Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tief im Böhmerwald, or: Waltzing in the Woods

A few months ago, I was trying to find out the name of the tune stuck in my head. I whistled it for some people who might know, and they guessed "Kleine Winzerin vom Rhein", a nice tune in one of our books, and pretty close, but not exactly what I was hearing:

Then yesterday, I found this video of "Waltzing in the Woods" -- that's it!

A little more internet research led me to the original German title, "Tief im Böhmerwald". There are plenty of versions to choose from. Here's Markus Fuchs, in a smooth Bohemian waltz groove:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Polka Christmas

This will be the only time I post Bob Dylan here. It's his cover of Brave Combo's version of Mitch Miller's 'Must Be Santa'. Looks like a good party!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Karl's german waltzes

Starting out with the clarinet business from the end of our arrangement of 'In München steht ein Hofbrau Haus'. Great stuff!

Here's another great Karl Hartwich performance - Looks like everybody IS happy! The audience really helps.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MVD 1987

Here's another clip of the wonderful Mississippi Valley Dutchmen. 1987 was a very good year. Brian Brueggen was even younger than I was. How about that chromatic stuff that starts at 2:20!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the Valley of the Moon

I've got an oompah version of this tune by the Deutschmeisters. You can also find recordings by Slim Whitman, Paul Whiteman, and Liberace.

I'm crazy about concertina music right now, even toy concertinas, so here's my favorite version:

"but we'll meet again by the roses, in the valley of the moon"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Elmer Scheid, Boots Ländler

The Ländler is a dance in 3/4 time that was a precursor to the waltz.
The dancers in this video are having a good time, but I think they're just waltzing. There's a lot of foot-stomping in a Ländler.

Elmer Scheid led a polka band for fifty years, based in New Ulm, MN. He recorded 15 albums and influenced a lot of concertina players. YouTube has tons of these KEYC-TV Bandwagon polka videos. They're not all exactly electrifying in terms of energy, but the Elmer Scheid band sounds great, even transcendent at times. I wonder, how did they learn their arrangements? Did Elmer hum a part to each musician, Basie-style, and have them play it over and over until it was second nature? Or were parts written out and memorized individually?
My favorite song at the moment is Scheid's Two Canaries polka. There's no video of him doing it, but there is this concertina version that I really love as well, despite a wrong note or two —

Finally: Scheid's "My Millie's Waltz", video posted by the above concertinist —

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mariechen Waltz

I'm rediscovering some "Dutchman-style" polka bands, from Wisconsin or Minnesota: Brian's MVD, Karl's Country Dutchmen, and some of earlier bands like Elmer Scheid or Whoopee John. All use the chemnitzer concertina in a small ensemble. Arrangements sound structured but there's never anyone reading music.

Mariechen Waltz was the theme song for Whoopee John Wilfahrt, the first of the midwestern polka bands to record.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wisconsin polka bands

I've been listening to Wisconsin polka bands. There are a lot of them! Most seem to feature a concertina. Brian Brueggen for example, sounds beautiful here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

das Humba Täterä

This is more of a party song than we may have realized. Maybe we should consider an a-capella version.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Look, a dead fish in the water

You are sure to recognize this old Italian tune. If you know why it's played by German bands, with lyrics about a dead fish in the water, let me know.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ernst Mosch: Pfeffer und Salz

Here is a fine, jaunty Ernst Mosch number. An easy polka tempo. It has an elusive sort of rhythmic swing, both tragic and light. But why the hobo costumes? I'm guessing that these guys have downed even more alcohol than I have lately. I would venture to say that to a man, they have given up on most aspects of life. Western Civilization itself may be a complete loss, the human endeavor may no longer be a worthy project. However, they have not given up on everything. They still have sweet, melodic music.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Schwarze Augen

Also known as 'Dark Eyes', it's a Russian tune popular around the world. Sung here by Günter Wewel.

I was happy to find a Schwarze Augen by the always excellent Blaskapelle Tschecharanka. Turns out to be a totally different tune, but a beautiful one.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Alte Kameraden at last year's Woodstock der Blasmusik

I was surprised how well this tune works with Brassessoires, a five-piece brass group. It helps to have an enthusiastic audience.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Who Stole the Kishka?

An early english-language polka hit for Frankie Yankovic. Although Weird Al played with Frankie on a later recording of this song, the two Yankovics are apparently NOT related, according to Wikipedia! Sorry for the false information, Curtis.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Es spielt die Neppendorfer Blaskapelle.

Somber, majestic, humanly out of tune, thrilling and alive. From this I can feel that joy and suffering happen on a scale measured in generations, communities, and civilizations.

Monday, June 3, 2013

a great trombone player in Germany

I don't normally post swing music here, but I love Vic Dickenson. Here he is in Baden Baden.

Friday, April 12, 2013

With the approach of the Max Raabe concert, I'm listening to a lot of old Kurt Weill. This one, from the  wonderful Pabst film of Threepenny Opera, is a favorite:

The singer, Carola Neher, came to a bad end in WWII. Bummer!

Max Raabe

Really looking forward to seeing the Palastorchester on Saturday!

Jubiläumskonzert Max Raabe from Grafschafter Nachrichten on Vimeo.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Arbeiters set list

  1. Einzugs March
  2. The Wanderer (baritone solo)
  3. Florentiner March
  4. The Sound of Music
  5. Apollo March
  6. Tales from the Vienna Woods
  7. Knall BonBons I
  8. Die Macht der Liebe
  9. Alte Kameraden
Einzugmarsch with accordions:

A long version of Florentiner Marsch by Mnozil Brass, with many crazy shenanigans:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

again with Ein halbes Jahrhundert

The music arrived but our programs are already set for the time being, so we haven't played it. Here's a recently posted performance of the piece:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brunch with Very Rickenbacher

I just ordered the orchestra music for 'Ein halbes Jahrhundert'. I posted a video of this melodic number back in September. It was written in 2005, pretty recent for something like this!
Here's a radio show with the composer, Very Rickenbacher, who is roughly my age.