SqueezeBox Farewell Tour Includes Texas

By Theresa Parker

I think I speak for all Texans in wishing Ted and Mollie the best and know that they will be successful in whatever direction life leads them.  Photo by Mark Hiebert .

I think I speak for all Texans in wishing Ted and Mollie the best and know that they will be successful in whatever direction life leads them. Photo by Mark Hiebert.

Mollie B and Ted Lange will waltz across Texas one last time as the band SqueezeBox Jan. 15-18. They start with a dance in Hallettsville on Jan. 15, then visit the snowbirds at the Mission Bell RV Resort in South Texas on the 16th. They head north to Granger on the 17th, then end their tour in Houston on the 18th.

The tour will be bittersweet for the band and their fans. Mollie and Ted announced in August that they will no longer be performing together after the Southern Tour ends Feb.1 in Holiday, Florida. They have taken on one engagement in Georgia after February, but as of now, that is the only performance they are doing together. 

SqueezeBox began in the late 1990s as the Bratwurst Boys, which was a spin-off band consisting of members of the Grammy-nominated Toledo Polkamotion. In 2005, band members were Ted Lange on accordion/bass and vocals, Dave Burner on drums and vocals and Ted’s mother, Betty Lange, on second accordion.

Mollie Busta added her talents in 2006, and in 2007, they changed the name to SqueezeBox. “It has been quite a journey,” Mollie says. “Starting with 10 gigs a year and building up to 100-plus gigs in 20-plus states each year has been exciting and rewarding.”

Ted agrees. “We have met some of the greatest people all over the U.S., and it has provided us with many great memories!”  

He says the band’s success was a musician’s dream. “I’m still in awe when I look at what we have achieved. I’ve also been blessed to work with other great musicians who have performed with us through the years, and of course, my wife, Mollie, who is one of the hardest working and most talented people I know,” he adds.  

SqueezeBox did not fit the mold of the average polka band, which can make it a little harder to be accepted,” Mollie says. “That was NOT the case in Texas. We were not only accepted, we were embraced. Texans sure know how to make a Northern girl feel loved.” 

At the present moment, it is not clear exactly what will happen to Squeezebox . Mollie intends to keep the Mollie B Polka Party going on RFD-TV and will resume performing again. “I just don’t know with who, when or where, but hopefully I will have performances in Texas again,” Mollie says. No word yet on Polka Party taping locales for the future.

Ted says it’s time for a break. “We’ve been working at a break-neck pace for the past four-plus years, and that takes its toll physically and mentally when you’re running your own business, and trying to balance that with family time and everything else that life throws your way,” he says. “I intend to take several months off to reorganize and work on some other projects. Beyond that, I know that I will be performing in some capacity.” 

Ted has not ruled out a return for SqueezeBox. “Maybe after some time off we’ll be prepared to pursue our performing careers together again, but I also have not ruled out forming a new band or bands and moving forward from where SqueezeBox left off.”  

Mollie says she’s taking things a day at a time. “The uncertainty of the future is a little uneasy, but I keep reminding myself, God’s got this,” she says. “I wish continued success for all polka bands and for Ted. And to all you polka fans, keep the support coming for the polka music and bring your friends out to dances. Polkas are alive and well in Texas. Keep them that way!”

Are You Ready for the Wurst?

By Theresa Parker

Alex Meixner is. The Grammy-nominated Tasmanian devil of the polka world will once again do the honors of opening Wurstfest on Friday, November 7. The Alex Meixner Band will perform at the fest through November 13 and will feature the usual suspects - Ed Klancnik on drums, Mikey Kramar on horns, strings, accordions and things, and Hank Guzevich on horns, guitar and Polexican shuffles, as well as Canadian National Accordion Champ Michael Bridge for the weekend gigs.

Alex Meixner and Michael Bridge at last year's Wurstfest. Gary E. McKee photo

Alex Meixner and Michael Bridge at last year's Wurstfest. Gary E. McKee photo

Since Alex spends a great deal of his life on the road, it was cool to catch him at home waiting for the cable guy to chat about Wurstfest and other polka stuff.

Polkabeat: Anything new for Wurstfest?
Alex: Yes! [Please note: this will be the last exclamation point I’ll use. Everything Alex says has an exclamation point.] I will be doing an extra show at the festival on opening Saturday (November 8, 2:10 p.m.) at the new venue - Stelzenplatz - with my good friends, Max Baca and Los TexManiacs. This two-time Grammy Award-winning conjunto group will be performing repertoire which has roots in Germany and Austria before developing in Mexico and the southwest USA. I'll be playing a few songs with the band, as Max and I have been recording together for the last few years and always look forward to collaborating together. (While the Czech pronunciation of Baca is “Bacha,” the Mexican pronunciation is “Baka.”)

Polkabeat: Tell us more about Los TexManiacs.
Alex: Max Baca is the premier bajo sexto player on the planet. (Bajo sexto is a 12-string guitar-like instrument.) Max is featured on my Polka Freakout CD and he has recorded with Flaco Jimenenz, Los Lobos, Original Texas Tornados and even the Rolling Stones (Voodoo Lounge CD). The group also features Max’s nephew, Josh Baca, on accordion. I’ve known Josh since he was an eight-year-old punk and now he’s 20-something and is one of the best three-row button box accordion player I’ve ever heard. They are just a great family.

Polkabeat: You and Max are working on an album together, right?
Alex: Yes, actually for the past six years. We hit the recording studio when we can. The music gets back to the roots of conjunto music from when Germans, Austrians and Slovenians settled in Mexico. It honors the music legacy of our grandfathers and fathers, and brings it full circle like the performance we’ll be doing at Wurstfest.

Polkabeat: Your new CD is called Happiness Is a Choice. Why did you choose that name
Alex: Because I truly believe happiness is a choice and I think it sends a positive message.

Polkabeat: Who did you work with on the CD?
Alex: The title track is a collaboration with Reggae singer and composer Carlton Pride, son of Country legend Charley Pride. I also co-wrote a song with Michael Morris (drummer and vocalist from Seaton, TX) called “Let’s Go Ask the Band,” a fun polka with a country twang. Hector Saldana of The Krayolas and I co-wrote a pop song, “Sally,” and Michael Bridge is featured on the Latin-flavored “El Cumbanchero.” You can also hear accordion virtuoso Randy Koslosky (from Pittsburgh) on several tunes, including a great new German/Irish-styled drinking song “Why Die Thirsty?”

Polkabeat: Why die thirsty? Isn’t that your mantra?
Alex: Yes. Randy wrote that song. He always heard me say at performances, “If you drink, you’re going to die. If you don’t drink, you’re going to die. So, why die thirsty?” He sent it to me just as we hit the studio in San Antonio to record the CD. We quickly came up with an arrangement and now it’s one of the most requested songs on tour.

Polkabeat: What is the most requested song?
Alex: “Amazing Grace.” It’s performed on a hoseaphone and begins as a solemn performance and ends with screaming trumpets.

Polkbeat: The CD also has a family connection, right?
Alex: My daughters Zoey (age 7) and Kayla (age 4) are featured on “Pipihenderl,” a fun Austrian yodeling song. And Zoey also did the watercolor for the CD cover, which has led to production of a hat pin and t-shirt. I am very proud.

Polkabeat: Why die unhappy?
Alex: Exactly. So much of world is divided among politics, religion, cultural and ethnic differences, but when you adopt a positive attitude, you realize we have more similarities than we think. That’s what I like about polka. The music tends to bring people together. People smile and instead of slinging cheap shots at each other, they stop and say, “Hey man, let’s drink a beer together.”

(Hmmm, this could be the start of the Alex Meixner for President Campaign sponsored by the polkabeat party.)

Polkabeat Buys Texas Polka News; Publishing to Resume in September

Polkabeat Inc. has purchased the Texas Polka News.  The transaction was completed on July 26 and the first issue under the new publisher, Theresa Cernoch Parker, is expected in September. 

The newspaper was started 26 years ago by musician and polka promoter Julius Tupa of Houston as a way to provide dance enthusiasts with a monthly schedule of events and the latest news of the Texas music scene.

When Julius Tupa passed away in 2002, his friend, John Rivard, became the editor of the newspaper with Tupa’s wife, Marie, at the publishing helm.  The monthly newspaper has grown to have almost 2,000 readers, not only in Texas, but across the country. 

Theresa Parker, Gary E. McKee and Marie Tupa toast the sale of the Texas Polka News with Shiner beer and kolaches.

Theresa Parker, Gary E. McKee and Marie Tupa toast the sale of the Texas Polka News with Shiner beer and kolaches.

“I am happy to announce the sale of the paper and see Julius’ legacy live on,” said Marie Tupa.   “I can’t thank John enough for his dedication and friendship over the years. And I can’t think of a more fitting person to take the publication to the next level than Theresa.  She grew up around polka and continues to promote the music, bands and dance halls through her website.”

Cernoch Parker founded polkabeat.com in 2010 to honor the memory of another polka lover, her father, Willie Cernoch, originally from Dubina, Texas.  The website provides monthly listings of dances and festivals, as well as news, photos and videos from events. The site also has a Polka On! store featuring polka apparel, accessories, gifts and CDs/DVDs.  More than 1,200 subscribers receive a weekly e-newsletter featuring the weekend lineup of events in Texas. 

“I know Julius and my dad are looking down on us with a smile. The two of them were good friends who thought polka was the best music genre ever.  The Tupas and John have provided a wonderful service to Texas music fans over the years and I am honored to be given the opportunity to continue in their footsteps,” Cernoch Parker said. 

Cernoch Parker is also pleased to announce that Gary E. McKee of Fayetteville, Texas, will serve as editor of the paper. “Gary’s photojournalism and writing skills have been crucial to the success of polkabeat.com.  I look forward to working with him as we help readers of Texas Polka News polka on.”

Click here to subscribe or renew your subscription. For more information on advertising in the Texas Polka News, email theresa@polkabeat.com.

PoLK of A Presents Scholarships

Congratulations to Cody Janak and Kendall Kristynik who received this year's scholarships sponsored by the Polka Lovers Klub of America Texas Chapter I. Each received $500 to help with expenses as they set out on their college adventures.


2014 PoLK of A Scholarship Winners Cody Janak and Kendall Kristynik with Scholarship Chair James Freytag. The scholarships were awarded at the Klub's meeting on Sunday, July 13, at the American Legion Hall in Sealy.   See more photos  from the event.

2014 PoLK of A Scholarship Winners Cody Janak and Kendall Kristynik with Scholarship Chair James Freytag. The scholarships were awarded at the Klub's meeting on Sunday, July 13, at the American Legion Hall in Sealy.  See more photos from the event.

Cody Janak of Victoria graduated from St. Joseph High School and is the son of Chris and Stephanie Janak and the grandson of PoLK of A members Henry and Carolyn Janak of Yoakum. Cody will be attending Texas A&M at College Station, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.  Afterwards he plans to continue his education by seeking an MBA or law degree. 

In addition to his outstanding academic and athletic achievements, he supported his community and church as a teen leader during activities like blood drives, Women’s Crisis Center fundraisers, ACTS Religious Retreats and nine years as an Altar Server.  Cody is a three-year member of the National Honor Society and has worked as a sod-grass layer, fiber optic technician and performed farmer-rancher duties at his grandparent’s farm where he also learned to can pickles, make sausage and bake kolaches.   

He claims that his dedication to hard work, outgoing attitude and friendly personality, which he inherited from his parents and grandparents, has successfully gotten him this far in life.  And, the fact that he loves to dance has not been a hindrance in any way.

Polkbeat asked Cody:

Earliest memory of a polka dance: When I was 5 years old. I had just learned how to dance, and I was asking every lady around me to dance. I was on a roll, but after nine or 10 dances, I was turned down. I was heartbroken and decided I was done for the night, so I went to sleep on one of the tables at the dance hall.
Polka tunes on your MP3 player: I do not have any polka songs on my iPod, but I do listen to the Yoakum/Hallettsville radio station during the polka hour when I am at my grandparents. 
Favorite polka: Out Behind the Barn and Shut Up and Drink Your Beer.
Favorite polka band: Red Ravens.
How to get more young people to come to polka dances: By advertising on social media and providing food. Because all kids enjoy the Internet and food!

Kendall graduated from Moulton High School and is the daughter of PoLK of A members Kenneth and Mary Kristynik. Kenneth plays accordion for Red Ravens.  Kendall will be attending Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, with a goal of obtaining a degree in the field of medicine. 

Besides being the valedictorian of her graduating class and homecoming queen, Kendall has been active in Student Council, 4-H, the Lavaca County Council and the Bata Club, holding multiple offices in each of these organizations.  She has served as her class president during each of her high school years and has been on the All-A Honor Roll since first grade.

She supported fundraisers for the Driscoll Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church while working with organizations or the elderly and supporting work efforts to “Keep Moulton Beautiful.” 

Kendall’s goal in life is to be 100% happy – and she says that since life can throw unexpected curve balls, it is her intent to live life in a way that she will have no regrets, be able to laugh often and love deeply.  

Polkbeat asked Kendall:

Earliest memory of a polka dance: When I was three or so. My dad played every weekend, sometimes twice, and I went along every chance I could. I remember going to Mustang Hall between Yoakum and Hallettsville and helping my mom sell tickets. When she wasn't looking I would go out on the floor and do what I loved - dance. 
Polka tunes on your MP3 player: Absolutely. Polka is in constant mix. As much as I love Texas Country/ Red Dirt music, when I hear my dad's accordion through my headphones, I can't help but smile and be in a good mood. 
Favorite polka: Looking, Looking Polka by the Red Ravens. At my graduation in May, my class did a montage as our class song. Everyone picked a song that meant something to them, and mine was the Looking, Looking Polka. Everyone's face just lit up. It was amazing. 
Favorite polka band: The Red Ravens, by default and because my dad is an avid polkabeat reader, I am bound to this answer. :) However, I grew up with the Dujka Brothers, the Vrazels, and Fritz Hodde, so all are at the top of my list. 
How to get more young people to come to polka dances: Going to polka dances isn't something that you can force. Polka is a way of life, and if they don't love it, then a person isn't going to do it. Polka is sometimes viewed as something that "old people" do, so teens feel that they are "too cool" to polka. What we can do is keep playing polka music, and there is no doubt that people of all ages will continue to embrace this amazing way of life. Stay Strong and Polka On!


Texas Folklife to Pay Tribute to Texas Accordion Pioneers

It has been 25 years since Texas Folklife began popularizing the accordion, the state’s “national instrument,” and Texas roots music in the now anticipated annual concert at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. All genres of accordion music will be included in this year’s festivities, with performances by Ginny Mac, Mark Halata & Texavia, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, and as part of the anniversary extravaganza, the second generation of conjunto pioneers – Rio Jordan, Flavio Longoria, and Juan Longoria Jr. with Conteño and Los Halcones. In addition, the newly crowned 2014 Big Squeeze Champs will be on hand to perform and celebrate. The new champs are: Garrett Neubauer, Grand Prize Winner for the polka category; Randall Jackson, Grand Prize Winner for zydeco; and Aaron Salinas, Grand Prize Winner for the conjunto category.

The star-studded affair will take place on Saturday, June 7, at 6:00 p.m., and will 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. 

This year’s dynamite bands include Houston’s own Mark Halata & Texavia. Known for his musical style that has been called “Czexan,” or Texas-Czech polka, Halata has perfected the Texas-style polka with strains from communities with their roots in Europe—Moravia and Czechoslovakia—with some Louisiana Cajun and zydeco thrown in. On the stage on this very special night will also be C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. With his Grammy-nominated 2011 album Can’t Sit Down, his musical heritage, and over twenty years of recording history, C.J. Chenier is loved by audiences and critics alike, and has been dubbed “the crown prince of zydeco,” by the Boston Globe. Chenier is of course the son of the late “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier, whom he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award for at this year’s Grammys. Western Swing Accordion Queen Ginny Mac will also grace the stage with her exceptional singing, squeezeboxing, and multitalented, soulful musical style.

The special anniversary program will pay tribute to second-generation conjunto and Tejano pioneers Rio Jordan, Flavio Longoria, and Juan Longoria Jr. with Conteño and Los Halcones. Esteban Jr., Esteban III, and Ricardo Jordan carry on their father’s legacy with his band Rio Jordan. Esteban Jordan (1939-2010) is widely regarded as a pioneer in conjunto music who greatly expanded the boundaries of the diatonic accordion. The three brothers draw on their rich conjunto heritage plus add influences from jazz, rhythm and blues, salsa, and zydeco, as they perform across the state and throughout the southwest. Flavio Longoria is the son of Valerio Longoria (1924-2000), National Heritage Award winner and major innovator of Texas conjunto along with Narciso Martinez and Santiago Jimenez Sr. Flavio played the saxophone while his brother Valerio Jr. played the drums in their father’s band during childhood. After his father’s death, Flavio picked up the accordion and has formed his own band Flavio Longoria y Los Conjunto Kingz. Juan Longoria Jr. of Brownsville, Texas Folklife’s first Big Squeeze Champ, is the son of Juan Longoria Sr., who along with his brothers performs in the band Los Halcones, a conjunto Norteño band that has played across South Texas and the border region for more than 30 years. Juan Jr. has carried on that tradition with his own band Conteño. In addition, Juan Jr. has now passed his accordion playing skills on to his son Juan Longoria III who last year made it to the semifinal stage of the Big Squeeze accordion contest. The Longoria family with its three-generation accordion stars is a testament to the strong family traditions that are alive in the state and Texas Folklife’s role in preserving and promoting those traditions.

Texas Folklife will also honor Mary Thomas, the “Texas Queen of Zydeco,” and sister to the late Clifton Chenier, with the Star of Texas Folklife Award for her many years of work helping to preserve and promote zydeco music, which is traditional to both Texas and Louisiana.    

“This is a banner year for Texas Folklife,” said Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “It is our 30th anniversary and it is the 25th anniversary of Accordion Kings & Queens. The annual concert was started with the idea of promoting the accordion and its role in the different genres of roots music found in the state. It has become a full-out celebration of that music, featuring musical legends and current stars, but it also has become the breeding ground for the next generation of culture bearers with our Big Squeeze Champs taking to the stage. Most importantly, it is a joyous night of savoring performances by the kings and queens of the accordion, with much dancing and merry-making, all under the stars in Houston, Texas. I hope many folks will come out this year to help us celebrate this very important birthday.”  

Polkabeat readers write

Just wanted to pass on our sincere thanks from all of us Tomball polka lovers for all you did to support the German heritage festival.  We all look forward to seeing  the various acts.  We particularly enjoyed Alex Meixner and when I saw that you were sponsoring his return here, the least I could do was say Thank You Very Much!!!!  Keep up the great work and I will keep an eye on all the latest polka happenings thanks to polkabeat.com.  Thank you again!!

Regards,
Mark Barnett
The Woodlands

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I would like to say thank you to you and Polkabeat.com, for all of your contributions to the Tomball German Heritage Festival.  I know that is sponsorship, and that you covered the event.  The truth is that you are doing much to further polka music in Texas.  I, for one, am very glad you are doing this.  Once again, I’d like you to know that The TubaMeisters support your cause. 

Ray Grim
The TubaMeisters
San Antonio

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Love ya, Mom! Way to go on bringing Polkabeat this far! You're awesome!

Alec Seegers
Houston

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Happy Birthday!  Wishing you all the luck, good health and happiness.  You are  making so many folks happy and healthy with all the dancing and laughter - best medicine.  

Ann Juricek
Ennis

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It was nice hearing that you are a sponsor of the Czech show on KOOP here in Austin.
Thank you for your great website and weekly dance listing.  We have had a great time exploring the nooks and crannies of Texas while polka dancing - and we have found out about many of these dances through your website.

G. Bacon
Austin

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Thanks for all you do to publicize bands and live music in Central Texas and across the state!

Jerry Haisler (and the Melody 5)

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Mr. McKee,
Thanks a million for all that you do to promote the heritage, my friend.  Was great to see you out again this evening.  Peace to you and yours. 

Greg Svetlik (Czechaholics)

 

 

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.  

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.

Red Ravens CD

 

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!

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.

When it's wintertime in Texas, it's time for polka tours!

There are some great polka acts from up North and across the pond coming to Texas in January and February ready for warmer climes, smiling polka lovers and good ol' Texas hospitality. Mark your calendar to see these great performances.

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Moravska Jedenactka
One of the most popular dechovkas (brass bands) of Moravia
January 10-19

Friday, January 10
West: Knights of Columbus Hall Dinner/Dance, 6 PM

Saturday, January 11
Ennis: KJT Hall Dinner/Dance, 6:15 PM

Sunday, January 12
Austin: Gethsemene Lutheran Church Dinner/Concert, 1 PM

Monday, January 13
Denton: Voertman Concert Hall Concert @ University of North Texas, 8 PM

Tuesday, January 14
Caldwell: Caldwell Civic Center Dinner/Concert, 5:30 PM

Wednesday, January 15 (New listing added since poster was created)
San Antonio: with Conjunto Puro Corazon at La Tuna Grill, 7 PM

Thursday, January 16
La Grange: Fayette County Fair Pavilion Dinner/Dance 5 PM

Friday, January 17
Houston: Czech Center Museum Concert/Dinner/Dance, 6:30 PM

Sunday, January 19
Dallas: Sokol Hall Dinner/Dance, 12:30 PM

See the poster for more details.

 

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Squeezebox Band with Mollie B and Ted Lange
January 16-19

Thursday, January 16
Pharr: Tropic Star RV Resort, 7 PM

Friday, January 17
Mission: Mission Bell Resort, 7 PM

Saturday, January 18
Granger: Church Rec Center, 6 PM

Sunday, January 19
Houston: SPJST Lodge 88, 3 PM

 

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Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen
February 16-23

Sunday, February 16
New Braunfels: Eagles Hall, 3 PM

Monday, February 17
Mission: Mission Bell Resort, 7 PM

Tuesday, February 18
Harlingen, Sunshine RV Resort, 7 PM

Thursday, February 20
Mission: Riverside Club, 2 PM

Friday, February 21
Pharr: South Park, 7 PM

Saturday, February 22
Houston: SPJST Lodge 88, 8 PM

Sunday, February 23
Elgin: SPJST Lodge 18, 3 PM

 

Polka for the Park

WEST 2 Invite Final 2 on page testA group of Houston polka lovers are hosting a benefit on Friday, November, 8 to raise money for their family and friends who were affected by the plant explosion in West, Texas. The Polka for the Park event will be held at SPJST Lodge 88 in the Heights and the evening of fundraising will be full of entertainment, including an auction and dance. Grammy-winning band Brave Combo will be headlining the event. Proceeds will help West residents rebuild their city park honoring First Responders. Table underwriters will be invited to a pre-event reception with the guests of honor West Mayor Tommy Muska and his wife, Lisa. Polkabeat visited with Karen Carr, one of the organizers to find out more about the event.

Who all is involved in planning the event? Family and friends of West residents. There are 12 of us that have worked together to plan the event. My mom, Barbara Fisher, was raised in West and the mayor, Tommy Muska, is our cousin. In no time at all we had people eager to pitch in and help.

Why did y'all decide to hold the event? image001Several of us went to West several days after the explosion to help in any way we could. There were tremendous relief efforts in place but we still wanted to do something more. We thought this event would be a nice way to keep the momentum going and to allow those that could not make it to West to show support in Houston.

Why did you select the park as the beneficiary? image002Tommy mentioned that this would be a gift the whole town could benefit from. The park was destroyed in the blast. Then when we learned about Parker’s Park Project, we knew it was the right thing to do. Parker’s father Joey, is one of the fallen first responders. It’s Parker’s wish to rebuild the city park, a project his father was a strong supporter of. He has a great “grass roots” effort, and the support is swelling.

Why Brave Combo? Brave Combo has been a part of the Westfest lineup for years. The tent is always packed and the band is legendary. They play polka, salsa, rock, zydeco and bring their own infectious fun to every event that they headline.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at http://center4gracefoundation.org/donations.html.

Fritz Hodde: 50 Years of Making Polka Music

6211048019_2acda0c620Congratulations to Fritz Hodde on 50 years in the polka music biz! Fritz and the band, the Fabulous 6, will celebrate by having, what else, a polka party! The free event is set for Saturday, September 14, from 1 to 7 p.m. at the SPJST 18 in Elgin. To help Fritz commemorate this special anniversary, polkabeat asked polka musicians to send their congrats.

Dear Polkabeat: We really want to say a “Big Thank You” for all you did to promote Fritz Hodde and The Fabulous Six's "50th celebration."

Also, thank you very much for all the other promotions that you do for the band. Sometimes we forget to say thank you and we want you to know that we are grateful.

A big thank you for reaching out to polka musicians to comment on Fritz Hodde and The Fabulous Six's 50th anniversary. I copied some of those e-mails and placed them in a memories book on the band table Saturday night. Hope you don't mind. I saw quite a few people looking at them.

This was a special day for Fritz Hodde & The Fabulous Six. A day we'll never forget. A great big thank you to our fans, friends and family for helping us make this day a huge success. Many memories to be thankful for. -- Fritz Hodde

Musician Well Wishes Congrats Fritz on 50 years of music. In these years your music has obviously entertained thousands through live performances, radio and recordings but my highest respect is seeing you handing down that family tradition of Czech music in Texas to your son and grandson. That is a legacy that will hopefully continue for more generations and be such a wonderful contribution to the culture we all know and love. Prost, zivili, nazdravje, cheers on this important milestone. Alex Meixner

We would like to wish our good friends Fritz Hodde and the Fabulous Six congratulations on 50 years of great music! Keep up the great music! Brian Klekar and the Czechaholics

Congratulations on 50 great years of music, and thank you all you have done for the Czech Culture and heritage. Trey Sylvester and the Ennis Czech Boys

Congratulations Fritz and all the members of the band on your 50 years of entertaining! Vrazels’ Polka Band always looked forward to and enjoyed playing alongside with you at the many performances that we worked together over the many years. Your band always was and still is very popular on our radio show on KMIL Cameron every Sunday. We wish you many more years in the entertainment business. Alfred Vrazel

Congratulations on making great music in the fantastic world of polka for 50 years! And thank you for your devotion to the cause. We all appreciate your efforts and contributions and look forward to the next 50! Polkatively, Carl Finch and Brave Combo

I have fond memories of the Fabulous Six going way back to the '60s when I first started playing music. We often crossed paths as our bands played in the same venues (Granger, Holland, Seaton, Taylor). I was struck that this was a “family” band like ours and that Fritz and his father both played. I greatly enjoyed and admired Fritz’s talent on trumpet and accordion. We sometimes played “battle dances” and it was always an honor to have the “jam” session with both bands! Over the years, as the band changed, I enjoyed many talented musicians that played with the Fabulous Six. Then as the family influence increased with Fritz and Scott (and Dianne) playing together and now Brandon, it only got better! Fritz was always kind to me (even as a kid starting out) and it was always a nice conversation about how the music was going at the various halls, the different bands and musicians who were around, and the different events that were taking place in Central Texas. The Fabulous Six (Fritz or Scott) always acknowledged us if we were in the crowd at a dance and I was often invited up to play a number or two with the band, which I always enjoyed and appreciated. Lots of fun times and enjoyment brought to many by the Fabulous Six. I congratulate the Fabulous Six on this notable benchmark of 50 years and wish the very best in the future. Jerry Haisler and the Melody 5

Congratulations, Fritz! I remember back in the '70s watching you play accordion and trumpet at the same time down at Bill Mraz Hall. It was amazing and inspiring! Mike Gest, Texas Legacy Czech Band and Moonglow Orchestra

Congratulations Fritz! Keep the great music flowing and looking forward to jam with y'all again soon! Chris Rybak

PoLK of A Presents Scholarships

The July general membership meeting of the Polka Lovers Klub of America Texas Chapter I is my favorite Klub event to attend. That's when we announce the winners of two $500 scholarships given to family members of our members. Each year, I am blown away by what these young people have already achieved. Hearing their plans for the future gives me sense of calm that our country is going to be okay with them in charge. And these are just two outstanding students. The Klub received 17 applications, all to be commended for their achievements and future aspirations. I was also pleased to see these two recipients are proud of their polka heritage, one commenting the the PoLk of A is such a cool club. Meet this year's winners: Michael Laitkep and Abby Sumbera.

Abby Sumbera and Michael Laitkep

Michael graduated from Friendswood High School and is the son of Chris and Donna Laitkep and the grandson of Ernest and Delores Laitkep of Pearland.

Besides being an outstanding student, Michael has aggressively participated in extra-curricular activities and held leadership positions in various organizations while supporting the needs of his school, his community and various church programs. He has participated in sporting events, such as swimming, soccer and track, science fair programs, church activities and played trombone in the marching band. He is an Eagle Scout and member of the National Honor Society.

Michael will be attending the University of Texas at Austin, double majoring in business and Plan II Honors, a broad liberal arts program. Afterwards he plans to continue his education by seeking a master's in business or a law degree.

Polka thoughts Favorite polka memories: Spending time with friends and family and doing the Grand March. Favorite polka: Shiner Polka Favorite polka band: Mark Halata & Texavia

Abby graduated from the St. Agnes Academy and is the daughter of Darrell and Kim Sumbera of Houston and granddaughter of Leonard and Grace Sumbera of Schulenburg.

Besides being an outstanding scholastic student, Abby has held leadership positions for St. Agnes retreats and within the Girl Scouts She was secretary of the Spanish Honor Society and is an accomplished athlete with at least 10 years of competitive soccer. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society.

Abby will be attending Texas A&M, majoring in Biomedical Engineering – a rewarding and important field – certainly for the many veteran amputees looking for new limbs -- an area within her major that she intends to pursue.

Polka thoughts Favorite polka memories: Going to the St. John's 4th of July picnics for as long as I can remember and dancing with my family. I have great memories of learning to dance with my grandpa and my dad. Favorite polka: A Ja Sam (All by Myself) Polka. Favorite polka bands: Red Ravens, Dujka Brothers and Shiner Hobos. Polka on iPod: Vrazels album. Polka promotion: I encourage young people to join clubs like PoLK of A. I intend to try to get groups of my friends together to go to dances so they can see what it is all about.

Moravians Take Midwest by Polka Storm

By Theresa Cernoch Parker The Moravians are still abuzz about their summer tour in Wisconsin and Iowa with the SqueezeBox Band and Jim Busta Band. The guys had a great time and it proved to be a love/love experience between the band and polka crowds. Thanks to all polkabeat fans who sent donations to help pay for expenses. Donations came in not only from all over Texas, but also California, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Ohio, Florida, Montana and Minnesota!

A local polka fan with Matthew Matous, Jerry Petter, Kaleb Trojacek, Matt Zajic, Zachary Matous and Joshua "TubaTex" Goodwin.

Polkabeat visited with Moravian Matt Matous about the trip. See more photos.

What was your favorite venue? We enjoyed every event that we played at. There wasn't a single place that didn't accept us with wide open arms. As far as our favorite place, one night we played at a restaurant/bar called The Mint in Protivin, Iowa. Earlier in the day we played a street performance outside of the Billy Clock Museum in Spilleville, Iowa. Both of these performances were solo performances by The Moravians, however both Mollie B and Jim Busta sat in with us. These performances were scheduled literally two days before we played there and the turnout was phenomenal. They were small Czech communities and it felt as if we had not left Ennis, Texas. Everyone was friendly and accepted us as if we were from Iowa our entire lives.

What were the crowds like? The crowds reminded me of traditional Texas crowds. There were diehard polka lovers, however there was not as much youth at the dances. Everyone was cheerful and they gladly talked to us. Everyone definitely knew their local polka music and it was very neat to bring our experiences and describe our local bands and styles of music.

Was the tour what you expected? Name three things you learned. I can’t even begin to describe how much we learned on this trip. Narrowing it down to three specific things is rather difficult. However I believe the most important thing that we learned is that there is a lot more to polka music than just Texas. There are numerous styles and numerous ways to go about doing things. Some things that are acceptable in Texas and are most common, such as wearing jeans and boots to events, are not common in other areas.

We learned how to adapt to different environments in order to perform to the best of our abilities. Mollie also taught us how to interact with crowds and people. I can’t think of anyone better than her at being friendly with people.

We also improved astronomically musically. We became better musicians throughout the entire trip. We grew closer together as a band and family and owe an enormous amount of thanks to not only Ted and Mollie, but also to Mollie’s entire family and to the entire Jim Busta Band. Their guidance and friendship made our tour greater than we could have ever expected.

We didn't quite know what to expect, but we were never disappointed with anything we did nor with anyone we met. Mollie went above and beyond to make sure that we had fun. On an off day she even took us tubing down the Upper Iowa River. This trip was a once in a lifetime experience and we made great friends that we hope to keep for the remainder of our lives.

What surprised you the most? The shear amount of generosity that was given to us. People took care of us, and taking care of seven boys is no easy task. We had excellent hospitality, and as I said not a single person that we met was rude or even a bit mean to us. We received nothing but praise, and I know that if I personally ever get the chance to go back I would do so in a heartbeat.

Final thought I also want to extend great thanks to you Theresa, and everyone at polkabeat for helping us with this trip. We had an enormous amount of donations that came in from all across the nation. In all honesty if it wasn't for your efforts, we would not have been able to make this trip financially.

Thanks for the Encouragement Ben!

By Gary McKee

At the reception in the Schulenburg KC Hall following Ben Sustr's funeral (which was attended by many uniformed members of the Polka Lover's Klub), Shiner Hobos Johnny Barton, Walter Hermis, Leo Rainosek, Larry Krupala and Nathan Loth took the stage.

Larry told the story of how Ben Sustr had just started teaching in the Agriculture Department at Schulenburg High and encouraged them to enter the FFA Talent Team contest as a band. In 1958, Barton, Hermis, Rainosek, Krupala and Elton Kaase participated in the State FFA contest as a quintet called the Offbeats. (Photos A and B) Back in Schulenburg, the future Hobos added Nathan Loth, got spiffed up, and performed for events while in high school. (Photos C and D)

Photo A

Photo A

Photo B

Photo B

Photo C

Photo C

Photo D

Photo D

Support Your Local Moravians

The Moravians: Top row from left to right: Kaleb Trojacek (Ennis High School, Accordion/Saxophone), Matt Zajic (Ennis High School, Saxophone), Adam Rejcek (Texas A&M University, Drums), Matt Matous (Texas A&M University, Trumpet), and Josh Goodwin (Navarro College, Bass). Bottom from left to right: Chris Trojacek (Ennis High School, Trumpet/Guitar), and Zachary Matous (Ennis High School, Keyboard).Texas’ newest polka band – The Moravians – is getting ready to embark on a tour with the SqueezeBox Band and the Jim Busta Band. They’ll be performing in Wisconsin and Iowa July 5-13, and could use our help in paying for travel expenses. Here are two ways you can support this group of awesome young musicians: 1. Purchase their debut CD “Czech Spirit Will Live On.” 2. Send them a donation. The CD is $15 plus $3 shipping and handling. Make checks payable to Joshua Goodwin or Matt Matous and send to: The Moravians PO Box 458 Ennis, TX 75120

The guys will keep track of who all contributes by July 1 and polkabeat will send the supporters some Polka On! goodies as a thank you.

So how did this come about? “When Ted (Lange) and I were at the National Polka Festival in Ennis, we saw The Moravians perform at Sokol Hall for the live radio show. Ted watched The Moravians as he stood at the edge of the stage, and there I had a short conversation with him about the boys doing a tour with us,” Mollie B said.

“I sat down with the guys and discussed ways to make their band better and ways to fulfill their ‘dreams.’ The future of polka music rests in young bands like this. Ted and I are always trying to think of ways to get young bands to form, get a solid beginning and spread the idea of forming bands to other young musicians,” she said.

Mollie added that she just knows people will love The Moravians. “Not only are they a good young band, they are nice, young Texas gentlemen! And to top it off, they are a perfect age to be gone for 10-14 days – in between high school and college, no major job conflicts. It’s almost kind of like summer camp, but BETTER!”

Tour Schedule July 5 The Altrusa Polka Fest at Romy’s Nightingale in Black Creek, Wisconsin. The Moravians will open for SqueezeBox and play during the breaks.

July 6 Cresco Polka Fest, Cresco, Iowa. Bands: SqueezeBox, Jim Busta Band & The Moravians.

July 7 Polka Fest in Arcadia, Iowa. Bands: SqueezeBox, Jim Busta Band & The Moravians.

July 9 Winneshiek County Fair, Decorah, Iowa. The Moravians will join the Jim Busta Band for a few songs.

July 10 & 11 Still lining something up.

July 12 Performance at Walcott Coliseum in Walcott, Iowa. Bands: SqueezeBox, Jim Busta Band & The Moravians.

July 13 Street Performance in Clutier, Iowa (a Czech community). The Moravians will open for SqueezeBox and play during the breaks.