Golem (Various dates on West Coast) With lyrics in Yiddish, Ladino, or Slavic, Golem is just your typical Eastern European folk-punk band from New York. This week, they’ll make a quick West Coast swing through San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver.
Isle of Klezbos (Tuesday in New York, NY) In addition to having a fantastic name, this six-piece all-female ensemble plays unique renditions of Eastern-European Jewish folk music, Yiddish swing and tango, as well as their own eclectic originals.
Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra (Sunday in Elizabeth, NY) Calling itself the “Polka Dance Capital of the East”, the Bayway Polish Club has provided Polish and American music and entertainment for more than 60 years. This week’s dance features Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra for a pre-Thanksgiving “Turkey Hop.”
Take one accordion virtuoso from Pennsylvania, son of a polka legend, with a diverse background in jazz, pop, and folk. Take one bass player from Texas, formerly of Brave Combo, known for rocking Tex-Mex and cumbias with Los Super Vatos. Put them together and what do you get? Polka Freak Out!
Polka Freak Out is a collaboration between Alex Meixner and Bubba Hernandez that combines polka styles from around the world (Slovenian, Austrian, Polish, you name it) with conjunto/tejano rhythms and rock and roll energy and enthusiasm. It started with a casual jam session a few years ago, while Hernandez was passing through Alex’s area during a Brave Combo tour. Now they’ve released their first self-titled album, which includes guest appearances by bajo sexto legend Max Baca and Texas Tornado keyboardist Augie Meyers.
The duo will be out on the road later this month, with shows in New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago. Check our calendar for details.
Can’t find an accordion teacher in your area? Don’t have time for formal lessons? The U.S. School of Music had a solution: an accordion home study course available via mail order. This particular set — copyright 1930, but mailed in 1942 — contains four lesson books (“Home Study Lessons for Piano and Chromatic Accordion”), as well as twelve records to accompany the lessons. I’m tempted to bid just so I can get a closer look at the study materials. Plus, I’ve always wanted to take a correspondence course… in accordion.
Frode Haltli Quartet on U.S. Tour Norwegian accordionist and composer Frode Haltli brings his quartet to America for a brief four-city tour (Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia). An incredible improviser, Haltli takes traditional folk and transforms it into airy chamber music and jazz.
Hot Club of Detroit Django, by way of Detroit. This sizzling group plays traditional jazz of the ’20s and ’30s with a European gypsy twist. Led by guitarist Evan Perri, the group features Julian Labro on accordion.
NE Accordion Festival (Fri-Sun in Minneapolis, MN) Minnesota’s finest celebration of the accordion family includes concerts, a jazz symposium, workshops, jams, dances, and even a Midwestern potluck.
Florida Accordion Association Smash (Fri-Sun in Orlando, FL) The Florida Accordion Association’s 7th annual Smash includes performances by Lidia Kaminska, Tony Lovello, and Mary Tokarski. There will also be a “Beer Barrel Polkathon” on Saturday.
Stas Venglevski (Saturday in Sheboygan, WI) Bayan virtuoso Stas Venglevski performs with the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra in a program that includes works by Grieg, Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Brahms.
I’m hoping one of our German-speaking readers can help me out on this one. It’s a video interview with Art of Accordion, a German quintet who won the International Competition for Ensemble Music at the Coupe Mondiale earlier this year. The interview is interspersed with clips of the group slapping their accordions rhythmically while singing/rapping. I’m curious to know what they’re singing about and where they came up with this style.
Polka doesn’t always have to be about the beer — it can be about a good cause, too. That’s the case with Polkas for Charity, a polka supergroup formed by Ted Borzymowski to record an album and raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. The album, Let’s Get This Party Started!, features an all-star lineup with vocals from Lenny Gomulka, Wally Dombrowski, Johnny Karas, and many more. In the 100 days since the album’s release, they’ve raised more than $10,000 for St. Jude’s. Polka power at its best!