I am so happy to have this CD. In fact you could say I have been waiting for it for fifty years!!!
In 1966 while a student at SUNY Fredonia, I got to talking to a fellow classmate who sat next to me in freshman Western Civ. class. It didn't take long to discover that we both had an interest in playing guitar, so I invited him to my dorm between classes to kill time and to play my $17 Sears-made Silvertone guitar. I was just a beginner. I had been playing for a little over one year and could play a number of easy folk songs, and that's about all. The thing is I really wanted to learn to play better. That was my lucky day.
LTM Trio is: Les Sabina, electric bass; Tom Gestwicki,
electric guitar; Moses Howden, drums and percussion.
I soon found out that my new friend, Tom Gestwicki, was an extremely gifted musician, a respected guitar teacher, and the lead guitarist of a local rock band. This guy was great! I had never heard anyone play like that - not even on TV; and he could play pretty much everything, including jazz and classical music. He was truly gifted. I'll never forget how his spider-like fingers crawled up and down the fingerboard. I have been playing guitar for more than a half a century now and I still can't do what he could do at eighteen. Not even close!
Although I have never taken formal guitar lessons, Tom was the one who really got me started. He showed me how the fingerboard is organized and how to play barre chords and a few other basic things. Thanks again, Tom.
I don't think Tom would remember this conversation, but I once mentioned that in my opinion it would be great if our school's music department offered guitar instruction for credit, and Tom could be the instructor. He was too young, of course, but maybe he would qualify in a few years. The guitar, he lamented, was not a symphony instrument and would never be taken seriously by our classically-trained faculty... So forget that! Well I happen to know that Tom has been an adjunct guitar professor at our alma mater for quite a few years now. I am so glad to hear it.
Tom has been a very active musician all his life, so I have been waiting for him (and his buddies) to someday release a CD so I could once again have the thrill of hearing him play. Well it's here. Finally!
Bring out the champagne!!! One of my videos has recently topped 4 million hits on YouTube!
When I posted the "Fingerpicking: This will change your life!" video in 2010, I never dreamed it would ever get much attention. Clearly, if I had known, I would have worn a nicer shirt, avoided clichés, and used a better camera. I am truly amazed it has gotten this much attention! But it must be pretty good because it has almost 6K "likes"and has been bootlegged a number of times. By the way, it should be noted that every day this one video draws hundreds of visitors to my website, www.PoloniaMusic.com. I like that.
(36 videos, 11,351 subscribers 4,031,089 views), the former focuses on Polonia events and my music videos, the latter primarily on my music videos. Some of my most recent videos are on both channels, but not many.
One of my friends from Buffalo once introduced me as "Bob Johnson.... he videotapes anything and everything!" Actually there's a lot of truth to that... Hey, I'm retired. What can I say!
December 4, 2015 - The Most Wonderful Time of The Year
It's that time of year again. I'll be playing kolędy at various local venues: Polska Chata in Irondequoit, Euro Café - Real Food & Deli in Geneseo, NY, Polish Heritage Society of Rochester and the Monroe Family YMCA. Must practice!
Here's my schedule:
Friday, 12/4 - Dinner - Polska Chata
Friday, 12/11 - Lunch - Euro Café (Cancelled due to illness)
Friday, 12/11 - Dinner- Polska Chata (Cancelled due to illness)
Saturday, 12/12 - Wigilia Dinner -
PHSR @ St. John Fisher College (Cancelled due to illness)
Friday, 12/18 - Lunch - Polska Chata
Friday, 12/18 - Dinner - Euro Café
December 5, 2015 - Polska Chata
I played kolendy at Polska Chata last night and had a wonderful time. One problem, there were so many people there that I had difficulty hearing myself play. Maybe next time I will use a dreadnought guitar instead of my classical guitar with nylon strings.
When I am not practicing guitar and concertina, I am spending most of my time reading Norman Davies newest book, Trail of Hope: The Anders Army, An Odyssey Across Three Continents. If you have been faithfully reading my blog, you already know that my cousin, Danuta, and her mom survived the "Trail of Hope" and I am very interested in this subject. I don't think many Americans know much about it.
Ten years after they were sent to Siberia by the Russians, Danuta and her mother finally arrived in Australia, where she lives today. It wasn't until 1951 that they say their father's name listed among the many Poles murdered and buried in the Katyń Forest. This book tells me what they endured along the way.
December 6, 2015 - Happy Święty Mikołaj Day!
There are so many interesting and truly amazing stories in "Trail of Hope". I came across the story of Krzysztof Flizak, whose name I recognize as a popular psychology teacher when I was a student at SUNY Fredonia in the late sixties. At the time I was aware of Prof. Flizak having survived WWII under the most dramatic conditions and could not help but associate his experiences with those of the fictional main character in the controversial novel, "The Painted Bird", a book that he recommended to his students.
Here's an excerpt from TRAIL OF HOPE:
It is widely considered that Krzysztof Flizak (born 1932) qualified as the youngest soldier in the Ander's Army. He was presented in this way in an illustrated article published in a military newspaper in Iraq in 1943:
"The youngest soldier of General Anders reports to the head of his company, Sgt Bronisław Dereń, at the Polish Army camp by the lake at Habbaniya."
Dr. Krzysztof Flizak
Flizak's basic story does not raise any serious doubts. Brought up in Dokszyc (Wilno district) the son of a professional soldier, he was deported with his mother and siblings to a workstation in the taiga outside Novosibirsk. The family knew that their father was a POW in the USSR. On hearing of the Amnesty, therefore, he set out without an ID or a ticket to find his father, travelling and sleeping on trains heading south. Helped by Poles along the way, he found his father at Kermine in Uzbekistan, and was placed under the Army's care.
THE HAND OF PROVIDENCE was manifestly on the boy's shoulder. His father had come to Kermine on a chance errand from some other camp, but was unable to stay long and the little Krzysztof was duly registered as a dependant. Having fibbed about his true age, he was assigned to a Kompania Młodzieżowa (Youth Company), a military-sounding euphemism for an orphanage. From then on, as he said, 'the Army was my family'. His only rival for the title of 'the youngest recruit' was an Italian orphan whom the Army adopted in
It is true perhaps, as mean-minded journalists have pointed out, that Krzysztof Flizak was never a serving Polish soldier. He was still a pupil in the Cadet School in Palestine, aged 13, when the war ended, and he did not reach maturity until he was in postwar Britain. He sailed on the Queen Mary to the USA in 1951, when he was old enough to join the US Army. He served in Korea in the 101st Airborne Division, the 'Screaming Eagles', spent years recovering from wounds at Fort McClellan, Alabama, and, with the help of a veteran's scholarship, obtained a PhD in Psychology from Wayne State University, Detroit.
Flizak returned to Poland in 2012 (see photo), his 80th year, attending the ceremony of Soldier's Day at the Grunwald Monument in Kraków. The pedants were not happy that he was wearing both the uniform of the ll Corps, and his American insignia.
Souce: "Trail of Hope", pp. 275-277
More about Dr. Chrisopher Flizak:
Born Aug. 19, 1932, Rowne, Poland; came to U.S., 1951; son of Tadeusz and Olga (Martynowicz); married Maria (Matuszewska).
Education: Bachelor of Science (B.S.), University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1959; Master of Science (M.S.), 1963, Ph.D., 1965, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Career: assistant prof., Wayne State University, Detroit (MI), 1965-67; associate prof., State University of New York (SUNY), Fredonia, 1967-69; senior research scientist, American Institutions for Research, Pittsburgh (PA), 1969-70; research director, Department of Public Instruction, 1970-72, director, Research and Development, Evaluation Associate's, 1972-78, Madison (WI); president and director, Danmar Professional Center, Clearwater (FL), 1978
Author: various articles in professional journals.
Member of: Polish Society of Arts and Sciences Abroad, London (United Kingdom); American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); American Psychological Association (APA); American Educational Research Association; Disabled American Veterans Association; executive director, Polish - American Agricultural Research and Development Foundation, Florida - Poland.
Served with: U.S. Army, Korean War, captain, 1952-54
DECEMBER 11, 2015 - I have been fighting a cold for the past five days and unfortunately I am losing the battle. As a result I will not be able to play kolendy publicly this weekend. Hopefully I will be in better shape next weekend. Instead I am using my time at home to add a few more kolendy to my Good List of Polish Christmas Songs featured on this website. These kolendy ( and Pastorałki) are found in the 1843 collection "PASTORAŁKI I KOLĘDY Z MELODYJAMI", which prominently includes comical songs not to be sung in church.
Here are the three I have added over the last two days:
Maybe I will be able to add a few more before I am fit to venture out in public. By the way, we are having unseasonably warm weather here in Rochester, New York. I'm missing out on that. What a waste!
Here is one I just added from the early 17th century, which I believe is suitable for church: Ach zła Ewa narobiła.
I had a wonderful time last night playing kolędy at the Euro Café - Real Food & Deli. It was so nice to see Krystyna and Margaret again and sample their delicious Polish cuisine. Superb! I don't know how they do it! Geneseo, New York is truly fortunate.
I will be playing tonight at Polska Chata in Irondequoit, New York.