Polka CD Releases

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Canada-Steve

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Sep 20, 2006, 1:28:22 PM9/20/06
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Is it really necessary for many Polka bands to release a new CD every
year? They usually consist of 12 to 14 tracks. One weak attempt at an
original Waltz (but likely a Lush cover), an equally weak Oberek (or a
lack-luster rendition of an old classic), and then ten to twelve Polkas
made up of Country & Western covers; some original sub-par English
tunes (how many words can possibly rhyme with HEART!); and a few
retreads thrown in to fill out the deck (is there a band that hasn't
included "Pennsylvania Hills" on one of their recordings?).
Why not put out a "Live" album for good measure? Almost every attempt
since the Dynatones' "Live Wire" has lacked any spontaneity.
Is there that much money to be made in a CD release? I doubt it.
Maybe everyone is hoping to get that elusive Grammy Nomination so they
can take a trip to LA and rub shoulders with the "B" list musicians
that attend the "Awards given out earlier this evening" ceremony. When
will the NARAS notice that you can barely differentiate between a 2006
nominated recording and a 1996 nominated recording? Isn't anyone in the
industry just the least bit embarrassed that there have only been 5
different winners in 21 award ceremonies? Sturr has won or shared 15
times!!!!!
It's time to rationalize the CD releases and to start putting out some
unique, quality efforts. Most current efforts are a discredit to the
Polka industry.

Suds

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Sep 20, 2006, 2:59:11 PM9/20/06
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Hi Canada-Steve,

Not sure if it's necessary, but my guess is that some polka bands might
think it's important to put out a CD every yerar just to stay on the
radar. There can't be much real money in it. Even though winning a
Grammy is very unlikely, maybe the chance to win an IPA or USPA award
makes it worth their while. Like you, I think polka music would be
better off if bands took their time and put out something that's really
good and fresh - even if it's every couple of years. By the way, are
you a band leader? Sounds like you've been to the Grammies.

Amber F.

jro...@optonline.net

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Sep 20, 2006, 6:26:44 PM9/20/06
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A clever and well-informed contribution: it would be great to have more
quality in recordings, as opposed to quantity. A lot of recordings fit
the description you give, but fortunately quite a few rise above it,
too, I think ( see previous threads on peoples' favorite recordings and
related subjects).

tom.wan...@gmail.com

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Sep 20, 2006, 9:44:42 PM9/20/06
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Steve,

I guess I'm suprised you feel this way. I'd also like to ask what you
consider a good recording? Please list a few of your favorites.

It is my opinion that your opinion of original material is a bit
skewed. If you don't like the original material, fine. But to say it is
sub-par is ridiculous. Have you really listened to some of the
classics? The lyrics are dated by todays standards, but writers have
been writing about the same things for 60 years. If you don't like the
re-recording of classics, fine. I tend to like an old time classic
re-done by some of todays bands. And no, not everyone recorded
Pennsylvania Hills.

So there you have it. Can't do any covers, or old time classics, or
originals.

Please tell me what consists of a great recording so I can go to work
on creating a 'rational' one for your collection. Your post suggests
it's a collection of instumentals, never heard by anyone.

Not a great marketing idea or promotional concept. BTW....When was your
last CD released?

Tom Wanderlich
The Knewz

Troy Gawlak

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Sep 20, 2006, 10:05:37 PM9/20/06
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I agree that a lot of songs are just remakes of Lush waltzes or Wally
obereks (or at least arrangments). And sometimes I can't help but wonder if
younger polka fans even know who the original artists are on these
songs....they just love the push style or polka country style remakes of
them, yet it's so easy to NOT like the "old folk's polka music" where they
actually originated. Lest we forget, how many of our "new" songs that are
coming out yearly were made famous by... oh say, Blazonczyk for example 40
years ago, but the arrangement was recorded by Marisha Data 50 years ago,
but the song came from some Polish village 120 years ago! However, I see
nothing wrong with recording these songs, it's how we keep them alive.

But, I do think we could be doing a lot more to preserve/revive plenty of
old and obscure songs. Example: When was the last time you heard somebody
record a Steve Adamczyk tune? Or a Mickey Krupski tune? (anybody out there
even heard of him?!) Or a Steve Fornek song? We just keep recording the same
songs over and over again, as great as they are, how many times can one
remake "Zielona Trawecka" or "Pukaj Jasiu"? Dig up some OLD recordings! Be
they Chicago style, Eastern style, or straight from Poland itself. There are
so so many beautiful, catchy, lyrically masterful, awesome Polish songs that
nobody records (especially some amazing minor key tunes). A country with
over 1000 years of history, is gonna produce more than "Szla Dziewecka" or
"Goralska Polka".

Dig deep ye great polka musicians! Find thy Polish roots! Break out the old
78's! Order some goralska muzyka from Poland! It may sound rediculous coming
from a 20 year old, but... could it hurt to throw a couple songs on there
that nobody, other than a handful of people, will recognize?

Just my thoughts.

-Troy


Zee Zee

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Sep 21, 2006, 9:27:15 AM9/21/06
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All good points, but us listeners out here are pretty bored. I can walk
into a dance hall today, having been away from polkas for twenty or
thirty years, and still here the same tunes being played live. That's
not keeping it alive, that's over-killing it. Come on musicians! No
wonder you have an attendance problem! No one wants to pay to hear a
broken record, much less over the course of twenty or thirty years! I
could probably only name four or five brilliant writers today who are
coming out with songs that don't insult my intelligence, ones that
sound good enough for my non-polka friends to listen to. My husband and
I like the older tunes, but we need more new good sounding original
songs too.

- Zee Zee

Ted Lange

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Sep 21, 2006, 12:01:28 PM9/21/06
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Unfortunately, in this business you're kinda "damned if you do, and damned
if you don't" when it comes to these issues, (in my opinion):

The majority of people that actually come up and buy recordings, 90% of
the time ask for the old standards, like puka jasiu, green grass, jailbird,
etc... which are the same songs they request at every dance.... why???? I
wish I knew... It seems that most of the older generation of people that
come to dances only want to hear those songs.... As a band, your goal is to
please the listener and the folks that are paying their way into the dance
and actually purchasing the CD's, so of course, you're going to try to play
what they want to hear, and following that same logic, you're going to
record what they want to hear.... (again, because they are PAYING for the
recordings... not simply burning CD's off the internet or getting copies
from one of their friends, which is a WHOLE other issue in itself) There
are some excellent writers out there... Mike Costa, Dan Gury, the
Wanderlich brothers, Hank Guzevich, Jimmy Weber, Randy Koslosky.... just to
name a few...... The problem is that for some reason the people that are
buying the recordings are only requesting the old standards.... WHY IS
THAT?

Could it have something to do with polka radio and internet polka
shows? I think so.... turn on MOST polka shows, and you're going to hear
the same old stuff you've been hearing for the past 20 or 30 years... you
hear the same requests for the same people week after week... you hear the
same songs from the same old RECORDS by bands that haven't been around for
at least 10 years... You have DJ's who simply can not SHUT UP and play
music.... Most of the time, you don't hear new recordings, and if you do,
it seems they only play the standards that are on the recording (while they
talk on top of the music for half the song, or sing along in their studio,
again on top of the music). I don't think polka radio and polka internet
shows realize what an important part they play in educating the "polka
public". I honestly believe most people come to dances and at the very
least subconsciously, expect to hear what they hear on the radio and on the
internet.... (Marion Lush, Little Wally, Happy Louie, Eddie Blazonczyk Sr.)
They don't want to hear anything new.... because they haven't been exposed
to it in any way shape or form.... if they don't hear the standards that
they're expecting, they don't come back....

I think most bands WANT to record new stuff, and would like to record
original material, but I think there's a good portion of us out here that
are afraid it simply won't sell as well as the "standards" do.... let's
face it folks... recording and duplicating a CD is not cheap.... and I'm
just talking about studio time and production costs for the actual CD's...
Not to mention the time off work, time and expenses incurred while traveling
to and from the studio... gas, tolls, hotel rooms, etc.... What I think a
lot of bands have figured out, is that if we record enough "standards" the
majority of people that are actually purchasing CD's will buy them.... It
has been my experience that a majority of the CD sales come from the older
generation.... Frankly, without that generation purchasing recordings,
there's really no point in doing it... there's a large portion of the
younger generation that gives copies to their buddies, record it off the
internet, or simply DON'T BUY IT AT ALL because they can turn on their
computer any time of the day and night and listen to polkas.

It is also my opinion that the BIGGER problem we have at this point, is
exactly what "Zee" said in her post.... "....having been away from polkas
for twenty or thirty years...."..... Why is that? Where are all these
people that grew up listening to polkas and going to dances with their
family or friends? How is it possible that (for example), a festival is run
in Chicago, IL, and barely manages to get 200 people in the door??!?!???
Where are all the "middle age" (no offense) people????

IN A PERFECT WORLD, If we can start getting "butts in seats", it's my
opinion that you'll start to see a ripple effect: People come to dances.
Bands get busy playing more than 20 or 30 jobs a year, and making decent
money. Other musicians take note of this and start their own groups, and
start playing their own material... bands are competitive, so everyone
would be "stepping it up" to write more creative and original material....
the bands benefit, the fans benefit, the promoters benefit.....

It's not a perfect world though.... Just my opinion.... I'd love to hear
everyone's opinions of how this is supposed to work.... (especially the
people that actually HAVE BANDS or actually COME TO DANCES)....

Just my thoughts...

Ted Lange


"Zee Zee" <zosia...@Comcast.net> wrote in message
news:1158845235.3...@i42g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

Brian J. Gawlak

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Sep 21, 2006, 12:57:22 PM9/21/06
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The only thing this post is doing is slapping the musicians/bands in the
face who perform tunes from the past (Ampol Aires, Zima, Lush, Wally).

Yes, maybe recording the same tunes over & over again may be overkill in
your opinion, but those tunes are tunes are 'standards' that one would
expect a band to play. To me it is showing that the band/musicians are not
all about putting 12-14 brand new tunes on a CD & to hell with the classic
material.

As far as Live CD's, I think that every band should make an attempt to
record a live cd. What is the next best thing to driving hours or flying to
see your favorite polka band? Listening to a live recording. To hear the
people cheer & the energy of the musicians playing to the crowd is enough to
bring a smile to any polka fan. If my memory is correct...don't the hotel
parties that go on after a dance sometime consist of someone having a live
recording of a polka band playing at USPA, Frankenmuth, Springs, etc?

As far as the Polka Grammy, that my friend is a delicate subject due to the
fact that anything said against Stur makes more people upset than anything
else...But I will say that IMHO....Stur has a greater chance & advantage
because he is signed on a national recording label witch does not mean allot
to me & you, but when it comes to comparing Rounder records to a recording
label that is done in a studio built in your home the national record label
is going to have the considerable advantage because of marketing.


tom.wan...@gmail.com

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Sep 21, 2006, 1:03:21 PM9/21/06
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Whew.....well said Tadziu!

TW

Ted Lange

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Sep 21, 2006, 1:34:12 PM9/21/06
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Not trying to knock the bands of the past at all here... simply addressing
the previous question regarding why there is nothing "new" being recorded or
played.... I too am a fan of many of the bands in the past, and frequently
buy the "old recordings" so I can enjoy them. The Ampol Aires are really
not a very good band to use as an argument, considering they ARE still
playing today, last time I checked....

In regards to live recordings: Why would a band want to spend thousands of
dollars to record live, when as you already stated: ".... don't the hotel

parties that go on after a dance sometime consist of someone having a live
recording of a polka band playing at USPA, Frankenmuth, Springs, etc?"

GREAT!!!! (please note sarcasm)... Another recording of a band where the
band is NOT being compensated for, and the band never approved, in a lot of
cases....

The bands spend plenty of money on their regular recordings, that already
get bumped from airplay by rotten quality amateur made recordings of bands
playing live, where in most cases, the sound is ghastly, usually coming from
someone dubbing the audio off their camcorder, and then playing it on their
radio show or internet polka show.... and BTW.... the bands are almost
NEVER asked for their approval of these sometimes god-awful recordings.....
What a 'wonderful' way to showcase the bands that ARE still out there trying
to perform... (note sarcasm again).....

"Brian J. Gawlak" <BJGa...@neo.rr.com> wrote in message
news:4512c492$0$13725$4c36...@roadrunner.com...

Zee Zee

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Sep 21, 2006, 1:41:36 PM9/21/06
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Should a successful pop recording group of today be shunned for not
recording or playing a Frank Sinatra song at a concert? After all,
those are standards. Is it a slap in the face to Frank Sinatra for a
group like Red Hot Chilli Peppers to not do a Frank tune?

If we expect bands to play all the old standards, everywhere we go,
every radio and internet show we listen to, and on every CD they
record, then there will be NO NEW STANDARDS. Is the writing over? Have
you written all the good songs already? Should you just play them over
and over and over and over and over and over and over and call it done?

Mr Lange had some excellent points about us listeners not being exposed
to the new stuff. Most DJs and IJs are afraid to play songs that they
don't think their listeners will "understand" or "appreciate". Bull
Dinkies! I recently found some great internet polka shows, ones that
play interesting songs that I've never heard before. OK, perhaps some
standards are OK in moderation from time to time.

Bands - Write, Play, and Record what you want! Take a chance and leave
the "Roll Out The Barrel" sheet music at home.

Just a listener's opinion!

- Zee Zee

maure...@yahoo.com

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Sep 21, 2006, 3:08:10 PM9/21/06
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Zee Zee
While I am a firm believer in everyone's right to their own opinion, I
am somewhat surprised at the "absoluteness" of your post; no more
standards, no good music currently being written. With all due
respect, it comes dangerously close to 'those who can write, those who
can't criticize'. I appreciate the point that you are a little
frustrated with hearing particular songs over and over; but for every
person who is tired of any of a variety (avoiding names so as not to
disparage anyone) there are 3 more who request that song every dance.
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers may not play Sinatra at their concerts
many bands (rock included) do. It is not unheard of for a major act to
play a "cover" (loose translation standard) during a concert.
Additionally, I think you would have to agree that Frank has far more
universal appeal then the Chili Peppers, lasting a mulititude of
decades.
Recordings are very personal to most, if not all, artists; the artistic
expression of their creativity, whether writing the music or just
interpreting (playing) it. Recording for many may be a way to share
their expression with the public. If you don't care for it, you don't
need to purchase or play it. There are people who really enjoy the
recorded expression of an artist's interpretation. I imagine most
people who pen a song, especially for recording, don't think it's a bad
song.
I would suggest if you are looking for something "different", a new
sound, you might try a new thread investigating that. There are a few
bands that I can think of that avoid playing the standards you are
weary of. {although to be honest, I really don't recall hearing Beer
Barrel all that much! :) }

Zee Zee

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Sep 21, 2006, 4:02:17 PM9/21/06
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Maureen,

Perhaps I was too "absolute". I don't mean to sound that way. Maybe
it's the frustration, I dunno. I did say that standards are OK in
moderation.

I love listening to Happy Louie recordings because of Happy Louie
himself. I loved his voice and his band. For me no one else can
duplicate him. His charm and talent were more important than the songs.
Although songs and artists are somehow always married in time. When we
hear them it brings back memories of when we first heard them or of
good times gone by. That is why people request songs over and over.
That's why people can be very defensive of them, because it's not the
songs, it's the memories they represent. And that's OK. But we also
have to encourage our bands of today to create quality songs and
recordings (perhaps not every year) to give new listeners some memories
of their own and old listeners something fresh to hear.

- Zee Zee

Canada-Steve

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Sep 21, 2006, 4:22:52 PM9/21/06
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Tom,
I'm not saying that ALL original songs are sub-par. When I listen to a
lot of Polka albums/CD's released over the past 40 years there may
often be 1 or 2 decent original songs on each one. I can have this
opinion because my father has purchased hundreds of Polka recordings
over the years and I have listened to most of them.
I'll admit that a lot of the standards contain pretty silly lyrics as
well. I'm only 37 but I like the older stuff better than the newer
stuff. I also love a "NEW ARRANGEMENT" of an old classic. I also
believe that Polish vocals come across better on a tune than English
vocals. The verses are usually just as corny, but in Polish they seem
to flow so much more nicely. That's not to say that there hasn't
been a lot of hot English polkas come out over the years as well.
I'm not saying don't to covers or classics, or don't do originals and
just do instrumentals. I'm saying don't churn out a CD every year for
the sake of churning one out.
Be selective, put out new adaptations, construct new arrangements.
Cranking out crap isn't a very good marketing or promotional idea
either.
There are a lot of choices for ones entertainment dollar these days. I
continue to support Polka music because I'm passionate about the genre.
I want to see it last for many years to come so that my children can be
exposed to it as well. I applaud the efforts of hard working
bandleaders and musicians like you. I know that most of you have
full-time jobs outside of the Polka industry and that many of your
performances take you away from your families in order to entertain
Polkas fans like me.
I just wanted to use this forum to air a few opinions. I look forward
to taking the time to discuss these issues and others with you at a
future Polka event.
Keep up the good work.

Regards,
Steve Kubicki (Polka Fan From Canada)

Canada-Steve

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Sep 21, 2006, 4:40:25 PM9/21/06
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Ted,
I agree with a good part of your post. I'm glad that my original post
has stirred the passions of some Polka fans and those in the industry.
I am the proud owner of many great Polka CD's, Vinyl albums, and
cassettes (not burned or copied). I grew up in Windsor, ON and have
attended countless dances, picnics, and church festivals in the
Michigan, Ontario, New York, and Illinois areas. I also have no problem
paying (and have on numerous occasions) $10, $12, $15 or more in
admission to attend these functions. If a festival is "free", I
support the church or organization bringing the bands in by purchasing
raffle tickets, beer (often lots of this commodity!), food, and many
other items that are offered. If you don't buy a raffle ticket from
"siostra", the parish won't bring back the bands! I see a lot of
people, however, that continue to soak up the free entertainment
without reaching for their wallet or purse.
I've been to the Chicago dances with less than 200 people. I'm
talking multiple, top name bands. I don't know why?
I grew up listening to polkas and now my kids love polkas. In many the
passion dies. Ask my father. He's 62 and attended Polka functions since
the 50's. Only a hand-full of people he hung out with back then still
go to polka functions.
I've had the pleasure of speaking to you personally, Ted, on a few
occasions. I appreciate your candour and I look forward to the next
time we can continue this healthy debate.

Regards,
Steve Kubicki

S Litwin

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Sep 21, 2006, 7:34:31 PM9/21/06
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Hi Ho Ted and all the others in this thread.

I probably should get involved in this discussion but my inner-self
made me do it.

Let's start with the story of several years back when I was talking
with a band during a break at a gig in Central NY State. Some of the
musicians were talking about The Sounds (they were not active at the
time), and one of guys in the band said, "who are The Sounds?" OK,
the guy was a few years younger than me, but his remarks shocked me
and others in the the band.

The point to this, there are "many" (many hundreds) of songs from the
past polka years, and bands as well, that most aren't even famiilar
with. (yeah, I shouldn't end with with <G>)

I'm sure you, Ted, and other musicians here have been asked for some
obscure request off an album that you may not know. We all know there
are "sleeper" tunes that never get airplay. Can we "all" imagine a
radio show that actually plays these "sleeper" tunes? I've yet to
hear one.

Locally, I can hear the same two dozen tunes over and over every week.
I end up turning off the radio.

Originals are great if they have those qualities that make them "good"
originals. Eddie Sr did many like this, as did Lenny G. Tunes that you
heard them once and immediately sang along with the chorus of the
tune.

However, let's talk about all the really "bad" originals that are
found on albums. They get played once when you first listen to the
CD, and then you push the SKIP button everytime afterwards.

You are absolutely correct with your statement about "songs that
sell." Steel City Brass proved that many times by recording
"standards" and selling more CDS with them, than other bands did with
"originals."

For me, I still listen to the Polka Ghents bring my baby back again or
Greg Nowak on box with Pickles and Peppers or Lush doing In the
Evening.

As for discussion here, this thread has brought a new freshness to the
Newsgroup. Thanks!

Steve
Steve Litwin

www.polamjournal.com/polka

mike surratt

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Sep 21, 2006, 7:39:31 PM9/21/06
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I'll jump in...

What I have experienced in my 30+ years on a bandstand is the fact that
even outside of the polka world, most 'older' people don't like change,
period.

I'm sick of playing "New York, New York" (since Sinatra was mentioned)
--

There are hundreds of great Sinatra standards, but NY,NY will get most
people dancing and most will sit down if you play some other tune like
"Summer Wind." (just an example).

So, we are talking about human nature...

In the recent (last 10 years or so) polka recording world, there have
many been great songs written by many bands and artists. Have all of
them (originals) received airplay, don't think so. I personally do not
like "polka" covers of 50's/60's/70's/80's rock/country songs which do
seem to get a lot of airplay. I prefer to turn on "oldies XYZ FM or
"froggy mama took the train and dog to jail Kickin COUNTRY" to listen
to those songs. I enjoy original polka material including "Those
Pennsylvania Hills."

I'm not gonna knock any DJ/IJ for their playlists. They produce the
shows, but, I will say that most DJ/IJ will play requests, SO WILL
BANDS.

You want change in the polka world -- EMAIL, CALL DJs/IJs Tell
distributors (or the band) that you won't buy that new CD with all the
"old" songs on it...see if the distributor will continue to stock that
CD if sales fall and maybe, the bands will listen too.

oops -- gotta go as I'm off to begin another Oktoberfest season -- and
will have to eat a lot of chicken dance once again. I've changed the
name of the Beer Barrel Polka to the Beer Belly Polka anyway. That's
new, huh? ::smile::

Mike Surratt
www.mikesurratt.com
www.the-polka-element.com

Ace

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Sep 21, 2006, 7:42:37 PM9/21/06
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Bill

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Sep 22, 2006, 12:20:39 AM9/22/06
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Simple answer for me, because it's been fun to record. We've done it
primarily for the camraderie in the studio, and as a bonus, some folks like
it and buy the CDs. Barely break even in cost, but we've always tried to
produce a decent product with a mix of some originals, new arrangements of
standards, and crossover from other genres.

As for the Grammies, honestly don't care any more, and haven't for a while.
Don't have the time to do the politics needed to reign in enough votes, even
if the material deserved such artistic consideration. We are plain and
simple "weekend warriors", and I'd be naive and a very frustrated individual
if I thought that it didn't take significantly more time and money than I
can devote to produce and market a product with the intent of a Grammy
nomination.

In summary, it's a hobby, not a full time job, and we have simply tried to
have some fun while producing something along the way that folks seem to
enjoy. That's how I've rationalized producing our CDs. Not sure if this
meets your standards or criteria for an unique, quality effort, but frankly,
we've had fun over the years, produced some decent products, broke even
financially, and have made some polka fans happy while doing so. That's been
reason enough to produce a CD every year from where I sit.

Bill Palo
A Touch of Chicago
"Canada-Steve" <kingof...@yahoo.ca> wrote in message
news:1158773302.3...@e3g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...

tom.wan...@gmail.com

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Sep 22, 2006, 8:42:05 AM9/22/06
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BINGO!


TW

Canada-Steve

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Sep 22, 2006, 10:54:32 AM9/22/06
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Bill,
Great angle on recording a CD. As they say, "No harm, no foul". If
someone likes the product and no one loses any money, that's great. I
can appreciate your take on camaraderie, having a good time, and Polkas
being a hobby. If that's what it's about, that's great.
I just don't want to hear anyone complaining that the Polka genre is
not being taken "seriously" or questions why it doesn't have a more
mass appeal. For those that don't care about these things, your
rationale is spot on. For those that do care (and I know they're out
there), they need to be more conscientious of the product they put out
and of the quality of their live performances if they want to appeal to
a bigger audience.
Regards,
Steve

Zee Zee

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Sep 22, 2006, 11:08:06 AM9/22/06
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Canada-Steve wrote:
> Bill,
> Great angle on recording a CD. As they say, "No harm, no foul". If
> someone likes the product and no one loses any money, that's great. I
> can appreciate your take on camaraderie, having a good time, and Polkas
> being a hobby. If that's what it's about, that's great.
> I just don't want to hear anyone complaining that the Polka genre is
> not being taken "seriously" or questions why it doesn't have a more
> mass appeal. For those that don't care about these things, your
> rationale is spot on. For those that do care (and I know they're out
> there), they need to be more conscientious of the product they put out
> and of the quality of their live performances if they want to appeal to
> a bigger audience.
> Regards,
> Steve


Nicely put.

- Zee Zee

kq...@aol.com

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Sep 22, 2006, 1:07:40 PM9/22/06
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Wow, this topic hit more than one nerve!

Anyway, the lowly ole dj was mentioned in a couple different posts.
Hosting my own show on commercial radio locally, one has to remember
especially in commercial radio, ratings and sponsors. I pay for my air
time (brokered show) by soliciting sponsors. I play for the most part
what people want to hear but with a good mix of new mixed in. I try to
pick one or two tunes (I'm speaking originals) on any new release and
give them a lot of airplay so hopefully they too will become familiar
to listeners (gee, maybe even become a standard someday), or at least
motivate a listener to go out and buy the CD if they hear the song
enough times to be endeared to it. However, if I play too much
"uncharted waters" type tunes, listeners get turned off, or should I
say I'll get turned off, sponsors won't get the response they look for
to keep advertising and consequently ratings go down, I can't pay my
airtime bill and that's the end of the show.

I would assume the ratings game would also hold true for college FM
station Polka radio shows. Many of them solicit donations from
listeners periodically and the more listeners, the more money generated
making for happy station managers and the show continues. But I would
think they have somewhat more leeway in exploring "new territory" with
the new releases.

I think that's where internet radio like Polkajammer, ZMansquest and
the like come into play. They don't have to play the ratings game for
the most part and they're there 24/7 thus allowing for a multitude of
different shows concentrating on different styles to eminate. If
you're reading this, you most likely have heard the stations and
variety of shows. Unfortunately, only a small segment of the Polka
public is internet savvy, so terrestrial radio remains a big player in
the Polka game.

Going back a couple paragraphs, I want to bring the one or two tune
"HIT" concept per release out to the musicians out there. Would you
think picking (suggesting?) say a couple tunes and earmarking them to
the DJ in the cover letter to get widespread play on various
stations/internet could help the whole theme of this topic? Commercial
mainstream stations do that all the time. As a matter of fact, many of
the big name radio station conglomerates out there send playlists to
their roster of stations.

Maybe one or two cuts per new release, the band can decide which.
Would this concept have some merit? It appears sometimes that the
Polka world is a little helter skelter, this would have some unifying
undertones. Let me know your thoughts.

Polkatively,

Gary Sroka
The Saturday Polka Review
WTLB Radio - Utica, NY

tom.wan...@gmail.com

unread,
Sep 22, 2006, 4:37:46 PM9/22/06
to
"...If that's what it's about, that's great....I just don't want to

hear anyone complaining that the Polka genre is not being taken
"seriously" or questions why it doesn't have a more mass appeal. For
those that don't care about these things, your rationale is spot on.
For those that do care (and I know they're out there), they need to be
more conscientious of the product they put out and of the quality of
their live performances if they want to appeal to a bigger
audience...."


Steve,

Are you kidding? I'm sorry, but who has annointed you the authority on
such topics?

Your opinion, fine. But frankly, that's all it is so quit trying to
re-word it to fit everybody's reponses to you. I am out there, and I
know the bands try hard to put out good live music and good recordings.
It's not AT ALL important to me ( and LOTS of other players ) that
polkas do not have more mass appeal or that they be taken "seriously".

Polkas ARE taken seriously by the true polka fans that travel the
country following their favorite bands and buying their CD's. They do
it for the love of the music pure and simple. It doesn't concern them
either that polkas do not have mass appeal, and in MY opinion, there
are way to many unqualified people criticizing the bands, the
promoters, the venues, the crowds, the dj's, the CD's, the
prices.....etc.

Why do you think you got so many responses on this thread? Because most
of us are sick of hearing stuff like this. How can you say that bands


"need to be more conscientious of the product they put out and of the
quality of their live performances if they want to appeal to a bigger

audience"...how do you know that they aren't trying to do just
that......??

TW

S Litwin

unread,
Sep 22, 2006, 5:26:13 PM9/22/06
to
On 22 Sep 2006 13:37:46 -0700, tom.wan...@gmail.com wrote:
> I am out there, and I know the bands try hard to put out good live music and good recordings.
>It's not AT ALL important to me ( and LOTS of other players ) that polkas do not have more mass appeal or that they be taken "seriously".
>Polkas ARE taken seriously by the true polka fans that travel the country following their favorite bands and buying their CD's. They do
>it for the love of the music pure and simple.

Tommy,
You hit it on the head.

If I had a Wish, What would it be? Yep, you know what it would be
and so do others. Those that have "lived" polka music, from the days
of playing in garages and parks or under beer tents at lawn fetes and
picnics, all know why they were there and why they enjoy polkas for
what they are.

Is there anything better than the Dynatones setting up in the middle
of Kosciusko St after the "real" Chopins' Dyngus day, or playing
Strand Ballroom and watching people dance "up hill," or having two
dozen musicians sit in just to play and not for pay?

Steve
Steve Litwin

www.polamjournal.com/polka

Stephen Kaminski

unread,
Sep 22, 2006, 9:14:02 PM9/22/06
to
I just had to jump in.

If I had a wish, what would it be? Yep, you know what it would be and
so do others. Remember before playing in the garages and parks when
polkas were on Major record labels? Remember when it was mainstream?
Remember the hit parade? Remember when it used to be an industry?

Polka music is like our children. Do we want them to succeed and go to
college and be the best they can ever be? Or do we want them to do
menial work all their life and just be resolved to the fact that they
will never amount to anything? Would you really tell your kids that
they SHOULDN'T be better than they are? Would you criticize someone who
said your kids had potential?

We shouldn't put down people who just simply want something better for
our "children", our music. It's a good thing ... really.

Stephen K.

S Litwin

unread,
Sep 23, 2006, 6:15:20 AM9/23/06
to
On 22 Sep 2006 18:14:02 -0700, "Stephen Kaminski"
<Stephe...@Comcast.net> wrote:

>We shouldn't put down people who just simply want something better for
>our "children", our music. It's a good thing ... really.
>
>Stephen K.

As Tommy Said,

Your opinion, fine. .....

WSAMpolkas

unread,
Sep 23, 2006, 7:59:28 PM9/23/06
to
Hi,

Everything I wanted to say about DJ's getting mentioned in these
postings, in a not to posistive spotlight. I cant say anymore cause
Gary mentioned excately what I wanted to vent about. Good points. This
may ruffle some feathers but anyone can be IJ now a days. It's the DJ's
who still drive to a station, do a show LIVE pretty much every Sunday
of the year. Or saturday for the morning. If it wasnt for radio shows,
how much more alive do you think polkas would be alive?
just my two cents.
Thanks


Seth Drzewicki
WSAM Sunday Morning Polka Show
1400 am 10am-12pm, serving all of mid-michigan

WSAMpolkas

unread,
Sep 23, 2006, 8:01:02 PM9/23/06
to
I beg to differ about this post, PLEASE see my most recent one
Thanks

S Litwin

unread,
Sep 23, 2006, 8:11:40 PM9/23/06
to
Begging to differ is what free speech is about.

S

On 23 Sep 2006 17:01:02 -0700, "WSAMpolkas" <wsamp...@yahoo.com>
wrote:

S Litwin

unread,
Sep 23, 2006, 8:19:10 PM9/23/06
to
I beg to add some commentary.

Too many (actually, probably close to 95 percent) involved in polka
onair radio never publicize their shows. They could easily use the
"few" polka news outlets to issue regular press items. "That" would
show others they are still on-the-air. It would show labels their
shows are active and alive. It would increase their visability to the
industry.

As for IJs, well most don't want to hear my comments on this. If
anything, most "on-ar" DJs "know the music, know the history and play
what they should play for their audience.

In my earlier post, I was talking about several locally based shows,
NOT ALL on-air shows across the country. There are some that think
people tune in to hear who the host had breakfast with, or who they
ate lunch with, or who ....well you get the idea.

I emailed several local DJs about deaths of polka musicians and
listening to their shows I didn't hear any "tirbutes" to these people,
especially Li'l Wally. This tells me they apparently didn't care.

Steve


On 23 Sep 2006 16:59:28 -0700, "WSAMpolkas" <wsamp...@yahoo.com>
wrote:

Canada-Steve

unread,
Sep 23, 2006, 10:21:12 PM9/23/06
to
You're quite right; I'm not the authority. It's just my opinion. Take
it for what it's worth.
There's a big problem in the Polka industry. I've seen it for years.
Don't criticize. Don't be controversial. There are a lot of sensitive
folks out there.
For years I read the Polka News. Every issue had articles stating "how
great this dance was" and "how great that band sounded". Never that
"this dance was poorly attended" or "that band wasn't 'on' last week".
Do you know why? The Polka News is sponsored by those dances and by
those bands! If they critique, they may lose advertising dollars!
I've been to some unforgettable dances and festivals. I've also been to
some disappointing stinkers. I've listened to some outstanding live
Polka performances. I've also witnessed some tragedies.
Why can't those in the Polka industry accept some constructive
criticism? Other artists in different genres see it every day.
You seem to insinuate that I'm too "unqualified" to criticize. Why,
because I've never played in Polka band? Because I've never cut a CD?
Because I've never promoted a dance? I believe some of the most
respected critics in the areas of music, fine art, sports, and cinema
have never actually practiced in the areas that they analyze.
I'm a Polka fan. I'm a music fan. I have been all my life. I see a
Polka product that has been deteriorating before my eyes. I'm
disappointed and I'm upset.
Having said that, I believe I have a right to my opinion. I also have
the right to express it in this forum.
There's a reason why there are less bands, less dances, less festivals,
less church picnics, and ultimately less "active" fans. There are more
entertainment options out there for people to choose from. Have a look
at your average Mid-west Polka crowd. Most of the fans are over the age
50 (maybe 60 in some cases). Enjoy the ride while it lasts. Those "true
polka fans" that you speak of won't be around in 10 or 15 years. There
are just not enough young fans out there to keep the Polka industry, as
we know it today, alive much longer.
All the best, and as I stated on a previous post, "Keep up the good
work".

Steve Kubicki - Canada
Polka Fan For Life

LVTADZ

unread,
Sep 24, 2006, 12:11:40 AM9/24/06
to
Steve,Tommy,Ted etal:
You must all realize,that it is people like you that are
still doing many things to help keep the Polka Field alive,and
sometimes the appreciation is not very apparent.
As a musician for more than 45 years,and not only in the
polka field,the first thing that always becomes very transparent about
the audience you are playing for,will dictate the type of music,and
even the specific numbers you will be performing for entire evening.
Just think about the difference in performing for a current wedding,a
25th
anniversary,40th anniversary or church social function? Everyone wants
the feeling of a
"comfort zone" and that just naturally comes with familiarity. The Puka
Jasiu,Beer Barrel,Hokey Pokey,NY NY etc will outlive many of us until
such time as new tried and true standards are created. I firmly believe
that we have more potential talent in the polka field today,it just has
to find the delicate balance necessary to keep it alive and
continue to entice the older fans to attend and then motivate new fans.
Maly Wladziu,
Blaz Sr,Lush did it for years and Lenny Gomulka will always do it!
Giving the audience the music they want to hear,should
definitely outweigh
the musicians desire to please themselves or other musicians.

Nostradamus

unread,
Sep 24, 2006, 1:24:08 AM9/24/06
to
On 20 Sep 2006 10:28:22 -0700, "Canada-Steve" <kingof...@yahoo.ca>
wrote:

>Is it really necessary for many Polka bands to release a new CD every
>year? They usually consist of 12 to 14 tracks. One weak attempt at an
>original Waltz (but likely a Lush cover), an equally weak Oberek (or a
>lack-luster rendition of an old classic), and then ten to twelve Polkas
>made up of Country & Western covers; some original sub-par English
>tunes (how many words can possibly rhyme with HEART!); and a few
>retreads thrown in to fill out the deck (is there a band that hasn't
>included "Pennsylvania Hills" on one of their recordings?).
>Why not put out a "Live" album for good measure? Almost every attempt
>since the Dynatones' "Live Wire" has lacked any spontaneity.
>Is there that much money to be made in a CD release? I doubt it.
>Maybe everyone is hoping to get that elusive Grammy Nomination so they
>can take a trip to LA and rub shoulders with the "B" list musicians
>that attend the "Awards given out earlier this evening" ceremony. When
>will the NARAS notice that you can barely differentiate between a 2006
>nominated recording and a 1996 nominated recording? Isn't anyone in the
>industry just the least bit embarrassed that there have only been 5
>different winners in 21 award ceremonies? Sturr has won or shared 15
>times!!!!!
>It's time to rationalize the CD releases and to start putting out some
>unique, quality efforts. Most current efforts are a discredit to the
>Polka industry.

You could read my website, where I review polka CDs. I'm always
looking for -- and finding -- great polka recordings.
--
Read my polka CD reviews, now with even fresher opinions!
http://www.nostradamus.net/polka_page.htm

Nostradamus

unread,
Sep 24, 2006, 1:31:41 AM9/24/06
to
On Thu, 21 Sep 2006 12:01:28 -0400, "Ted Lange" <boxp...@bright.net>
wrote:

>Unfortunately, in this business you're kinda "damned if you do, and damned
>if you don't" when it comes to these issues, (in my opinion):
>
> The majority of people that actually come up and buy recordings, 90% of
>the time ask for the old standards, like puka jasiu, green grass, jailbird,
>etc... which are the same songs they request at every dance....

<snip>

The late Rick Nelson faced the same problem, and sang about it in
"Garden Party."

polka...@adelphia.net

unread,
Sep 24, 2006, 8:01:06 AM9/24/06
to
I may be totally wrong in saying this, but i believe that there is some
merit behind it. The younger generation of polka listeners, unless
brought up in household that has encouraged the bands from that past,
has absolutely no clue who or what paved the way for polka music. I
believe the younger generation of musicians take an interest in who
recorded what and when they recorded it, and its appreciated more by
the musicians than it is the average "new generation" polka listenter.

The subject of IJ/DJ has been brought up here. For the past month I
have been guest hosting Mary Lou's Polka Party on polkajammer.com. I
have tried to bring some of the older stuff that I can almost
guarantee, with the exception of Mitch Moskal and Billy Belina, has
never been played on an internet polka show. Dont get me wrong I still
have been playing the current stuff too, but I think its important to
showcase some of the older stuff. For example, you take the average
person under the age of 35 (lets say) and ask who recorded "Sure Gonna
Miss Her". The majority would say TBC, which they would be correct, but
little do they know that The Instrumentals recorded it first. How many
of the younger generation ever heard of The Monumentals? Probably not
many. Its little things like that that I believe are important. Im no
polka historian by any means, but I do have a general appreciation and
interest in bands from the past. I've gotten asked about some of the
stuff that I play like where did you get that, or I've never heard of
that band. Not that its ignorance, but i think the reason being is that
there is limited access to the older stuff. There are many bands from
the past that could play today that people would like and think were
"cool". Bands like the Tones, Pala Brothers, Naturals, Style Sticks
jsut to name a few.... These bands were "ahead of their time" but could
still pack the house or headline any major festival today and gain a
following by the younger generation.

Just my opinion

Polka Gopher (under the age of 35)

Ace

unread,
Sep 24, 2006, 7:26:50 PM9/24/06
to

Ace

unread,
Sep 24, 2006, 7:37:53 PM9/24/06
to

Zee Zee

unread,
Sep 25, 2006, 8:40:35 AM9/25/06
to

> As Tommy Said,
>
> Your opinion, fine. .....
> It's not AT ALL important to me ( and LOTS of other players ) that
> polkas do not have more mass appeal or that they be taken "seriously".

Litwin - the patron saint of mediocrity.

- Zee Zee

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