Welcome to the Scandinavian Cyber-Posten!
The Scandinavian Cyber-Posten is my blog for the band. Ever since I started reading The Machine's Pump on the Brave Combo website I've wanted my own blog. After all, I'm a creative and intelligent person and I have thoughts on a lot of things. Here's a place where you can read what I think about a variety of topics. I hope you enjoy what you read. If you have any feedback on what I've written, email me at email@example.com
Wednesday, April 28
This blog is now located at http://cyberposten.smilinscandinavians.com/.
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.
For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to
Thursday, January 21
At long last, a new album in the works!--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian fans!
Yes, the headline is correct. Last week I took the rhythm section (Glenn, Erick, Mike) into the studio to start cutting new tracks for the new album. I also had our favorite bass player, Dennis Staskowski, come in and play on a couple tracks. I was blown away by how well everyone played in the sessions. I had expected to take a couple weeks to get all the tracks down. However, we got all the rhythm tracks done in three sessions. That's three sessions for sixteen tunes. In studio time that's quite amazing. I know that the members of this band are exceptionally talented but sometimes I forget just how good they really are. It's nice to have these kinds of reminders.
This is our first studio album since 2002. We released Northwest Polka Country in 2003. That was an amazing album that showcased what was going on with our band at that time. But that was nearly eight years ago. Our personnel has changed and we've had many more musical experiences since that time. This new album will be a more bare-bones album than the previous one; it will be a very close representation of our live sound. We'll have a few friends stop by and add their musical talents but, for the most part, it will be the same thing you would hear us play live on stage.
We haven't chosen a name for the album yet. It's going to be dedicated to my grandfather, Ray Hanson, and my wife's late grandfather, Les Price. Many of you know that my grandfather has played a central role in my life and especially my musical life, having bought me my accordion and my van and paid for my accordion lessons. He's made it possible for me to do what it is that I do as a musician. My wife's grandfather, who passed away in 2008, was one of her biggest fans and supporters and a wonderful lover of music. I was only privileged to know Les for a few years but in that time I got a glimpse of the clever, special person that he was in his life. These two wonderful men have had a huge impact on the lives of my wife and myself and this album will be a way for both of us to express how much we love and appreciate them.
Aside from the studio work, we are doing some playing over the winter. Friday, February 12th we're making our first appearance at Sonny Newman's Dance Hall in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood for his Waltz Night. I've played there with some of my other groups like the Valse Café Orchestra. This will be the first opportunity to show off the Smilin' Scandinavians for the Seattle waltzing community. They're a wonderful group of dancers and I look forward to playing for them. We're also making our annual appearance at Day of the Accordion at the Seattle Center House. That will be Sunday, February 28th. We'll be sharing the stage with many other great groups from the area like the Folkvoice Band, the Northwest Accordionaires and Bonnie Birch. Come out and bask in the glory that is accordion music.
That's all from me for this edition of the Cyber-posten. Enjoy the rest of winter!
Thursday, September 3
The most wonderful time of the polka year!--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian fans!
September has come to the Pacific Northwest with its cool, cloudy mornings and its warm afternoons. I like this weather; I can wear a heavier shirt in the morning and switch to a light t-shirt around 1pm. It's nice. July was too hot for my comfort and so was much of August. September is the end of summer; it's when the best fruit is ripe and juicy and the kids finally go back to school. It's also the beginning of that most wonderful of all seasons: Oktoberfest! In Bavaria the Oktoberfest is celebrated in September as it has been for nearly 200 years. In this country, however, it's celebrated pretty much any time from the beginning of September to early November. For our band that's a good thing. It means two months out of the year when, as my late friend Lynn Schaefer used to say, "People may not like accordion music but at least they tolerate it." The Smilin' Scandinavians have always found that when we play people love it!
This weekend we're kicking off the Oktoberfest season at the Bremerton Blackberry Festival. We'll be on the Boardwalk on Sunday, September 6th starting at 10am. Our next event is our triumphal return to the Fremont Oktoberfest on September 19th. They're one of the cutting-edge Oktoberfests, and I'm not referring just to their chainsaw pumpkin-carving contest. The Fremont Oktoberfest has their own iPhone App! I've already downloaded it and installed it on my iPhone. You can find it at the App Store on iTunes. The app gives all the necessary information about the Fremont Oktoberfest (including the music schedule) right on you iPhone!
We'll be playing the following weekend at perhaps one of the best Oktoberfests in the Pacific Northwest. The Swiss Sportsman's Park in Bonney Lake is hosting their Oktoberfest on September 26th. It's a fantastic event at their park and dance hall. They have souvenir beer steins and they put on a fantastic dinner of fresh crab or traditional sausages and sauerkraut. It's $25 for tickets but that includes dinner and the stein. What a deal! Be sure and buy your tickets early. They tend to sell out close to the event.
October 3rd has us in Seattle's Meadowbrook neighborhood for the Maple Leaf Lutheran Church Oktoberfest. As Martin Luther once said, "It is better to think of church in the ale house than the ale house in church." Ol' Martin was a good beer drinking German himself. I'm sure he would love this event so much that he'd write 95 Theses extolling its virtues. This event is doubly good because it's only a couple blocks from the banjo player's house. Short commutes make for more beer drinking.
October 9th-11th is our busiest weekend of the year. We're doing four gigs that weekend. We'll be back at Oktoberfest Northwest at the Puyallup Fairgrounds on the 9th and 10th. We go to Fort Lewis to bring a little bit of Bavaria to our troops the evening of the 9th. We're up in Enumclaw for their Oktoberfest the evening of the 10th. And on the 11th we return to the Fairgrounds in Puyallup for the Scandinavian Heritage Festival. It's our one non-Bavarian gig of the season and we enjoy it very much.
We have a lot of private engagements set for this season which will be keeping us very busy right through the end of October. I choose not to list our private gigs because I don't feel there's any reason to promote events that the public cannot attend. Why should I tantalize you with performances that you can't go to? It just doesn't seem fair. Rest assured, we are keeping busy. You can get all the details about our upcoming performances on our website at http://www.smilinscandinavians.com/upcoming.html. All the info you need is right there.
So that's the plan. Before you know it the magical season of beer and bratwurst will be upon us. Please take the opportunity to come out and see us perform. You'll be glad you did.
Or, in German...
Tuesday, July 7
Another post so soon?--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans!
I generally only post to this blog when I have something to say. There are long stretches where there's no news with the band. We're playing gigs but very little else happens. However, this has been a very busy summer so far. Last week, on July 3rd, AOL Radio launched its new Polka station. The Smilin' Scandinavians are a part of the new station. I sent our two CDs off to their programmer, Mary McCann, and she added them to the station. Mary is located right here in Western Washington (in Yelm!) and she was very happy to receive them and surprised that there's a polka band located so close to her. She alerted her friend Bruce Smith, Graham reporter for the Dispatch. More on that later.
Now that AOL Radio is streaming polkas you can listen wherever you have a connection. Just go to http://www.aolradioblog.com/2009/07/05/polka-music-new-radio-station/ to launch the AOL Radio player. There's also an iPhone App for AOL Radio. If you have an iPhone you'll know how to download and install the app. Besides our own music there is also a wide variety of other great polka music available on this station. I've listened to it many times over the past few days and it's excellent. As I type they're playing "Hotsy Totsy Girl" by Those Darn Accordions.
As to Bruce Smith, he came out this morning to interview me for next week's edition of the Dispatch. Never heard of the Dispatch? You're not alone. It's the local paper here in South Pierce County. It's published up in Eatonville and covers everything from Mt. Rainier to Graham. Those of us here in South Pierce County have been reading the Dispatch for over 100 years. They do have a website: http://www.dispatchnews.com. The article will be out next Wednesday, July 14th. Check their website for the full story.
In case you had heard about the Polkafest on the Oregon Coast the weekend of September 26th, it's off. The casino changed their mind about the event. That's not such a bad thing. Even though it would have been nice to go down to the Oregon Coast in September, the cancellation gave us the opportunity to stay close to home and play for the Swiss Park Oktoberfest on September 26th. We will be sharing the stage with the incomparable Lyle Schaefer Band. Lyle is a good friend of mine and he has a wonderful band. I'm looking forward to our two bands performing at the beautiful Swiss Park.
I think that covers all of the bases for now. Next time there's some news from the band I'll post it right here. Enjoy the remainder of the summer!
Monday, June 29
And The Livin' Is Easy--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans!
It's been quite a while since I last posted anything to the Cyber-Posten. As usual, things in life have been quite busy. My lovely wife, Danna, graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in May. She started Grad School in June. She starts student teaching in Bonney Lake in September. She will be a middle school teacher.
In the meantime, there has been a personnel change in the band. Fritz Whitney, our longtime clarinet and sax player, has decided to move on and play other music with other bands, including his wife's band. We wish Fritz well in his new endeavor. He was a very valuable and talented member of the band for many years. Fortunately I came across an excellent young player, Scott Macpherson, who started playing with us in February. He does a great job and has quickly become a favorite amongst the local fans.
The summer schedule is pretty light. The down economy has cut back on the number of festivals that are having us perform this year. If you take a look at the schedule page you'll notice very little in July and even less in August. September and October are similarly light, however I expect as we get closer the schedule will fill up more. Even when the economy is doing poorly people still want to polka and drink beer.
Saturday, at the SeaTac International Festival, I was surprised by a visit from Wisconsin polka DJ Jerry Halkoski. He came all the way out from Oconomowoc. He's a wonderful person and a great promoter of polka music. Best of all, he likes the band! Then again, who wouldn't like us? We're one of the best polka bands in Western Washington. It's good to know that we have some fans back in Wisconsin. That's real polka territory.
For now I'm going to return to the garden and look after the tomatoes. I love tomatoes and I love polkas. I can't promise you any tomatoes if you come to the next performance but I can promise you good polkas!
Thursday, November 6
Auf Wiederseh'n, Oktoberfest!--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans!
Our Oktoberfest season has once again come to a close. We played all the usual places (Leavenworth, West Seattle, other private engagements) and some new places (Puyallup, Portland, other private engagements). All in all it was a fun and productive season. Oktoberfest is wonderful because it's the season when everyone loves polka music and the magical combination of beer, polkas and brats makes for fun times for everyone.
Now that the season is over I can enjoy some down time at home with my wife and family. This has been a trying time for my wife in particular as she just lost her grandfather at the end of October. Although it's sad to lose such a beloved man, we're all glad that his long, slow battle with illness has come to a peaceful end. I was lucky enough to get to know Grandpa Les for the last few years of his life. He was a wonderful man with a wry wit and an endless sense of humor. He also loved music and wanted me to play for him every chance I got. Shortly before he passed away we went to visit him and I took the accordion with me. I'm glad that I got to provide him with some comfort in his final days.
Some of you may have noticed that our Fan Club President, Mike Mowrer, has been absent during most of this Oktoberfest season. President Mike had a health scare. Turns out that he had a large mass pressing on the right side of his brain that was causing headaches, dizziness and nausea. He had an operation a few days ago to remove the mass. He's currently recovering at the hospital. We're hoping for a full and speedy recovery. If you want to keep track of his recuperation you can follow along at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelmowrer. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. He's a huge asset to the band and a wonderful person, too.
Our next performance will be at First Night Tacoma on New Year's Eve. Check our schedule page for all the details. Until then I will be at home with the wife and kids getting ready for Thanksgiving and then Christmas. I hope all of you have a good holiday season and I hope to see you in Tacoma on New Year's Eve!
Monday, September 22
Greetings, Scandiavian Fans!
Fall has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. The cherry trees over in my grandmother's yard are dropping their amber and brown leaves. We've had our first burst of cloudy, windy, rainy weather. I've changed oil in the Polka Van and it's ready for the trips over the mountains to Leavenworth. Speaking of Leavenworth, Oktoberfest Season is here. We got things kicked off down in Portland at Neumann's German Bakery for their Oktoberfest. They had some excellent food and drinks and a good, lively crowd. Best of all, the Neumanns treated us with true European hospitality, just like we were one of the family.
We'll be doing our first local Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 27th at the Elliott Bay Brewpub in West Seattle. It's one of our favorite venues to play. It's small and intimate but it's always packed with lively fun-loving people. In years past they had the Mariners and Huskies on TV while we played. This year there will be little reason to watch either game. :( You should'nt be watching sports when we're playing, anyway, but I would understand if the M's were in the playoffs or the Dawgs were undefeated. I hope you'll be there for the show. It'll be good.
The following weekend we're playing at Oktoberfest Northwest in Puyallup. It will be nice to play a gig close to home. It will also be nice to share the stage with Grammy-nominated artist LynnMarie Rink and her band. After that it's off to Leavenworth for two weekends, one of those backing up the band Münchener Kindl from Munich. Leavenworth is always one of the most fun events of the year.
Come on out to one of our Oktoberfest performances. It's the magical time of year when, as my late friend Lynn Schaefer used to say, "People tolerate accordion music." Come out and do more than just tolerate, celebrate!
Sunday, July 13
Summertime, and the livin' is easy...--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans!
Summer is indeed here in the Pacific Northwest and I'm living the good life. My wife and I
put a container garden in our yard along the driveway. We used old abandoned tires to make the containers. That keeps tires out of the landfill. The black rubber of the tires keeps the dirt warm which helps the plants grow. It's doubly good.
In those containers we have planted several different kinds of tomatoes (beefsteak, cherry, brandywine, san marzano, juliet), green peppers, cucumbers, onions, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, sunburst squash, carrots, lettuce, peas and beans. We also have an herb garden with basil, chives, spearmint, oregano and a bunch of other stuff I always forget.
The vegetables are just starting to form. There are some good tomatoes on the vine, one of which is starting to ripen, and the peppers are just starting to form. Those are the closest things to being ready. The herbs, however, are ready and are getting heavy usage in our kitchen. My wife Danna has been using them for almost every meal. In the last few weeks she's made chicken parmesan, chicken Kiev, chili con carne, cornbread, pulled pork sandwiches with fresh-baked buns, barbecue roasted chicken and smoked pork roast– and those are just the meals I can remember at this moment. All of the food has been amazing. It's like living on the Food Network.
Good food is, to me, one of the greatest joys of life. Food is sustenance but it's also art. It's a way to show caring and love and my wife has all of that in spades. To say that she's a skilled chef is an understatement. She's amazing. She can bake, cook and can all with superb facility. Just before the 4th of July we bought some fresh Puyallup valley strawberries and she made some of the most flavorful canned strawberry preserves. All of this high-end food makes every day a culinary adventure. I look forward to what we're going to eat each evening.
We haven't played much music recently. From Memorial Day to mid-July we haven't had any gigs. The break has been nice. Don't get me wrong– I love playing with the band. However, it's nice to get away from some of the pressure of going to gigs and getting music and set lists together for each performance. It's relaxing to get away from that for a while.
So what was I doing if I wasn't playing music? Well, I was playing music, just not with the band. For part of the time I was playing solo gigs. For part of it I was judging the accordion competition in Leavenworth. For part of the time I was at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Grand Lodge session. As a Past Grand Patriarch (I look great in a fez!) it's important for me to participate in the session. Participation means bringing the accordion and playing a lot of music, everything from the ceremonial music during the session to entertaining at the banquet to just playing a few tunes during the breaks.
Now, however, the band is back to work and I'm seriously starting to think about doing more recording. We've done some live tracks at a couple of our gigs but we haven't reviewed all of that material yet. I'm leaning toward another studio album; there are a lot of things I'd like to record and get absolutely perfect. I can focus in the studio in a way I can't on the job. I'd like to do a really well-polished studio recording where I can show off my skills.
In the meantime, I have some tomatoes to tend to. Enjoy your summer!
Monday, May 5
What's Goin' On...--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans!
The Month of May is upon us and I'm sure you've probably been waiting patiently for an update to the Cyber-Posten. Seeing as how I haven't posted since January, that's a pretty good gap. There hasn't been a whole lot going on with the band in that time. We played for the St. Urho's Day Dance in Naselle, WA which was an adventure in itself. More about that later.
Mostly I've been staying home and working on the house. I replaced our front door with a nice, new vinyl-covered steel door. It came pre-hung in a nice door frame. I've also been cleaning up the yard and environs. My grandfather collected everything he possibly could that he thought would be useful. I've already hauled a truckload of scrap iron down to the Port of Tacoma and sold it. I've also hauled two truckloads of old batteries and sold those. I hear the lead from the batteries goes to China. I would assume that the Chinese take the lead and put it in our toys and other consumer goods and sell it back to us. That's kinda like recycling.
Muscially, I've been working much more with the Valse Café Orchestra. VCO plays a lot during the down time of the Smilin' Scandinavians which allows me to do some other kinds of musical things. It's a dance orchestra, so it's not too much different from what the polka band does. Both groups play dance music. VCO does more ballroom-type stuff like rhumbas, cha-chas, fox trots, one-steps and Viennese waltzes. It's different but not too far away from what the polka band plays. There's even some overlap between the two dance crowds.
Now about that trip to Naselle... it was one of the most fun gigs we've had in a while. We had lunch at the Pig 'n' Pancake in Astoria and then we went to the high school in Naselle and set up for the dance. Naselle is a town of Finns just inland from the Southwest Washington coast. It's a wonderful little town with all the best attributes of a small town. The people are friendly and helpful and really appreciate when a little culture comes to their town.
The performance was lightly attended. Normally we would have had a large contingent of students from the school since they like folk dancing and appreciate having a live event in town. However, our performance coincided with the spring formal dance in Astoria and it's hard to compete with a DJ playing Amy Winehouse and 50 cent. Nevertheless, the crowd we had danced to almost everything we played, including all the traditional Finnish dances like jenkka, humppa and tango. Yes, I know, the tango is originally Argentine, however the Finns have adopted it and made it their own.
After the gig we started the drive back home. Our route was to go up the coast on US 101 to just south of Aberdeen and then take SR 107 over to Montesano and then US 12/SR 8 to I-5 at Olympia. Unbeknownst to me, the right headlight on the Polka Van was burnt out. I don't drive it very often so I am not always aware of what the lights are doing.
Going through the town of South Bend I slowed down to 30mph, as I know that every small town in Washington relies on tourist speed trap revenues. Even at the posted speed limit I was still pulled over by the town cop. He looked to be about 19 years old and he ran me through the whole drill with license, registration, insurance, walking back to the car to run my driver's license number, etc. He came back five minutes later to tell me that my headlight was out and that I needed to get it fixed right away. I thanked him, received my documents back from him, and left.
In the next town, Raymond, only a few miles from South Bend, the town cop saw us coming and flipped a U-turn in the middle of town to pull us over. I had the license, registration and insurance in hand ready for him and told him that I knew about the light. He laughed, looked over the documents quickly, and sent us on our way. On the hill just north of town there was a terrible accident that had Hwy 101 down to only one lane. There were three State Patrol troopers, two fire trucks and two ambulances on scene. I'm glad the town cops didn't have to do anything actually useful; it probably would have confused them.
We continued north on 101 to Grays Harbor County. Just over the county line I watched a cop car approach, pass us, make a U-turn and then come up behind us and turn on his lights. Stop #3 in an hour and a half. When he came to the window I was laughing. I gave him the documents and explained that his colleagues in South Bend and Raymond were extra vigilant. He laughed and sent us down the highway. The rest of the trip home was uneventful.
That brings us back to May. We're very busy this month. We've already played one private engagement and have a couple more booked. We also have some great public events coming up including May 10th at the Maifest in Leavenworth, May 17th at the Minnesota-Dakota Club Springfest at the Puyallup Elks, May 25th at the Folklife Festival and May 26th in Port Angeles for the Juan de Fuca Festival. Those are some very fun engagements and I hope to see you at some, if not all of them!
Monday, January 21
A New Year of Polka!--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans!
2008 is here. No, it's not that I was slow to notice. I was very busy working on various projects: remodelling the bathroom, fixing the brakes on my wife's car, doing end-of-year taxes, etc. Usually the slow period for the band begins in November, at the conclusion of Oktoberfest season. This year, the gigs just kept coming all the way through yesterday. We had a couple weeks off during November and then it was time for the Christmas Tree Lighting in Leavenworth in early December and then Christmas at Third Place Books followed by New Year's Eve in Tacoma. It makes for a busy holiday season!
Yesterday we played one of our finest performances in recent memory. We took part in the Accordi-O-Rama Concert at Town Hall in Seattle. There were many things that made the concert special: Tom Demski joined us, we played some of our showiest material, we shared the stage with some superb musicians including Bulgarian, Irish, Chinese and Contemporary American performers. The overall level of musicianship was very high on everyone's part. It was especially nice to be included in a concert setting where we were recognized as performing artists, not just a band playing a dance. We're very serious about what we do and try to always bring a high level of artistry to our performances. It's very gratifying when people notice that.
Right now we're working on a lot of stuff for the coming year. My lovely wife is busy working the phones getting our gigs booked for the year. I'm also hoping to start a new album this year. It's been far too long since the last time we recorded anything. We're actually starting to run out of CDs which is good in one way; that means more room in the storage building! It also means that I need to get my act together and release a new album sometime soon.
In the meantime, I encourage all of you to go to iTunes and download my polka podcast. Just search for "Smilin' Scandinavians" and you'll find the tracks from our most recent album and also my podcast. The podcast is free to subscribe to and has lots of great polkas and other related music for you to listen to.
Take care and have a happy, polka-filled 2008!
Tuesday, September 4
Wilkommen zu Oktoberfest!--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian fans!
Oktoberfest season is about to start for us again for another year. We had a great warmup for Oktoberfest season over the past weekend. We kicked off the Blackberry Festival in Bremerton and then played a great wedding reception at the Triple Door. The band is sounding as good as it ever has, which is pretty good as you die-hard fans well know. I've been working over the summer to update the band book (the music from which we play) and add some new tunes. It's shaping up to be the best version of the book yet. I'm sure you'll agree when you hear us.
We're playing some of our favorite Oktoberfests again this year, including Leavenworth on October 5th & 6th. It's definitely worth the trip over the mountains to see the show. They have actual bands from Germany which come to the festival. The food and beer are both excellent. The Festhalle and the tent out back are both great venues and are each great places to see music.
One of my favorite moments from last year's festival was when I went to a food booth for a bratwurst. I walked up to the food server and said, in my finest German, "Ein bratwurst, bitte." The lady stared at me in stunned silence. Her helper came to me and said, "I'm sorry; she doesn't speak German. She speaks Spanish." After thinking about it for a minute, I said, "Uno bratwurst, por favor." Her face lit up and she handed me a brat on a bun.
Another great show of this year's Oktoberfest season will be on October 7th at the Fairgrounds in Puyallup for the Scandinavian Heritage Festival. It runs concurrently with Oktoberfest Northwest. You can go to the Oktoberfest and have good German bier and then pop into the ScanFest and have some aebleskiever and lefse. Part of the fun of the two events is that all of us musicians who rarely get to see each other because we're always performing actually get the chance to hang out together and see each other perform. A novel idea.
On September 22nd we'll make our first ever appearance at the Tri-Cities Nordic Fest. We're very excited to make our first appearance in the Tri-Cities. The Nordic Fest has really pulled out all the stops to make this a great event. We're looking forward to seeing all of our Tri-Cities fans at the Fairgrounds in Kennewick later this month.
A note about the podcasts: they haven't been updated since February. My producer, the inimitable Dave Conley, has been rather busy producing for a major video game maker. That makes it difficult to get new episodes finished. He assures me that we should be able to get a new episode out soon so please stay tuned. And for those of you who would like to catch up on the back episodes (both of them) they're available on iTunes. Just launch iTunes and go to the Podcasts section and then search for "Smilin' Scandinavians" and you'll find us.
We now have the beginnings of a Fan Club. One of our regular fans, Michael from Puyallup, has volunteered to start an official Smilin' Scandinavians Fan Club. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the info for the Fan Club. This is pretty exciting stuff!
That's all the news about your favorite polka band. C'mon out and see one of our upcoming shows. You can check out the latest list at http://www.smilinscandinavians.com/upcoming.html.
Sunday, July 15
We've got fans!--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian fans! Summer is here and the Mariners are in a pennant race. It's the most exciting baseball season since 2001 and I couldn't be happier. The weather has been rather warm as of late and that's nice, too. On the 100 degree day we took the kids up to the Green River Gorge and did some hiking and played around in the river. When we returned from the river we discovered that the pump had broken and we had no water. After repairing the pump and the related broken water line in the yard I had a weekend of gigs to play.
At the gigs we had a lot of fans who came specifically to hear us play. It was very interesting. My life is mostly anonymous; I play a lot of gigs where nobody even notices that there's music. I toil away digging holes in my yard and making multiple trips to the hardware store without being anything other than another face in the crowd. Sometimes, however, there are times when I become somewhat of a celebrity; times like today. I now know that there are people who go to multiple performances just because they really appreciate the music that the band plays. That's incredibly gratifying. After working so hard for so long with little or no recognition it's nice that we're now building a fan base that specifically appreciates us. It gives a lot of meaning to what we do and that's good.
Hopefully you, dear reader, will become one of those fans who will follow us from gig to gig. No, I don't want a flock of deadhead-like fans camping out in fields waiting for our next polka dance. A caravan of nice, late-model Buicks would be just fine.
A big thanks to all of you who faithfully attend our shows. We really do appreciate it.
Friday, June 22
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans! Tonight we played a concert for the Leavenworth International Accordion Competition. The concert was an amazing success. The crowd was wonderful and they very kindly asked us to play an encore. Afterward they mobbed me for autographs and CDs. I sold all the CDs I had with me; almost $500 in sales! Not bad for an evening's work.
Shows like this are always fun. They validate all the hard work that we do as a band. It makes it all worthwhile.
Friday, May 18
May News & Notes...--------------------
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans! May is off to a very good start for your favorite polka band. Last night we celebrated Norwegian Constitution Day, Syttendemai, at Leif Erikson Hall in Ballard. We had a very good and lively crowd that stayed all the way until midnight! That's almost unheard of, especially on a Thursday night. Tomorrow we head over to the U District for the Street Fair and then it's off to Union, a little town on Hood Canal, for the Annas Bay Music Festival. The Olympian did a nice write-up on the concert here that you can check out. I'm looking forward to it!
Next weekend we're playing the Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center. We've become a regular at Folklife. This year, unlike past years, we're not appearing as a polka band but rather as a Western Swing band. I love Western Swing so I'm very excited about trotting out some of our best Bob Wills music for the crowd. And if a couple polkas just happen to sneak in there, well, who's going to care?
On Memorial Day we fly down to Missouri for Big Joe's Polka Show in Branson. They're taping a new season of TV shows for the RFD-TV network. This is big for us. We'll be getting national TV exposure for the band which always helps. Hopefully this will open the door for my ultimate goal of playing at the Corn Palace Polka Festival.
Speaking of exposure, our Web presence has been paying some exciting dividends. Last night at the Syttendemai dance in Ballard we had a new fan come to the show. He found us by doing a Google search on "polka seattle" and he found our MySpace page. Regular Cyber-posten readers will no doubt recall last fall when my lovely wife Danna launched our own MySpace page. More and more people have been finding us just because of this website and our MySpace page. Promotion is always a good thing and this proves it. We may even be able to build a whole new audience for polka music in the Seattle area just because the Internet gives us a way to connect every one.
Looking into the future, we have a few gigs coming up that you should put on your calendar right now. Most important of those is July 28th at the Ballard SeaFood Fest where we'll be playing twice. What makes it so important is not that we're playing twice, but that two-time Grammy winning polka band Brave Combo will be there playing their unique blend of traditional polka and other kinds of music. If you've never seen them, imagine a mix of Jimi Hendrix, Esteban Jordan, Joe Oberaitis and Gloria Estefan. Brave Combo can do almost anything in a set of music and they routinely do. It's a transcendant polka experience which I highly recommend.
Also notable in our future is the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup, September 20th & 21st. Being a Pierce County native and having returned to the Garden Spot of South Pierce County, I'm extremely proud to be performing at the Fair this year. The only reason we got the booking is because the mother of one of my friends from high school (Bethel HS) works for the fair. This year I will be the local boy who made good.
That's more than I was planning on writing! I guess when there are a lot of things going on there's a lot to write about. Be sure and check our Upcoming Gigs page to find out where we're playing next and come out and hear the band. You can also download my podcast from iTunes and listen to some great polkas. I'm a couple months behind on doing another episode but that's OK. I might get around to that this weekend after the gig in Union. Have fun and I hope to see you at one of our upcoming performances!
Wednesday, April 18
Greetings, Scandinavian Fans! Things are looking up here at Scandinavian Central. We're booking a lot of great gigs for the summer and fall including a return to the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup, our first time since 1998, and a performance at SeaFoodFest in Ballard which will also include one of our absolute favorite bands, Brave Combo! As if that weren't enough, we've finally made the big time- we're going to Branson, MO to perform at Big Joe's Polka Fest at the RFD-TV Theater. They'll be taping the polka fest in HD for broadcast on Big Joe's Polka Show on RFD-TV. Don't worry if you can't find it on Comcast; RFD-TV is a satellite network. Hopefully I'll be able to snag a copy of the DVD. That would be really cool.
We're heading to Missouri on Memorial Day, just after we play at Folklife. Speaking of Folklife, we're going to be playing Saturday afternoon at 1pm at the Center House. The Folklife Polka Dance has been cancelled and apparently so has the Big Bamboo Dance Hall so they moved us to the Center House where they put us on the Western Swing Show. No problem. Those of you who've seen us live know that we LOVE Bob Wills' music and we play it on almost every show. Instead of mixing Western Swing into a polka show we'll be mixing polkas into a Western Swing show. Plus, it will give us an opportunity to pick some special songs for my wife to sing.
Keep an eye on our Upcoming Gigs page and you can find out where we'll be and when we'll be there. Hopefully you'll be there, too!