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Is polka really dead?

While really not a polka fan, I love variations of most ethnic music, especially the punk variety. I'm glad I started this thread. It's nice to see so many here still appreciate their heritage, what ever that may be. Hopefully, it means Coudenhove-Kalergi haven't won yet.
 
I grew up in Southern California in a very racially diverse area. This meant I had the privilege of being exposed to many different cultures, including music (though I never studied music). I'm fairly certain that polka music has been incorporated into some strains of Mexican music (e.g., Banda). I don't mean just the accordion, but actual polka rhythms and sounds. Just a couple months ago, I heard a younger guy (probably in his 20s) playing some Banda music in his car. For that reason, I'm not sure Polka is actually dead or that it ever died.
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
You wouldn’t be talking about Westfest in West, Tx would you? Fun times. 3 days of Kolaches, polka, sausage, and beer. So much beer.

As a matter of fact, Westfest is the very festival I was talking about! We started going when I started law school in 1997, and we continued going to every single one until we missed 2019 because we were driving our son up to college.

I actually forgot about missing 2019, and it blows my mind that I did. It was our first miss in over 20 years, and it was the first time either of sons missed it in their entire lives! Yep, the boys went as babies. We almost went out of our way to stop in at Westfest for a beer, but we all figured that a taste of honey would be worse than none at all. It would have been very difficult to pull ourselves away.

The crazy part of that story happened while we were listening to the Rick Steves radio show while driving north on I-35 somewhere around the Oklahoma state line (or maybe even further north than that, but it doesn't matter). Rick focused on the Czech Republic on that show, and he had a little segment about the Czech influence in the USA. A lady called in from West and talked about Westfest! All four of us got a bit misty, and I just about turned the car around!
 
As a matter of fact, Westfest is the very festival I was talking about! We started going when I started law school in 1997, and we continued going to every single one until we missed 2019 because we were driving our son up to college.

I actually forgot about missing 2019, and it blows my mind that I did. It was our first miss in over 20 years, and it was the first time either of sons missed it in their entire lives! Yep, the boys went as babies. We almost went out of our way to stop in at Westfest for a beer, but we all figured that a taste of honey would be worse than none at all. It would have been very difficult to pull ourselves away.

The crazy part of that story happened while we were listening to the Rick Steves radio show while driving north on I-35 somewhere around the Oklahoma state line (or maybe even further north than that, but it doesn't matter). Rick focused on the Czech Republic on that show, and he had a little segment about the Czech influence in the USA. A lady called in from West and talked about Westfest! All four of us got a bit misty, and I just about turned the car around!
It’s really is a small world. I’m assuming you went to Baylor Law? I moved to Waco in ‘97 and went to work for a family that had strong ties to West. Their extended family owned the old Pizza House across from where it is today, back when it was actually in a house. I went to every Westfest from 98 to about 2007. Starting in 2002 I would volunteer with West EMS to do medical standbys which were almost as much fun as actually being part of the revelry. I miss it, but probably won’t make it back few a more years at least.
 

oc_in_fw

Fridays are Fishtastic!
I couldn't listen to it all the time but I rather enjoy polka. I remember the likes of the Six Fat Dutchmen, Frankie Yankovic and Whoopie John Wilfahrt from when I was a kid. My Dad told me a joke in his best Lawrence Welk impersonation, "And next on our show, Whoopie John Wilfahrt and his band will play!" (If you don't get it, try saying it out loud. :laugh:) Every now and then I'll catch a polka show on TV which I think is broadcast out of Mankato, MN. It's kind of a hoot with a live band and couples dancing.

A while back I was having lunch in a Mexican restaurant and I began to wonder why the conjunto/tejano music they were playing sounded so much like polka. After looking into it a bit I learned that way back in the day, German and eastern Europeans settlers brought their accordians, waltzes and polka music when they settled in southern Texas and northern Mexico where the local population adopted/adapted the music. I thought that was pretty cool and I really enjoy that type of music as well.
They don't have accordions, but you can hear the polka influence in the beats of some mariachi.

Nothing gets the beer flowing like polka and oompah music.
 
They don't have accordions, but you can hear the polka influence in the beats of some mariachi.

Nothing gets the beer flowing like polka and oompah music.
I might have mislabeled what I was hearing in that Mexican restaurant. I think it was Banda and Norteno music. Stuff like this: (You can definitely hear a polka influence.)


 

oc_in_fw

Fridays are Fishtastic!
I might have mislabeled what I was hearing in that Mexican restaurant. I think it was Banda and Norteno music. Stuff like this: (You can definitely hear a polka influence.)

Nah, you're probably correct. About the only Mexican music I know is mariachi. You think I would know more, being the wife is Mex-Am and all. And I probably misspoke a bit- I think mariachi takes a little from oompah, not polka.
 

FarmerTan

"Self appointed king of Arkoland"
Back home back then there were polka bands everywhere, polka was a standby at most every wedding I ever attended. Frankie Yankovic was a homie. As a kid during the British Invasion I wasn't real fond of the polka, though I did have a friend with an accordion ..

I'd like to think a polka party might spawn the fall of those "various arsehole techno-overlords" ..

I have a new favorite song! Thank you my friend.
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
It’s really is a small world. I’m assuming you went to Baylor Law? I moved to Waco in ‘97 and went to work for a family that had strong ties to West. Their extended family owned the old Pizza House across from where it is today, back when it was actually in a house. I went to every Westfest from 98 to about 2007. Starting in 2002 I would volunteer with West EMS to do medical standbys which were almost as much fun as actually being part of the revelry. I miss it, but probably won’t make it back few a more years at least.

Small world, indeed! I did go to Baylor Law.

We probably passed each other on the fairgrounds many times.
 
I blame the decline of music literacy on the modern education systems
In all honesty, in almost all cases, music literacy has fallen to the fact that almost all school boards, and schools, will cut funding to art and music, before they touch anything else. That might not apply to areas with big football bands (I'm not in the US, but I could see how that would be a thing). I've seen it happen. Music and Art are seen as disposable extras.
 

garyg

B&B membership has its percs
In all honesty, in almost all cases, music literacy has fallen to the fact that almost all school boards, and schools, will cut funding to art and music, before they touch anything else. That might not apply to areas with big football bands (I'm not in the US, but I could see how that would be a thing). I've seen it happen. Music and Art are seen as disposable extras.

+1 - Music and art are also seedbeds for uncomfortable ideologies, but will I can only hope survive
 
I guess I come at it from a different take. I grew up watching The Lawerence Welk show, mostly in the mid-seventies. I never liked the raucous 'roll out the barrel' stuff, but the rest of it was okay, and it was my first introduction to that weird looking instrument. After that, growing up in Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, specifically) it would be heard at the odd folk concert or county fair. To me, "accordion" didn't not always equal "polka"

When I got older, to me, it was just a given in some folk/rock bands, and some other musicians that incorporated here and there:
Great Big Sea, Barenaked Ladies, Counting Crows, Tom Waits, Mark Knopfler, The Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues. I like that kind of stuff, though I'm a bit more partial to throwing in some bagpipes.

Nova Scotia has a large German population, so I think that was probably the predominant group over Polish or others.

My sister-in-law plays accordian, but I only saw her a couple of times. I saw a lot of her playing first violin, or fiddling. She is an elementary school music teacher, and also part of a family/children's group called "Donna & Andy" (not my brother)... during Covid she has done a ton of Youtube videos, teaching music, and performing. In this clip she tells the story of how she recieved her first accordian, plays some and shows how it can be used for even songs young children would know, and even shows the inside of an accordian.


 
Not sure how to view it when it comes to culture, Polish Polka culture, no, not really. I'm not even sure where accordions come from. Here's a bit of folk rock/accordion from Great Big Sea...
 
I’m betting Polka is still going strong if you visit a suburban bowling alley in Milwaukee or Pittsburg on a Saturday night.😊👍
 
Small world, indeed! I did go to Baylor Law.

We probably passed each other on the fairgrounds many times.
I miss Grant Teaff and Frank Fallon. Those were happier days!!

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