When Paul Rogers arrived in Port Townsend — “the land of festivals,” he calls it — he’d already turned his piano sideways.
His band is called Those Darn Accordions, see, and Rogers had been playing his squeezebox around San Francisco for quite a while. He moved north to care for his parents in 2003 and has been a Port Townsender since.
Then, a few years ago, he saw the rise of the Ukulele Festival, a Centrum event set for Sept. 12-16 this year.
“I said, ‘That’s it,’ ” he recalled.
Time for an accordion festival, or rather a Deep Squeeze, a convergence of Cajun and polka and Cuban and Brazilian and tango and rock ’n’ roll. Piano accordions, button boxes, local bands and his band from the Bay Area: All that.
The Deep Squeeze debuted in 2016 at the Pourhouse in Port Townsend and, Rogers reported, was a resounding success. This year it’s expanding — like those accordion bellows — to a second venue.
After today and Saturday at the Pourhouse, the festival will go to Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum on Sunday — admission will stay free all three days.
“I like to build a show,” Rogers said, to not only have a lineup of bands but also a local beneficiary or two.
This year, raffle tickets and merchandise will be sold to raise funds for Dove House, which serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and for the Jefferson Teen Center, the after-school haven at Chimacum High School.
Those Darn Accordions will dish up dance-friendly rock, ska and reggae — “Reggae and polka are very closely related,” Rogers said — tonight, Saturday and Sunday evening.
The band is known for generous dollops of humor and a Led Zeppelin medley.
Another California-based band, the zydeco duo Billy Wilson and Lloyd Meadows, will step up Saturday and Sunday; the Mudbugs from Portland, Ore., and Creosote, a Seattle duo playing Brazilian music, will appear Sunday afternoon.
Creosote’s Jamie Maschler and Gabriel Rodrigues “are really excellent players. They are stunning to listen to,” Rogers said.
For the first time, the Deep Squeeze has an actual polka outfit, Whidbey Island’s Pickled Herring Band. Filling out the lineup are local ensembles: Tangoheart featuring Bertram Levy; the Alternators, aka George Rezendes and Peter Evasick and the Vickie Townsend Band.
“Vickie Townsend has studied many styles and is an innovator on the button box,” noted Michael Townsend, her husband and bandmate.
For Vickie, it all began with a door-to-door salesman in San Pedro, Calif.; it restarted with a dance at Port Townsend’s Quimper Grange.
“You want to play the accordion,” that salesman told 8-year-old Vickie.
“I … do?” the girl replied.
Next thing she knew, her grandmother Edna was helping carry her new piano accordion to lessons. She studied the squeezebox for a few years. Then the Beatles happened. There’s no accordion in the Fab Four, so then-middle-schooler Vickie began playing flute and guitar.
She grew up, married Michael and moved to Port Townsend, where, one night in 1990, she went to a Cajun dance at the grange hall near their house.
Soon after, an accordion — this time a button box — was back in her arms. Gig No. 1 with Michael came about two years thence, and the pair have been exploring world music ever since.
At the Deep Squeeze, Vickie and her band — Michael plus percussionist Declan Westcott — will play a mix of cumbia, rumba and Cuban son, with Cajun, Brazilian and pop tunes stirred in there.
“These accordions are a different animal,” she said of the button boxes. They pour out a sound that’s bold, bright — and loud, since Cajun folks weren’t inclined to use amplifiers.
Rogers, for his part, believes the accordion is coming back into favor, after being usurped by the guitar some decades ago.
“The pendulum is almost swinging the other way,” he said, adding that if anybody out there wants to help it swing, they can purchase tickets to win one of three gleaming accordions, each to be raffled off during this Deep Squeeze weekend.
The third annual Deep Squeeze, aka the Port Townsend Accordion Festival of concerts and dance parties, has no cover charges at either venue.
For more details, see deepsqueeze.org.