I was hoping for an Accordion Awareness Month filled with only positive stories; unfortunately, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences had other ideas. Yesterday the Academy announced the elimination of the polka category from the Grammy Awards, wiping out one of polka’s few remaining venues for national exposure. Carl Finch, leader and accordionist for two-time Grammy winner Brave Combo, was understandably disappointed:
“It’s devastating… Polka is so misunderstood, you know, the butt of jokes. Having a polka category was the most important step to legitimacy that we could ever hope to achieve. To have that taken away, it’s like it was all for nothing.”
According to the Academy, the polka category was removed “to ensure the awards process remains representative of the current musical landscape.” One official cited the declining number of entries (only 20 in 2006) as a deciding factor. That only five artists had won the award in its 24 years — including 18-time winner Jimmy Sturr — made the category appear even less competitive.
This is definitely tough news for the polka community, especially for those bands who enjoyed media attention at Grammy time. But ultimately, I don’t think there are any polka fans who love the music any less today than they did yesterday, and I doubt this will stop any of the hard-working polka bands who fill dance floors across the country from doing what they love most.