The Deep Squeeze is especially deep this year.
Bellows will expand. Buttons will be pushed and keys tickled. Accordions — those instruments of the people — will sing together like a choir in this two-town music festival that also lets in guitar, viola and big bass.
“We’ve got a lot of different stuff, from tango to rock ’n’ roll,” said Paul Rogers, instigator of the Deep Squeeze every Labor Day weekend.
The accordion festival, which takes place today and Saturday at the Pourhouse in Port Townsend and Sunday at Chimacum’s Finnriver Farm and Cidery, promises five bands, three soloists, 15 shows and unfettered dancing.
Then there’s a chance to take home your very own squeezebox. For a $10 ticket, you’ll be entered into the drawing for an accordion from Petosa, the multigenerational accordion maker in Lynnwood, or for one donated by the Michael Arralde Accordion Co. of Kent.
And Saturday evening — “between 6:30 and 7:30, but I’ll play it by ear” — Rogers will become an accordion auctioneer. He’ll present yet another instrument: one made by Scandalli, the Italian company that’s been building accordions for more than a century.
The instruments are worth about $1,000 each, Rogers said.
The Deep Squeeze founder, who cooked up the fest four years ago to raise money for local nonprofit groups, has chosen KPTZ-FM, the Port Townsend-based public radio station, and the Community Wellness Project of Jefferson County as this year’s beneficiaries.
So while there’s no cover charge to come to any of the Squeeze shows, music lovers can buy tickets for the drawings and otherwise donate to both causes.
“It’s all about the people who show up,” Rogers said, “and their generosity. We’ve got some nice accordions.”
The Deep Squeeze is designed to please those who want to sit back, relax and listen, get up and dance to lively rhythms, or both.
Bertram Levy will start the festival at 5 tonight with a solo performance at the Pourhouse; then, like an accordion itself, the afternoons and evenings will fill out with music of varied styles and places.
Vickie Townsend and her band will offer sounds from Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Jamaica and Louisiana; the Mad Maggies will range from swing to ska, the Pickled Herring Band will dish out polka, waltz and foxtrot, and Tangoheart will stay true to its name.
Townsend, a returning Deep Squeeze performer, is bringing her guitarist husband Michael. He’s known for his playing with local dance bands, with Levy’s tango ensembles and with the on-stage trios in Key City Public Theatre shows. Michael, Vickie and percussionist Miguelito play gigs in and around Port Townsend as Mojito — a nod to that Cuban cocktail of rum, lime, sugar and mint.
As for Vickie, she picked up this instrument at age 8, when her grandmother bought her a huge accordion plus lessons. After rock ’n’ roll made the squeezebox “hopelessly square,” as she puts it, Vickie learned flute, guitar, ukulele and percussion.
Further on down the road, she found she loved the bluesy sound of the button box. She has stayed versatile; when not playing music with Mojito, she can be found teaching swing, line and hula dancing, booking bands and hosting dances.
For Rogers, the Townsends and their compatriots, the Deep Squeeze is all about community health. Rogers looks forward to directing money raised to KPTZ, which will move from Mountain View Commons to Fort Worden State Park in 2020, and to the Jefferson County Community Wellness Project, which makes grants to schoolteachers here and promotes local produce in school cafeterias.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.