Warning: Bring Your Dancing Shoes

Joaquin Diaz says he didn’t choose the accordion — the accordion chose him.

  • Feb. 8, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Joaquin Diaz says he didn’t choose the accordion — the accordion chose him.

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Diaz was surrounded by the sounds of merengue music, but his father forbade him from touching the accordion he kept in the family home.

“I took advantage of his absences to explore the instrument until the day he arrived home from work sooner than usual: he caught me playing my first merengue called ‘Juanita Morel.’ I was 9 years old,” recalls Diaz. “From that day on, I went along with him to private parties. He played the Tambora and I, his accordion.”

It was the beginning of Diaz’s passion for the ultra-danceable music of his homeland — a passion that has continued despite the fact the accordionist now lives in Montreal. He relocated to Canada in 1990 after meeting his Quebecois wife in the Dominican Republic.

“She was teaching English in a small school in San Pedro de Macoris, my hometown,” says Diaz. “Her interest in our culture and our music was remarkable. Her father was an accordionist, and she brought me to Quebec to meet her family and to visit the country. And then I stayed.”

Now, Diaz brings merengue rhythms to audiences all over the world, including Victoria, which he’ll be visiting for the first time this Friday. (“Bring your dancing shoes,” he cautions.) He and his band are known for drawing on Dominican traditions while also finding inspiration in the accordion music from other countries.

“Certain styles of music really interested me, such as Tex-Mex, that I learned during my stay in San Antonio, Texas in the company of Flaco Jimenez or Mingo Saldivar,” says Diaz. “Also, the music of Eastern Europe and their incredibly virtuosic accordionists impressed me. Here in Montreal, I have accordion-playing friends who came over from France and Italy.”

But while he enjoys blending accordion music the world over, Diaz says it’s the traditional tunes of his homeland that are most important to him.

“Merengue is the ‘flag’ of my country,” he says. “What inspires me most is the traditional side of this music which helps to keep me in touch with my roots.”

As they say, there’s no place like home. M

Accordionist Joaquin Diaz’s whips passion for merengue

Just Posted

WHAT’S ON TAP: Howl Brewing joins the pack of local craft beer operations

Monday beer columnist Matt Poirier checks out a new microbrewer in North Saanich

Charman’s name will live on through Victoria Conservatory of Music bursary fund

Iconic arts patron Eric Charman thrilled to see financial assistance fund growing

Women’s March Victoria keeps movement going with UVic symposium

Discussions, community building and fundraising event highlights women of colour, LGBTQ, immigrants

ROCK THE SHORES 2018: A variety of musical flavours throughout weekend in Colwood

Headliners Brian Wilson, Sheepdogs and X Ambassadors part of diverse lineup festival

ARTISTS TOUR: Follow the fish to Metchosin and East Sooke

Stinking Fish group presents its annual summer studio tour July 27-31

WATCH: Trades workers brought into spotlight at Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Sheet metal, roofing apprentices compete for national bragging rights

Reviews are in for B.C.-shot ‘Skyscraper’ action movie

City’s film liaison recalls four days of filming at city hall last fall, with Dwayne Johnson on set

B.C. singer up against Shania Twain for Canadian country music award

Madeline Merlo and Shania Twain are two of five nominees for female artist of the year.

Nicolas Cage films in B.C. town

Hollywood actor filming A Score to Settle in North Okanagan

Canadian actress Sandra Oh makes Emmys history with ‘Killing Eve’ nomination

Oh made history as the first Asian woman to be nominated for an Emmy Award for lead actress in a drama series.

Mexican culture comes alive during Festival Mexicano

Free two-day festival happens this weekend in Victoria’s Centennial Square

NEW FESTIVAL: Vegans of Victoria unite

First ever Vegtoria features all things vegan, July 21 in Centennial Square

Victoria lotto winner looking forward to Mexican holiday with family

Angella Gordon-Spence won weekly $1,000 payday for 25 years on Set for Life scratch game

Justin Bieber confirms engagement to American model Hailey Baldwin

Bieber confirmed the engagement in an Instagram post Monday, July 9, 2018, that included a photo of Baldwin kissing him.

Most Read