If there’s one place you can be guaranteed to hear “Lady of Spain” on a wheezing accordion once a year, it’s Cotati—renowned for its annual Cotati Accordion Festival, in which portable keyboards take over the tiny city.
Pop culture doesn’t affect the celebration here. The wax and wane of this traditional instrument is well-respected among accordionistas, who don’t necessarily think of the large-stomached windbox as dorky. Even the beloved concertina can be heard playing renditions of today’s overplayed radio tunes, folksy polka melodies, bayou beats and zesty tango rhythms.
This year’s lineup includes punk-playing Polkacide, “Goblincore”-jamming THAT Damned Band, zydeco-performing Gator Beat and classical-improvising Golden State Accordion Club Band. As ever, the great Dick Contino (pictured), who pumped his way to national radio and had a hit single with the bellow-box in 1949, returns and pushes keys for the public ear among dance workshops, educational films and a slew of booths displaying “box candy.”
Pick up your squeezeboxes (you might want to skip the vest though—it’s gonna be hot) on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18–19, at La Plaza Park. 60 West Cotati Ave., Cotati. 9am–9pm. $15–$25. 707.664.0444.—Catherine Zaw