Dance Hall Preservation Art Contest Winners Announced

Fourteen Fayette County students accepted Texas Dance Hall Preservation’s challenge to create art depicting the county’s rich dance hall history. “They were all amazing entries,” TDHP President Deb Fleming said. “It was great to see dance hall history come alive through the eyes of these young, talented artists.”
      First place went to Allyson Hoffman, a junior at Fayetteville High School, for her colored pencil drawing of Sengelmann Hall. Second place went to Hector Aguilar, a sophomore at Round Top Carmine (RTC) High School, for his drawing of antique cars outside a dance hall. Third place went to Justin Hickman, a senior at RTC, for his drawing of a band playing at the Chicken Ranch Dance Hall layered on top of a Fayette County Record newspaper. Alyssa Hayden, a RTC junior, received honorable mention for her 3D representation of Sengelmann
Hall.
      The art was displayed at the TDHP fundraiser on Nov. 12. Each contestant received a signed print of Cat Spring Agricultural Hall by Fayetteville artist Pat Johnson, and a Polka On! goodie bag from Texas Polka News and polkabeat.com. The four winners also received cash prizes and a Polka On! tote bag, along with a one-year subscription to the Texas Polka News.
      The winners shared why they entered the contest and their future plans.

ALLYSON HOFFMANN, First Place
I decided to enter the contest so that I could grow as an artist. I wanted to do Sengelmann Hall because of the detail in the architecture. I have been to many Fayette Co. dance halls, like the
SPJST hall in Fayetteville, Swiss Alp, and a few others. I think it’s important to preserve
the dance halls because it’s a part of our Texas history. Buildings like these are no longer constructed. I plan on pursuing a career in art.

HECTOR AGUILAR, Second Place
I am new to Fayette County, so the art competition seemed like a good way to learn about the history of the area. I have never been to a dance hall in Fayette County, but after researching
them I want to go and hear some good music! Preservation of the dance halls is very important because it is the same as preserving the culture and the heritage of the people here.

JUSTIN HICKMAN, Third Place
I entered the competition because I love living in Fayette County and the dance halls are a big part of growing up here. I have been to just about every dance hall in Fayette County. I really enjoy dancing and listening to good Texas country music. Maintaining the dance halls in Fayette County is important because it is a major piece of the culture and history of this area. I would like to attend TSTC after high school to become a diesel mechanic.

ALYSSA HAYDEN, Honorable Mention
I entered the dance hall competition because I admire antiques and history. This gave me a chance to express my appreciation on a larger scale. My piece allowed me to create a representation of Sengelmann Hall without using conventional drawing tools. I have been to Zapp Hall, RoundTop Rifle Hall, Carmine Hall, and the Round Up Hall! Preservation of the dance halls is important because it gives people a glimpse at how things used to be. My goal is to major in International Business and Marketing.

Texas Polka News Launches Subscription Drive

By Theresa Cernoch Parker, Publisher & Bohemian Princess

Texas Polka News will mark its 30th anniversary in 2018. To celebrate, we’re launching a drive to reach 3,000 subscribers. Sure, we want more people reading The News, but we also want to give back to say thanks for supporting the newspaper, polka, and Texas music/ethnic heritage.

Here’s how it works: For every new subscription or renewal from now through January 2018, TPN will donate $5 of the subscription price to a dance club or music/heritage organization of your choice. Not only will your group benefit from the donated subscription money, $3,000 in prizes will be awarded in two categories in June 2018.

Category one awards $1,000 to the organization that turned in the most subscriptions/
renewals; $500 to second place.

Category two awards $500 to the dance club (50 members or less) that turned in the most subscriptions/renewals; $250 for second place; $500 to the dance club (51 members
or more); $250 for second place.

Examples of dance clubs are Polka Lovers Klub of America, Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club, Swiss Alp Dance Club, Cajun French Music Association, Sealy Dance Club, Wallis Dance Club, DaCosta Western Dance Club, and German/Czech/Polish performance groups, such as high
school clubs, Wawel Polish dance group, Keine Kunst dance group.

Examples of organizations are Polka Lovers Club of Texas Museum, Texas Polka Music Museum, and other heritage museums, Texas Czech Heritage & Cultural Center, PolkaWorks, Texas Folklife, Texas Dance Hall Preservation, South Texas Czech Heritage Society, German-
Texan Heritage Society, Bluebonnet Opry and other oprys, and libraries.

We will be distributing campaign flyers and order forms to groups through September. Flyers and forms can also be downloaded from TexasPolkaNews.com.

Questions? Contact Theresa Parker at 281-836-6362 or theresa@polkabeat.com.

 

 

Garrett Neubauer: Polka Accordion King

By Gary E. McKee

For almost a decade, Texas Folklife has been hosting a Big Squeeze accordion competition spotlighting young accordionists across Texas. The competition in 2014 marked the first time that grand prize winners would be selected in three categories – polka, conjunto and Cajun/zydeco. Big Squeeze winner in the polka category was Garrett Lee Neubauer of Altair. Garrett has been playing accordion since the age of 12. When his father, Daryl, passed away prematurely, he felt that the best way to honor him would be to pick up his father’s accordion and learn how to play it. His father had been an accordionist in the Tony Janak Polka Band. Between managing a rice farm, and playing, Daryl took time to guide a young Mark Hermes (of the Czechaholics) on the art of playing accordion. When Garrett made his decision, Mark returned the family favor by showing him around the keys of Darryl’s accordion, which had once belonged to Bobby Jones. Lawrence Ruether, Garrett’s grandpa, also played the accordion and taught him some songs. As Garrett’s skill increased, other members of the Czechaholics, Brian Klekar and Greg and Brian Svetlik mentored Garrett on the intricacies of music and performing. I remember going backstage several years ago at a Czechaholics gig at SPJST Lodge 88 in Houston and finding Garrett playing along while behind the curtains, learning the songs.

Down by the Pond    
Down a sandy country road that leads to a lush, serene oak grove that Garrett calls home, he would spend evenings practicing while sitting in the yard or out by the stock pond. He has ample time for this as he works in the maintenance department at Rice School district just five minutes away. Both he and his dad graduated from there. His neighbors, Gladys and Joe Salinas, big polka fans, would enjoy the notes floating across the cow pasture in the evenings.

As Garrett’s confidence and licks improved through the many hours of practice, he was asked more frequently to sit in with the Czechaholics and Texavia. The Tony Janak Polka Band has reformed as the J & S Playboys, and Garrett sits in occasionally to fill his father’s shoes. Though he loves playing all genres of music his favorite is the Czech polkas and waltzes that he grew up listening to his father play.

His desire to learn more about the unique instrument grew and now he owns four keyboard and two button accordions including the one he won at the Big Squeeze competition. In case anyone stops by and wants to jam, Garrett also owns an electric bass guitar, a keyboard, an electric six-string guitar and a set of drums. The six-string guitar is what he spends more time on now as he is still in the learning stage.

Big City Venues
The Big Squeeze competition broadened Garrett’s horizon as he went from playing the smaller Central Texas venues to performing at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum in Austin and then in front of thousands of people at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston at the annual Accordion Kings & Queens event. The large audience did not intimidate him. “I just got up there and did what had to be done.” The competition gave him a chance to see and talk to outstanding accordionists his own age playing Cajun and conjunto styles. The 2015 Big Squeeze performance will give Garrett a chance to perform once again at the big venues and to turn over his title as Accordion King to a new young performer. Garrett has some advice for those novices: “The accordion is a difficult instrument to play and the only way to master it is to practice, practice, practice.”

The Texas Dream Band, a country/polka band out of Hallettsville is Garrett’s regular gig now, playing keyboards and accordion in this band composed of the offspring of other country/polka musicians. But whenever he isn’t playing with Texas Dream, Garrett can be found with his accordions ready to take the stage wherever polka is happening. There is no doubt that his father would have been proud.

[Editor’s note: Garrett Neubauer performed at the 2015 Big Squeeze Finals on April 25 in Austin, where Brandon Hodde of Holland, TX, was crowned the new polka accordion king. Both will perform at the 26th Annual Accordion Kings & Queens event on Saturday, June 6, at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston.]

Garrett Neubauer Wins Big Squeeze Polka Title

Texas Folklife is pleased to announce the names of the talented young accordionists who were chosen as the 2014 Big Squeeze Champs. They are Garrett Neubauer, Grand Prize Winner for Polka; Randall Jackson, Grand Prize Winner for Zydeco; and Aaron Salinas, Grand Prize Winner for Conjunto.

  Big Squeeze Grand Prize Winners:  Aaron Salinas in the Conjunto Category (San Antonio) Garrett Neubauer in the Polka Category (Altair) Randall Jackson in the Zydeco Category (Dallas)

Big Squeeze Grand Prize Winners: Aaron Salinas in the Conjunto Category (San Antonio) Garrett Neubauer in the Polka Category (Altair) Randall Jackson in the Zydeco Category (Dallas)

The winners were chosen at the Big Squeeze Finals and Concert held on the Lone Star Plaza at the Bullock Texas State History Museum last Saturday. Nine finalists and three honorable mentions performed before the large, enthusiastic Texas roots music loving crowd. The program featured Grammy Award-winning Sunny Sauceda, Curtis Poullard and the Creole Zydeco Band, the Austin-based Fabulous Polkasonics, and Michael Ramos, the reigning Big Squeeze Champ.

This year was the eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians. In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife has expanded the popular contest. Instead of one Big Squeeze Champ, three Final Grand Prize Winners were chosen to represent the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre includes German, Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco includes Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto includes norteño and Tejano. There were eight talent showcases scheduled around the state that were free, open to the public, and featured performances by local musicians. Six showcases have already occurred: Houston Creole Festival (February 1); La Joya High School (February 8); McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi (February 9); Texas Polka Festival and Symposium in Schulenburg (February 22); MECA in Houston (February 23); the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas (March 23); and Los Fresnos High School (March 29), and the Gallista Gallery with Conjunto Heritage Taller in San Antonio (April 4). 

This year saw a large increase in the number of participants and the number of audience members throughout the state for the contest. There were 49 contestants and over 3,000 individuals who attended the eight talent showcases. There were over 500 in the audience at the Final Playoffs and Concert, with many getting up to joyously dance and root for the young the squeezeboxers.

All three winners will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The three young winners will hit the jackpot because this will be a special year to perform at Accordion Kings & Queens as it will be the 25th anniversary! In addition, the three Big Squeeze 2014 Grand Prize Winners received a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion, performance opportunities in Austin and Houston, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities. 

“The Big Squeeze contest has turned a corner,” said Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “This year, throughout the state, thousands of Texans have come out to see the next generation of culture bearers. We are grateful to our partners in the contest who have helped us make a difference in these young people’s lives and their communities by encouraging the state’s traditional music scene. In addition, we are glad to have broadened the scope of the contest by creating three Grand Prize Winners, because we had the largest number of young squeezeboxers in the contest and all of them are fine young musicians with incredible talent. I guess you could say that accordions are taking over the world!”

Big Squeeze Contest Finals Coming April 26

Free Concert and Playoffs to be held at the Bullock Texas State History Museum on Saturday, April 26

Three Grand Prize Winners will be selected in each category: Polka, Zydeco, and Conjunto  

Texas Folklife and the  Bullock Texas State History Museum are pleased to announce that the Finals for the annual Big Squeeze accordion contest will take place at the museum on Saturday, April 26. The event will be held from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on the Lone Star Plaza in front of the museum (in case of rain it will be held inside), and is free and open to the public. Big Squeeze finalists, whose names will be announced on April 11, will perform before the judges and the public. While the judges deliberate on the winners, the crowd will be entertained by an all-star musical line-up.

This year’s program is headlined by Grammy Award-winning Sunny Sauceda, a Tejano star who likes to collaborate and “mix it up” in other genres, allowing him to stand out, breakout, and crossover into one of the top solo artists performing today. Also on this dynamite program are zydeco accordionist Curtis Poullard and the Creole Zydeco Band and the Austin-based Fabulous Polkasonics famous for their “old country polkas.” And Michael Ramos, the 2013 Big Squeeze Champ, will join this exciting group of musicians who will no doubt wow the crowd with all things accordion.   

This is the eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians, 21 years of age or younger. In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife expanded the popular contest this year. Instead of one Big Squeeze Champ, there will be three Final Grand Prize Winners chosen to represent the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre includes German, Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco includes Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto includes norteño and Tejano. 

There were eight talent showcases scheduled around the state that were free, open to the public, and featured performances by local musicians. Six showcases have already occurred: Houston Creole Festival (February 1); La Joya High School (February 8); McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi (February 9); Texas Polka Festival and Symposium in Schulenburg (February 22); MECA in Houston (February 23);  the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas (March 23); Los Fresnos High School (March 29) and the Gallista Gallery with Conjunto Heritage Taller in San Antonio (April 4). 

Nine finalists (three from each genre) will be chosen from the field of performers at the showcases by a panel of esteemed music professionalsAccordionists will be judged on their technical proficiency—skill in playing, and technical and musical accuracy—as well as their song interpretation (stylistic choices, innovation, and originality) and stage presence (level of comfort on stage and attention to personal appearance). The nine finalists will be announced on April 11.

The finalists will perform at the Finals Concert and Playoffs at the Bullock on April 26. As mentioned, there will be three Grand Prize Winners selected. All three winners will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The three young winners will hit the jackpot because this will be a special year to perform at Accordion Kings & Queens as it will be the 25th anniversary! In addition, the three Big Squeeze 2014 Grand Prize Winners will receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion, performance opportunities in Austin and Houston, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities. 

“This is a big year for Texas Folklife,” says Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “It is the eighth year for the Big Squeeze, the 25th anniversary for Accordion Kings & Queens, and Texas Folklife turns 30. We are extremely gratified that we have been able to make a difference in young people’s lives with this contest by encouraging the state’s traditional music scene. But what we have discovered in our travels and seeking out the best young Texas accordion players is that a larger emphasis needs to be placed on certain accordion traditions. So we have broadened the scope of the contest by creating three Grand Prize Winners, three Big Squeeze Champs. I guess you could say that accordions are taking over the world!”

The Big Squeeze is supported by the members and Board of Texas Folklife and by Hohner, Inc.; by grants from Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Music Office, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Houston Endowment, Humanities Texas, H.E.B., Texas Gas Service, and Central Texas Accordion Association. Additional support is provided by regional businesses including SugarHill Recording Studios, Antone’s Records, Hacienda Records, and Frank+Victor Design.  

Big Squeeze Accordion Contest expands search for top talent

This year's Big Squeeze Contest sponsored by Texas Folklife is going to be bigger and better this year. Instead of one grand prize winner, three will be chosen, one in each category - Polka, Zydeco and Conjunto. Yay! The Texas Folklife folks had been trying to figure out a way to encourage more polka and zydeco contestants and I think this is a great solution!

Here are the details:

Texas Folklife announces its eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians, 21 years of age or younger. The non-profit that endeavors to preserve and promote Texas’s diverse cultural heritage is looking for great players in all genres of the Lone Star State’s accordion-based music, including German, Czech, and Polish polka; Creole, Cajun, and zydeco; and conjunto, norteño, and Tejano. 

In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife is restructuring the popular contest this year. The contest will go on the road again this spring in order to meet the young accordion players in their communities in “talent showcases.” Three Final Grand Prize Winners will be devoted to the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco will include Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include norteño and Tejano. The showcases will be free, open to the public, and feature performances by local musicians.

The Big Squeeze 2014 talent showcases:

·      February 1:    Houston Creole Festival

·      February 8:    La Joya High School

·      February 9:    McDonald Public Library in Corpus Christi

·      February 22: Texas Polka Festival & Symposium in Schulenburg

·      February 23: MECA [Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts] in Houston   

·      March 23:      Latino Cultural Center in Dallas

·      March 29:      Los Fresnos High School

·      April 4:          Gallista Gallery with Conjunto Heritage Taller in San Antonio

Nine finalists (three from each genre) will be chosen from the field of performers at the showcases (and those who send in their performances to Texas Folklife) by a panel of esteemed music professionalsAccordionists will be judged on their technical proficiency—skill in playing, and technical and musical accuracy—as well as their song interpretation (stylistic choices, innovation, and originality) and stage presence (level of comfort on stage and attention to personal appearance). The nine finalists will be announced on April 11.

The finalists will perform at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on Saturday, April 26. Three Grand Prize Winners will be selected. There will be one winner for each accordion category—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. All three winners will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The three young winners will hit the jackpot because this will be a special year to perform at Accordion Kings & Queens as it will be the 25th anniversary! 

Interested players are encouraged to reserve a showcase slot at a venue in their region by contacting Texas Folklife. Those who cannot attend a showcase may also mail or e-mail their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife no later than April 7, 2014. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online at www.texasfolklife.org or by calling (512) 441-9255.

The three Big Squeeze 2014 Grand Prize Winners will receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion, performance opportunities in Austin and Houston, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities. 

“The Big Squeeze contest is becoming a tradition across the state,” says Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “We are truly gratified by the way the contest has been embraced by local communities. But what we have discovered in our travels and seeking out the best young Texas accordion players is that a larger emphasis needs to be placed on certain accordion traditions. We have broadened the scope of the contest by creating three Grand Prize Winners, one winner for each genre. In particular, we are focusing on zydeco and polka at several of the showcase events and are developing more ways to safeguard their important place in Texas music.”

The Big Squeeze is supported by the members and Board of Texas Folklife and by Hohner, Inc.; by grants from Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Music Office, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Houston Endowment, Humanities Texas, H.E.B., and Texas Gas Service. Additional support is provided by regional businesses including SugarHill Recording Studios, Antone’s Records, Hacienda Records, Frank+Victor Design, and Embassy Suites Hotel in Austin.

 

About Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. Celebrating its 30thanniversary in 2014, Texas Folklife has honored the authentic cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences. It is located in Austin, Texas, in the SoCo neighborhood—one of the city’s vibrant commercial and arts district.

Mollie B Picks Wes' Valentine

Congratulations to Wes Matus of Spring. Mollie B chose his poem as the winner of polkabeat.com’s Mollie B My Texas Valentine contest. Wes receives 2 tickets to one day of the RFD-TV taping in Ennis, March 8-11, along with a Squeezebox CD and 2 Mollie B Polka Party towels. And of course, he won a Polka On! shirt just for entering.

Wes began playing trumpet in Seymour, Texas, in the 5th grade and all through his high school years as well.  He was not really exposed to polka music until he came to the Houston area in the mid 1960s.  Wes played with the City Polka Boys (now known as Texas Sound Check) for 20+ years, from 1970 till 1991.  He is retired from playing music now.  He started out playing trumpet and wrote all the music for two trumpet parts.  He taught himself lead guitar so they could play more country and western music as time went on.  Now he enjoys listening to polka/waltz music and dancing to it, too!

Here’s Wes’ winning entry. There is a real sweet lady named Mollie, She can really play and sing polkas by golly. She's known as Mollie B and also a fantastic Emcee, She introduces polka bands on RFD/TV. And before these lines I finish, I have to let you know she's coming to the town of Ennis. The next big Polka Party's in the Lone Star State, With Texas polka bands the event will be sooooooo great!!

Here are a few of the other entries. When it's polka time in Texas with Mollie B Ennis will be as jolly as can be. We will welcome her as our valentine as we dance with our mate in this wonderful State. Yea, Polkabeat and Texas! Earline Okruhlik, Richmond

Roses are red, Violets are blue, Mollie B coming to Texas is so sweet, So we can all have fun and shuffle our feet! Julie Matus, Spring

My dancing shoes are on
And I'm ready to take a spin.
Hurry to Texas, Mollie B,
I can't wait to polka again! Marlene Satterwhite, Humble

Waltzes are great; Polkas are, too! Dancing with you Is my favorite to-do! Gwen Petersen, Plantersville

Mollie B how sweet thee bee,
Where the bluebonnets bloom,
There is no gloom,
Texas is the best place to be! Janie Sitka, Sugar Land

Mollie B is pretty Mollie B is sweet Mollie B plays music And Texas will get a treat

Mollie B is talented Mollie B is kind Mollie B plays all the instruments The best you can find

Mollie B is gracious She is as happy as she can be Someone who likes to play the squeezebox Also likes to squeeze Mollie B Jane Kosel, Katy

Mollie B is charming Mollie B is sweet Mollie B plays great music Texas is in for a treat Harold Kosel, Katy

Mollie B She is for me Mollie B is really neat and she has that great Polka Beat! Margaret Migl, Houston

Oh, how I love that Mollie B. I have seen her on TV! What a show she puts on! She makes me want to dance on and on! Darlene Polly, Houston