What in the squeeze box bellowing world does a character with a name like The Great Morgani, dressed in different costumes that look like they were created by Vera Wang having gone mad on magic mushrooms, have to do with an accordion festival in Cotati? The answer is absolutely everything.
Frank Lima, AKA The Great Morgani, has been tantalizing the imaginations of accordion fans with his eye popping wardrobes and excellent accordion playing for over 20 years. This year, the 32nd annual, the Cotati Accordion Festival is devoting the show to Morgani’s reluctant retirement and his final farewell tour. It will all culminate in a Morgani tribute song, written by Paul Rogers of Those Darn Accordions, that will be played in the annual Grand Finale, all taking place this coming August 19th and 20th in La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati from 9:30am to 8:00pm both days.
However, the show will not only go on, but this year it will feature the most high profile line up in its 32 year history. For instance, fans of the internationally acclaimed Gogol Bordello will be excited to see their accordionist, Erica Mancini, performing at this year’s festival. Erica, will just be finishing their European/Canadian tour a week before the Cotati festival begins. But, we are not worried about her stamina, as this performer is known to hang from a drape, 20 feet in the air, simultaneously playing the accordion while doing acrobatics. I am not making this up.
Equally acclaimed is one of the most popular Indie genre bands in the U.S., The Decemberists. This year we could not be more fortunate that they have a break in their touring schedule so that their accordionist, Jenny Conlee, can play for the Cotati festival. Jenny will be playing solo and with her group, Paper Bellows made up of Jenny, Jet Black Pearl, Courtney Von Drehle(of Three Legged Torso) and Mike Danner.
Meanwhile, the roll out of high profile acts continues as New Zealand’s premier female accordionist, Tracy Collins, will be bringing her crowd pleasing Kiwi act across the International Time Line. Once in Cotati Tracy will meet another, internationally acclaimed artist, Elena Stenkina. Elena has left her home in Moscow, Russia to take up residence in New Jersey where she works for one of the biggest names in the accordion world, Liberty Bellows.
At the Cotati Accordion Festival we like to stay away from politics as our goal is unity through music and the joy that it creates, while politics often divides us. However, we can’t help wanting to support people like Elena, and another of our special guests this year, Carlos Mejia Godoy in exile from Nicaragua, who have taken stands against their respective totalitarian governments. It may sound like politics to some, but we tend to believe that people who stand for peace and democracy are not political dividers but world uniters.
Of course, there are 25 additional acts that will be appearing on multiple stages, whether it be for dancing in the polka tent, two-stepping at Spanky’s with our Zydeco Dance Party, catching the younger Indie acts at the south end Ray’s Deli Stage, or taking in the international acts on the two main stages. At the mainstage it no one will want to miss 3 time World Champion Cory Pesaturo teaming up with the internationally renowned violinist, Jasmine Azaiez. Cory will be coming off his wild schedule this past year of appearing on Let’s Make a Deal(seriously where they had him play as a contestant), Jimmy Fallon’s That’s My Jam, and headlining at the mainstage at the NAMM event, and a list of other notable performances too long to list. However, none of it compares with how hypnotic the duo of Cory and Yasmine are once they start bouncing their ear tantalizing sounds off of each other.
At the Cotati Accordion Festival we like to say that there is something for everyone, whether it be the exotic animals of the Petaluma Wildlife Museum, Dolinu and their glitter/makeup booth, At the Cotati Accordion Festival we like to say that there is something for everyone, whether it be the exotic animals of the Petaluma Wildlife Museum, Dolinu and their glitter/makeup booth, Rachel and Renee filling all your memento needs at the Merchandise Booth, or Tempo Trend and its four tents full of accordions for sale all brought down for the weekend from their home base in Canada. Plus, One can also explore the 80 other vendors, presenting wares and crafts that you will never find in your local shopping mall. Along the two food rows we also The two food rows will include 17 different food tents, covering everything from Dim Sum, to tacos, to Greek and beyond.
The festival has become a community seminal event where over 100 local volunteers come together with 30 sponsors(including the great beers of Lagunitas and Henhouse) to produce a world famous venue for accordionists while raising funds for local nonprofit youth groups such as the Thomas Page Academy Music Program, the Rancho Cotate Music Program, The Cotati/Rohnert Park Education Foundation, the Penngrove Elementary Outdoor Education Program, and the Cotati/Rohnert Park Nursery Co-op.
None of this would be possible without local parents who handle ticketing, drive the FREE shuttle service, provide security at the gates, and so much more. As a side note, the old shuttle parking lot is gone and is now going to be the location of Cotati’s first hotel. However, we do have the use of the westside Park and Ride at the north end of Redwood Drive and the lots at the Cotati Smart Train Station. Yes, you can take Smart to Cotati and take the shuttle right to the front gate. More can always be found at www.cotatifest.com. Tickets can be bought at all four Oliver’s Markets. Don’t forget, KIDS 15 AND UNDER ARE FREE!