Cotati Accordion Festival

It's famous for squeezeboxery and song.

THE ANECDOTAL ACCORDION: There are no hard facts on this, that we know of, but we're pretty sure that "play the accordion" is one of the more common instrument-related wishes appearing on various bucket lists. After all, the buttons-and-bellows-laden music-maker not only makes exquisite, haunting, and vintage-sweet sounds, but it is frankly not the easiest of instruments to learn; both your hands tend to be busy with the accordion, and, unlike a lot of other things that keep both hands busy, what they're up to is complex. Many high-spirited individuals have taken on the challenge, and with much success; witness the annual Cotati Accordion Festival, which is set to squeeze again on Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19. Players from California and beyond gather to admire each other's techniques, hear some gigs, lend some appreciation, and get some practice in. Which makes Cotati a bit of a pilgrimage site for people who love their tune-producing box.

MERRY MOTTO: "Celebrating Le Accordion Internationale" scrolls across the poster. That's a fine way to look at the weekend, since romantic songs with a global flavor and rockin' songs one wouldn't expect to associate with the accordion both find welcome. And the performers are many: The Great Morgani and his wonderful outfits (coordinated with his accordion, of course), Polkacide, and The Blackeyed Dempseys are three of the acts. And both polka and zydeco get the love at the festival dance party. A one-day ticket at the door is $17. Oh, and the location? La Plaza Park, in Cotati. Oh, and will there be a mega "Lady of Spain" happening, with audience participation? You bet your bellows there will be.

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