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.
Warning: Bring Your  Dancing Shoes

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Port Alberni author Diane Dobson has put together a collection of childhood memories, with proceeds going towards the Ty Watson House. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni writer looks through the eyes of a child

Book raises funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society

The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach has temporarily closed its doors to the public as of Nov.18. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: The Old Schoolhouse Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach closes until 2021

TOSH takes proactive approach to ‘protect the well-being of the community’

Edie Daponte and Joey Smith share the stage Saturday at the Sid Williams Theatre. The show is also being livestreamed. Photo supplied
Edie Daponte brings show up-Island

Second World War tribute live and livestreamed in Courtenay and Campbell River

Most Read