Polka Grammy Preview: Lenny Gomulka

Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push: As Sweet As CandyLenny Gomulka is no stranger to the Grammys, having racked up 12 nominations (but no wins) since the award’s creation in 1986. A talented multi-instrumentalist (trumpet, clarinet, and sax), Gomulka grew up playing with the biggest names in Chicago polka: Marion Lush, Li’l Wally, and Eddie Blazonczyk.

In 1980, Gomulka left Blazonczyk’s Versatones and started his own band, Chicago Push. Their style is heavily influenced by the Polish-style polka music that Gomulka grew up with, but with modern arrangements and plenty of Gomulka-penned originals. After moving to New England in 1990, Gomulka wasted no time spreading the polka gospel there; he even wrote the official Massachusetts state polka (“Say Hello To Someone In Massachusetts”).

As Sweet as Candy is a textbook example of the “Push style”: tight horns, driving rhythms, and enough bellows shaking to make you think there’s an earthquake. The album alternates between traditional waltzes and obereks (some, like “Hop Ciuk Oberek”, are sung in Polish) and lively originals like “We’re Gonna Jam” and “She’s Got Nothin’ On You.” Nick Koryluk and Matthew Rosinski handle the concertina and accordion duties admirably.

But will it be enough to give Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push their first Grammy? We’ll find out on Sunday.

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