Red Ravens CD Voted Best Czech CD in the Nation

By Theresa Parker

The Red Ravens' latest CD, Playin' Ole Classics, was chosen as the Best Czech CD in 2013 by polka fans across the nation. The voting took place on the Polka America Corporation (PAC) website in March.

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I am so excited because for the first time in several years, the ballot had a Czech CD category. As a member of the PAC board, I was only too happy to make my recommendations for the category. The full Czech category consisted of:

Live At Saengerrunde Hall - Czech Melody Masters
Keeping The Tradition Alive - Incredible Music Makers
Czech Sprit Will Live On - The Moravians
Playin' Ole Classics - The Red Ravens
It's Our Time - Texas Sound Check
Ctyri - Czechaholics
All By Myself  - Brandon Hoddef
George's Concertina Band - Faded Memories
Our Heritage - Joe and Don Fojtik and the Czech All-Stars 

So, not only do we have a Czech winner, it's from a Texas band! Yay!

Thanks to everyone who voted. Here are all the winners for 2013:

Best Polish CD—John Gora “Butterfly”
Best Original Song—John Gora “Butterfly”
Best Slovenian CD—Steve Meisner—“Meisner Time”
Best Czech CD---Red Ravens—“Playin’ Ole Classics”
Best Variety CD—Mollie B Christmas Polka Special
Best German CD—Fred Ziwich-“Let’s Get Festive”
Best Re-release—Ray Henry—Ballroom Polkas

I look forward to presenting the trophy to the Red Ravens in the next month or so. And BTW: the Red Ravens CD is available in the Polka On! Store!

Polka on, y'all!

Polka bands close out 2013 with new CDs

Several Texas polka bands introduced new recordings at the end of the year. Chances are you got one for Christmas. If you didn’t, they are now available online in the Polka On Store. To celebrate National Polka Month, all January orders will receive a free polka bumper sticker.                        

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Chris Rybak
Texas Our Texas

If you’re a proud Texan (and who isn’t) you will want this CD for your collection. Chris said he’s proud to be a Texan and wanted to bring the feeling and flavor of Texas to everyone through music. There are 14 great tunes. “These songs have always been my favorites. I wanted to include songs of the Wild West, some campfire songs, the state song ‘Texas Our Texas’ and two college fight songs for UT and Aggies,” Chris said.

The CD is pure music. No vocals. Chris spent six months working on the music, playing all the parts of each piece. “I wanted to focus on the instruments. I wanted people to feel the music,” he said.

My faves are The Yellow Rose of Texas, Waltz Across Texas, Red Rive Valley and Cotton-Eyed Joe. Sorry, as a University of Houston grad, I can't endorse the UT and Aggie fight songs, although they are classic.

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Red Ravens
Playin’ Old Classics

The drought is over, at least for new Red Raven music. It has been five long years since the guys’ last CD Polka Cruisin’. Enjoy 17 songs, including my faves Little Goose Polka, Muziky Muziky Polka, Katherine’s Waltz and Chappell Hill Special. Red Raven Shane Lala said you won’t find any of these tunes on their other CDs. “We produce a new song list every time we record,” he said.

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Texas Sound Check
It’s Our Time

Another long time in coming is a new CD by Texas Sound Check. The group made a list of 200 possible tunes to record and whittled it down to 24. Maybe that’s why it took so long :-) It was worth the wait. Band Leader Benny Okruhlik and this group of musicians have been playing together for a few years and they decided it was time to record, hence the CD title It's Our Time. My faves: Amerika Polka, Mountain Valley Waltz, Dreamboat Waltz and Polka Celebration.

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Czech Melody Masters
Live at Saengerrunde Halle

Lots of great polka party songs on this CD, including my faves No Beer Today, In Heaven There Is No Beer, Corn Cockle and Beer Barrel polkas and great waltzes like Westphalia and Blue Skirt. This group bills itself as Austin’s Only Authentic Czech Polka Band. Thomas Durnin, the group’s bass player, has a show called Czech Melody Time on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin every Sunday from 9-10 AM. Trumpet player Dennis Svatek also produces a 90-minute Internet radio show each month called, appropriately enough, The Polka Show, which features Dobre Muziky.

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Incredible Music Makers
Keepin’ the Tradition Alive

This CD has been out a while, but is new to the Polka On Store. It features 17 all-time favorites: Czech songs and more. My faves are If I Were a Bird, Barbara Polka, Haunted Garrett Waltx and in the “more” category, there are some great Hank Williams hits like Your Cheatin’ Heart, Hey Good Lookin’ and Jambalaya. IMM bills itself as A Texas Polka Band from Across the Land (that’s Flatonia, Moulton and Port Lavaca). These guys are great and the only polka band that wears purple shirts (I love purple!)

Shop now! Remember proceeds from the Polka On Store allow to reinvest in the polka community by sponsoring festivals, dances and bands.