Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Vintage ... Redux !!!!

Dear Friends,

We're proud to officially announce that after a 15-year hiatus, The New Vintage Polka Band will be back on polka stages starting with the 2011 Toronto Roncesvalles Polish Festival, September 17, 2011 ... and promises to be better than ever!!!

Whether honky, push or somewhere in between, these seven veteran Canadian polka musicians will "bring it huge" for polka fans throughout both the United States and Canada. With pedigrees of Eddie Guca and the Polish Canadians, John Gora and Gorale, The Canadian Fiddlestix. Atlantis, Polish Edition, The Good Time Boys, Polish Power, The Melodians, The Melo-Tones, Jan Cyman's Musicalaires and Phocus ... the guys of New Vintage will hit the polka road firing on all cylinders and can't wait to share their toe tappin' arrangements with all their friends and polka fans!!!

For all booking and recording information, please contact Michael Melymuka at 905-374-7643, or visit our Facebook page online (New Vintage Polka Band).

On behalf of all the boys in the band, thank-you in advance for your ongoing considerations and we look forward to sharing our polka "Serce & Soul" with you soon!!!

Best regards,


New Vintage personnel:

  • Mike Melymuka - Lead accordion, clarinet, sax, keyboards, vocals
  • Guy Robinson - Drums, vocals
  • Tony Winiarz - Concertina, vocals
  • Chris Heinrich - Bass, vocals
  • Ron Pietrkiewicz -Trumpet, vocals
  • Val Kukushkin - Trumpet, keyboards, vocals
  • Richard Ostasz - Rhythm accordion

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle again!

Dear Friends,

I know its been a long time ... but I finally found the inspiration to jump back into the blogosphere and share a thought or two.

During this blog's hiatus the polka scene has certainly encountered a few twists and turns ... but we'll save any thoughts in that regard for the pending post later next week. And ... yes after more than a few requests, I'll be digging out a few more vinyl classics for a redux of the Spin Class review.

However before I sign off of this quick note ... I certainly wanted to send our most sincere "get well soon" wishes for Kevin, Nick and Johnny from the PFB.

Thanks for your continued thoughts ... and I hope to see you all this summer!

Best regards,


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Something "NEW" in polkas!

Dear Friends,

Recently I had the privilege of a conversation regarding "new" polkas ... and if there were any favorites from the CD's produced over the past year or so.

In quick order, we qualified that "new" to us DID NOT include covers of pop/rock, country/bluegrass or old country folk tunes (from wherever) ... but actual new original polka compositions.

And while recognizing that we all love some of the great arrangements of covers (dating back to the 60's through to today's best efforts), we all wondered when was the last "ORIGINAL" polka to have any real commercial success/airplay ... and for that matter ... when was the last release from a polka band to feature even a majority of new original polka compositions???

We subsequently reminisced about the days when bands would produce albums featuring the majority of "their" compositions. Inevitably these bands through such developed not only their own indiginous repetoire but as well ... their own distinct "sound" (hmm ... now there's a concept eh!?!?).

Along those lines of thought, we humbly wondered if perhaps while "we" continue to wax poetic upon the semantics of the word "polka" (eg vs. Extreme Push) and the demographic ramifications of such, in actuality ... could the realized wane of polka popularity be instead attributed to the general lack of original artistic creativity in the gendre recently ... and not to a perceived literal stigma or lack of co-ordinated marketing efforts?

While I know how difficult it can be to compose music as well as come up with lyrics which today's public (en masse) can relate to on some level ... however ... can anyone tell me what other musical gendre has survived, thrived and evolved almost upon regurgitations of their past and/or covers of other gendre's efforts?

Simply put ... the foundation of polka was MUSIC and ALWAYS SHOULD BE MUSIC!! Not marketing/promotion ... not entertainment value and not a profitability/commercial factor. And while I fully recognize the importance of these secondary factors to the continued growth of polka music "commercially" ... without an focused and integral infusion of original creativity to broaden the "polka foundation", I sense OUR best efforts otherwise could be in vain.

What's even more perplexing is that while this concept was recognized and embraced by the successful pioneers of our gendre ... why most polka bands today have seemingly chosen to forego such and opt for different approaches?

I have to wonder if our efforts to getting polkas more profile and in demand might start with something as simple as polka bands (regardless of denomination - Chicago/Polish, Cleveland/Slovenian, Eastern, Dutch, German etc.) giving people something consistantly "new" to consume? Naturally not all offerings/creations will be a commercial success but they nonetheless will add to the very strength of our polka fabric. And anyway ... since when has success in polkas just centered around the almighty dollar and profitability? Whatever happened to the concept of musical "artistry"?!?

Well I need to get back to work (to support my polka "hobby"). Thanks for your considerations and I'd love to know if anyone has any thoughts relative to this posting.

Best regards,


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Re: Where's the Buzz (Google Posting by Kevin Altenburg)

Dear Friends and Polka Fans,

Can we take consolation in the fact that ... "It's always darkest before the dawn?!

Some might find it perverse ... but I am personally taking some solace that FINALLY people are starting to squawk ... and in some cases really squawk about the state of the polka scene in North America these days.

And while perhaps we haven't attained a critical mass of such yet ... I think its most obvious that a certain acrimony is building within the industry and I have to believe that it won't be long until a group of like-minded individuals are galvonized into some action of change (regardless of whether there's an actual general consensus of such).

This said ... as has been advocated previously ... perhaps the polka industry instead of wasting precious time trying to "reinvent wheels" ... could take a page out of other recent non-mainstream music success stories (e.g. Bluegrass) and see if there are any strategies and/or marketing concepts which we could immediately apply to Polka music in the near future ... in hopes of regaining a certain and lasting vitality within the gendre which we so love.

It's probably too much to hope for ... however ... wouldn't it be nice to see the various "national" polka associations work TOGETHER in co-operation to establish an "industry forum" to address all pending industry issues next year (featuring a panel with the likes of Jimmy Sturr, Walter Ostanek, Lenny Gomulka, Eddie Jr., Joey Miskulin, Johnny Gora, Gary Rhamy, Hank Guzevich etc.)?!?

Well here's to wishin' !!!!

Best regards,


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Spin Class #2 - June 2005

Dear Friends,

After a year of procrastination ... and with a little prompting from a few friends, I've finally got around to posting the second offering of my favourite vinyl classics from the Polka Dues record vault. Thanks goes out to Carol and Jan ... for getting me to once again dust off the phonograph and re-discover some more of the great albums which have inspired me throughout the years!!

So hang on ... as I present this month's list as follows:

Chicago-style/Polish (Push & Honky) polka favourites Vol. 2 (random order):

1) Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones - Polka Spotlite (BelAire 3025): There aren't many polka fans around who wouldn't consider this one of Eddie's best albums of all time. Eminating such all-time EBV classics as Judy, Sweet Bippy (Lenny's vocal feature), Love' em and Leave' em and I Love Everybody Waltz; its no wonder why I wish I could hop in a time machine back to '76 and catch this Versatones band live again!

2) Polka Family - All In A Day's Work (PF 1001): The very first Polka Family album I ever purchased at Ruda's ... and of which both Don and I concurred (if the band stuck together) would foretell of many great albums to come in the future. This production from 1986, while still having "The Family" in California, already had the band honing in on its now patented sound (mainly) through Hank's original compositions of Family polka hits such as Karolenka Polka, Polish Krakowianka, Girl Of My Dreams, and Music After Midnight.

3) New Brass - More Polka Sunshine (Bel-Aire 4039): The Brass' last album on the Bel-Aire label (before going to WAM), finds the band in their distinctive and renowned push style with their "pedal to the metal" from The Sun's Gonna Shine till the last cut of Rocks and Stones. While perhaps not the band's most prolific album (relative to Roll Out the Barrel, Solid Brass and Heavy On Polkas), this is none the less a record worthy of any fan's collection.

4) Dyna-Dukes - Play Polka Music You Can't Refuse (Bel-Aire 4026): Start with Down Home Polka, add My Girl's Getting Married (But Not To Me), Boo Hoo Polka and Sweethearts in Heaven and you've got the makings of one super polka album. The aforementioned Dan Gury original compositions placed the Dyna-Dukes huge on the 70's polka radar screen and gave notice that this outfit were certainly "Not (and never would be) Your Average Polka Band"!

5) The Modernaires - One Way Only (PP 1045): The first album from this great Buffalo band features one of my absolutely favourite polkas being "Polka World"!! I don't know many polka musicians who at one time or another haven't been able to somehow relate to those wonderful lyrics. While this band unfortunately didn't have a longer existence, they had an unquestionable musical impact on the polka industry which still is in evidence today.

6) Stan Golonka & His Chicago Masters - Here Comes Stas! (Ampol 5027): Upon returning from Erie Polka Days in 1980, I immediately sought out this album after hearing Stas and the Masters blaze a Honky trail of polkas within my young polka soul that weekend! While this record is chock full of hits (e.g. Maryszka Moja, Do I Love You, Karolinka, Tin Lizzie etc.), moreso this album conveys a great honky spirit which I first experienced within the hallowed Waldemeer Park Ballroom that Labour Day weekend (anyone else miss that!?!?).

7) Henny & the Versa J's - Home Style Polkas (WAM 5061): I take a little pride in stating that I was a fan of the Versa J's before the advent of Ryan's star on the polka scene. I distinctly remember back in late '82 the quizical looks of my bandmates as I raved about a new WAM album I'd gotten by a band out of PA called the Versa J's ... and then proceded to play them Bondura Polka, Minor Polka and I'm Confessin. While this is the Versa J's first album, this is proof positive that only a strong foundation can support such a long and endearing legacy!

8) Canadian Fiddlestix - Half Na Pol (WAM 4040/WRS 20040): I've oft been asked of which polka album is my favourite of all time and while I still balk at answering that conclusively, I know that in my heart of hearts, this album would have to be among my 3 finalists. Not only are the arrangements spectacular (thanks mainly to Gerry Jedraski and Ricky Malkiewicz), but very few albums have ever so pulled the fundamental strings of my polka soul as do the musical performances on every song throughout this album. While Maple Sugar is probably the best known polka from this record, my personal favs are Pass the Bromo, What Happened, Bandit, Polka z Pincowa and Our Wedding Day (Anniversary/Danube Waves) Waltz which for my money is the best ever recording of such bar none.

9) Bay State IV - Salutes The Polka Stars (PolkaTrain 8401): Anyone who ever saw the Bay State IV in their prime, had to wonder how these 4 musicians could consistently blow away most 6 or 7 piece polka bands. Billy, Jackie, Jimmy and Gary had a unique and special chemistry which fortunately for us, was not only conveyed through their music on the bandstand, but was also translated through their recordings. The Polka Stars Medley (featuring Marion Lush, Eddie B, Larry Trojak, Stas Golonka, Lenny Gomulka and Jimmy Sturr) on this album has since its release been a veritable polka hit, however don't discount any other cut ... as they all emulate a special polka magic.

10) Marion Lush - Na Zdrowie (Dyno 1606): If Frankie Yankovic's TV Polka's album was the seed from which my Cleveland-style roots developed, then this album would with out a doubt would be the seed of my Polish/Chicago-Style polka soul. This album my brother and I came to recognize as our Sunday morning Church wake-up call, as Dad would inevitably place this (or occasionally Maniu's Award Winning Album) on the stereo and do a 70's version of karaoke to Na Zdrowie, I'm Confessing, Johnny's Knocking, Matka Waltz and Moonlight Polka (usually while shaving!). When we first began putting a band together, I remember having a local bandleader who was mentoring us tell me ... when your band starts to FEEL like Lush's on High Bounce Polka (from this album) ... you'll know you're on the right track! After almost 30 years later ... I've learnt that never could any words be truer!!!

Cleveland/Slovenian Style & Eastern Style Polka favourites Vol. 2:

1) Stan Wolowic and The Polka Chips - Stash!!! (ABC 275): Yeah yeah ... I know I'm raving about this band again ... but hey ... The Polka Chips (with such little reference now) truly deserve the recognition. Actually, proof of the musical strength of this particular album is that in the almost 50 years since its release; at least 10 of its 12 songs are either subsequently covered on other bands' albums I have within my collection or have direct quotes (portions) of such significantly incorporated into other band's arrangements. A unique element of the Polka Chips is that while they sing traditonal lyrics, they also write corresponding English lyrics within their songs. Highlights are Marysia Polka, Flying High Polka, Come Back & Be My Sweetheart and Steel Factory Polka.

2) Gaby Haas (Canada's Mr. Polka) - Goes to Europe (London EBS4095): Gaby hailing out of Edmonton AB might be a complete unknown to many American Polka Fans but certainly was a force in the Canadian polka scene through the 60's and 70's ... especially in Western Canada. Producing good recordings with a Cleveland-style set-up (though augmented with guitar on most recordings ... providing a more "Western" sound), this particular album features polkas and waltzes from throughout Europe (Slovenia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, Holland, Spain, France, Italy and Sweden). Gaby's accordion playing is solid and the band truly hits stride on polkas such as Valley Spring (Slovenian), Sari Marais (Dutch), Wooden Heart (German), Unknown (Czech) and The Woodpecker Song (Italian).

3) Larry Chesky Orchestra - Recorded Live at a Polish Party Vol. 3 (Tifton TS74): While I know of many friends who have one or another of Larry's Polish Party albums, this one features a ton of all-time polka classics like Greyhorse, Ballroom, Ooh La La, Johnny's Knocking, Goral, No Beer in Heaven, Peanut Polka and TicToc. Listening to this album, I'm immediately timewarped to being a kid at a Polish Wedding ... back when listening to a polka band live beside the bandstand or stage would always raise the hair on the back of my neck!!! You know ... I can still get goosebumps listening to the trumpet intro on Pukaj Jasiu.

4) Frankie Yankovic and his Yanks - Its Polka Night (Columbia 974): This recording produced after Blue Skirt and Baby Doll had already established Frankie as America's Polka King also features the great Johnny Pecon on accordion. A few of the very first polkas I learned "by ear" were off this record and to this day, some of my favourite Cleveland style polka arrangements to play are this album's Oh Marie, Three Yanks Polka , Milwaukee Polka and (Cleveland) Polka Town.

5) Joe Macielag and his Melody Bells Orchestra (Silverbell 10162) - Marysia: While being another one of my Dad's Sunday morning karaoke albums, the fact that Joe was fronting a 10 piece band meant there are some truly neat arrangements and solos peppered throughout this recording (which thankfully gave us a break from Dad's vocals!). Joe and The Melody Bells besides being the featured band on WGR TV2's popular "Pic-a-Polka Show", were a Buffalo polka mainstay throughout the 60's and continue to perform occasionally today.

6) Frank Wojnarowski and his Orchestra - Matka, For My Mother (Dyno 1635): Besides featuring the gold record title track (which incidentally Frank both wrote and recorded), this album has the Wojnarwoski band in typical top notch performances of Catch Me, Cuzzin Stan, My Mother Told Me and Cardinal Polka.

7) Ted Maksymowicz and his Orchestra - Polkas 'Round the World (ABC 188): This polka big band which performed weekly an Manhattan's famous Roseland Ballroom during the late 50's, produced a brilliant album featuring polkas with Polish, Hungarian, Russian, German, Ukrainian and Lithuanian flavours. Hits which received significant airplay in this record's heyday (and since) included Domino Polka, 8th Street Kolomeijka, Finger Polka and Merrily We Go Around.

8) Ray Henry and his Orchestra - Violins Play for Me (Dana 1228): With vocals by Eddie Kosak and Stas Jaworski, this album is a virtual classic ... no matter which way you cut it! Besides the band's performance being as precise as a swiss watch, this album offers up such soon to be polka standards such as Violins Play for Me, Over My Cradle, Jedziemy Jedziemy and Plynie Woda.

9) Walter Ostanek and his Band - Polka & Waltz Music Today & Forever (SC 700): Though a fairly obscure recording by Walt which preceded his 3 Grammy awards, this recording includes a couple of kicking instrumentals (Stillman's and Bernie's) as well as number of polkas which feature Walter's (now) longtime vocalist Murray McFadgen in some of my favourite recordings of him with the band (i.e. Y Viva Espana, Frances Darling Frances & Jo Ann Polka).

10) Joe Jedraski Orchestra - Toronto Swings the Polka (Jo 1001): When you congregate some of Canada's best big band musicians and have them perform great arrangements of previously unrecorded material, inevitably you're going to come up with something especially rare and special. This album of which I'm unsure of the U.S. distribution, certainly is a recording which subsequently provided more than its share of inspiration and effect upon many Canadian polka bands in the 60's and 70's. The arrangements were by Canadian jazz legend Jerry Toth (orchestrator and conductor of the famous and original Hockey Night in Canada theme) and Joe's brother Gerry Jedraski (later of the Canadian Fiddlestix). Musicians of special note within this record are Joe Jedraski and Erich Traugott on trumpets, Jerry Toth and Gerry Jedraski on Saxophone/Clarinet and George Onuska on drums.

Best regards,

Mike "Twink" Melymuka Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The "True" Sound of Polish Polkas ?!?!?!?!??!

Last weekend on Greg Chwojdak's Buffalo radio show, I understand that it was stated (not by Greg btw!!!) that the "TRUE" Polish Polka sound or instrumentation was "a horn and a reed" versus the 2 trumpet approach so prevalent within so many polka bands both past and present (e.g. EBV, TBC, PCM, Chicago Push, Dynatones, New Brass, Marion Lush,The Sounds etc.)

And while it should be noted that some of the aforementioned bands in the past did in fact have a fulltime reedman, in most cases, I believe they still had 2 trumpets. Of course today, many of these bands have one of the hornmen occasionally doubling on stick or sax which inevitably provides additional facets of musicality and creativity within such bands.

With due humility though ... what's confusing me is ... since when has a hard right or wrong been established in this regard?! Frankly, I'd truly be interested in the qualification of such statement.

I mean ... would any knowledgable Polish Polka musician or fan qualitatively say that Blaz & the Versatones were any less a "true"polka band than Happy Louie, TBC any less "true" than Polka Family, Dynatones any less "true" than Gorale, New Brass any less "true" than The Trel Tones?

And don't get me wrong ... some of my favourite bands and recordings had such instrumentation (Lil' Wally, original G-Notes, Polka Family etc.) ... however personally ... the actual instrumentation was never a primary criteria for my enjoyment ... versus the actual performance and musicality of such. Leading me to wonder ... am I now alone in left field with this perspective!?

While generally in polka music ... there has always been "different strokes for different folks" (Eastern, Chicago, Cleveland, German etc.) ... I always appreciated and respected the integrity of thePolish/Chicago style for having the foundation to support the performance spectrum of the Ampolaires to Freeze Dried!

Am I to understand this is now changing?! Inquiring minds want to know.

Best Regards,

Michael Melymuka

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The "polka compass", trees and theory of evolution

Music is and always wlll inevitably be like a tree ... always branching out into new directions ... some offshoots thriving ... while others for whatever reasons don't quite.
Relatively, I tend to believe that polka music is like the old locust standing guard outside my window here in the office, ever sprawling ... no matter if I care it not to (even after years of consistent pruning). Interesting enough, I also note that even though its "umbrella" is quite large and substantial, every year new "shoots" still spring out of the trunk.

Well I could metaphor till the cow's come home ... but I trust most have been able to decipher the message somewhere between the lines ... you can't stop change, growth or evolution without killing the very thing that which you so cherish... and frankly you're foolish to even try. But, even if such change isn't your cup of tea, it doesn't have to compromise your preferences ... especially with regard to polka music today. If you don't always appreciate such efforts (e.g. my Dad!) for whatever reasons ... don't sweat it ... turn the dial, or pop-in your favourite CD or tape and life will continue on within the aesthetic you desire.

This said, though only in my early 40's, I've come to realize that usually life seeks a natural balance. And while within the polka scene there has recently been some very progressive and essentially creative endeavours ... its only a matter of time till a neoclassic band(s) of some vintage emerges (or re-emerges) to continue such balance.

In the meantime, on looking at polkas from the "big picture", what's happening today is really no different than what's been transpiring in the polka scene over the past 100 years. Are there many popular bands still thriving within the stylings of Ignacy Podgorski or Bruno Kryger?! Too much of a stretch ... okay ... what about the sounds and arrangements of early Blaz (with Chet Kowalkowski), Marion Lush or Frank Yankovic recordings? How do these stack up against even their own recordings 20 years hence (e.g. EBV "Polka Parade" versus "Wide World of Polkas" or Maniu's "Na Zdrowie" versus "On the Road Again").

I tend to think I'm as open-minded with regard to polkas as they can come ... but even I now realize time has affected me to a certain degree.  As while I truly appreciate and recognize the musical talents and creativeness of Brave Combo, Freeze Dried etc. (and do choose to listen to their CD's on occasion), I can't say they're my absolute favourite recordings... HOWEVER it should be noted that they are of my 9 and 12 year old daughters!

And there my friends lies the rub ... in that I liked some of Dad's records (and still truly cherish them today) ... some I thought were pure "trash" in comparison to the relatively progressive offerings of my teens and early 20's (i.e. Chicago Push, TBC, Dynasticks, The Sounds, Magitones etc.). History repeated itself recently when my girls asked ME to play The Beat and some "cool" polkas (e.g. Another Girl) versus a classic Happy Louie CD which was playing (and which I hadn't heard in a while).

And ... while alone in my office later that night, I found myself suddenly appreciating my parents' ( and grandparents') generations perspectives just a little more ... and proceded to burn a few of Dad's favourite records from the 50's so that he could enjoy them while "out and about". Of course that is ... till I get into the car with him, pop out his treasured Marion Lush Greatest Hits CD and watch him grimace as I subject him to the latest polka "adventure"!!!

Best regards,

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Spin Class #1 (vinyl classics)

This month's Chicago-style favourites (random order):
1) Eddie Blazonczyk and the Versatones - Roaring Polkas:  An album featuring for my money, the quintessential Versatones band with the Tokarz Boys, Jerry Darlak and Lenny.

2) TBC - Winning Combination: I remember my Dad asking me if there was a problem with the turntable upon hearing the chord change subs on Singing Birds Polka ... meanwhile I was in complete ecstasy listening to Frankie harmonically going where most couldn't conceive!

3) Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push - From the Polka Capital: I absolutely loved that first Push band and this album has them in full flight. The vocals (especially between Lenny and Bobby) are pure nirvana and inertia of the band could power a flight to Mars ... and back!!

4) Dynatones - Six Million Dollar Band: The album that made me a bona fide Dynatones fan. This record with the vintage foundation of Scrubby and Larry Trojak (both instrumentally and vocally) is a definite requisite for any Polish polka collection.

5) Trel Tones - Polka Encounters of the Honky Kind: What ... ME becoming a fan of honky?!? Yeah, I can still remember trying to comprehend that very concept ... but here I was not only getting into this album, but subsequently also giving Ray Jay, Stas Golonka and even Dad's Lil Wally albums "new" listens and appreciations. One of my regrets is not seeing this rendition of the Trel Tones live.   

6) G-Notes - At Last: The very first album I purchased by myself at Ruda's Records in Buffalo (Thanks Don ... you're still within my thoughts!!). Featuring Gino Kurdziel, the Karas Brothers and Jerry Miesowicz, this album not only is an alltime favourite of mine, but also set a benchmark for polka musicality subsequently rarely ever met.

7) Eddie Guca and The Polish Canadians - Polkas Made in Canada: Where would Polish polkas be today without the musical influence and contributions of Eddie Guca? Within this album not only are the seeds of the Canadian Fiddlestix but also a polka style seemingly reflected later in many other bands (TPM, DynaBrass & PCM etc.).

8) Heavy Chicago - Lite & Lively: I remember searching high and low for this album (particularly Crazy Stick Polka) and upon my first listen, knowing that in its entirety this record was a classic!

9) Rick Vinecki's Melody Kings - Stoned On Polkas: Though I remember my parents questioning the moral implications of the title track, I just couldn't get enough of this album! This record's drive and musical adventurism can still provide a certain invigoration almost 20 years later! 

10) Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue - The Best Part of Polka Town: What a blast! From Pod Mostem to Hosa Dyna, the band's energy and arrangements sent a flare that something new was definitely afoot in Chicago during the early 80's. I still remember the hair on the back of my neck standing on end as I played the album on our stereo for the first time! 

This month's Cleveland/Eastern style favourites (random order):

1) Stan Wolowic and the Polka Chips - The Second Album: Hail the band which "brought a new and greater respect for the time-honored Polka into millions of American homes" via their national ABC-TV show back circa 1960. This band whose arrangements could easily still cut it in today's scene, from my humble perspective were way ahead of their time. 

2) Kenny Bass and his Polka Poppers - Snap Happy Polkas: Though I didn't get this album till I was into my 20's (and it was already at least 20 years old), it quickly became established as a "keystone" within my Cleveland collection. While the Side One medleys are quite enjoyable, Side Two features a number of classic Cleveland polka charts.

3) Walter Ostanek and The Polka Schmaltz Band - Non Stop Dancing: An album which through the years, I have always held as one of my true personal favourites not only for its diversity, but also for the quality of the band's "sound", even with 70's recording technology. Unabashedly, it was Andy Spinosa's playing throughout this album which inspired me to learn the saxophone and clarinet.

4) Joe Fedorchak Orchestra - Second Time Around: Where do I start? Tomazic's, Penn Hills?? To a great degree it was this album which re-ignited my interest in Cleveland Style polkas while I was actively playing and immersed in Chicago Style bands. If you love Slovenian polkas ... this album is a must! 

5) Gene Wisniewski & The Harmony Bells Orchestra - Beautiful Doll: Besides the music on the record ... one of the first album covers I ever really took notice of!! If you enjoy big band polkas, this album has it all ... including a "calypsolka (calypso/polka)"! The band really kicks into gear though on Hop Scotch and the title track, Beautiful Doll Polka. 

6) Johnny Vadnal & Orchestra - Good Time Polkas: One of the first albums I ever remember putting the accordion on and playing along with. The Vadnal band had such a unique style and I still love the fact that their energy and love for polkas were so easily conveyed throughout this album.  

7) Frankie Yankovic & the Yanks - TV Polkas: THE foundation stone of my polka spirit and love ... with even a couple of the waltzes on this album among my most favourite songs. Anything more said only pales beside the music within this recording. 

8) Jimmy Sturr - Happy Snappy Polkas - This pre-Grammy era album featuring Gene Wisniewski on the vocals has certain joie de vivre lacking from many of the "formula" albums of today. PS ... Jimmy, do you still have the shirt you're wearing on the album cover ... or do you know where we can purchase some for band uniforms!?

9) D-Drifters 5 - On Tour: I couldn't go without including this classic Ukrainian polka album out of Manitoba Canada. When it comes to accordion virtuosity, few can hold a candle to Dave Romanyshyn and this album not only showcases his talents but also those of Yogi Klos on fiddle and vocals. Let you in on a secret wish ... that the D-Drifters get back to their recording roots and whip something up of this nature today!!

10) Bill Gale & his Orchestra - Polka Pops: Absolutely NO album "swings" a polka harder than this baby. The big band arrangements are all "top notch" and even today worthy of inclusion of in ANY "name" swing band's dance book. Whether a big band fan or not, if you can ever get your hands on this recording, I know you won't be dissapointed!

Best regards,

Monday, July 19, 2004

Overture ... hit the lights ...

Dear Friends,
Like a fine wine ... this blog some 35 years in the making is available to those connoisseurs of the polka industry ... interested not only in preservation but also its further development.
Before embarking on this journey though, might I suggest a few elementary"house rules" which I believe will best facilitate this resource:
1. Please no direct personal, cultural or racial slights or insults (However, this doesn't preclude subjective perspectives or personal opinions).
2.  Encourage thoughts and posts through "open comments" (which thought provoke and seed discussions) versus "closed statements" (which tend to stunt discussions).
3. Please respect others' opinions and comments even when divergently differing than yours. Ideally I would hope that a mature decorum be maintained within this blog ... yet still be both stimulating and entertaining.
I trust all interested parties will truly enjoy this new platform of discussion and I look forward with eager anticipation to the days ahead.
Best regards,

Michael Melymuka