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Blender magazine, July 2006


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I believe there's a Polka Hall of Fame in Cleveland, or somewhere near there (Euclid maybe?).

As there appears to be somewhat of a link (at least to me) between polka, ska, conjunto, zydeco, and beach music, as far as the beat goes, just try to imagine "Go All The Way" done in all of these styles!!!!

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Yes, Frankie really furthered the cause of polka music. Some of the "old timers," like Walt Solek, of Connecticut, really turned the interest of younger people to polka music. I was privileged to meet Walt at the Hunter Mountain polka festiveal in Hunter, NY in 1980. This man was said to have so many polka groupies in his day that he was unequalled. I believe it, because I saw 80 year old women asking him if he remembered their "romances"! Pretty cool when you're a guy in your 80s! smile

If you really want to hear authentic polka music, get a copy of one of the recordings of Bruno Mikos and His Harmony Stars from Youngstown, OH. Bruno was the very first polka vocalist I ever heard, and his Chicago style singing is what intrigued me and drew me in to polka music. His band broke up and later reformed under Rich Benkowski, also from OH, to become The Brass Connection. It broke up again (sound like any groups we know?!) and reformed under Frank Liszka, a very gifted trumpet player and songwriter from Mansfield, OH, as a second incarnation of The Brass Connection, with, of all people, *Bruno Mikos' son* as the concertina player. He is an extremely talented concertina player and is responsible for much of the great sound of the current band. He also told me that Jerry Darlak was one of his concertina idols. Isn't it magical how things "come back around"?

At any rate, Bruno is the master polka vocalist of all time in my book.

smile --Darlene

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Also highly recommended, both for the polka music and the sheer hilarity - "The Last Polka", starring Eugene Levy & John Candy as The Shmenge Brothers (of SCTV fame), Stan and Yosh (Candy on clarinet, Levy on the 'cordeen). A great parody of Scorsese's "The Last Waltz", it's a documentary of the Shmenge's last show, and features such polka "greats" as Linsk Menjuvic (Rick Moranis), doing polka versions of "On The Road Again" and the Doors' "Touch Me", and the Lemon Sisters (Catherine O'Hara, her sister & Robin Duke). To quote from the Shmenges' greatest hit, "Cabbage Rolls & coffee....mmm, mmm, good!"

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Also highly recommended, both for the polka music and the sheer hilarity - "The Last Polka", starring Eugene Levy & John Candy as The Shmenge Brothers (of SCTV fame), Stan and Yosh (Candy on clarinet, Levy on the 'cordeen). A great parody of Scorsese's "The Last Waltz", it's a documentary of the Shmenge's last show, and features such polka "greats" as Linsk Menjuvic (Rick Moranis), doing polka versions of "On The Road Again" and the Doors' "Touch Me", and the Lemon Sisters (Catherine O'Hara, her sister & Robin Duke). To quote from the Shmenges' greatest hit, "Cabbage Rolls & coffee....mmm, mmm, good!"

THIS "DOCUMENTARY" is in many ways far superior to "This Is Spinal Tap"-- especially the aformentioned tunes, "Cabbage Rolls & Coffee" and Rick Mornais' Comic Apex: The medley where he sings The Doors' "Touch Me" and "On The Road Again"-- PURE COMIC GENIUS!!!!!!!!

It's long out of print & fetches a pretty penny these days.....

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Hey as a matter of interest. Can someone remind me how a thread about an article in Blender magazine about interviews with Eric and Wally is now becoming a history lesson in Polka.

I aint complaining - just fascinated spin

Muzza

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Tony,

Substitute that lite beer with some Olde English 800 and we're talkin' about a SERIOUS party here!

Besides, it reminds me of a polka tune called "In Heaven There Is No Beer (That's Why We Drink It Here)"

... sorry, I'm just in one of those kinda moods here. Must be Tony's crack & meth :p

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I'll get back to the topic, but I really want to check out that Polka stuff since I'm learning different drum styles.

A studio scenario that would give credit just for an intro riff or chords- Everyone's sitting around, and another song is needed for an album. No one knows, yet, what the new song is. Then, someone plays some intro riffs while another member says, "That's an idea"! If that idea or concept was first in the song, then that would bring writing credit just for that "less-than-one-percent" of the song. Then someone else writes the lyrics and gets writing credits, too. Later, in the liner notes for the song, someone can mention who did whatever they wrote or played. Then you could say, "Now it's fifty/fifty credit for the song", even though someone else wrote far more music, melody and lyrics.

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To quote Eric and at the same time provide a collective answer to everyone else who has ganged up against me on this topic:

"Trindy, instead of chastising the person who's right, why not tell the guy who's dead wrong that life is too short to keep 'clinging doggedly' to a faulty point of view. Wouldn't that make a little more sense? That would go a long way toward 'healing old wounds' as well. I'd like public apology for making me out to be some sort of thieving bastard to anyione who'd listen. I'm the one who's been wronged here, not Wally."

Well, I guess if who's "wrong" and who's "right" have already been defined by default, then the argument is over, right? Way to cut off all questioning.

And of course, most fans are not going to question that viewpoint, but rather rush to defense of their hero...

Look. It's this simple. I'm just a fan, OK? I'm a fan who fell in love with a band many, many years ago when I was just a kid who had no clue that life and people were so complex. I found it greatly upsetting that the music I loved so much was ultimately ruined and destroyed by the very human disagreements of a group of guys who couldn't agree on who deserved credit for what and which direction they should go in if they wanted to be a success with anyone beyond people like me who "got" them but frankly were not really helping to pay their bills.

Today, after all these years, I see these differences and disagreements of the past finally put aside so these wonderful talents can make music again. And what is it that I see? It doesn't last long. Before I know it, all the parts are dissolving again as two certain people retreat to their same old corners with their same old arguments. And yeah, I mean Wally too. It takes two to tango.

I can't even tell you how depressed it makes me to see this happen.

For my part, I wish Eric would be a little less concerned with being "right" for a change, and I wish Wally would stop using his wife as his mouthpiece for whatever resentments he has and just speak up and clear the air himself. I think neither stance is really doing either a whole lot of good. I really, really wish, that if "life is short" as Eric says it is (and personally, given some of what has happened to me in my life, I just may have more authority to say that than he does), he would remember it too. I wish BOTH these guys could find a way to lay it to rest so the music I love so much could resume.

I know. That's really selfish of me, isn't it? Here I am, this selfish fan who only cares because I don't want the music to stop. I'm like someone in a bar who takes it personally when the jukebox breaks down. Slamming the top of it repeatedly and saying "QUIT THIS CRAP AND PLAY, DAMMIT!" isn't going to help, is it?

OK. But believe me, I'm not "just" blaming one part of the "jukebox" on this problem. I know it's more complicated than that. And yeah, I know people are not jukeboxes. And maybe I'm not treating Eric or Wally fairly because the truth of the whole matter is I just want them to put down the guns and do what they do best, and when I say that, I say that without caring about having a big judge-and-jury trial over "who's wrong" and "who's right."

All I can say is this. If these guys never play together again--which I dearly hope is not true--because once again they couldn't keep the eruptions of decades-old grudges from ruining it all--well, it sure won't be saying to me that "life's too short." It'll be saying that grudges are more important than art and clinging stubbornly to "rightness" is more important than music.

But then again, what do I know? I'm not a musician or a songwriter. I'm just a fan. A selfish fan who wanted to hear my favorite band go on playing together for as long as they were still alive and still could.

I admit that.

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Oh, and I apologize for interrupting you guys' very important discussion of polka music to restart an argument that all of you ended long ago, as far as you were concerned. Living so near the Polka Hall of Fame, I should have known better, really.

And "The Last Polka" is, indeed, a work of genius.

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