Friday, October 2, 2015


Blowmusik Sets:
  • 12:00pm-12:45pm @ MAIN STAGE = So. end by I-580, Montana
  • 1:40pm-2:40pm @ STREET TENT = B of A tents? not sure 
  • 3:30pm-4:00pm @ FAMILY STAGE = north, Library/Safeway

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dobre Muziky!!! Czech polka podcasts

A treasure trove of Czech polka!

Still working my way through it all. Low-fi, but a great collection of Czech and related music.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ja, das ist eine Schnitzelbank!

We've got Schnitzelbank in at least one of our books, but we're afraid of train wrecks when counting our way through it. It's a simple song, we should do it!

It's infectious and fun because it's so damn moronic and annoying!

image via desertislandcomics:
A photo posted by Desert Island (@desertislandcomics) on

Shiner Polka, aka Praha Polka, aka Farewell to Prague

Shiner Polka was a popular western swing tune with the Texan Czech community before Adolph Hofner recorded it in the 40s. He changed his version back to the original Czech "Praha Polka", avoiding the beer brand connection that Shiner polka had, and he sang the old country lyrics:

It's the theme song of the Czech Area Concertina Club:
It also goes by the name, "Farewell to Prague", or "Kdyz Jsme Opustili Prahu" in Czech.

It still remains popular under the name "Shiner Polka". Here's a version by a band called Cracker, apparently not the San Francisco band Cracker that I know - -

Here's the sheet music, courtesy of --

Saturday, July 4, 2015

I sold a concertina

Here was my listing on Craigslist:
I got this on Ebay a few years ago, to see whether I would enjoy playing a Chemnitzer-style concertina. I loved it, and have purchased a couple of better ones since. Serial #2467 which according to this site means it was made in 1920.
There's some rust on the reeds, which makes several notes pretty badly out of tune, and takes a few hundred dollars off the value. Both bay area accordion repair shops, Kendrik's in Oakland, and Accordion Apocalypse in SF, discouraged me from attempting repairs. It's a labor-intensive job to replace rusty reeds. They grind them by hand. 
I spent many pleasant hours figuring out where the notes are on this, sitting on the roof drinking beer with friends after work. I think it sounds magical. It's tuned to notes from a vanished time. But I'm low on space and cash, so the first $50 takes it.
Here's a video, so you can tell how it sounds:
Includes case.
Sold to Zoey in Oakland!  I'm keeping my Silberhorn at work, and my Gem Deluxe at home. Those are both "C" boxes, making them easiest to play in sharp keys like D, G, and A. I want to find one in the key of A-flat, which will be easier to play in the keys BlowMusik uses most: B-flat, E-flat and F.

Here's a video of someone playing the same model of concertina that I just sold. The main difference being that his is in tune!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Walt Solek and Larry Chesky

Walt Solek had a 75-year career playing polka music. He wrote the english words for 'Who Stole the Kishka'.  Here he is with Larry Chesky's great band, doing a polka version of Hey Jude:

Here's a clip of a polka party in the 50s. The music isn't synced with the video, but you can see that Walt's thing was to shake two long sleigh bell sticks and dance when he wasn't singing. This reminds me of my favorite rock drummer, Tim Mooney, who brought the sleigh bell sound to the Toiling Midgets.

This music has passion, spirit, and humanity. Also a kind of humility and sense of community that was out of fashion by the time I heard it.

I didn't find many clips of Walt Solek, but there's a cover band that sounds pretty good to me!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ach du lieber, Augustin

Wikipedia says this song was probably written by a dude named Augustin, in 1679. It's in old comedies and sounds like a joke today, but it's a real traditional German folk tune. It is usually heard as part of a medley, as in this painful, yet satisfying example:

These ladies  aren't just joking around. They give us the full, convincing, straight-faced performance:

Orchestral variations by Hummel -- is this intended for adults?

More posts soon!