The SFC has just cataloged two rare 10-inch EPs by Paul Weingardt and the Dutch Hop Boys (Vega Records, 1950, SFC call #s 78-16170, 78-16171. The first of these is pictured left.)
The polka on these records is of a special type known as the “Dutch Hop,” played and danced by the Volga Germans in the Great Plains region of the United States. (Eastern Colorado and western Nebraska are particular hotspots for the dance). The “Dutch” in “Dutch Hop” is thought to have started as a disguised version of the word “Deutsch.” During and after the World Wars, German-Americans were harshly stigmatized—and thus willing to portray their origins as Dutch rather than German.
Compared to standard polka, the Dutch Hop is faster, involves “bouncier” steps, and features a hammered dulcimer in addition to more standard instruments like the violin or the accordion. According to the Polka Page website, poor recording quality sometimes made the dulcimer hard to hear on Dutch Hop records. This may explain why the 1950 Billboard review of Weingardt’s Vega release only mentioned the “alternating accordion and violin.”
In this excerpt from “Katy Katy Polka,” the dulcimer is indeed barely audible–one hears it as a faint plucking sound on the offbeats, at phrase endings, and under the violin solo at around 0:45.
During his career, Weingardt also recorded with the Alpine Dutch Hoppers, the Alpine Polkadots, and the Polka Kings.
Newly cataloged and available at the SFC are two releases by Dr. Sam and the Managed Care Blues Band: the full-length album, Minimal Service: CPT 99211, and the single, You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Blue Shield (B-side: Mastoid Sally). Liner notes to Minimal Service state that: “These CDs and cassettes are great gift ideas for trade shows, medical conferences, sales reps, party favors, Doctors’ Day, Nurse Day, Nurses Week, Christmas and Chanukah.”
“Dr. Sam” is known in real life as Samuel Bierstock, MD, a practicing physician in Boca Raton, Florida. Since 1996, he has been writing songs on themes of illness, hospital stays, and HMOs, performing and recording them with his blues band in which he sings and plays harmonica. Bierstock and his band have been featured in People Magazine, USA Today and on CNN; they have also mailed their CDs to politicians across the U.S. (including former President Clinton) in order to raise awareness of issues in patient care. The themes tackled by the band are as relevant today as they were in 1990s.
Although, according to the DSATMCBB website, the band’s CDs have been distributed to every member in Congress, the SFC is the only collection listed in Worldcat with copies. In fact, the SFC also appears to be the only repository with holdings in the subject area of “Managed care plans (Medical care) – Songs and music.”
In the track “No Overnight Blues” Dr. Sam sings of a new mother whose insurance company will not pay for an overnight hospital stay.
The SFC has recently cataloged over 1,000 CDs from Europe and Argentina, mostly re-issues of songs recorded during the 1930s-1940s. This means we are now one of the world’s largest repositories of recordings by: Nazi-era singing sextets, British and German dance orchestras, French accordion virtuosi, and mid-century tango ensembles. Put into perspective, this includes 38 albums by Argentinean guitarist Oscar Alemán, 33 albums featuring the German singing troupe the Comedian Harmonists, and 25 albums featuring the French accordion master Will Glahé.
Last week we stumbled upon an anomaly among these historical reissues: a sampler from the Swiss label West Side Studios containing a rare track by the Swiss country group Monday Morning.
West Side Studios sampler
Monday Morning was, of course, fronted by vocalist and steel guitar wizard Helmut Schoeni, who sounds almost authentically Oklahoma-born in this cover of “Tulsa Straight Ahead.”
Schoeni may be best known for his solo album Countreeeeeeeee Music (1999) or for his duo-album with Joe Schwach A New Tropical Breeze: Counga Infection (2003). “Tulsa Straight Ahead” gives us a perhaps wider glimpse into his musical range–and especially the ease with which he is able to approximate a “boogie” feeling. We are proud to now be able to provide access to this track, as well as to the other Swiss country gems featured on the West Side Studios sampler (CD-10421).
Track listing for West Side Studios sampler
The Southern Folklife Collection is currently cataloging a large donation of reissue CDs that feature Austrian and German cabaret singers from the World War II era and after. Though most of the songs on these albums were written by German composers, there are a few American jazz standards and folk songs that receive the cabaret treatment—”Sweet Georgia Brown” for example, seems to have been a favorite among many female vocalists.
Another noteworthy example is the 1957 recording of “Oh Susanna” by Austrian singer and actress Maria von Schmedes (1917-2003). The sample below comes from the compilation album with a fantastic title Du darfst nicht traurig sein: die besten Schellackplatten und Funkaufnahmen – in Erstveröffentlichungen – von Maria von Schmedes, 1940-1960, (translation, “You must not be sad”) now cataloged and ready for patrons (CD-9676).
Maria von Schmedes, “Oh Susanna,” 1957
- Michel Pruvot, Record Musette (1991), CD9567, Southern Folklife Collection
The Southern Folklife Collection has just cataloged a unique collection of French accordion music CDs. Some of them are re-releases of 1930s recordings, primarily accordion-plus-big band arrangements of foxtrots and waltzes. Others come from the 1980s and 1990s and feature the instrument in genres like disco, boogie, and samba.
Especially noteworthy among this group of CDs is the 1991 reissue of the album Record Musette by accordion virtuoso Michel Pruvot (originally released in 1984). Though he is perhaps best known as the host of the French television show Sur un Air d’Accordéon (On the Accordion), Pruvot has also distinguished himself as a repeat winner of the international Accordion Endurance Competition, able to play continuously for over 117 hours.
CD9567, Southern Folklife Collection
Record Musette features a combination of original Pluvot compositions and covers. The clip included here is his interpretation of “Orange Blossom Special,” a song originally for bluegrass fiddle.
The SFC is proud to be the only repository in North America to have a cataloged copy of Record Musette.