Sunday, November 30, 2014

the Bartender's Polka

There are at least three different tunes called the Bartender's Polka, and they're all good!

First up is one with Polish lyrics, just posted yesterday! I think of this as Chicago style polka.

I remember hearing Walt Solek's "Bartender's Polka" when I was a kid:

The Bartender's Polka that Hank Thompson had a country western hit with in 1958 is popular with the Dutchman style polka bands that I love. Here is that tune, covered by Gary's Ridgeland Dutchmen:

At the beginning of this video, Gary Brueggen says it's the same tune as Fingertanz. I heard that and thought great, we've got that in our new books! — but it seems to be a different "Fingertanz".

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Circling Pigeons

Here's a favorite of mine, a traditional tune for midwestern polka bands, with Czech roots: Circling Pigeons waltz (or ländler).

Tom Waits had some praise for this version:
I love these Czech-Bavarian bands that landed in Texas of all places... This music is both sour and bitter, and picante, and floating above itself like steam over the kettle. There's a piece called the 'Circling Pigeons Waltz', it's the most beautiful thing - kind of sour, like a wheel about to go off the road all the time.
Brian and the Mississippi Valley Dutchmen do a great rendition with a concertina solo. My other favorite would be the Romy Gosz recording, but since there's no footage of that group, the following tribute will do: 

Kinderhaus Weihnachtsfest

Our band will be playing at the Christmas party for KinderHaus, Saturday December 6th. The event starts at 3, we play at 6.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Franz Klein library

I am pleased to announce that BlowMusik has acquired the Franz Klein music library. This is a set of arrangements from a band that was active in the Detroit area in the 1910's and 20s, according to the guy I bought it from, whose father acquired it in the 70s. There are about 80 hand-written arrangements, and 33 typeset, all nicotine stained but in decent condition. There are familiar pieces by Strauss and Sousa, some traditional tunes, and other things I hadn't heard of. Some may be originals by Klein, for all I know. There are books for Flugelhorns, Horns in Eb,  Bb clarinet, Eb clarinet, alto saxes, 'Eufonium' and Bass. It all arrived in a very old and hand-made briefcase of wood and leather.

I'll be trying out these on the piano, copying the pieces I like into Noteflight, and posting links here when I have time. The parts are notated beautifully and clearly, with a steel-nib pen. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Where were you for game 6 of the World Series?

You probably weren't at the San Mateo Marriott, but if you were, you might have seen this:

Thanks to Melissa L. for sharing her video with us.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stern Polka aka Doudlebska

The old-tyme Czech dance, 'Doublebska Polka'

Also known by the name Stern Polka, here in a bare-bones arrangement:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bayern Maiden

We did our 2nd annual German American Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest last week. The headline act was Bayern Maiden. They're more on the rock side than we are, but like us, they seem to really enjoy playing Oktoberfest music, and they're good at it!

Anyway, they went to Munich to check out what songs are being played this year:

Monday, October 6, 2014

da Blechhauf'n

Blechhauf'n has a lot of music on Youtube and elsewhere. They play some beautiful brass band arrangements.

Here they are in a video published earlier today, at what looks like an office party. The tune, Kannst du Knodel Kochen?, asks a girl whether she can cook dumplings. It was made popular by Ernst Mosch, but written by Czech composer Karel Vacek (1902-1982). I have a post on Vacek in the works.

Here's a fully produced music video of Ghost Riders in the Sky:

20 minute Blechhauf'n documentary in German:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The band

I named this blog Blow Musik! when I started it back in 2011, after searching YouTube for 'blasmusik' videos. We ended up using it as the name of our band, too.

The band is getting busy. Tomorrow, 9/25: GACC Oktoberfest with Bayern Maiden (sold out!) 

Friday and Saturday at Schroeder's

Sunday afternoon, Atlas cafe 

Here's a Google Calendar that shows all the BlowMusik dates, along with Deutscher Musikverein dates, since a few of us are in both groups.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Erinnerungen an Brennberg by Peter Zauner

Here's a fine Blasmusik tune being played by many current German bands.
First, a version by Die Wirtshaus Vielharmoniker.

Next, Tegernseer Tanzlmusi. Big Flügelhorns on the right!

The song also goes by the name of Wiesergraben Polka. Here's a slow one by Die Bradler:

The arrangement is for sale on several german sites, for about 35... hmmm

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cuckoo Waltz, (Kuckucks-Walzer)

YouTube isn't working too well with Blogger tonight. So, instead of posting the videos here, I'll just post the links.

Brian and the MVD, beautiful concertina feature:

It works as standard oompah band fare:

If Ernst Mosch played it, you know it's good Blasmusik

Will Glahé, another classic artist of the genre:

My arrangement in progress on Noteflight, copied mostly from the 1st version above

Friday, August 15, 2014

Polkacide, Bottom of the Hill, 8/8/14

I saw Polkacide many times in the 80s and 90s.  I wasn’t sure I would still like their punk version of polka, since I’ve been playing polkas myself lately, and may have developed a more, umm, mature outlook on the genre. I thought of reasons not to go: they’ll be too loud, too ironic, too goofy. But it sounded like I had a date, so I bought tickets, and I’m glad I did.

There are photos of the show in this article on SF Gate, about how music venues are threatened by the tech boom in SF. It’s true, everything is threatened, and there is no easy fix. Go hear a band while you still can. 

I actually liked all three acts a lot. Pachuco Cadaver, described as a Captain Beefheart cover band, had plenty of originality; the tunes I recognized were greatly changed.  The 2nd band, Black Cat Grave, was a duo made up of a bearded singing guitarist and a very energetic drummer. Rocking! 

Polkacide did several of the same tunes that we do in BlowMusik, but they were showier, louder, and ironic. They opened with Helena Polka, as they normally do. I heard notes of dixieland, free jazz, saturday morning cartoons… it was fun and manic.  The Chicken Dance was ridiculous. Slow, fast, “La la la La, la La, la LA LA!” Yes, I danced! The Beer Barrel Polka started super slow and sexy: Roll… Out…. the Barrel… 
Who Stole the Kishka had horns playing all the minor key melodies that it needs. 

My date didn’t go, in the end, which is too bad because I’m hoping to get her to like polka music. For her, polka is Laurence Welk. But polka is also Polkacide, Karl Hartwich, Romy Gosz. Punk is a lot of things, but Polka is a beat, and it happens to be the punkest of beats. The dances styles are different, but I maintain that polka and punk rock are virtually the same thing. 
non-commercial? check. no extended, self-indulgent solos? check
Do It Yourself? don’t let your lack of talent, training, or qualifications stop you? check
Play your music with passion and directness, don't worry about what's popular? this is in all kinds of good music.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Schneider Polka

Here we have a video of Karl Hartwich sitting in with Malek's Fishermen, doing an energetic version of the Schneider Polka. I bought an arrangement of this on E-Bay (along with a few others) and we're playing it in the Blow Musik! band. I'm trying to play it on concertina. I'm no Karl Hartwich!
Schneiden: to cut. Schneider: tailor.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Biermösl Blosn

At the San Rafael farmer's market yesterday, I met a family from Amsterdam. They told me about a Bavarian group doing traditional Blasmusik but with leftist lyrics and comedy. Biermösl Blosn actually stopped playing in 2012 after 35 years. There are a lot of videos on Youtube, including this documentary in German.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Schmenges

Thanks to Dr. Bob for the tip on the Schmenge Brothers, here doing their signature tune, Cabbage Rolls and Coffee:

 I think they are actually playing their instruments! The idea of eastern european immigrants, trying to play polkas and speaking stilted english, isn't funny enough to make me want to watch their hour long tv special. I prefer John Candy's role as a polka band guy in Home Alone:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Schubert's Winterreise

This somber, beautiful music doesn't quite fit the genre that I do here, but it's an old favorite. It's German, it's melodic, it's popular. I found this version with some horns in it:

Here's one of the songs from the cycle, with German lyrics and English translation:

I like this woman's husky voice and the moody guitar:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

im Grunewald ist Holzauktion

Im Grunewald, im Grunewald ist Holzauktion, ist Holzauktion, ist Holzauktion.

Links um die Ecke rum! rechts um die Ecke rum! überall ist große Holzauktion! 
Grunewald is a wooded area on the west side of Berlin. This song (written in 1892) says, there's a wood auction there! To the left, to the right, everywhere, a big wood auction! There are more lyrics, involving a forester, someone kissing his daughter, and police sneaking around in the moonlight, but I can't quite translate the rest.

Here's an oompah version by the Bavarian Strollers, who are actually from the U.K.. This is a too fast for a Schottische, guys!

Goethe Institute is teaching this tune all over the world:

The tune was a favorite of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and he had his Greek hosts learn it when he was visiting in 1908.

Finally, here's one with a computer singing it:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Under the Double Eagle

A popular, old, stereotypically German march, 'Unter dem Doppeladler' - Under the Double Eagle. Most of the videos I found were by string bands. My favorite of those is this rather tender version by SF locals, Friends of Old Puppy:

Here's a german version, in a scenic setting:

A solo on the button accordion:

People will dance to it! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

La Golondrina ('The Swallow')

Written in 1862 by Narciso Serradell Sevilla, this is a popular waltz melody that has crossed over from Mexican to Mid-western polka bands and beyond. Youtube has versions by Nat King Cole, Placido Domingo, and Chet Atkins. Elvis did a version with new lyrics in English, 'She Wears my Ring'.

La Golondrina is featured in The Wild Bunch:

Here's a version where they're playing a spanish double-reed horn called a Dulzaina  --

Finally, one by concertina great, Syl Liebl:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Forsaken Memories

By listening to WRJQ, I rediscovered Romy Gosz, a once-popular Wisconsin band leader, who worked from the '30s to the '60s. I had to search pretty hard to find any of his music for sale; I ordered two CDs from Polkamart and got them today.

The band has a lot of passion and musicianship. Romy plays trumpet and uses a plunger mute on many songs. The horns use a wide vibrato that's been out of fashion for a long time. I really love it. Here's a jukebox playing "Forsaken Memories" —

The tune also goes by the name of Millie's Waltz. I already posted Elmer Scheid's version, here's Ivan Kahle's:

Monday, March 17, 2014

the whole world loves a parade

Saturday was the St Patrick's parade in San Francisco. Once again, it was proved that the Irish and the Germans have some great things in common.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A couple of new ones for the DMV

First off: Die Fischerin vom Bodensee, originally from this 1956 film with the same title:

Next up: Wie der Teufel es will, or, what the Devil wants. This is printed on the same piece of sheet music for us. Karl Gott had the hit in '76:

I like this instrumental duo:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dan Witucki for JG Wentworth

Why this financial service(?) is using an oompah band for their ad, I don't know. One good thing about posting a YouTube video that's an ad is that you're not likely to get ads on top of it.

The band is Dan Witucki's Heimatland Musikanten. You know he's for real because he's got a HENGEL's concertina. How did I know this? I learned it in a Facebook post from the US Concertina Association!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Auf der Vogelwiese

I love this slow, majestic version from Meeblech:

I bought the MP3 album on Amazon, it's good!  

As Ursula explained: Vogelwiese means 'bird meadow', yes, but the song is actually about a guy who gets drunk in a tent. 
Auf die Vogelwiese ging der Franz, weil er gern einen hebt,
und bei Blasmusik und Tanz, hat er so viel erlebt.

Das Bier im Zelt war gut und herrlich kühl,
darum trank der Franz viel zu viel.
Früh am Tag war er so frisch,
doch Abends lag er unterm Tisch.
Franz went out to the bird meadow, because he likes a lift,
with Blow-music and dance, he has lived so much.

The beer
in the tent was lovely and cool,
so Franz drank way too much.
Early in the day he was so fresh,
but in the evening, he lay under the table.
I could swear that I've seen Ernst Mosch doing this on YouTube, and I can picture him grinning and grabbing at the air with every beat, but it seems to have been removed. That's okay, there are plenty of other versions to see. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When the Sun Comes Over the Brewery

I've heard a few groups do this on WRJQ. The original was by Whoopee John. I only found one version on YouTube -- good enough!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the Dizzy Chap polka

This is a great one, first version by Karl and the Country Dutchmen:

Let's dance around and around! Next version by Ivan Kahle:

Friday, January 24, 2014

This tune goes by at least three names!

first up: Jet Polka

next: Clover by the Water

Finally, Herz Schmerz:


I was looking for the version by Hildegard Knef, but it appears to have been removed. So we have this version by our old friend Gerhard Wendland:

 But that's not very Blasmusik, so here's a version by the Stadtkapelle Zweibrücken, based on the Bert Kaempfert arrangement that Ms. Knef sang on:

All this leaves me unsatisfied, I really wanted Hildegard Knef. Here she is with 'Ich wollte dich vergessen'

Friday, January 10, 2014


Schnaps, das war sein letztes Wort. Dann trugen ihn die Englein fort

Schnaps, that was his last word. Then the angels carried him off.

A hit for Willy Millowitsch in 1960. Still a popular party tune; there are several heavy metal versions to be found.

Here's a traditional one from the New Ulm Heritage fest, they do some great costumes:

Here's a fine instrumental performance. Maybe they should try a little schnapps beforehand to loosen things up...