Squeezing out some great zydeco music

"My uncle was an accordion player," said Speck, who grew up in Auburn. "Lots of kids played."

When he was 8, Speck became one of them. He also plays keyboard, but takes a special satisfaction in accordion.

"There's something about accordion," he said. "When people hear it, they turn their heads and start smiling."

It's not simply the accordion's sound that makes Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers shows fun, he said. It's the type of music they play: lots of familiar pop songs mixed with the some original numbers.

"Make sure you put your dancing shoes on," he said, noting that the crowd at his band's shows spends much of the time on its feet.

That's typical at Freedom Park, where bands play in the amphitheater alongside the Mohawk River and audience members watch from blankets and lawn chairs, often eating dinner from nearby Jumpin' Jacks. Nell Burrows, president of the Freedom Park Foundation, said the group puts an emphasis on local musicians when planning the summer schedule, although it also tries to bring in one "bigger artist" each year.

This year, the headliner is singer and guitarist Grant Austin Taylor, who will play on Saturday, July 17. Just 13, Taylor appeared last year at Art Bike festival in Schenectady, where Burrows had a chance to see him play.

"I just thought he was phenomenal," she said. "I think he has great, great potential."

Still to come in June at Freedom Park are the Music Company Orchestra, a classical group playing on Sunday, June 27, and the New York Players, who will perform "party rock" on Wednesday, June 30. Acts are scheduled every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the summer, and sometimes on other days, too. All shows start at 7 p.m.

Donations help keep the shows free.

"We couldn't do this without individual support and concert sponsors," Burrows said.

She noted that this was not an easy year for fundraising " some longtime sponsors bowed out and others had to scale back. But other businesses and people gave for the first time.

"We get lots of feedback," Burrows said. "People send notes with their membership dues saying they enjoy the concerts. Or they'll go up to the announcer at the show and say thank you."

For a full schedule of Freedom Park shows, visit www.freedomparkscotia.org.


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