Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hey Everybody - Let's Polka!

I know there are people who read this blog on a regular basis who are going to have severe problems with cognitive dissonance when I state that yes, I really do like polka. In fact, polka and the waltz are the only two "traditional" dances I know how to do. But see, I grew up in the Baltimore area, where there are a lot of central Europeans - Germans, Czechs and Slovaks (who we called Bohemians and Moravians back in the day), and Poles. So believe me when I tell you that polka has always was always huge around Baltimore back then. Oh, not on the radio, at least not on the big stations (although there were a couple of small stations that played only polka); but at church halls, VFW and Knights of Columbus halls, and the like, polka ruled. And let's not forget that Baltimore was one of the bigger markets for The Lawrence Welk Show.

So last night as I was looking for the appropriate video for my Theme Thursday post, I ran across a wealth of polka videos (no, you're not gonna have to suffer through even more polka on Thursday) and thought I'd share some. Our first sample is "The Sauerkraut Polka" by the Original Tiroler Echo. It's a real floor-stomper, so grab your partner, hitch up your skirts, and off we go!

The next is an old favorite, the "Beer Barrel Polka", but it's played by a group called Tekla Klebetnica from the motherland of Poland, so it has a rougher, more "down home" feel!

Now here's a real hoot - the "Bayrische Polka", played by a full brass band. But catch that trombone soloist - ain't she something else?

Next we have some home-grown polka, the "Pennsylvania Polka" (remember this from the movie Groundhog Day?) featuring the great Frankie Yankovic (more on him in a bit):

Okay, Frankie Yankovic, the Elvis of the American Polka scene, born 1915, died 1998. If you heard any polka at all from the '30s through the '80s, you heard Frankie. People practically worshipped the man (I did say he was the Elvis of polka, right?). So anyhow, here's Frankie Yankovic and his Yanks playing the "I Have a Wife at Home Polka"!

This last piece isn't a polka, but if you have a polka band you had damned well better be able to play the "Blue Skirt Waltz"! There are areas of the US where a wedding reception just isn't considered legitimate unless the band plays the "Blue Skirt Waltz". Here we have the classic version by the Lawrence Welk Orchestra (and of course that's Myron Floren playing the accordion!). Enjoy!

Text © 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. LOVED it! You're so much fun...

  2. This was SO much fun, Roy. My favorite would have to be "Beer Barrel Polka". You know, I always wanted to be able to play the accordion. It would be so much fun to play it at holiday gatherings. ;^)

  3. Roy, does this bring back memories! Big Polka fan, here! Sauerkraut and Beer Barrel are two faves ( but anything by Frankie Yankovic...I'm all ears and floor stompin' ). And hey! It's not a true Oktoberfest without some Polka! Going back for more :)

  4. The Bayrische Polka, she...was...incredible! Loved the way Herr Bandmeister came to her aide when her arm cramped up!

  5. Those of us who are (ahem) rather a bit overendowed... do not polka.

    But waltz?

    Oh indeed there is nothing more sublime than to waltz across the floor, covering every inch of available square footage, whirling, gliding, turning, smiling...

    (those "bat wings" on the blue dress shoulda been left on the cutting room floor, though...)

    And it's amazing how Welk and Floren can make a waltz into an almost polka.

  6. South Texans appreciate polka because of the great influence it had on the development of conjunto, the border musics played by the likes of Flaco Jimenez and his father Don Santiago.

  7. I Love waltzes and polkas, coming from a deep German and Norwegian heritage. this was delightful...

  8. Oh my god! this reminds me of being trapped in the car with my father, listening to a radio station from Chicopee, hosted by someone named Andy Sheberla (I think). Also Chet Dragon springs to mind.

    YIKES!! Roy, you are sending back down memory lane to tunes that conjure up so much, both + and –

  9. Brilliant! I'm breathless!

    Gonna have to get me those dance lessons I have been promising myself.

    How fortunate you found those videos...can't wait to see the shoe one now.

  10. I remember deejaying a friend's wedding as a favor, fielding polka requests from older people. I apologetically explained that I wasn't a "real" deejay, and everything I'd brought was from my own priovate -- polka-less -- collection.

    Then I realized that on one of Weird Al Yankovic's early LPs was a tune called "Polkas on 45." Saved MY butt!

    And there are still people out there who think Weird Al is Frank's son!

  11. Is Weird Al the son of the polka Yankovic?

  12. has anyone ever heard the father and daughter polka?if so where can i buy it,or get at a web site

  13. I like this website. This website helped me with prayer learning.and welcome to visit our website nike outlet stores.thank you!