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!

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
      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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 – – 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 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.



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

Questions? Contact Theresa Parker at 281-836-6362 or



Encore Time: Schroeder Hall Reopens!

By Gary E. McKee

Schroeder Hall, the legendary South Central Texas dance hall, built in the late 1800s, has reopened its doors after a brief respite and will be featuring Chris Rybak, on Saturday, July 16. Schroeder, still owned by Doug Guller, Austin-based restaurant and dancehall owner, has a new manager, Corrine Abbott. Corrine is a native of El Campo, and has a degree in food and beverage management from the University of Houston. She has brought her Wharton County roots to Schroeder and is presently booking polka bands to perform on a regular basis. In between polkas, the hall will be appealing to different genres of Texas music - contemporary country, Red-Dirt Country, indie rock and nationally recognized touring acts.

          On November 19th, all cattle trails and roads will lead to the hall as Schroederfest will commence a day-long celebration of BBQ cookoffs, adult beverages (full bar), vendors, singing in the courtyard with Jon Stork, and culminating with The Charlie Daniels Band that evening.

          As the cooler months come around, Marty Haggard and Kevin Fowler will perform on the same stage that has seen a variety of legends. Bob Wills, Adolph Hofner, George and Tammy, Jimmy Heap, Roy Clark, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Larry Joe Taylor, and Robert Earl Keen top the long list of music heroes.

          Chris, the Accordion Cowboy, is a natural fit for this venue as it resides in the early Spanish ranching grants that date back to the late 1700s. Cattle were driven from this area to Louisiana to feed the Spanish forces fighting the British during the American Revolution.

          As the cattle industry evolved and German/Czech immigrants migrated south, many of them found work on the Tex/Mex ranches and brought their music with them. They began jamming with their Mexican co-workers (Nortiño music) and the blending of the two musical cultures produced a unique sound (Tejano). The accordion-driven Tejano music was absorbed by Tex/Mex/Czech musicians such as Santiago Jimenez, Johnny Rodriguez, and Adolph Hofner.

          Chris' influences have been a combination of Myron Floren and the Jimenez brothers – Flaco and Santiago – with a strong Hank Williams flavor.

          This Slavic/Hispanic sound will be channeled by Chris in this old hall (now air-conditioned) that has its roots in a community that was once named Germantown. During World War I, the name was changed to a little less Teutonic-sounding name, Schroeder, which was in honor of a resident killed fighting the Germans in Europe.

          Visit for the soon-to-be weekly dance and event schedule at one of the last vestiges of Texas rambling dancehalls. Also appearing in July are Jake Worthington on the 9th; George Navarro on the 23rd; and Jarrod Birmingham on the 30th.

          Schroeder Hall is roughly between Goliad and Victoria and has a self-contained RV park across the road for those travelers who wish to stay the night and explore this history-filled area of Texas.


Support Your Local Church Picnic

In addition to being Dairy Month, June is also the core of the picnic season. There are over 100 church-related picnics yearly and a good many of them occur in June through August. So please attend at least one local picnic and then plan a trip to a new one.

By Gary E. McKee

To a visitor from Elsewhere, USA, the idea of a picnic might conjure up images of plaid blankets on the ground with a wicker basket of cold food beside a lake containing a canoe and a delicate lady shading herself with a parasol as a gentleman tries to woo her by playing his accordion. Well pardner, come on down to the Polka Belt, and be prepared to immerse yourself into the alphanumeric drone of Bingo, an auctioneer’s rapid fire patter, the clinking of plastic rings on liters of soda water, the enticing smell of homemade food cooking, the alternating rhythms of polka bands, and the delightful sound of laughter as friends and family reunite in a yearly homecoming.

The summer picnic season runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend with a few picnics scattered on both sides to symbolize more agrarian times of the year, i.e. planting and harvest times. The term "picnic" is an anachronism from days of old bringing to mind the first image above without fire-ants. While church fundraisers dominate the picnic calendar, many organizations have sponsored them.

Father Ed Karasek was raised attending picnics from probably day one as his parents were in charge of making the potato salad at the Frenstat picnic. His early memories were of playing the Teddy Bear wheel trying to win one. The ball/bottle throw was a popular booth with a winner getting either a cigar or pack of gum depending upon the winner’s age. The Gil Baca or Sil Krenek Bands provided the music. This is where the “Dancing Priest” learned to polka. A “community builder” is how Fr. Ed describes the church picnic, bringing families together and providing entertainment for the kids. Now tending to his primarily Hispanic flock in Lockhart at St. Mary of the Visitation, Fr. Ed is heavily involved in their yearly picnic, named Jamaica, now in its 40th year of food, music and fellowship. This year's picnic will be held July 24 and 25.

Picnic evolution
Let’s go back a few years and take a brief look at picnics, bazaars, and celebrations to see how they have evolved. In September of 1902 the Texasky Mir, No. 10 S.P.J.S.T. Lodge of Shiner held a Feast and Picnic in Hilderbrandt’s Park with children’s games being the prominent feature of the day, along with “Orators of Repute delivering address on Questions of Vital Interest to Our People.”

Politicians utilized these large gatherings of voters to campaign and connect with the “common” people. At some picnics literately thousands of people would stand in the weather (generally hot) and listen to the politicians for hours, an inconceivable event nowadays. Not all were on Sundays as the S.P.J.S.T. lodge of Snook announced that it will give a picnic on Easter Monday, April 8, 1912 at their new hall.

The Brenham St. Peter’s Church held a picnic in May of 1915, with wagons transporting those wishing to attend to the “beautiful spot adjoining the Giddings place about one mile north of town. The members of the Women’s Guild have charge of the picnic and will take care of the children who wish to attend without their parents. All members of the Sunday school and congregation are expected (editor’s emphasis) to go and take their friends if they wish.”

Picnic during the week
The Schwertner (NW of Granger) Biennial Picnic in June of 1936 was a community happening that was held on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the bands performing those two days were Joe Buzze’s Orchestra of Waco, and Louis Welk’s Eleven Piece Orchestra. Two years later the Shimek Brass Band performed. The July 4th weekend of 1926 was a busy period, as it is now, in the Fayette County area, picnic and celebration wise. Hostyn’s feast hosted one of the largest political gatherings in Texas as Governor “Ma” Ferguson and Farmer Jim Ferguson were scheduled to speak. With a noon vehicle count of 3,300 vehicles, the crowd was estimated to be between 10,000 and 20,000 folks, the Schulenburg Sticker reported. The crowd stood for hours in the sun listening to the Ferguson speeches.

Politicians and baseball
Dubina’s celebration drew several thousand people to hear a well received political speech by Senator Gus Russek (Schulenburg) and Method Pazdral, a former local attorney of Czech origin. The Ammansville Snappy Orchestra played a dance that was attended by 2000 people with 300 tickets being sold to young men. From what this writer can deduce from the ads, during this time period, to actually dance, a ticket was needed, while some venues sold a lesser price ticket for “spectators” as one ad put it, People traveled to see Shiner play Schulenburg in baseball, hear Governor Dan Moody talk, and dance that evening to “most excellent band music” in Shiner.

Two weeks later High Hill had a feast that kicked off with the Blessing of the new Parish House by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Drossaerts of San Antonio followed by solemn High Mass. Afterwards a grand chicken and barbecue dinner was served by the ladies of the parish. That afternoon speeches by various politicians will be given followed by a baseball game between Dubina and High Hill. Concert Music was provided by the Ammansville Brass Band and singing by the High Hill Mannerchor. In the evening The High Hill Dramatic Club provide entertainment, accompanied by the previous band and choir (no dance.)

June of 1959, St. Martin’s Parish, in Tours (NE of Waco) held a “Fun for Everyone” picnic with “Something for Everyone to do - All Afternoon and Evening – Ride the Train – Play Games – SUPPER SERVED 4:30 to 9PM – Fried Chicken, Roast Beef and Baked Ham;” that evening Slim Haisler and His Play Boys of Temple provided the dance music.

Don't just drive thru
While the picnic format has evolved into the fairly formulaic state, that is, church service, meal, and then simultaneously live music, games for children, Bingo, a long auction, and family visiting; it has changed from an event on any day or days of the week to a Sunday for six to eight hours, with a few exceptions like the St. John Fourth of July Picnic and the Prazska Pout (Praha Feast) always held August 15 on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

The Fourth of July Picnic at the S.P.J.S.T. hall in West was discontinued in 1966 due to diminishing crowds. Air-conditioning, television, and newly built lakes nearby were to blame, the West News opined. In the pre-automobile days, crowds would gather in town and led by a band march en masse to the picnic grounds. While picnics seem to still attract a large number of folks, it is my observation that the drive-through dinner option of picnics, while increasing the financial income, has diminished the communal bonds that the picnics have built up over the years.

So, please support your local picnic, whether it be in Seguin, Dubina, Wallis, Frenstat, Granger, Shiner, Stoneham, Ennis, Cyclone, or Houston. And please park your vehicle and make new friends or discover extended family members. Check out the listing of Church Picnics at

Donnie Hons and the Church Picnic Polka

By Gary E. McKee


It’s picnic season again, time to check the tire pressure in the car, and head down the road to a church picnic. To help get you in the mood, order Donnie Hons’ single song cd The Church Picnic Polka from the PolkaBeat store. Also available as a digital download.

Donnie is a singer – songwriter with deep Lavaca County roots. He grew up in the polka/waltz culture, but his musical tastes guided him to an old-school type country music style which perfectly suits his baritone voice. While still in high school, Donnie started singing with the legendary Bobby Lee Nightriders in the Victoria area. Since then he has performed with many country bands and sat in with all flavors of bands at numerous picnics and venues singing and plying his bass. The Nightriders still perform four times a year at Da Costa Hall to packed dance floors as they provide “country and western dancing the way it was meant to be.”

Inspiration in a deer blind         
John Rivard, the former writer for TPN instilled an idea into Donnie’s mind that he should write a song about the church picnics of the area. The idea kept floating around in his brain, until one slow day in a deer blind in the Hill Country, he started jotting down some words for a song. While searching for a melody to put them to, the obvious choice would be a polka beat as that sound is what sets most picnics apart from other gatherings. After smoothing out the lyrics, he enlisted Tommy Detamore of Cherry Ridge Studios in Floresville who contributed his studio and his steel guitar to help bring it together. Chris Rybak showed up to provide the accordion sound and Daniel Jobb of The Red Ravens paired with Donnie’s bass to make the backbone rhythm.

The resulting single, The Church Picnic Polka, is a lively trip around Central Texas as the singer and his date attempt to dance their boots off at all the picnics from Prazska Pout in Praha to Shiner to Hostyn (where Donnie sang the song with the Czechaholics at the recent picnic.) The melody, like the lyrics, incorporates many of the musical styles that will be heard this summer: polka, country steel guitar, and conjunto. You can hear this song on radio shows hosted by Alfred Vrazel, Danny Zapletal, Clinto, and TKO on Texas Thunder.

Where the music's gone
In 2010, Donnie teamed with Joel Nava to record a single “Where the Music’s Gone” which laments the lack of old style country music being played on the radio today. In an interesting twist, he was contacted by Dorin Marincash of Romania (the European country) to get a copy of this song written by Donnie. Dorin is a radio producer that goes by the name “The Transylvanian Cowboy.” Old school country and Texas music has always been by far more popular in Europe than the U.S.

One of Donnie’s next projects will be in the Cowboy Poetry category collaborating with Bobby Flores to record Donnie’s moving poem about a snow-bound Montana Cowboy in 1880 writing a letter back home to his folks at Christmas time.

Donnie Hons can be contacted on Facebook and be seen performing with Gone Country at the Sweet Home Dance Hall, so get a hold of his Church Picnic Polka cd and see how many of the picnics that he sings about you can make this summer. Check out the list of church picnics on

New pages, advertisers on is tickled pink to announce some cool additions to the website. First, welcome to new home page advertisers Texas Slavic and German Warehouse and John Dujka's Saturday Morning Polka Show on 1390 KULP in El Campo. TSG has a great online store filled with all things Polish (Polska), Czech, German, Texan, and everything for your home bar and man cave! John Dujka is now flying solo on the KULP Saturday morning polka show. His wife, Julie, decided to pursue other interests after 11 1/2 years of co-hosting the show with John. He says you'll love the new format and encourages requests submitted by Thursday evening to be included on the Saturday show. Contact him at or call 979-830-0309.

New pages on the site will make it easier than ever to keep your dance schedule up to date. The Church Picnics page lists the events during picnic season in Texas held from April through October. The Texas and US Festivals page keeps tabs on music festivals throughout the year. Great resource to plan your travels.

To launch the Church Picnics page, we put together a video to the tune of Church Picnic Polka, written and performed by Donnie Hons. His new song is available on CD single or digital download in the Polka On! Store. Get yourself a cold pivo and some fried chicken and enjoy the video!

26th Annual Accordion Kings & Queens June 6

Texas Folklife will bring its annual celebration of the state’s accordion roots music to Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 6, at 7:00 p.m. In keeping with its mission to preserve and present Texas’s diverse musical heritage, the festival will feature stars and legends in polka, Cajun zydeco, and conjunto. This year’s accordion stars will include Debra Peters and the Love Saints, Jerome Batiste and the Zydeko Players, and the Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs and special guests National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow Flaco Jiménez, Augie Meyers, and Rick Treviño. The accordion stars will be joined onstage by this year’s Big Squeeze Grand Prize Winners: Elizabeth Kelley (Cajun/Zydeco), Brandon Hodde (Polka) performing with the All Around Czechs, and Rito Peña (Conjunto). 

The Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs hardly need an introduction. The band is comprised of founder Max Baca on bajo sexto, Josh Baca on accordion, Noel Hernandez on electric bass, and Daniel Martinez on the drums. Los Texmaniacs won the 2010 Grammy award for Best Tejano Album, Borders y Bailes, on the Smithsonian Folkways label. Their sound has been called “hip music everybody can relate to” and is comprised of conjunto, rock, and rhythm and blues. Los Texmaniacs will be joined onstage by National Heritage Fellow Flaco Jiménez, who recently won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and has been called the “King of Conjunto,” Augie Meyers, and Rick Treviño. It will be a special night as the new Texmaniacs CD, Americano Groove, will be released. The album was produced by Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos), and includes vocals from a roster of Texas music royalty: Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Kevin Fowler, and Rick Trevino. Additional guest musicians include David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Steve Berlin, and Augie Meyers. It's a mix of five traditional conjunto tracks, three country tracks, and four others that blur genres between rock and TexMex.

Jerome Batiste and the Zydeko Players will bring the Cajun/zydeco beat to the festival this year. Batiste has described himself as a “Creole Cowboy,” and has described the type of music he and his band play as a little bit of everything—Cajun, Creole, jazz, zydeco, blues, rock & roll, and reggae. Based in Crosby, Texas—on the Louisiana side of Houston—the band spreads the gospel of Zydeco Nation throughout the region.

Debra Peters and the Love Saints hail from Austin where they perform a mix of sounds—blues, zydeco, polka, western swing, and classic country. The band has traveled around the globe playing their blend of Texas roots music. Ms. Peters is also an educator. She has created a series of educational videos and teaches the accordion with a special emphasis on encouraging young women to take up the national instrument of Texas.

This year’s event will again be co-emceed by writers and radio hosts Joe Nick Patoski and Tony Diaz. The festival is free and open to the music-loving public. Festivalgoers wanting seats in the pavilion area can pick up their free tickets the day of the festival at the Miller Box Office or become members of Texas Folklife and receive reserved tickets in advance.

One of the important ways Texas Folklife carries out its mission is by introducing the culture bearers of the past to the culture bearers of the future. This will be on display at the 26th annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival as the three young winners from the Big Squeeze Accordion Contest take to the stage to play with these powerhouse performers. Not only will the young players benefit from this joyous musical connection, but those lucky enough to be in the audience will have the opportunity to witness this generational passing of the torch.

“We are very much looking forward to this year’s Accordion Kings and Queens Festival,” said Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “The concert was started with the idea of promoting the accordion and its role in the different genres of roots music found throughout the state. It has become a full-out celebration of that music, featuring musical legends and stars, and it also has become the breeding ground for the next generation of squeezeboxers with our newly crowned Big Squeeze Champs taking to the stage. And we are thrilled that Los Texmaniacs is using the Festival this year to release their new CD. It will be a joyous night of celebrating all things accordion—with dancing and merry-making, all under the stars in Houston, Texas. Put on your dancing shoes or boots and join us!”