Jul 30, 2017
by Deborah Taylor-French
“The Cotati Accordion Festival has raised over a half million dollars for local youth.”
—Linda L. Conner
In five years of writing this column I still find it a pleasure to introduce readers to our Cotati Accordion Festival. Fan line up before the gates open with low-backed beach chairs, blankets, and sunhats. Always a family friendly event and crowd pleaser due to the variety of musical styles, costumes, and performers age range. Fine performances from ten years young up to renowned masters and mentors, this festival defies brief description. Everything from classical music, with vocals of professional quality, to punkish versions of popular songs, low growling jazz tunes, jubilant polkas, and party Zydeco.
Not every tune includes lyrics, yet in the cheery atmosphere of the fest drifts a welcome sing-a-long. A huge number of visitors have become ardent fans, and never miss a year. If you see me on Sunday, please say hello. I’ll be wearing a pink straw-hat. At noon in Friar Tucks Pub, I might remove it for the two-step dance class. Sunday afternoon, Singer/Accordionist Lizeth Olivo, will rock the park with her stellar reviewed Norteno Classic and original songs. Olivo is thought to be one of the best musician’s in the world of the genre.
For the past two years, Linda L. Conner, Producer and Scott Goree, Executive Director have planned, organized, and run the festival. They are the only paid staff and do CAF business year round. Of course, they rely on hundreds of dedicated volunteers.
“Scottowns night clubs and books musical acts so he invites, contacts and schedules all the talent.” Conner said in our interview. Then she added, “I’m a graphic designer. I designed and built the Web site, and create all the programs, ads and flyers.” The 2017 fest will have six stages; two dance floors, thirty-five plus acts, and forty craft vendors. Conner comes from a musical family. She sang and played organ at their church. At one point she won eight accordion lessons. After she completely those lessons she did not take up the instrument again. So you don’t have to be an accordion player to love the festival. Due to her friendships with Rebecca Browne, and Clifton Buck-Kauffman, Conner has been involved for the entire twenty-seven years. This year she will be on stage for one of her favorite traditions. While the Lady of Spain takes the main stage with other ladies in national costume, Conner gets to free white doves as accordion enthusiasts and professionals, in a circle, play Lady of Spain.
Tickets available at all Oliver’s Markets and at www.cotatifest.com/index.php/tickets. Tickets are $19 for one day, $29 for two. Save $2 when purchased in advance $17 for a day and $27 for both. Get Senior Tickets $17 at Oliver’s Market or at the gate. Kids 15 and under FREE when accompanied by a paying adult.
All four of Oliver’s Markets will be hosting musical acts. They are free. If you feel generous, give them a donation for youth musical scholarships. The Redwood Café in Cotati will host a live accordion concert starting at 6pm. All proceeds go to student accordion scholarships from your $5 donation at the door. This year, Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma will host the Mad Maggies, a “syncopated Tex-Mex rhythm exploding into a rollicking Eastern European dance groove before settling back into that laid-back South-of-the-border sound. For your listening and dancing pleasure from 4:20pm to 7pm. Plus an After Hours Party at Volpi's in Petaluma all weekend. Do bring your accordion.
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Community Meetings are scheduled for:
Calistoga: Feb 5 & 25,
Napa: Feb 5 & 20
Clearlake: Feb 8
Ukiah: Feb 13