Probably of Interest to No One but Me

But I'll post it anyway.

Chicago Polka King Dies
Chicago native Walter E. Jagiello, who recorded 110 albums as "Lil' Wally the Polka King," and who gained fame as the co-writer of the Chicago White Sox fight song, has died. He was 76.

Jagiello was a drummer and singer largely credited with creating the Chicago-style polka, characterized by a slower, more deliberate beat. He was the first musician inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame in Chicago.

He died of heart failure Thursday in Miami Beach, Fla.

"Wally was one of the great 20th Century American musicians," said Don Hedeker of the polka band the Polkaholics. "He was on par with Johnny Cash in country and Charlie Parker in jazz."

Jagiello's reign as the polka king centered on a strip of Chicago's Division Street known during the 1940s and 1950s as "Polish Broadway." At its peak, the North Side neighborhood had 50 polka clubs.

Jagiello charted in Billboard with two hits, "Polish Polka Twist" and "I Wish I Was Single Again." He sang fluently in both Polish and English. He also appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show several times.

In 1959, he co-wrote "Let's Go Go Go White Sox," the team's fight song. It was recorded by Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers with the Lil' Wally Orchestra and began to be used again last year.
This really is a shame. Chicago is still one of the big polka cities, and this definitely is a blow to the music and culture. I got to see the Lil' Wally Orchestra once at Germanfest, and I'm really glad I did. So raise your stein and toast the Polka King. Rest in peace, Lil' Wally.

If you're interested in hearing some more "modern" kick-ass polkas, I suggest these bands:

Brave Combo- The reigning kings of modern polka. They play traditional polkas, and more modern stuff, such as "The Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze Polka." They also do tons of other world music styles and tex-mex... if you're into different sounds, their CDs should be in your collection.

The Polkaholics- Chicago's very own mix of The Ramones and polka. They'll get your butt shaking but good.

Polkacide- "San Francisco's One and Only Hardcore Polka Band." The name says it all... I love these guys!

Those Darn Accordions!- Mixing rock and polka, these guys are incredible. I saw them live in NYC, and they blew my ass through the back wall! You've got to hear their version of the Laverne & Shirley theme, "Making our Dreams Come True."

Big Lou, the Accordion Princess- Lovely and talented, I absolutely adore Big Lou! Her latest album, "Dogs Playing Polka," is well worth a purchase.

The Squeegees- All the girls want the man... who can play the accordion!

There's a good start. Now get some beer, hit the dance floor, and dance your butt off. You could use the stress relief, couldn't you?

By the way, if you're one of those people that sneers at polkas, and makes accordion jokes, the next Big Bore Bus out of Good Times City is here... be on it! Because you, my friend, are no fun.

(Cabbage rolls and cross-posts! Mmm, mmm, good!)

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus