Posted to alt.music.polkas on January 27, 2004 by Mike Surratt. Reprinted by permission.
So, how does Frank Yankovic figure into all this? If you wish to get at the roots of polka-combo bands in the USA, there has to be more than Lil Wally.
The Tejano/Conjunto polkas, rancheros, and waltzs were inspired by early German settlers in Texas and are currently the most popular form of polka being performed in North America. Start watching Univision and you will hear polka being broadcast all over the world in Spanish. This is a musical feat not being accomplished by *any* current Polish/German/Slovene band touring today.
Further, Eddie B and copy-cat Chicago style band's honky/push style has often been compared to the basic Mariachi band's 2-trumpet sound. Think of that accordion bellow-shaking going on and then think about a Mexican fiddle player and you have to wonder, which came first?
I'm not sure if "polka" is even considered folk music in Poland. But, I know for a fact that polka folk music still thrives in many parts of Bavaria/Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Switzerland and all those countries that were formally Bohemia.
There are fans for each style of polka being performed today. But, there are few fans of all styles of the genre. I'm one -- my CD player plays Charm City Sound, Die Schlauberger, Grkman, Brave Combo, and Flaco Jimenez, to name a few.
Bottom line to me -- polka is polka.
Mike Surratt, Accordionist/Keyboardist
From an email dated Feb. 4, 2004, from Mike Surratt. Used by permission.
Sorry for the delay getting back to you. Been a bit busy around here as the band is working on a new CD of Swing Music.
I found your page to be a breath of fresh air!
I think you are correct about "German" polka music . . . there really is no person/band/style that has become noticeable. No Honky, etc...
Die Schlauberger is not creating their sound. In Germany/Austria, bands such as Schurzenjagers started what is now called "Alpen-Rock" which is basically a polka "bass/accordion/guitar" rhythm section having the drummer playing a standard basic "rock" (almost disco) beat. This style of German music has been around since the 70's and was mostly introduced by a German Singer called Tony Marshall. If you really listen you can sometime hear a bit of a tarentella (northern italian/alps) influence to the music as well.
There is another group in the USA that is primarily Alpen Rock: the Alpen Echos from Cincinnati, Ohio, and we have the pleasure of performing with them at least once a year in Jasper, Indiana.
As I mentioned before on the newsgroup . . . German polka bands really play styles to please their local audiences. If the Germans like that "Marshall Sound," it will be done -- or if they want more traditional polka, that gets played. In my opinion, it's the influence of each bandleader in the genre that makes the sound for the group as a whole. Herzog, Haller, Groller, for example all have "their" style (sound) of the music.
Also, German Pop Volksmusik is not all polka/waltz -- many songs are pseudo cha-cha or rumba beats which in essence are ballads.
One thing about your page that was a bit under-done was the fact that you haven't reviewed us ::smile::
Posted to alt.music.polkas on Mar 8, 2005, by Mike Surratt. Reprinted by permission.
There are a LOT of different polka dancing styles & tempos:
Polish-Hop, Dutch-Hop, Ballroom, Latino "German influenced"
(2-step/walking march). Polka is also considered a jazz-2-beat (or dixieland
quick step) by many non-polka drummers who are asked to play the obligatory
polka for the night. Also, let's not forget Country and Western music -- Country
2-Step / Bob Wills Texas Swing is in reality a polka beat and is utilized by
many current bands.