Texas Folklife is hosting the Big Squeeze 10th Anniversary Extravaganza Concert this Saturday, May 7th at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Texas Folklife is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Texas’ diverse cultural heritage, and among their greatest champions of the Lone Star States’ folk arts and folklife is the Big Squeeze Program. Since 2007, the Big Squeeze Program has nurtured young accordionists in many musical traditions, including polka, zydeco, and conjunto. Among the over 200 accordion players they’ve supported over the years, Rito Pena is among their most decorated–most recently winning last year’s Big Squeeze Annual competition.
Hailing from San Antonio, Rito Pena delivers the goods accordingly with his incredible accordion skills, equal parts lively and contagious to dance to. Starting at a young age, Pena took after his influence, Bene Medina, and has garnered high praise for his playing, winning numerous awards and competitions with his talent and passion that break through effortlessly in his playing style. The young sultan of squeeze is an incredible lead musician; with finessed finger placement and an undeniable feel for his instrument, it is easy to get swept up in his showmanship.
Joined by Hunter Chavez on bajo sexto, Rito Pena stopped by Studio 1A and displayed his playing ability for us. You can stream the entire performance right here on KUTX.