LIAC 2019


Festhalle 2019 Performers 

Competition and Performance Schedule

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Festhalle Schedule (PDF)

Alex Meixner

Dynamic accordionist Alex Meixner mixes an array of musical styles into traditional, exuberant Central European party music, letting die-hard polka fans to enjoy the evolution and letting hipsters discover all there is to love in the innately fun genre. Solo and with his band, he has performed at major venues and festivals around the world, as well as at uncountable accordion-centric events. His virtuosic yet quirky style has made him a sought-after collaborator (he worked alongside Jack Black in the 2017 Sundance pick The Polka King), spokesperson (Hormel and Ford have used his music), and educator. His recording "Polka FreakOut" with Brave Combo's Bubba Hernandez won him a GRAMMY nomination.


After finishing his degrees, including a Masters from Pennsylvania State University in trumpet performance, Meixner went on to collaborate successfully outside the polka world, collaborating with everyone from Tex-Mex alt rockers The Krayolas to avant garde accordionist and composer Guy Klucevsek. He explored rock and polka's intersections with Brave Combo. His duo album with Brave Combo alum Bubba Hernandez, "Polka Freak Out", was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2007.

Gary Blair 

Gary has been playing accordion from the age of 8 having been taught by his father Jimmy. A regular winner of competitions through the UK, Gary has been judging accordion competitions since 1982 and has adjudicated at many festivals around the world.

His accordion travels have included performances in the USA, Canada, Italy, France, Siberia, Korea, China, Russia, India, and the UAE.

He continues to perform around the globe and is a teacher both in private and on the internet via Skype.

Emmanuel Gasser

The 22 years old awards winning accordionist Emmanuel Gasser lives in St. Charles, Ontario, Canada. He fascinated audiences everywhere, since the age of nine with his breathtaking performances. He is recognized as one of the best young accordionists in North America, winning numerous trophies and awards in many North American and International competitions, as well as representing Canada at the Coupe Mondiale, Trophée Mondiale, FIF Castelfidardo, IAWK Germany and IAC Switzerland. Recent awards include, First Place in the Carmen Carozza International Memorial Competition and First Place in the International Elsie Bennett Composition Competition hosted by the American Accordionists' Association with his compositions in 2016 and 2017. Emmanuel has exceptional musical maturity, having composed over 50 original pieces. In the past he has studied with several world champion accordionists, especially with the late Alexander Sevastian. Emmanuel plans to further develop a career as composer and performer; performing solo, with ensembles and orchestras.

Jangles (Western)

Seattle based Western Swing band, "The Jangles," play both kinds of music: Country and Western Swing.

Country/Jazz singer and bandleader, Mike Faast, has assembled a group of top NW musicians to deliver a style of music they affectionately call "Hick Jazz." Featuring tight harmony and hot pickin', they're perfectly at home performing an acoustic, western cowboy concert or western swing dance in the tradition of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. 

With a repertoire that includes western classics, western show tunes, and a wide array of vintage country and western swing tunes, the Jangles are winning fans in bluegrass, western and western swing circles alike.

The Jangles are: Mike Faast, lead vocals and guitar; Roger Ferguson, guitar and fiddle; Paul Elliot, fiddle; Toby Hanson, accordion and piano; Mark Drake, Drums; Pat Rowe, steel guitar; and our newest member Mike Eytcheson on bass.

En Canto (Brazilian)

A multi-ethnic, female-led seven-piece, En Canto’s brazilian forró —a combination of baião, xote, and arrasta-pé—commands attention and inspires movement. We make people dance. Currently Seattle’s only forró band, En Canto plays monthly at Studio Current located in Capitol Hill - the nightlife and entertainment hub of Seattle. 

With degrees from prestigious universities mixed with decades of experience, En Canto is an exuberant sonic journey. Their songs link the past, the future and the enchanted moment.

En Canto performs regularly at music Festivals around the US and Canada. In 2018, En Canto was featured at the New York Forró festival alongside; Forró in the Dark, Luic Da Silva, Vitor Goncalves and Felipe Hostins. With influences like Luiz Gonzaga, Mestrinho, Dominguinhos, Arismar do Espirito Santo, and Sivuca, En Canto brings a piece of old and new world Brazil.

The members of the band- vocalist Adriana Giordano; accordion players Jamie Maschler and Gabe Hall-Rodrigues; flautist Meese Agrawal Tonkin; pianist Mike Withey; drummer Adam Kozie. When not playing, they are hosting jams, working at accordion shops, fixing drums, writing books, recording, or dancing. 

Northwest Accordionaires

The Northwest Accordionaires is an Accordion Orchestra comprised of 14 Accordions, plus Drums, Tuba, Bass, Vocals and Strings as well as other Orchestral Instruments depending on the requirements of the music from the era that is being performed. The Orchestra has performed in and around Seattle as well as Victoria, BC.


The members come from varied backgrounds, ranging from Engineers to Teachers.

Rehearsals are held on the Eastside. It has been in existence for 14 years. All the arrangements from Folk to popular Broadway tunes as well as Classical, are original and are penned by the Founder, Leader and Conductor Cooksie Kaserzon Kramer (A.T.C.L. L.T.C.L. A.B.C.A. L.B.C.A.). Originally from South Africa, she opened and ran the largest Music Studio in Johannesburg with three Accordion Orchestras, Junior, Intermediate and Advanced. Cooksie won the South African Accordion Championship and went to New York to represent South Africa and participate in the Coupe Mondiale in 1959 (check out her You-Tube Videos). She now resides in Kirkland, WA where she teaches Piano, Accordion and Organ. She is also the creator and President of the Eastside Jazz Club.

'We are very excited to be back on the stage in Leavenworth for LIAC''.

Spokane Accordion Ensemble

The Spokane Accordion Ensemble is a unique blend of players with a common love of music and the accordion. We really enjoy being together - rehearsals are serious but fun, too. The Ensemble had its beginning many years ago in the fifties, founded by Ilmar Kuljus, and started out as a group of accordion teachers and their advanced students. Its members are a dedicated group - several travel up to two to three hours each way to attend weekly rehearsals. The Ensemble enjoys entertaining for a wide variety of audiences and their repertoire ranges from Bach to old standards, Broadway melodies, Movie themes, Pops Music, Americana, and yes - a couple of polkas!

Our conductor for this performance is Beverley Fess from Canada.



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