Green Bay Press-Gazette from Green Bay, Wisconsin on July 25, 1986 · Page 5
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Green Bay Press-Gazette from Green Bay, Wisconsin · Page 5

Green Bay, Wisconsin
Issue Date:
Friday, July 25, 1986
Page 5
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A.S Scone Green Bay Press-Gazette Friday, July 25, 1986 IBanreDnog back f V Vl 3 , It JP V i V 4. ft, Newest wave: Five Pulaski teenagers who call themselves the Polish Sweethearts will play at this weekend's Pulaski Polka Days. The Despite inroads, By Dave Tianen Of the Press-Gazette The polka prince is a candid man. "I think rock'n'roll is here to stay and I don't see polka music ever taking over from it with the kids," says Eddie Blazonczyk, one of the nation's top polka band leaders. Blazonczyk is a former rock musician himself, who enjoyed one shining moment of big beat glory on the Dick Clark Show in the early '60s. Despite that, Blazonczyk believes polka can make inroads with younger people. "The material we write and record is geared to a younger crowd," he says. Blazonczyk points out that polka music is good-time, party music and nobody is into partying more than kids. He characterizes his style of Chicago polka music as the new Chubby Checker gives his all for small crowd By Warren Gerds Of the Press-Gazette 'Round about 1:45 ajn. today, Chubby Checker was still gleefully twistin' the night away. His hot band played hotter and people danced wildly as Checker let loose his sturdy frame to the groove of "The Twist" and "Let's Twist Again." How many nights has this enduring rock 'n' roll original done this since he hit big in '60? Yet on he goes looking 10 years younger than his 44 years, still dancing up a storm, charming people with his smiling, friendly ways and still stirring up the blood some 21 yeara after his last hit. Nothing seems to daunt this showman. Green Bay gave discouragement a good shot, though. Fifty people five-oh came to see him. But even that dismal turnout at Mr. C's, 3832 Velp Ave., couldn't check Chubby's spirit. One woman said, "I'm embarrassed for the city." Checker said a friend had called him from Milwaukee saying, "'I really want to see your show.' What's holding you up? '$25.' " That was the admission charge, though it included an open bar (free drinks). Checker also said, "Whether Review it costs 25 cents or $2,500, you're going to get your money's worth." True. In two eager sets, Checker and his five-man Wildcats band careened through tunes new and old soul, R&B, blues, ballads and a ton of good ol' rock 'n' roll. Good golly Miss Molly, there was a whole lotta shakin' goin' on as Checker got people to twist and shout on his trips to the past and to such places as Kansas City and Blueberry Hill. All wasn't oldies. Checker proved himself a worthy stylist in such tunes as the slow and soulful "Take Me Back to Oklahoma" and the steaming rhythm-rocker "I'm Running." Also doing two sets were the Surf Boys, a fivesome from Milwaukee who reeled off a '60s hits list with more enthusiasm than fidelity. They were still easy to take. So was Checker, most certainly. Even though he was performing for what amounted to be a private party, he had so much vim, vigor and vitality it could have been for 50,000. He gave his all. That's a class act. The people who came will forever hold Chubby Checker dear. Press Gazette photo by John E. Roemer Sweethearts are, clockwise from top left: Tammy Maroszek, Renee Adams, Brenda Maroszek, Jenny Maroszek and Carol Maroszek. it can't top rock wave of polka music. Blazonczyk has even done a few college concerts in places like Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. Still, when Frankie Yankovic played the Riverside Ballroom Wednesday he drew 320 people. When the Violent Femmes, an emerging rock group from Milwaukee, played the same club earlier this year, they drew almost four times that. The prevailing image of polka fans is that they are ethnic, rural and over 50. There's more than a little truth in the prevailing image. The bumper stickers on two cars parked at the Riverside for the Yankovic show this week told the story. One said, "You betcha Please see Young A-8 band leader, is most Ball." The center, a presenting Herman a plaque in recognition of his accomplishments and is dedicating in appreciation tor educating young musicians. The 40-year- old woodshed to "Woody's Woodshed" is an auxiliary building at the center. Thomas Cassidy, 5 o p o p Polka's not a well-kept secret anymore By Dave Tianen Of the Press-Gazette The clout of the concertina crowd tends to be overlooked. When rock'n'roll mutant bad boy Ozzy Osbourne played the Brown County Arena recently he drew approximately 5,500 fans. Two or even three times that many people are expected this weekend to attend the Pulaski Polka Days festival headlined by Eddie Blazonczyk end the Versa tones. Talking to the hardcore polka cadets one hears again and again that polka music is hopping back into popularity. The evidence goes something like this: Last year the first polka Grammy was awarded to 71-year-old Frankie Yankovic. Blazonczyk, who was nominated for the award, says the Grammy gives polka music new respectability. Yankovic now has a national recording contract. Polka festivals are a growing phenomenon. There will be nearly a dozen such festivals in Wisconsin this year. The festivals draw big crowds and younger crowds. "It's not just the old church dance thing, anymore," Blazonczyk says. Polka personalities such as Yankovic and Vlasta Krsek have appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Krsek and her band, Vlasta and the Altar Boys, appear in the Chicago area with such bands as Teenage Radiation. People Magazine called her the Pink Floyd of Polka. A college band called Polkacide is supposed to be a big hit on the West Coast. David Byrne, of Talking Heads, showed up for a polka concert in Hollywood. Polkacide wears lederhosen, mismatched plaid suits and hospital gowns. There are still about 15 Wisconsin radio stations that do at least some regular polka programming. In Green i Bay, radio station WGEE has been very successful with its weekend polka programming. On Saturdays the station is running second to rock station WIXX with its polka format. "When I came in here," recalls , WGEE's Duke Wright, "I thought, 'Gee whiz. This is a country station. We'll probably pull those shows,' But they do so well in the Arbitron ratings that we'll probably have them forever. "In the early and mid- '60s, polka almost died out and then it started coming back. As Frankie Yankovic says, it's happy music. Polka is a fad now on the West Coast. I don't think itH ever be mass appeal, though. It's just one of the off-shoots of music. If kids grew up in a household where their parents played polka music, then they'll play it too." Radio station WAUN in Kewaunee has had a polka format for about 13 years. Cletus Bellin, of WAUN, has his own polka show and also plays in the successful Green Bay band Jerry Voelker and the Jolly Gents. Herman and Herd at Birch Creek Press-Gazette Woody Herman, the last remaining World War II Big Band leader, will lead his Thundering Herd in concerts today and Saturday as part of the Birch Creek Music Center's 10th anniversary celebration. The concerts start at 8:30 p.m. at the center, located three miles east of Egg Harbor in Door County. Lawn seating is still available. Concert ticket information is in the calendar listing. Herman also will give a workshop Saturday at 2 p.m. for center students. The public may attend for $4. Herman, a Milwaukee native marking his 50th year as a known for the tune Woodchopper s music academy, also is a woodshed to him , be named Woody Herman Inc. photo J y & o D a&ity Musicians play for love not money By Dave Tianen Of the Press-Gazette One way of characterizing polka music is that it tends to be a big success on a small scale. Few polka musicians have promoted polka as energetically and as successfully as Green Bay's Jerry Voelker. Voelker and the Jolly Gents have recently recorded their 11th album. Voelker has had his own show on WGEE for more than a decade and also appears on WAUN. He introduced the polka Mass at Bay Settlement and now plays at many area churches. He and his band play 142 nights a year and they all have other jobs. But Voelker's career suggests both the potential and the limitations of polka music. Despite all his success, he has chosen to keep his job at Fort Howard Paper Company. One of Voelker's best gambits has been the polka tour. Working in conjunction with a Chicago company, Voelker puts together tours in which as many as 100 fans travel with him. He has been to Europe eight times and Hawaii nine times. He's also done Caribbean cruises. Upcoming trips include a Las Vegas outing, a European tour, another Hawaiian trip and a Mackinac Island tour. This is in addition to playing polka festivals around the country. Please see MusiciansA-8 Bellin is very upbeat about polka. "I think it's really making a comeback," he says. "We see that here. Before you used to hear young people say, 'Turn that off! I can't listen to that!' They're starting to tolerate it now." Bellin attributes part of the resurgence to the faster, more amplified Polish style of polka music. Some Chicago polka drummers play in a similar style to rock drummers. One of the current controversies that has polka fans fired up is the use of the electric bass versus the traditional tuba. Promoter "Polka Joe" Wojkiewicz has been inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame for his many years of polka evangelizing. Polka Joe is a tuba traditionalist. "I hope they don't spoil it with loud drums," he says. "They play so loud you can't hear. That's what happened to country music when the rock musicians came in." The polka underground has been active for many years. There are two national polka newspapers, Polka Scene and Polka News. The International Polka Association maintains the' Polka Hall of Fame in Milwaukee. In addition to Polka Joe, band leader Dick Rodgers, of Pulaski, and the late Cousin Fuzzy and Romy Gosz from Northeast Wisconsin are Hall of Fame members. Special events Farmers' market: 7 a.m. to noon, Saturdays, corner of Cherry and Quincy streets, and every Wednesday at Green Bay Plaza. West Mason Street and Military Avenue. The market, selling fresh produce, flowers and crafts, will continue through Nov. 8. Trading Sals and Swap Meat July 25-27, starting at 8 a.m. at Arnie Basten's Tavern on Highway 54 in New Franken. First annual trading sale and swap meet. Live music, booyah and hot air balloon rides. Skullduggery program: 10:30 a.m. July 26 at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary's Nature Center. Families will become nature detectives and decide what an animal eats, where it fits in the food web and how it relates to humans. Participants will examine animal skulls and bones. Preregister by calling the sanctuary. Super Swim '86: 9 to 1 1 a.m. July 26 at YMCA Broadview Branch, 380 Broadview Drive. Swimmers solicit pledges for each width of the pool they swim during the event. Pledge forms available at the pool. Proceeds go to mentally retarded people in Wisconsin. Sponsored by the Youth-Association for Retarded Citizens. Christmas In July Holiday craft sale: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 26; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 27, Shawano Civic Center, 225 S. Main St. Hand-crafted items created by Senior Citizens of Shawano County. Christmas decorations, stuffed animjls, afghans, quilts, tatted, crocheted, knitted and embroidery articles, wood crafts and baby items. Sponsored by Shawano County Commission on Aging and Wisconsin Green Thumb program. Bake sale, July 26 only, sponsored by Shawano Senior Center. Greek Festival: 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., July 27, Kiwanis Park, Sheboygan, sponsored by St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox , Church. Live music by Grecian Way Or-chestra; Greek dancing, with audience participation, ethnic folk dancing performances, Ronald McDonald Show. Greek foods and pastries. Wisconsin Hawk program: 2 p.m. July 27, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Center. The halt-hour program teaches how to identify hawk species. Several hawks will be exhibited. EAA International Ry-ln Convention and Sport Aviation Exhibition: Aug. 1-8, Wittman Airfield, Oshkosh. Evening speakers; tributes to early pioneers of home-built movement; Sen. Barry Gold-water, supporter of aviation, and Bob Hoover, military and test pilot; performances by Italian National Military Flight Team; Goodyear blimp; performances by EAA Warbirds of America; demonstrations by Marine Corps of vertical take-off; daily Aircraft Showcases and official ceremonies recognizing 75th anniversary of naval aviation and other events. Poultry shoot and picnic: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 3, New Franken Sportsmen's Club grounds, one-fourth mile north of the corner of County Highway N and.T, New Franken. Trapshooting games of skill and chicken booyah, hamburgers and beverages. Games for kids including buried treasure sand box. Horse hunter Jumper show: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3, Oneida Golf & Riding Club, Country Club Road. Free admission. St Joseph Parish picnic: Aug. 10, Oneida. Outdoor Mass, 10 a.m., auction, 11 a.m., live music by Junction Express, 1 to 5 p.m., booyah, barbecued pork, games, refreshments. ;., World War II and Korean Veteran Farmers Reunion: Aug. 10, in conjunction with Luxemburg Lion's Club free corn roast, Luxemburg fairgrounds. For veteran trainees who participated in the on-the-farm Gl Bill at Luxemburg-Casco High School. Former instructors .o attend. Annual auto show: Upper Peninsula State Fair Autoshow, Aug. 1 7, U P. State Fairgrounds, Escanaba. On display: street rods, antiques, street machines, vans and special interest vehicles and hot rods. Trophies to best of show, in each of the six divisions. Entry fee $2. Registrants should contact Jean Etten-hoter, 4824 12th Road, Escanaba, Mich.. 49829 or the U P. State Fair, P.O. Box 335. Escanaba, Theater "Dr. Funny Bones' Carnival:" New Age Vaudeville and Company show written by Richard O'Donnell; 9 and 11 p.m. through July 26; Glidden Lodge, Sturgeon Bay; admission $5 at door; information (414) 743-4944. "Juno and the Paycock:" Drama by Sean O'Casey, performed by the Peninsula Players at the Theater in a Garden, two miles south of Fish Creek; final performances 8:30 p.m. July 25 and 26, 7:30 p.m. July 27; tickets, $12 50 and $1 4 for Saturday and $1 1 .50 and $1 3 for other days; $6 for students Friday; box otiice. (414) &66-M6I. . "The Belie of Amherst" One-woman drama based on the lite of poet Emily Dickinson and performed by Jeannme LaFave as part of Theater on the Bay Artfest; 8 p.m. July 27; University of Wisconsin Center-Marinette County theater reserved seats $6 and $5; box office, (715) 735-7477. "Painting Churches:" Comedy-drama by Tina Howe performed by Attic Theater, App-'eton; through Aug. 2: curtain in Cloak Theater, Lawrence University, 8:15 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 7:15 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays; tickets S5 adults, $3.50 children under 18; box office, (414) 735-6749. "Marry Me a LittJ:" Two-character musical comedy inspired by songs cut from Stephen Sondheim hits before their Broadway debuts and presented as part of Theater on the Bay Artfest; 8 p.m. July 25: University of Wisconsin Center-Marinette County theater; reserved seats $6 and $5; box office, (715) 735-7477. Please see CalendarA-6

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