By Theresa Parker
From October 2015 issue of Texas Polka News
That’s the translation of Das Ist Lustig! (DIL) and the promise of what you’ll get when you see them perform. Ross and Valina formed the group in 2007. Ross studied accordion and voice through college, but never played in a show band until the first DIL show in June 2007. Valina had been on stage in various capacities all her life, but didn’t begin playing instruments and performing as lead singer until DIL was formed.
“We started as a duo, but we add drums and other musicians whenever they're available,” Valina said. “We've been blessed with very talented people to work with!” They’ve also been blessed with each other. “After we formed the band, Ross and I realized we had fallen in love, so we got married in 2008.”
Tis the Season
DIL, based in the Houston area, plays an average of 150 shows a year, 60 during the 10-week Oktoberfest season. They have standing gigs for their popular “Dinner and Show” at Rudi Lechner’s in Houston and King’s Biergarten in Pearland. In September, the band was at Oktoberfests in Choctaw, Oklahoma, then back to Texas in Addison and Fort Worth. In October, DIL performed at the Kemah Oktoberfest, then boarded a bus on Oct. 15 to head to Deutsches Haus in Kenner, Louisiana. This was their third year playing this fest and Ross and Valina decided it was a unique experience they wanted to share. So they put together a bus trip.
Who wouldn’t want the best of all worlds – party in the French Quarter, have a designated driver, AND party at Oktoberfest!
Do You Know Freebird?
Reflecting on their most unusual Oktoberfest gig, Valina commented, “Every single Oktoberfest we play for has its own unique unusual-ness. We've played in places where there is a decorative waterway behind the stage full of children trying to splash our drummer to places where people come dressed in giant banana costumes just for the fun of it. We've played in 110-degree heat and we've played when it's so cold we can't feel the keys or strings of our instruments with our fingers. We've been sand blasted in high winds, and we've been baked in 100% humidity. Ahhh, Texas weather. The people are all wonderful. We love to get to know them, and especially see their party side. We're not sure we ever want a turkey leg tossed at the stage (like what happened during an Alex Meixner show last year at Wurstfest) but crazy, fun people are a joy to have around.”
When asked about the most requested song, Valina said, “This is most likely a tie between Chicken Dance, Edelweiss, and Wagon Wheel. Of course, there's always that guy who asks for Freebird.”
Valina and Ross have their favorites, too. They love to play The Bench Dance. “We got the music from a popular Bavarian folk dance. It has that stereotypical rambunctious biergarten sound everyone seems to love. We choreographed moves based on the folk dance for the audience to do with us. When there is a whole tent full of people laughing and joining in, you get that warm fuzzy Oktoberfest gemutlichkeit feeling.”
Ready for the Wurst
DIL recorded its first CD last year – Barrel Full of Lustig – packed with 20 tunes, many that were requested special by friends and fans. With the addition of their amazing drummer, tuba, and fiddle player, the songs you're used to hearing from the duo shine with life and style.
After the New Orleans trip, DIL performed at the Galveston Island Oktoberfest, and will appear at Wurstfest, and the Tomball German Christmas Market in December. In addition to their performances at Wurstfest, DIL will also perform at Friesenhaus Restaurant in New Braunfels.
“We got our start at Friesenhaus back during Wurstfest 2007. They're in a new location, but it's still home to us! Come grab a delicious meal before heading to Wurstfest!”