I am happy to welcome in the new year. December was a bit of a bust for me due to illness. A nasty cough interfered with my kolędy performances forcing me to cancel several of my Christmas engagements. I am feeling better now and looking forward to 2016. I wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year.
Next up is the opłatek being planned for Sunday, January 3, at Corpus Christ Parish in Buffalo, New York. Ludowa Nuta, one of my favorite Polish choirs, will be singing for the 10:00 Mass and then later in the afternoon. Always a great time!
The Corpus Christi opłatek was very well attended and a wonderful time. I am glad this tradition of celebrating the Christmas season is becoming more and more popular among North American Polish communities. Poles continue to sing kolendy until February 2 and the custom of sharing the Christmas waifer is not limited to the Wigilia dinner on Christmas Eve.
Ludowa Nuta did not disappoint. I especially admire there use of authentic and traditional acoustic musical instruments like bagpipes and mountain horns. Visit Ludowa Nuta's page to learn more.
Corpus Christi Opłatek
Photo by Maria Krzyszton
January 7, 2016 - My Favorite Polish Christmas Album
I joined the St. Stanislaus Boys Choir in the mid fifties when I was in the third grade. To audition we had to sing "My Country,'Tis of Thee", a song everybody knew. One afternoon, the choirboys were called out of class to be recorded for an album of Christmas songs the Felician Sister were making to raise money. We were told we should each consider buying one for our parents because it would make a wonderful Christmas gift. I remember it cost $3.00. I don't know what ever happened to that record, but I wish I had a copy now.
I remember how thrilling it was to be a part of that project. The recording engineer from Broadcast Recording Service in Buffalo, New York had a very impressive microphone and some professional-looking recording equipment - just like in a real studio; just like Radio City Music Hall or someplace really important! Wow!
Shortly afterwards, two more albums were made available: one was a collection of kolędy by the Felician Sisters; the other by the Bishop Colton High School Glee Club. Both were wonderful recordings my family enjoyed for years. In fact the album by the nuns has always been my all time personal Christmas favorite.
I was delighted to hear Ludowa Nuta sing one of songs from that album last Sunday: "Nie masz ci niemasz". This video features the Sisters' rendition of the song. Singing beautifully, Ludowa Nuta really brought back memories.
By the way, that engineer ended up marrying my sister. Occasionally I went with him. (It was there that I learned the truth about professional wrestling.) Sister Mary Evangeline, the album's accompanest, was my piano teacher. My sister's too.
Nie masz ci nie masz
January 18, 2016 - Folk & World Music Store
Thank you to everyone who purchased musical instruments, CD's, hats and guitar straps over the holidays. I greatly appreciate your business. Concertina sales were so good I have had to order more order a dozen new instruments from Stagi, in fact I will be adding several new instruments, including but not limited to Stagi Anglo models, M-3, M-5, and P-4. This was another large order so I think it will take Stagi about two months to produce and ship so many concertinas. I anticipate the new shipment to arrive around March 15, 2016, but honestly it's anyone's guess; but go ahead and order them now. Don't forget, I have many instruments in stock: CLICK HERE
January 20, 2016 - Do you believe in miracles?
Last night I went to GeVa Theater in Rochester to see Miracle on South Division Street, a semi-fictional comedy set in Buffalo, New York. The playwright, Tom Dudzick, grew up in Buffalo and has enjoyed great success with two other hits focusing on his Buffalonian Polish-American family's experiences during the fifties and sixties: Over the Tavern and Hail Mary. Once I got past the actors badly mispronouncing the Polish names of some of the play's characters and once again being reminded of clichéd stereotypes of Polish-American families, I eventually relaxed and got into it laughing my socks off toward the end of the first act and throughout the second. The plot, although far-fetched-- but maybe not, was beautifully crafted and unpredictably moving. Great job,Tom, you really know how to make people laugh and I comment you on the ending. The actors were great too. Finally, I loved the music played before the show and during intermission. Now give me my socks back!
RIGHT: Photos of a small display in the theater lobby - "To create Clara Nowak's home for Miracle on South Division Street, scenic designer Bill Clarke did his research. Bill selected about 100 images that inspired his design and helped make it authentic. He considered different kitchen layouts, looked at rows of houses on Buffalo streets and explored the interiors of Polish-American homes. Here is a small selection of Bill's research images, along with a photo of a scale model showing the final design. Can you see how each image contributed to the home that now appears of stage?"
Houses like these on Clinton St. served as the inspiration for the set of
Miracle on South Division Street
January 28, 2016 - We're going to The Broadway Market!
Like every other my age, I remember walking to The Broadway Market with my mom. My earliest memory was before I was old enough to go to kindergarten when we lived on Fillmore Avenue. That was in the early fifties before the city tore down the old wooden structure and built the existing facility which included a parking ramp. I remember before entering the market, my mom would pick out a live chicken from one of the outdoor poultry vendors which he would dress and have ready for her after she did the rest of her shopping. My mom would sometimes pull a cart when she walked to the market. Later, after we moved to Sloan, we drove to the market and I would help her with her bags. That meat is heavy, believe me! Sons or daughters usually went along to help our moms with those heavy bags, and Saturday was usually the day to go to the market.
January 29, 2016 - Folk & World Music Store is not an affiliate of ...
It is my hope that if you cannot find what you need at my online music store, Folk & World Music Store, you will look for it online at GC; BUT YOU MUST ENTER GC's SITE by clicking on one of their logos posted here. I am committed to keeping PoloniaMusic.com online, but I need your support. If you are a musician, please help. If you are not a musician, you too help by entering Amazon.com from this web site before making any purchase.
February 8, 2016: Kulig at Chestnut Ridge Park
Despite the lack of snow, everyone had a great time at the kulig sponsored by the Polish American Congress WNY Division. Entertainment was again provided by Bystra Woda, a kapela góralski from Toronto, Ontario. They were spectacular! Be sure to visit the KULIG PAGE to hear their music, or if you like, CLICK HERE to visit their page. The video on the right is a sample.
On my way home from Kulig 2016 last weekend, I decided to drive past the Brown Funeral Home in Orchard Park, New York. Before the Browns bought the property, it was where my mom's sister, Anna Adamska, lived with her husband and five children. I remember playing with my cousins out on the front lawn of that big old house when I was little and feeling sad when they left New York for sunny Florida.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
I also remember their two beautiful dalmations, Spot and Candy. Before deciding to move down south, the family loaded the kids and the dogs into their station wagon and drove to Florida to scope it out. On the way back, they stopped at a rest facility somewhere in the Carolinas. Although both dogs were very well trained, Spot went off on his own, leaving the family in tears having lost their beautiful dog. After booking a room in a local motel, they searched everywhere for days. They advertised in newspapers and offered a reward for information leading to the dog's whereabouts, but all efforts were in vain. Ultimately they had to give up.
You probably can guess how this story ends. Months later, still living in Orchard Park, Ciocia Nanna heard something scratching at their door. You guessed it: Spot was back! You can imagine how happy and amazed everyone was that Spot travelled all that way -- many hundreds of miles -- based on pure instinct and the will to return home. I don't drive past Brown Funeral Home often, but whenever I do, I think of Ciocia Nanna, her family, and her dogs.
Brown Funeral Home
March 21, 2016: New Accordions
I recently acquired two chromatic Hohner accordions: one is a button accordion (Nova ll 60), the other a piano accordion (Bravo ll 60). Both are a joy to play, and much of my time over the past few weeks has been spent getting accustomed to my new instruments. I am not an accordionist really, but I took piano lessons when I was a boy and still remember enough about the piano keyboard to jump right in. The button accordion, on the other hand has a radically different keyboard, so I will take me a little longer to get used to. Eventually I will post a few videos to document my progress.
Broadway Market Update
Last Saturday I drove to Buffalo to meet family at The Broadway Market. It was a very good time and something I look forward to doing every year. I also updated my "We're going to The Broadway Market!" video with new photos. Here it is:
The spring had come, with all her train of birds, now returning to their last year's nests, the fields were drying on the uplands, the waters draining away everywhere; and the land simply cried out to be ploughed, and manured, and blessed with the sacred blessing which the sower gives.
And the land lay there, expectant. Warmed by the sun, dried by the breezes, drinking in the soft fertilizing rains and the sweet influence of those spring nights, it began to teem with green blades of thick grass, and wheat swiftly sprouting. Larks trilled over the plains, and storks wandered in the wet meadows, and many a flower in the marshes now raised its head towards the shining sky; that sky which daily, like a beautiful tent spread out above them, seemed to rise higher and farther from the earth. And now their longing eyes could distinguish far away the sharp outlines of woods and hamlets, never visible in the dusky days of winter; and the whole country-side, awaking as out of a death-trance, arrayed itself joyfully like a bride for her wedding day.
Everywhere around Lipka, as far as the eye could see, men were hard at work. WHether in fair or in rainy weather, air thrilled with merry songs, ploughs glittered athwart the fields, men were trudging, horses neighing, wagons rumbling blithely...
Vol.3 SPRING, pp. 76-77; Translated from the original Polish by Michael H. Dzierwicki, Reader of English Literature at the University of Cracow