One Chinese legend says the accordion is as old as music itself, that around 3,000 B.C., Emperor Huang Ti sent a scholar into the Western mountains charged with reproducing the song of the phoenix. The scholar returned with the cheng, a multi-tube device fashioned out of bamboo. It was the first vibrating-reed instrument known to mankind; accordions still use this principle to produce their distinctive sound today. In Texas, the accordion really is as old as music, since the instrument was first brought here by German and Czech immigrants in the 1820s and '30s and gradually established itself just as firmly in Hispanic and Creole folk music, leading to conjunto (among other South Texas sounds) and zydeco. For its 20th annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival, Texas Folklife Resources brings these various squeezebox styles under Miller Outdoor Theatre's big tent for an evening of dancing with Tejano talents Santiago Jimenez and Sunny Sauceda; a Creole double shot of Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters and Lady D & the Zydeco Tornadoes; and polka dotters Mark Halata and Texavia. Furthermore, catch a glimpse of the next generation of accordion aces when TFR's annual "Big Squeeze" winner is crowned from a field of four contestants — none older than 25.
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