Muenster (Texas) Germanfest This Weekend

The town of Muenster, TX, is holding its 31st annual Germanfest this weekend, an event “where Texas hospitality and German customs meet.” Now that might sound like an odd combination, but Muenster was founded around the turn of the century by German immigrants, whose descendants now celebrate their heritage with a festival filled with food, fun, and, of course, music.

Events include a 5k/15k fun run, a bicycle rally, a sausage and rib cook-off (save me some!), and a number of other competitions including Nagelshlagen — where a spike is hammered into a tree stump by contestants to see who can hammer the spike into the stump with the fewest swings. If you’re looking for accordion tunes, you won’t be disappointed either — performers at this year’s Germanfest include Brave Combo, The Polka Kings (from Lawton, OK), Alpenfest, and more.

It’s also worth mentioning that admission is free if you arrive in “complete ethnic German costume,” so break out that lederhosen and get over to the Germanfest this weekend!

Art Pahl Accordion Fest This Sunday

The 4th annual Art Pahl Accordion Fest will be held Sunday (tomorrow!) in Le Mars, IA, at the Plymouth County Historical Museum. The festival honors Pahl, a local accordionist known for playing at civic events, who passed away in 2003, and includes a lineup of midwestern accordionists from five states, including Pahl’s daughter, Marie Bender. Pahl’s last wish before dying of cancer was to have an accordion jam, and he participated in the first festival just before he passed away. Although players have already signed up to perform, walk-ins are welcome and anyone who plays the accordion is encouraged to show up and jam the afternoon away.

Happy (Belated) Dyngus Day!

Things have been so crazy around the Let’s Polka household lately, that we forgot to wish our readers a happy Dyngus Day on Monday. Dyngus Day is a day for celebrating both Polish-American culture and the end of Lent, emphasizing Polish heritage and traditions. Polkas are played and danced, kielbasa and pierogis are eaten… you get the picture.

Buffalo, NY is the king of Dyngus Day festivities, though it’s also observed in other Polish communities, including South Bend, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and even The Villages, FL, where people came from miles around to listen to Orlando Polkamagic. Needless to say, any party that involves polkas and sausage is one that I can wholeheartedly endorse.

AbsolutAccord at San Francisco Accordion Club

Want to liven up your lazy Sunday? Bay Area accordion supergroup AbsolutAccord will be playing at the San Francisco Accordion Club’s monthly meeting this Sunday, April 23rd at 2pm, at that legendary, rockin’ venue — the South San Francisco Senior Center. AbsolutAccord’s repertoire includes jazz standards, French, Italian, and Russian music, tangos, and classical music — here’s a sample:

Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra

I’ve been meaning to write about the Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra, and after reading this great insider’s view of the group by Main Squeezer Rachel Zoll, I can’t hold back anymore. Main Squeeze is a 15-woman, all-female, all-accordion band from New York City that plays everything from Bach to Kurt Weill to Queen. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, that sounds like the best thing ever!”, you are absolutely right.

The orchestra was founded in 2002 by Walter Kuhr, owner of Main Squeeze Accordions in New York, when “one night, after attending an accordion festival, Kuhr dreamt he was the conductor of an all-female accordion orchestra… not just any all-female accordion orchestra, but an orchestra of unsurpassable quality.” It sounds like the dream, complete with glossy accordions and pigtails, has been realized.

If you’re in the New York area, you can catch the Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra on Friday, April 21st at Moe Pitkins. If you’re not so fortunate, you can settle for these audio and video clips (check their site for more):

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The Taxpayer’s Polka

Here’s some pre-Tax Day fun… if that’s even possible. Phil Fragasso, a mutual fund marketing executive from Wellesley, MA, has recorded a parody album called Taxpayer Blues. The album is a mix of originals and spoofs of public domain songs, with promising song titles like “The IRS Audited Me and Ran Off With My Wife” and “Battle Hymn of the Taxpayer.” I recommend using “The Taxpayer’s Polka” as background music while finishing your 1040:

Polka: The New Dance T-Shirt

Until we launch our exclusive line of Let’s Polka shirts, hoodies, and lederhosen, you might want to check out this t-shirt from Emblazoned with “Polka: The New Dance” and a cheerful fellow squeezing away, the only drawback to this design (besides the blinding orange color) is that no one will be able to see it when you’re wearing your accordion.

Goto Izumi and Her Accordion

Further proof of the accordion’s universal reach — I stumbled upon this clip of Goto Izumi, accordionist and vocalist for Japanese band Nekomushi, from a recent solo show in Hiroshima. I have no idea what she’s singing (or what those baby dolls are doing there), but the message would probably be lost in translation anyway.

[Found via Little Foreigner]

eBay Find: Lawrence Welk Collectibles

Lawrence Welk VaseLooking for a unique gift for that Lawrence Welk fan in your life? A quick search on eBay this morning uncovered a few items that you definitely won’t find at your local Wal-Mart:

  • Lawrence Welk Accordion Ashtray
    A black and white ceramic, accordion-shaped ashtray complete with champagne, bubble and musical notes motif. Stub out your cigarettes in style!
  • Lawrence Welk Accordion Vase
    Okay, so maybe you don’t want to promote smoking in your house. Instead, you could opt for this green accordion-shaped vase with Lawrence’s signature on the side. Classy!
  • Salute to Winter Sports (16mm Kinescope)
    Fire up your old 16mm projector and enjoy this film of Lawrence and the band, recorded in January 1965. Includes performances by Myron Floren and JoAnn Castle. “Wunnerful, wunnerful!”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pink Lawrence Welk lamps currently up for sale, but there’s always next week.

Accordion Invasion: The Movie

Following up on my previous post about the Accordion Invasion, I’ve digitized the TV news blurb about the event (from KTVU Channel 2 in San Francisco). Check it out!

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