The 6th Annual Ennis Czech Music Festival held on February 10 was a success in so many ways. Great bands. Family atmosphere. Yummy food. Cold beer. Excellent bartenders. Sokol Hall. One of my favorite parts of the festival was hearing The Moravians play. It’s a 7-piece band made up of high school and college guys. I love it that they are continuing the tradition of polka music. What’s more they attract a young audience that loves to dance! Oh, and they’re good! Excellent on the country tunes, too. I had a chance to visit via email with Matt Matous, one of the founders.
When did you form the band? In 2009. Adam, Josh and I had been considering it for a while and an opportunity arose for a talent show at the high school and they needed acts. So I signed us up and I talked to my brother, Zach, and a few family friends and we formed the band. We actually won first prize, which started our funds to purchase our own sound system with lots of help from my grandfather especially. The only member now who wasn’t in the original group is Kaleb Trojacek, but he joined a few months later. Kaleb has taught himself to play the accordion and what you heard the other night was due to two years of very devoted effort on his part and the love he shares for the heritage and the instrument.
Why did you name the band The Moravians? Because all of our ancestors migrated from the Moravia region of the Czech Republic.
Where have you played? We played this past fall at the Knights of Columbus in Dallas for an anniversary, the National Polka Festival in Ennis in the parade, the Ennis Czech Music Fest last year and this year, the St. John Parish Bazaar in Ennis, the KJT in Ennis for their annual Harvest Festival, and have also played in the Sokol bar in Ennis for jam sessions. We would of course love to play in other parts of Texas. [polkabeat.com will sponsor The Moravians appearance at the Texas Heritage Music and Dance Club free dance on Sunday, July 1, at Sengelmann Hall in Schulenburg. Headliner band is the Donnie Wavra Orchestra. This will be a great chance for Central Texas polka fans to hear this group.]
What’s your polka story? All of us grew up in Ennis and of course have attended countless dances growing up. We all go to the National Polka Festival every year and I have been to all 6 Czech Music Festivals. My grandmother is the one who actually taught me to dance when I was very little, we would practice in the kitchen Sunday mornings listening to the Johnny I. Krajca Polka Show (KBEC 1390 AM, Waxahachie). I know that the other members have very similar stories to mine, but we all grew up with the Czech heritage and traditions.
Are any of your parents musicians? The only one is our drummer Adam Rejcek. His grandfather was the founder of the Henry Rejcek Polka Band and his dad actually played trumpet and bass in the band along with his two uncles and grandfather many years ago. The rest of us are what you could call first generation musicians.
Who are some of your favorite polka bands? My personal favorite has always been the Vrazels. We actually took days off of school to go to Temple for their retirement dance. Other favorites include obviously Henry Rejcek's music, as well as Johnny Mensik's recording and more currently the Jodie Mikula Orchestra.
Which CDs are on your iPod/computer playlist? I actually am listening to Czech music right now as I am typing this email. I listen to it whenever I am at the computer doing homework. Every Sunday, I tune in online to listen to Johnny I. back home. I have all CDs from the Ennis bands, such as Czech and Then Some, Jodie Mikula, Jak se Do, Johnny Mensik, Henry Rejcek, a recording of the Lonestar Czechs and all the Vrazels CDs, of course. As I am typing this paragraph I actually listened to the Singing Mockingbird Waltz by the Vrazels, and the Happy Go Lucky Polka by the Mikulas. Basically I have all my music in a playlist and just let it run on shuffle. Just on my computer I have over 14 hours of Czech music so I never run out of stuff to listen to.
What are you Aggies majoring in? I am majoring in Aerospace Engineering and Adam is majoring in History. Even though our majors have nothing to do with music, we actually have a keyboard and an accordion here in our dorm and every so often play around. When I am not studying or other things I actually pull out sheet music and write songs. The melodies in our band’s music were passed down from the Henry Rejcek band and Kaleb and I have handwritten all the accompaniments and harmony by listening to recordings and applying a little bit of music theory. David Slovak (Czech and Then Some accordionist) has also helped us some by letting us play at Sokol jam sessions in Ennis.
Final thoughts? Any chance we get, we love to play and carry on our proud Czech heritage. Gig ’em!