Leah Zeger and Cory Pesaturo

I have been asked numerous times to explain the heightened excitement and the big numbers that we enjoyed at the 2022 Cotati Accordion Festival this past August 20th and 21st in La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati, Ca. I simply shrug and declare that the Covid dam broke. There was a potential tsunami of music lovers that had been waiting for that moment where Covid was no longer in control of our activity. Of course Covid has not disappeared and remains as the tragedy of the times. However, the danger has been mitigated on several different levels to the point that people wanted to get back to getting together and enjoying themselves. It seemed like they all rode one big wave into  Cotati for the weekend.

    However, there might have been a factor that could have produced such great numbers at the gates besides the Covid dam breaking. It just might have been the stellar line up that kept the crowd cheering and applauding throughout the weekend.

     It’s actually a frightening experience to dive in and single out one spectacular act that performed at this year’s festival when so many demanded all our attention. Yet, I will do a triple gainer and risk pointing out an act that was not even mentioned in the schedule because of being a late addition. Leah Zeger brought her world class violin to the festival as a special nod to the inclusion of Cory Pesaturo. These two elite artists dazzled the audience for an hour each day, leaving everyone with one big question. How do we get her to return next year?  It wasn’t just their world class instrumental musicality that made its historical mark at the festival,  as it was also Leah’s other worldly voice. Her vocal command made me think of opera meeting pop, and of classical meeting an ethereal soulfulness. It was right there in the middle of those special notes that make a song one’s own, packaged, and ready to deliver to an ecstatic crowd. Leah was in total command of all her special talents, and to do that with Cory Pesaturo’s unparalleled precision, was a show not to ever forget.

Because of Covid there were some adjustments made to the music line up, and to the vendor schedule, but we quickly replaced the acts which made for more mystery when reading the 64 page souvenir program.

Les Amis Zydeco was replaced by first time Cotati Accordion Festival performers IKO Ya Ya, who then moved to doing both days in the tent. It ended up making for a two day, all day, zydeco party where dancers were two stepping in the tent, in Spanky’s and on the sidewalks of downtown Cotati. Smiles were ubiquitous.

Johnny Sansone and Band

     Replacing Motordude at the end of the day on Saturday was our last minute addition Johnny Sansone. Last minute is a misnomer, because his music will last in our hearts and minds for years to come. Sansone, a legend out of New Orleans, kept everyone guessing which genre he was going to go to next. He was well versed in zydeco, cajun and folk rock, but  when he started playing the Blues on his accordion everyone got to see history in the making. Beautiful blues wafting over the crowd out of the delicacies of Sansone’s accordion was truly  a special event in itself. The ethos of the Cotati Accordion Festival has always been  multiculturalism and  exploration of all genres. Thank you Johnny for adding your beautiful blues to our event history.

      Remaining on the theme of “acts not listed in the center of the souvenir program”, which was designed once again by Rachel Goree, one could find music all around the park. The Jam Tent, orchestrated by the retiring Sheri Mignano(we are actively looking for someone to take over the Jam Tent project), was a destination point this year. The tent was packed both days with the pure joy of musicians playing together impromptu(with some orchestration set in place) for hours on end. Look into the Jam Tent and you will see musicians that are doing what they enjoy most, playing music with their friends.

      Another unlisted performance was La Agencia and friends, continuing to play at the back gate long after their stellar set on the main stage. Friends, musicians, fans, and the curious were drawn to the spontaneous mini-jam as the music was so infectious that you did not want the show to end. 

     However, I can’t end a review of this year’s happenings without a thank you to Alex Meixner. It was difficult for Alex to take time off of his band’s summer tour to jet out to California. What wasn’t difficult was to thoroughly enjoy the polka based excitement that comes out of Alex’s accordion. It is like everything in the park comes to a stop when Alex takes over the stage. We were fortunate to have his unbridled energy, elite talent and love affair with the audience at the event. Alex may be too young to be the “King of Polka”(several already holding that title) but he certainly is the Heir Apparent. 

     With over 30 acts, there isn’t enough room here to write a review of each one. However, there will be individual encapsulations in the coming newsletters leading up to next year’s show, August 19 & 20.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
%d bloggers like this: