Last night I attended Polish Happy Hour at St. Stan's in Buffalo. As usual it was gun seeing old friends, but this time I got to meet disco polo star, Junior US, who fired up the crowd and really got people out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. I also enjoyed the various performance by Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble. I hadn't seen them in a while, so it was really nice. Whenever I attend this kinds of events, I usually leave a little early, mostly because I have a long drive back to Rochester and once I get back home I still have to work on putting my video(s) together.
Junior US/Polish Happy Hour/Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble
I just returned from the Adirondack Mountains for a fun climb up a not-so-high mountain. I had climbed that mountain two or three times with family or students in the early 1980's and thought I might check it out one last time. It was fun.
As I said, Azure Mountain is not one of the high peaks, but it's high enough. Big bang for your buck!
I remember once looking down from the summit and seeing an Air Force jet fly just about the trees below. Imagine having your feet planted on the ground and getting to look down at a plane! Maybe it's no big deal, but I thought it was pretty cool. By the way, Air Force training and sonic booms are commonplace in the area.
On another occasion, I sat and watched falcons put on a pretty good air show of their own from the top of Azure Mountain. And another time, I was up there with my family when the kids were little. (I think I remember carrying my son up to the top in a backpack. Just when I spotted a huge stand of raspberry bushes at edge of the clearing near the fire tower, I told the kids we should pick some berries as a reward for the long hike up. (It's not an easy climb for little kids.) As we approached the bushes, we felt the ground rumble as a bear hidden in those bushes got frightened and fortunately ran off. Yikes!!!
If you decide to go, be sure to wear good shoes and plenty of bug spray. Be careful. Don't go too close to the edge. Have fun.
View from Azure Mountain
June 8, 2018 - Memorial Service at Gravesite of WWl Fallen Soldier Walter W. Ratinski
The service was at the gravesite of WALTER RATINSKI, the first marine and first Polish American from Rochester, New York killed in WWl. Unfortunately I was unable to attend due to surgery. Video footage provided by Steve Flor:
First Marine and First Polish American from Rochester NY Killed in Great War
93 Jackson Street, Rochester, N. Y. Walter William Ratinski was born in Rochester, N. Y., June 7, 1888, son of Anthony and Josephine Ratinski. Before the World War he was employed by Joy, Clark and Nier.
Entered the service at Rochester, N. Y., December 15, 1917, at the age of 29 years, as a Private, in the United States Marine Corps. He was trained at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Quantico, Virgina.
Embarked overseas, March 13, 1918. Assigned to 45th Company, 5th Regiment, March 23, 1918. Engaged in action at Toulon Sector; Aisne Defensive; ChateauThierry Sector. Killed in action at Chateau-Thierry, June 6, 1918. First buried in France; later his body was brought back to America on the U.S.S. Cantigny, February 16, 1922, and reburied in Holy Sepulchre Ceme tery, Rochester, N. Y., February 27, 1922, Soldiers and Sailors Plot, Grave 12. p360 Monroe County Service Record.
Stephen Flor: Walter Ratinski and Rochester Veterans of WWl
Stephen Flor, vice president of the Rochester Polonia Civic Center and national chairman of the Polish American Congress WWl Centennial, discusses sacrifices of WW l vets. The interview was conducted by WHAM Channel 13 in Rochester, NY at the memorial service for Walter Ratinski, a Polish American who gave his life for our liberty.
June 12, 2018 - Za Ebru falą / Polish Waltz
I thought I would play this sweet Polish tune on banjo but there were two problems:
1. I don't one a banjo
2, I don't know how to play the banjo.
Ever since I was a teenager I intended to someday learn to play the banjo, just never got around to it. So I ordered one a couple of weeks ago hoping to learn by playing this simple tune. Unfortunately, it still has not arrived. Once I get a melody in my head, I have to play it or my head will explode. So I set up the keyboard and this is the result. I'll let you know when the banjo arrives.
If you would like to get the lyrics or to hear John Gora perform Za Ebru falą, CLICK HERE.
June 21, 2018 - Fabbrica Concertine
I just found out that Stagi is changing its brand name to Fabbrica Concertine. You may know that I have been a huge fan of Stagi concertinas and maintain a large inventory of their instruments in my online store, FolkWorldMusicStore.com. I suppose the change in the product name actually reflects a change in ownership. Hopefully the superior quality of their instruments will not be affected.
Stagi / Fabricca Concertina ---->
June 29, 2018 - Strange!
Although this song was written shortly after WWll, "Last Night I Had the strangest Dream" reminds me of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles of 28 June 1919 at the end of World War I. That war was sometimes called “The War to End All Wars” because surely mankind finally came to realize that such a terrible war could never be repeated. Of course, as we all know, World War ll was just down the road. Incredibly, otherwise good people fell under the spell of certain demagogues* who were able to convince their followers to go along with their maniacal ideas and passions. It’s so hard to believe today, but many did so with great pride and conviction. How could anyone fall for such poison? Yet they did; they REALLY did. If fact they gathered by the thousands, cheering, saluting, believing…
Fortunately, all that is history now and such horror could never happen today. True, our country has been at war in one place or another almost nonstop since the end of WWll; but those are just minor wars that must be waged for reasons too numerous to list here. Today’s leaders are much more enlightened these days and we can all sleep easy knowing that they are reasonable men and women not interested in personal glory or financial gain and committed to working together with all nations of the world to ensure a lasting peace.
I am so happy mankind has finally learned its lesson.
*Demagogue- a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.
July 3, 2018 - Gen. Pulaski Association Honors
I am grateful to be included as one of the "Outstanding Men of Polonia" soon to be honored by the General Pulaski Association, Inc. The event will be held at the Millennium Hotel at 2040 Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga, New York on Sunday, September 9, 2018. Here is the complete list of honorees: Gary Bienkowski, Adam Bobak, Robert Johnson, Jim Kaczorowski, James Lawicki, Grzegorz Nowacki, Kevin Pilarski, The Honorable Paul Piotrowski, Joseph Mikolaj Rej, Jr., Brian Dwight Rush, Michael Szefranski, Tom Zawadzki, Andy Zmijewski.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Joseph Macielag
If you are interested in attending, here are the details:
$40 per person, $400 table of 10
Checks payable to:
Gen. Pulaski Assn.
c/o Treasurer Edward Reska, Jr.
4656 Kingswood Lane
Hamburg, New York 14075
I attended the event in 2017 honoring the women of Polonia and can testify it was a very worthwhile affair.
I love the sound of the hurdy-gurdy, an instrument often associated with the Middle Ages. Last year I ordered one from Poland and loved it. Now I decided to order an American-made hurdy-gurdy hoping to receive it in time for Christmas so I can add it to my kolędy performances this year. Unfortunately, there is a ten-month back order so I can't expect to get my hands on it until April, 2019. I don't mind, however; it's best not to rush crafting an instrument this beautiful:
The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a hand crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents—small wedges, typically made of wood—against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic stringed instruments, it has a sound board and hollow cavity to make the vibration of the strings audible.
Podczas gry w pozycji siedzącej trzymana jest na kolanach, prawa dłoń kręci korbą, lewa naciska od dołu klawisze melodyczne. Korba jest połączona z kołem, które obracając się pociera struny tak, jak w innych instrumentach smyczek.
Co najmniej jedna struna pełni funkcje melodyczne. Skracana jest za pośrednictwem klawiszy z drewnianymi kołeczkami (tzw. tangentami). Pozostałe struny wydają dźwięk o stałej wysokości (burdon), w lirach zachodnioeuropejskich oraz węgierskich jedna ze strun burdonowych (tzw. struna trompetowa) wydaje dodatkowo brzęczący dźwięk, który spełnia funkcję rytmiczną. Efekt brzęczenia jest uzyskiwany dzięki specjalnej budowie mostka struny trompetowej (mostek wibrujący, buzzing bridge), zamontowanego luźno i brzęczącego przy szybszych ruchach korbą.
July 16, 2018: The Pied Piper of Hamelin Identified
I got up early today and drove to Lake Ontario to videotape myself playing "Kiedy ranne wstają zorze" on my recorder. (Love that instrument). Toward the end of the performance, I noticed five or six rats in the distance among the rocks. They weren't bothering me so I played on. Then two or three decided to come my way to say hello. Getting a closer look, I determined they were not rats but weasels. So now I know where they live.
Funny thing, the village of Hamlin, New York is just down the road from Rochester. I guess it's true that rodents are attracted to the sound of flute/recorder music and can be led to the sea. And I thought that was just a fairy tale!
If you have a rodent problem, please don't call me.
July 17, 2018: More Rodents
Yesterday I attracted rat-like weasels and today, as soon as I started playing my recorder, a woodchuck appeared. Sorry, no picture today; my visitor departed after a just few bars.
This video was made in Highland Park near the Cedar of Lebanon... you know, like the one on the Lebanese flag. It's hard to find secluded places in Rochester for outdoor recording, but this location works well for me.
July 18, 2018: Cheektowaga Polish Festival
Big weekend coming up: 60 Million Congress (Global Polonia Summit) - The 40th Annual Polish American Arts Festival will start on July 20th, with the Polish Happy Hour Buffalo event kicking things off with special guest Secretary of State Anna Maria Anders with the opening of the Trail of Hope exhibit. The next day, July 21st, the 60 Million Conference will begin in the morning with the 100th Anniversary of Poland's Independence Gala starting at 5:30, and at 9:30 Niagara Falls will be illuminated white and red in honor of Poland for 15 minutes. (About a dozen other buildings in WNY will also be illuminated white and red). On Sunday, July 22nd there will be a mass at one of the oldest Polish churches in the United States (St. Stanislaus "The Mother Church of Polonia") and then the 80th Annual General Pulaski Parade will begin.