Guy Klucevsek CD cover

Ain’t Nothin’ But a Polka Band

Polka from the Fringe

29 polkas by various composers

Starkland

Aint’ Nothin’ But a Polka Band are: Guy Klucevsek, accordion and vocals; John King, electric guitar, electric violin, dobro, vocals; David Hostra, Fender bass, doublebass, tuba; Bill Ruyle, drums, marimba, triangle; David Garland, lead vocals, whistling.

Confession time: I didn’t know what to think about this disc when I first received it. I thought I had gotten on the wrong person’s mailing list and couldn’t understand why anyone would send me a polka disc (much less a 2 disc set of polkas). All I really know about polkas I learned from Weird Al. Then I started looking at the disc: Starkland? Mary Ellen Childs? Aaron Jay Kernis? Carl Stone? Fred Frith? Lois Vierk? William Duckworth? What?!? I instantly put the discs in and all my questions were answered.

While far from being some kind of “gag disc” or collection of jokey compositions, this double-disc set is a heck of a lot of fun. Each composer makes their own work on the subject of “polka,” some are very traditional sounding others flirt with polka-ness, others take the instrumentation and write their own thing. The boisterous opening “The Grass, It Is Blue” sets the stage well with its riffs on Gershwin. Peter Garland’s “The Club Nada Polka” stutters and stammers through polka world. Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Phantom Polka” sounds like bits of Petrushka which were swept up off the floor and stitched back together. Bobby Previte’s epic (8 minutes seems appropriate for a polka to be called ‘epic’) “The Nove Scotia Polka” is equal parts polka and fantasia. Disc two contains just as many gems as disc one. William Duckworth’s “Polking Around” has all the subversive rhythmic arpeggiation grooves you would expect. Fred Frith’s “The Disinformation Polka” is full of fits and starts which make me chuckle every time I hear it. I would talk about each piece but there are just too many!

What I really love about the disc is, well, everything I suppose. You can tell that the composers had a good time writing these pieces and Ain’t Nothin’ But A Polka Band delivers clean and genuine performances of each work, no matter how “un-polka” they get. I don’t get the send of this being Hugely Important and Reverent Music. This is a boatload of composers writing out of the joy of writing. Some days you want to be blown away by profound artistry. For every other day, there are discs like this full of joy, pleasure, and talent.

Disc One

  • The Grass, It Is Blue - Guy Klucevsek
  • The VCR Polka - David Garland
  • Polka Dots And Laser Beams - Guy De Bievre
  • Diet Polka - Daniel Goode
  • The Club Nada Polka -Peter Garland
  • The 22nd St Accordion Band - David Mahler
  • The Nova Scotia Polka - Bobby Previte
  • Happy Chappie Polka - Elliott Sharp
  • The Winnemucca Polka - Robin Holcomb
  • (Do The) Lurk – Part 2 – Polka - Bill Ruyle
  • Oa Poa Polka - Mary Ellen Childs
  • Peek-A-Boo Polka - Joseph Kasinskas
  • Solidarity-Polka Song - John King
  • Phantom Polka - Aaron Jay Kernis
  • Prairie Dogs - Carl Finch

Disc Two

  • Guy, Won’t You Play Your Accordion? - William Obrecht
  • Polking Around - William Duckworth
  • The Imperial Buzzard - Tom Cora
  • The Disinformation Polka - Fred Frith
  • Medjunarodni Nacin Polka - Anthony Coleman
  • From Here To Paternity Polka - Steve Elson
  • (The) Who Stole the Polka - Peter Zummo
  • Some of that “Old Time Soul” Polka - Guy Klucevsek
  • Polka I - Rolf Groesbeck
  • Attack Cat Polka - Lois Vierk
  • Fuddle The Shux - Carl Stone
  • Guy De Polka - Mary Jane Leach
  • Pontius Pilate Polka - Phillip Johnston
  • Wild Goose - Dick Connette

 

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