The video was grainy at the beginning (http://youtu.be/xneK4TQVPa0) but after a few minutes or so it became crystal clear. What we were seeing was a future unfold like a time-warped tapestry in front of our youtubed eyes. Twenty years ago this future was foretold as clearly as if it were captured in a crystal ball.
How this child of The Netherlands absorbed this inspiration from his Dutch father’s love of a particular genre of Mexican music is a story that some day might end up as a feature film. But for now it’s happening in real time and is about to come to a neighborhood near you. In October of 2014 there will be no need to circle the globe to see this miraculous transformation continue to evolve.
Dwayne Verheyden was born on September 4th, 1991 in the small village of Montfort, located in the south of Holland. He frequently danced in his father’s arms to the sinuous rhythms and hypnotic melodies of Norteno, as performed by the giants of this accordion-centric genre.
By the age of seven he asked to take lessons on the piano accordion and less than five months later he was performing at his family’s church, as well as for the house-bound elderly in his community. A year later, he was playing on the local television station and accompanying his father to concerts featuring their favorite, the Latin Grammy Award-winning Mexican superstar, ‘Flaco’ Jimenez, whenever he toured in Holland. When Dwayne turned twelve (in 2003) he switched over to the more difficult chromatic button accordion, the instrument favored by ‘Flaco,’ who had now become the youngster’s idol.
Two years later he was interviewed on a local provincial network’s TV show and rapidly became a regional phenomenon. Just a year later, when he won the nationally televised talent show, ‘The Tent of Emil,’ he became known all over Europe.
His rise to worldwide fame was meteoric after that. What happened in the next three years was definitely the stuff of dreams:
2007…he won the prestigious Sjeng Award as the best accordion player in his country
2008…he got to perform and record with ‘Flaco’ (http://youtu.be/zn8yMMuAJSI) and the Grammy Award-winning Max Baca
2009…the world famous manufacturer of accordions & harmonicas, Hohner, endorsed him; he formed his own band, ‘The Tex-Mex Explosion” and they recorded their first CD; he was invited to perform at the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, Texas: he also performed at the World Harmonica Festival in Trossingen, Germany; he and his band played to an audience of 35,000 at the opening of the Carnival season in Limburg, The Netherlands.
The ‘capper’ however came just before the end of that epic year when ‘Flaco’ Jimenez gave an exclusive interview to San Antonio Street Talk where he revealed his plans to retire. When asked who would be able to fill his shoes, he answered “…there are many imitators and sound-a-likes, but none can compare to Dwayne Verheyden; and he’s from The Netherlands.” Dwayne was just eighteen years old at the time!
Since then the trajectory has continued onward and upward: starring at the Tejano Conjunto Festival and recording a critically acclaimed second CD on San Antonio’s prestigious Blue Cat Recording Studio’s label; performances in Sweden and Switzerland, as well as at the International Country Festival where he opened for the Bellamy Brothers; performances at the Conjunto Hall of Fame honoring Flaco’s brother (Santiago) on his induction, as well as being featured with Max Baca’s TexManiacs at the 30th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, and most recently being nominated for both Best New Tejano Artist of 2014 AND Best New Tejano Group.
Dwayne’s versatility is also a trait that can’t be overlooked. He can play tangos, waltzes, polkas, paso dobles, jazz, country, mariachi.with equal style, grace, and virtuosity. He’s also got a great tone and perfect ear when it comes to singing along with his playing, either solo or in conjunction with others in perfect three part harmony. In short, he is the complete package!
You will have a rare opportunity to see both Dwayne and Carolina de Holanda in action at the upcoming 5th Anniversary Rosarito Beach International Mariachi & Folklorico Festival. Their live performances are scheduled for both Friday and Saturday, October 3rd and 4th. This will be the first time that they have ever performed together in Mexico. You don’t want to miss this singular event.
Holland has sent us many gifts in their fabled history as one of the major exporting nations in the history of the world. Lindt, Gouda, Heinekens…and don’t forget those tulips! However, the most recent gifts that they have sent us…Carolina de Holanda and Dwayne Verheyden…are just as clear-cut indicators of their love as any of the rest!