The accordion is an instrument of multicultural harmony. European immigrants, African-Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the border have embraced the “orchestra in a box” (as it was described in early Sears catalogs) that the Germans brought to Texas in the 1800s. The 24th annual Accordion Kings & Queens will show this confluence of styles with its three headlining acts: the Czechaholics, from various parts of Texas, who will play polka; Rosie Ledet, of Louisiana, who will purvey zydeco; and the Grammy-winning Hometown Boys, of Lubbock, who will perform conjunto. “We’re, I think, the only festival in the state that has a specific focus on the traditional genres of music in Texas that have the accordion central to it,” said Cristina Balli of Texas Folklife, the event organizer. When some of the accordionists in these bands aren’t conjuring eminently danceable sounds, they will be judging the four finalists in the Big Squeeze accordion contest. This is the ultimate showcase for the next generation of players. Two of the finalists—Luis Gonzalez of Grand Prairie and Michael Ramos of Dallas, both seventeen—are self-taught. Juan Antonio Garcia, an eightee-year-old from Mission, and Yesenia Garcia, a seventeen-year-old Houstonian (only the second female finalist in seven years of competition), both learned in school- and community-based conjunto education programs. They will all vie for a cash prize, a Hohner accordion and the unofficial title of best new interpreter of the soul of Texas.
Miller Outdoor Theatre, June 1, 6:30 p.m., texasfolklife.org
The AIA Sandcastle Competition is sure to liven up some long walks on the beach. Sixty-four teams composed of architects, contractors and engineers who are affiliated with the American Institute of Architects will transform almost 40,000 square feet of Galveston’s East Beach into a hallucinatory realm of sandscapes. Some 20,000 spectators are expected to survey their creations, and while it is easy to appreciate these “sandcastles” for their outward appearance, it is worth considering their mechanics too. The design phase begins months in advance and involves AutoCAD 3-D models. On game day, teams have only five hours to build and carve their sculptures out of 20 cubic yards of sand, in a race for the Golden Bucket Award. “Competition between neighboring sites can be very intense,” said Corey Lynch, the event’s co-chairwoman.
East Beach, June 1, 9 a.m., aiahouston.org
So much time is spent regaling brisket as Texas’ best barbecue that we sometimes lose sight of its main complement: sausage. A debate over who has the best links in the state has to include a mention of Elgin, considered the Sausage Capital of Texas. People so covet the offerings “Elgin Hot Guts” from Southside Market there that they may even be willing to experience a little operetta to score a bite. That’s the bait-and-switch employed by the Sausage and Opera Festival, produced by the Franco-American Vocal Academy affiliated with the University of Texas as part of Opera Without Fences, a program that brings live opera to Texas communities. Although pigging out might seem incongruous with fifteen theatrical singers and a chamber orchestra performing “La Vie Parisienne,” the Offenbach opéra bouffe satirizing Parisian culture, both are great opportunities for indulgence.
Depot Square, June 1, 3:00 p.m., favaopera.org
Life’s simple pleasures are celebrated on National Fishing Day at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. In addition to the opportunity to drop a line into ponds filled with bass, catfish and sunfish—on a day when no fishing license is required—there will be free hot dogs, soda and ice cream for fishermen young and old. The Fisheries Center, an aquatic nature center and hatchery complex, will take care of the details, equipping people with rod, bait and tackle. But it can’t supply patience. So those who can’t wait for their own bite on the line may want to check out the alligator feeding at 3:30 p.m.
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, June 1, 9 a.m., tpwd. 2state.tx.us
The renaissance in Oak Cliff has been a long time coming, which will be revealed in the exhibition “Made in Oak Cliff,” featuring the Oak Cliff Five, artists who began gentrifying the area back in the seventies with their psychedelic works, led by Bob Wade, known as Daddy-O.
Gray Matters Gallery, June 1-Aug. 31, (214) 824-7108
Thirty-five years after Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong released the stoner buddy flick Up in Smoke, they are picking up the bong again for a stage show of the same name, with the funk bands War and Tower of Power.
Austin City Limits Live, May 31, 8:30 p.m., acl-live.com