Joaquin Diaz has traveled the world as an ambassador for merengue, the dance music that originated in the Dominican Republic. With his light-fingered accordion playing and infectious vocals steeped in Latin soul, Diaz is a master showman who connects directly and effortlessly audiences.

Diaz's repertoire is a mixture of traditional Afro-Caribbean music of the Dominican Republic and original tunes.

His musical career began on the streets of San Pedro de Macorix when he was forced to earn a living at age 9; by the age 12, he was playing in the most prestigious venues of the capital, Santo Domingo.

Still in his teens he performed at the PanAmerican Games in Puerto Rico accompanying the Dominican Republic's Ballets Folkloricos; that led to a performance at the home of then- President Joaquin Balaguer.

In 1990, he immigrated to Canada and now lives in Montreal. He and his band tour the world and Diaz continues to explore various accordion styles, ranging from Quebecois and Cajun to musette.

SCHEDULE: Friday, Dutton Street, 9 p.m.; Saturday, Dutton Street, 5 p.m.; Sunday, Dutton Street, 4:15 p.m.