumi Sound System. “Finnish Urban Ethno?”

The Italians, Canzionere Grecanico Salentino. With their traditional drum, the tamburello, that “sounds like a beating heart:”

The style is based on the ancient ritual of healing a dangerous tarantula bite called pizzica tarantata and a local cultural phenomenon called tarantim. Their music includes frantic strumming and mad trance-inducing dancing.

And on a much slower note, the lyrics of one of the Cansionere Grecanico Salentino’s more serious songs translates as though written to apply to immigration politics in Texas:

…we children of the horizon, washing us up, spilling us out.
No police can abuse us more than what we’ve suffered already.
We’ll serve as your servants
the children you never had
our lives will be your adventure tales.
We carry Homer and Dante, the blind man and the pilgrim, the smell that you’ve lost
the equality you’ve repressed.
No matter the distance, millions of paces,
we will come,
we are the feet
and we carry your weight.
We shovel the snow, comb the lawns, beat your rugs,
collect your tomatoes and insults….

Find the entire schedule here, and more about the artists here. And it’s admission-free.

And, how incredibly generous. Blue Squeezebox of Austin allows me to embed a whole soundtrack….

2 thoughts on “Forget Lawrence Welk: Accordions speak many languages.”

  1. Dare I admit… I took accordion lessons when I was a child and even learned how to play Cielto Lindo! I’ve been seriously tempted to buy one here in Oaxaca. 😉


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