TLCB Celebrates 10 Years

By Theresa Parker

There are the usual reasons for the split-up of a band – personality clashes, day job demands, family obligations, retirement, poor health, even the death of the band leader. But no one was prepared for the news coming from the polka world in June 2007 when it was announced that Bobby Jones, the charismatic leader of his namesake band, was missing. Tire tracks and the license plate from his car were found on the banks of the rain swollen Brazos River in Wharton. It was hard news to accept, especially for those musicians who had shared the stage with Bobby in one of the most popular bands around.

                Some of the members of the Bobby Jones Czech Band were in a state of shock and couldn’t continue playing for a while. Bob Suttie, who had been with the band since 1989, decided to continue the legacy.

                “I guess I’m just not ready to quit playing this music!” Bob said in the September 2007 issue of Texas Polka News. “I wrote the song ‘Polka Time in Texas’ 15 years ago, because that is what I saw when I looked out at the crowds dancing to the Bobby Jones Czech Band. I had been in the band less than two years. But from the beginning I could see that ‘When it’s polka time in Texas, the world is a brighter place, that beautiful Czech music puts a smile on every face.’”  

He went on: “The shock of this whole situation has continued to take its toll, but I am committed to continuing this fine tradition. I feel I have a legacy to cherish, and to pass on to my children. So I have started a band called the Texas Legacy Czech Band.” Bob also thought it was important to honor the more than 30 bookings the Bobby Jones Band had for the rest of 2007.

                In the October 2007 issue of the paper, Editor John Rivard reported that “Bob Suttie and the Texas Legacy Czech Band brought new life to the New Taiton Dance Hall on Sunday, Aug. 26, playing for a good crowd eager to hear the new band. It was a fun dance!”

The article continued: “Suttie is still putting together the new band. On this day he had Cary Oswald (accordion), Mike Gest (tuba, bass), Donnie Wavra (sax), and Jimmy Ryza (drums), while Bob played trumpet, sax, and trombone. The music was good. The band played a great variety, and also closed with a group singalong of You Are My Sunshine, followed by a march around the hall to When the Saints Go Marching In. We were also pleased to see Bob working the hall during the band break, thanking people for coming.”

The Legacy Continues
Other members of the TLCB in the beginning included Delores Rivera and Gene Janis. Bobby Jones alum Joe Zetka Jr. returned to play with the band and continues as accordionist when he’s not playing with the Jodie Mikula Orchestra. Other mainstay members now are Bob Suttie (accordion, trumpet, sax, trombone), Mike Gest (tuba, bass), Jimmy Heinsohn (trumpet, steel guitar), and Darrell Pavlas (drums).

                Bob said the years have flown by. “We’ve recorded three CDs, appeared five times at Wurstfest, and performed at the National Polka Festival and on the Mollie B Polka Party TV show. We continued the tradition of playing every year at the Christmas parties in Shelby and New Taiton, and the military tribute in Rosenberg each May,” he recalled.

                And the best thing about the gigs – the people. “I sure appreciate the people who come out to dance to our music and listen to us. Through the years, we’ve seen a lot of same people at our yearly dances. It’s especially gratifying when they talk about how good the music and dancing are,” Bob said.

                Bob invites everyone to the Taiton Community Center on Sunday, July 30, to help the band celebrate its 10th year anniversary from 2-6 pm. Freddie Vacek will be serving pork steak, sausage, Texas toast, potatoes, veggie, and dessert cobbler, all for $7 a plate.  

Come dance and party with us! Guest appearances by former TLCB band members. Bring your instruments for the jam session. All those 21 and under will get in free and will eat free!

Stuff Your Stockings with Music!

There’s nothing better than to take down that stocking on Christmas morning to find it filled with chocolate, gift cards, AND MUSIC! Your favorite bands have new recordings just in time for holiday giving.

SqueezeBox by Request
SqueezeBox Band

Mollie B and Ted Lange have recorded a collection of 15 songs most requested by fans at their performances. And it’s a great lineup of music. Mozart’s Polka features accordion and sax and Mollie said it’s an arrangement like no other, done “SqueezeBox style.”

North Shore Polka features Ted on Polish vocals. “When performed live, it gets the crowd going,” Ted said. Rock and Roll Waltz is a classic waltz originally performed by Kay Starr, featuring Mollie's vocal talents on this fan favorite. Schneider Polka is a Six Fat Dutchmen number performed on two trumpets and sax, plus accordion, bass, and drums. A Ja Sam, a Czech song from the old country, is performed the Texas way, including dueling saxes, an accordion solo with a Tejano flair, guitar fills, and “even the ‘whoo, whoo, whoo’ influenced by our Texas friends,” Mollie said.

Crazy, a lighter ballad sung by Mollie with unique accordion and piano work by Ted, is performed in a jazz ballad style. El Rio Drive is a Verne Meisner number with a SqueezeBox twist including "soft-shoe" and Latin sections. Waltz of the Angels, is one of the band's most requested waltzes. My Heart Skips A Beat is a Buck Owens number played with a groovin’ Cajun beat.

Beer Mug Polka is one of the standards SqueezeBox plays to get the crowd going. Edelweiss is a vocal/piano ballad, sung in English and German. You will hear Mollie's classical training in this song. Red Apples Polka is the band’s version of a hoolerie – Dutchmen-style song featuring the clarinet. Polish Boyfriend Polka is one of Mollie's signature songs. The Rose, is a ballad featuring Mollie. Barbara Polka, is a traditional Czech number featuring the button box.

This new CD is the third recording for the band. Freshly Squeezed (2009) contains 20 songs including 14 polkas, 2 waltzes, and 4 fox trots/two-steps with vocals in English, German, Polish, and Czech. Squeeze Me (2007) contains 16 songs including 8 polkas, 2 waltzes, and 6 fox-trots/two-steps/slow songs with vocals in English, German, Polish, and Czech.

Order yours today!

Little Fishermen Orchestra featuring Mollie B

In addition to the By Request CD, Mollie B has released two other CDs - Little Fishermen Orchestra featuring Mollie B has 25 songs performed in Dutchmen and Big Band style, and Mollie B Live with Kenny, Tony, and Dana has 14 songs performed live on the Mollie B Polka Party, taped in Ennis earlier this year.

The Little Fishermen CD tracks: It’s a Small World, Midnight Waltz, Sweet Nearness of You, Elmdale Waltz, Aunt Ella’s Polka, Waltz Medley (Four in the Morning/Tennessee Waltz), Rainbow Valley Polka, Homecoming Waltz, Paper Roses, Matilda Polka, Edelweiss, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Silk Skirt Waltz, Red Raven Polka, Invisible Tears, Fritzie Polka, Snow Waltz, Stranger on the Shore, Ellen Polka, Foundling Waltz, Please Release Me, Innocence Waltz, Yellow Rose of Texas, Little Fishermen’s Waltz, and Sauerkraut Polka.

Order yours today!

Mollie B Live

Mollie B Live features Mollie on vocals, trumpet, sax, and keyboard; Kenny Brandt on sax; Tony Sabo on accordion, midi bass; and Dana Lindblad on drums. Tracks: Beer Barrel Polka, Praha Polka, Tick-Tock Polka, Slap Happy Polka, Pennsylvania Polka, Rock Around the Clock, Mozart's Polka, Save the Last Dance for Me, I Fall to Pieces, Kramer's Polka, Marie Augie's Polka, Memories of Vienna, and Quick Stop Polka. Order yours today!

Mollie is also offering a special discount to Texas Polka News and polkabeat.com fans. on her Christmas Special DVDs/CDs. She has four DVD/CD packs available. When you buy 3 packs TPN/polkabeat fans get a $5 discount; $10 when you buy 4. Shop now and be sure to type in TPN in the PayPal message section. Mollie will send you the discount via PayPal. 

Cajun Baby
Chris Rybak, Hallettsville

This CD has the classics and original tunes to make you feel like you’re at a Cajun polka party. In addition to Cajun standbys like Jole Blon, Jambalaya, and Diggy Liggy Lo, the CD features three original tunes – Cajun Baby’s Cookin’ Tonight, written by Daniel Klapuch (who co-penned Moon Over Moravia), Going to Hallettsville, written by Daniel and Chris, and Love that Chicken From Popeyes, written by Chris. Inspiration came for the latter tune after Chris and his band performed for a party at the Popeyes headquarters in New Orleans. In addition to Chris on accordion, keyboard, and vocals, the CD features Bonnie Riley on fiddle, Jonathan Statsky on rubboard and vocals, Marvin Kremling on maracas and vocals, Ronnie Hermes on guitar and vocals, and Edita Rybak on vocals. Available in the Polka On! Store or send $18 (includes shipping) to Chris Rybak 603 N Texana, Hallettsville, TX 77964.

Polka Time in Texas
The Moravians, Ennis

This CD features six polkas, six waltzes (including a beautiful rendition of Waltz of the Angels), the classic Spanish Eyes, and two country tunes, including Take Me Home Country Roads (John Denver is smiling). The band was started in 2009, and this is the group’s second CD. Current band members consist of seven college students, five being proud Fightin’ Texas Aggies (Whoop!). The band enjoys taking trips to play in new places and looks forward to spreading the joy of polka music for many years to come. Band members: Matthew Matous (accordion, trumpet, sax, vocals), Chris Trojacek (accordion, guitar, trumpet, sax, vocals), Adam Rejcek, drums, vocals, Josh Goodwin, tuba, bass, Zachary Matous (keyboard, bass) Phillip Cryer (sax, guitar, vocals), Tyler Prasifka (trumpet, vocals). The band's first CD, Czech Spirit Will Live On, is also available at the band website and the Polka On! Store

Cheers to 10 Years!
Ennis Czech Boys

This CD is pure polka and waltz music, featuring 11 polkas, including Long Road to Praha, Gypsy, Music, Music, and Peanuts, and five waltzes such as the beautiful Dreamland Waltz and Owl Waltz. In the liner notes, ECB says, “It seems like yesterday we went from three guys in a garage to now eight guys having the opportunity to perform at some of the best events for the greatest people you’ll find anywhere.” Band members: Chris Trojacek (vocals, tenor sax, trumpet), Corey Mikula (drums), Frank Vrla III (tenor sax, guitar, trumpet) Jared Prachyl (bass, vocals), Jerry Petter (accordion), Michael Trojacek (alto/tenor sax, vocals), Trey Sylvester (keyboard, vocals), and Zeke Martinez (rhythm guitar). Available in the Polka On! Store or send $18 (includes shipping) to Trey Sylvester 2392 Intrepid Dr., Buda, TX 78610.

Let’s Have a Party! 30th Anniversary
Dujka Brothers

This CD is non-stop polka party fun! John and Mark have selected 20 great tunes to celebrate their 30 years in the polka party business. The CD features 11 polkas, including Church Picnic Polka, written by Donnie Hons, If I Were a Bird, Tick-Tock, Seven Step, and Hey Baby Que Paso, written by Augie Meyers; five waltzes, including the beautiful Katherine’s Waltz, written by Jason Keepers, Westphalia, and a waltz medley with Looking for my Sweetheart and At the Spring; three country tunes – Dark Lighted Barrooms, The Chair, and Make the World Go Away; and the fun Santa Bring Me a Tuba, written by Daniel Klapuch. Available in the Polka On! Store or send $19 (includes shipping) to John Dujka 3384 Success Dr Brenham, TX 77833.

Czech, Please!
Czech Melody Masters, Austin

If you love brass in your polka, then this is the CD for you. The band has always strived to emulate the classic brass band sound of such beloved Texas bands as the Bacova Ceska Kapela, Adolph Pavlas, and the Joe Patek and Lee Roy Matocha Orchestras. The CD features eight polkas, including Prune Dumplings, Wooden Heart, and No Beer Today; and eight waltzes, including My Darling, Rosalinda, and Waiting in the Woods. The Red and White Waltz is the arrangement as originally recorded by Baca's Ceska Kapela from their first recording session in 1929 at Okeh Records in San Antonio. The band is anchored by original members Dennis Svatek (lead trumpet, lead vocals and music arranger), Dave Bedrich (trumpet and vocals) and Thomas Durnin (stand up bass). The sound is rounded out with Frances Barton on accordion, Rob Schmidt on drums, and their newest member, Dennis’ son, Stephen Svatek on baritone and guitar (when he’s not playing with the UT marching band). Czech out the band’s website – czechpolka.com – where you’ll find the world's longest running polka podcast, since 1998!Dennis uploads new shows every two weeks, plus you’ll find 68 archived shows, for over 176 hours of free music! CD available in the Polka On! Store or send $18 (includes shipping) to Dennis Svatek 2100 Mildred Dr. Taylor, TX 76574.

Polka Roots and Scoot the Boots
Off the Grid, Austin

This is the group’s first CD providing a mixture of cover tunes with some originals written by bandleader Joe Klaus. Tunes include Paint It Black (yes, Rolling Stones), which Joe converted to a polka after sitting with a rock band from Austin; Polka Medley, with some of the group’s favorite German and Czech tunes; Cortina, named after Lake Cortina in Northern Italy, which Joe was inspired by the beauty of the lake surrounded by the Italian Alps while on a boat ride; Paula's Cuckoo Waltz, an original tune written for Paula Kager from the Kuckucknest German Store in Fredericksburg; No Beer Today, no explanation needed; Baumerwald, features Joey Schwab on baritone; In Heaven There Is No Beer- sung in English, German, and Spanish, with some Polish la-las thrown in; Ooh La La, an adaptation of a Rocking Sidney Zydeco tune; and Swingtown, a polka version of the Steve Miller rock tune, a OTG favorite and one of their most requested tunes. Available in the Polka On! Store or send $18 (includes shipping) to Mike Campasso 8100 Manassas Dr. Austin, TX 78745.

Your Connection to Great Polka Music

Expand your music search to polkaconnection.com where you’ll find simply the best collection of fine polka music from around the world. Owner and musician Chuck Stastny has been collecting this fine polka music for 25 years, 10 years on the web. His catalog now features 2,500 different CDs and DVDs for sale, and the website has over 34,000 song samples. "We've provided all the best high-quality polka classics, along with the newest artists for your listening pleasure," said Chuck, who has been loving the music since age 0. “Grandpa played the button box and mom played piano accordion.” He invites you to browse the catalog of more than 2,500 titles, listen to samples, and buy online and pay no domestic shipping.

 

 

Now Showing: The Pettit Brothers

CD Review
By Gary E. McKee

Fifty years in the making! After playing music together since they were knee high to a ukulele, The Pettit Brothers (TPB) have released their first full-length studio CD.  Backed by a seasoned group of studio musicians the TPB takes listeners on a journey from a mournful country blues ballad to a rollicking, buck-dancing bluegrass party, with a stop off at a honky tonk for a couple of cold ones to ease the pain of lost love.

White Freight Liner Blues: TPB captures the driving bluegrass feel of this song while the fiddle and guitar signals the wide open highway. Lonnie’s voice while not attempting the high notes that Townes Van Zandt sometimes attempted, captures the weariness and restlessness of the man going out on the highway to listen the big trucks whine and haul away his mind from his troubles.

Driving Nails in My Coffin: This is Ernest Tubb’s 1944 ode to excessive beer consumption over the loss of a woman. The steady lockstep of Brian Lux’s stand-up bass and drummer Terry Kirkendall pushes the band along in a delightful gallop, while steel guitarist Nathan Fleming’s prowess on old-school steel provides a counterpoint to the gallop. Lonnie is picking his mandolin as only Lonnie can.

Hold Watcha Got: TPB’s rendition of a song recounting an attempt to rekindle a relationship captures the feel of the ‘King of Bluegrass” Jimmie Martin’s original recording. Sean Orr’s fiddle kicks off a shuffle punctuated by the rhythm system allowing Darryl Pettit’s self-assured plea to his woman to wait for him to come back home to wring true.

Why You Been Gone So Long: A relatively new song written by Micky Newberry begins with Brian’s thumping bass drawing the rest of the band into a bouncy song with Darryl’s inquiring twang and Larry Wilson’s guitar plucking.

I Still Miss Someone: TPB takes you back to Johnny Cash’s lament from the 1950s, as Lonnie’s sad regret of a love lost brings a tear to your eye and the need for a beer for it to fall into. Wilson’s interpretation of Luther Perkin’s signature spare guitar work does the job quite nicely.

Trouble in Mind: TPB’s rendition of this 1924 blues song is given the bluegrass treatment with Lonnie’s mandolin complementing Darry’s weary, yet hopeful lyrics.

Dark Hollow: An old-school bluegrass song about a fellow who would rather be anywhere else besides the now empty house that his woman left him in. Sean’s fiddle and George Carver’s harmonica add sparkle to this sad song.

Way Downtown: Doc Watson’s classic bluegrass song with Sean’s inspiring “hoedown” fiddle break ties in with Darryl’s strong guitar work in this fun song.

‘Til the Coast is Clear: Hal Ketchum/Fred Koller’s song of a honky-tonk with all the ingredients of the drinking, smoking, and marital misdeeds associated with them. Carver’s gorgeous resonator guitar with Sean’s relaxed, yet precise fiddling sets the stage for this cheatin’ song.

You Done Me Wrong: Sean’s unique voice and the band’s true to the original Cajun arrangement makes it hard to miss this song by two guys named Ray Price and George Jones. Larry Wilson’s rhythm playing keeps this jaunty song bouncing along.

Bottom Dollar: Lonnie’s vocal captures the feeling of a guy who is down to pocket change, but it’s not the first time, and he realizes it’s his own doing. Nathan Fleming’s steel guitar licks echoes the vocals familiar weariness on this Billy Joe Shaver classic.

Old Home Place: Lonnie’s declaration of self-sorrow over what his life has become after his woman run off closes out this fulfilling band of songs.  This 1970s bluegrass classic is given a faithful treatment by the whole band as Lonnie’s voice carries the song like the geese fly south and the wind blows cold.

You can see and hear TPB almost every Wednesday night at Sengelmann’s Saloon in Schulenburg, and weekends playing in honky tonks from Austin to Houston. For a schedule, buying the CD, and more, check out pettitbrothers.com.

 

 

Brothers in Harmony

By Gary E. McKee

 L-R: Brian Lux, Darryl Pettit, Sean Orr, Lonnie Pettit, Jim Schubert, and Chase Hrncir @ High Hill Store, Oct. 31, 2015./McKee photo

L-R: Brian Lux, Darryl Pettit, Sean Orr, Lonnie Pettit, Jim Schubert, and Chase Hrncir @ High Hill Store, Oct. 31, 2015./McKee photo

Lonnie and Darryl Pettit’s childhood wasn’t exactly the Partridge family, but Momma Pettit had a voice that was as crystal clear as Joan Baez’s and like the Johnny Cash song, Daddy played bass, and little brother, Garrett, and sister, Kari, joined right in to fill their house with music.

Lonnie and Darryl Pettit grew up in a family that cherished music. Their parents, Bill and Betty, were active members of the folk music circuit in the late 1950s and early 1960s and hosted in their home many of the touring coffeehouse circuit folkies. The touring professionals would give lessons to the whole Pettit family starting all the younger Pettits on their musical journey. Garrett became a respected member of the Houston stage musical scene, and Kari became a music teacher and the mother of The Ginn Sisters, a critically acclaimed national touring act.

What? No Amp?
When the family relocated to the Navidad River bottom in High Hill near Schulenburg, their acoustic sound was an anomaly among the local Czech/German music culture. The few rock and rollers then couldn’t figure out why they still played acoustic string instruments and didn’t plug in into amplifiers.

          After high school Lonnie and Darryl played in numerous bands, both singularly and together around Houston. Darryl sharpened his acoustic six-string picking skills with the Broken String Band, the traveling house band for the Chelsea Street Pub chain that had locations throughout Texas and neighboring states. Meanwhile, Lonnie focused on his mandolin skills and for several years, Lonnie played in a band called Rooster Junction at resorts in the Cayman Islands. The brothers reunited and did a three-year stint at one of the most unusual clubs in Houston. This was Los Truncos, a giant, multileveled enclosed tree house. The Pettits would move from branch to branch performing at each table, which was on a separate level from the others. If anyone went to Sam’s Boat on Richmond in Houston in the early 1980s, The Corona Beach Band was an institution there for six years with Lonnie’s voice serenading the crowd. For the next decade and a half, the Pettit brothers, played hundreds of weddings and parties in the Central Texas area.                

Jammin' at Momma's
In the mid-1990s, the Pettit family began holding a Wednesday evening jam session at Momma’s Pizza, which is in the Von Minden Hotel in Schulenburg. Local musicians soon began stopping by and it rapidly became the place to hear good acoustic traditional music. When younger brother Garrett began managing Sengelmann Hall, a great opportunity opened up. The Wednesday night Momma’s jam did a chord progression to the lower level stage of Sengelmann’s. Great live music, plenty of room, and great food came together to make Sengelmann’s Saloon a weekly oasis for the music lovers in the surrounding counties. As the weekly jam progressed into the new millennium, a core group, who now make up The Pettit Brothers Band emerged playing tight, extremely danceable old school country

          This ensemble consists of Darryl, Lonnie, Jim Schubert, Chase Hrncir, Brian Lux, Sean Orr, with special guests stopping by on a regular basis. 

Meet the Pettit Band
Jim Schubert, based in Austin, has been playing mandolin music over the Southern United States, embracing different styles of mandolin, jazz, and rockabilly to name a couple, in addition to standard bluegrass and all infused with a tinge of the blues, the basis of all American music.

Chase Hrncir, from Moravia, Texas, Lonnie’s protégé, has been playing mandolin for six years, learning from Lonnie and others at the weekly jam.

Anchoring the drummerless band, is a bass fiddle, Brian Lux, who has deep family roots in Schulenburg. Brian has been a musician for over three decades. While attending Texas A&M he discovered that the stand-up bass was to be his instrument of choice. In his life’s travels, he found there was always a need for a good bass man, whether it was rockabilly, rock and roll, jump, jazz, country, or swing. Brian has played them all quite well, and returning to his family’s home, has been with the band for three years.

Widening the Pettit Brothers sound is Sean Orr, from Bastrop, who has spent decades playing fiddle and guitar in a multitude of bands and different styles. He has played Texas style fiddle at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and is an expert on getting the “twang” out of his electric guitar to replicate the honky tonk sound. In addition to Texas fiddle, he honors his Celtic heritage by playing intense Irish fiddle in Sean Orr’s Kick Ass Irish Band.

The band has been touring Central Texas playing several nights a week with a recent return engagement in New Orleans. Even more recently they filled the dance floor at the kick-off party for the Second Annual Festival of Texas Fiddling sponsored by Texas Folklife and Texas Dance Hall Preservation. Check out the band’s schedule and buy the CD at www.pettitbrothers.com, or better yet, come see them live!