TOM BRUSKY

News & Editorial Archives, 2019


Polka Music vs. Pop Music
July 17, 2019


There are lots of reasons why I've added the production of contemporary music to my repertoire. Here are 8,427 of them:






Redesigned Website

April 30, 2019


By now, I'm sure you've noticed that my website looks quite different. I've maintained the site's design specs from before, but changed all of the graphics. My reason for doing that is to more accurately market myself as an all-round musician/composer than just the leader of a polka band. My website needs to convey that I create music both inside and outside of the polka genre.



The Death Knell for Compact Discs Has Officially Rung

April 2, 2019


From its peak popularity in 2001 to now, the compact disc has declined in sales by 88%. CDs are still the most popular format for polka music, but music purchases by polka fans throughout Southeast Wisconsin have finally dwindled to the point where manufacturing CDs is no longer economically viable for most bands.

In 2001, I released my best-selling CD which sold over a thousand copies. Prior to that and for several years after, sales of compact discs always turned a profit. In 2014, however, I barely broke even with Polka Pontoon. Two years later, I ended up taking a bath with The Holidays in Music. In 2018, I had hoped to reverse the trend with Positively Polka, but even with top-notch musicianship and local radio advertising, retail sales of the CD were abysmally low. The CDs are expected to be gone by the end of summer, and when they are, I will have fallen short of breaking even.

There was a time when I could make one trip around Wisconsin's Southeastern polka club circuit promoting a newly-released CD, and sell over fifty copies. Now I'd be very lucky to sell ten. I used to sell CDs to music fans all over the country, but even those out-of-state sales have dried up as well. Needless to say, the sales of compact discs have slumped so low, it is no longer practical for me to release music on CD.

There are a lot of reasons for this trend, but the main one is that most of the fans and dancers who used to buy polka CDs have either passed away or aged beyond their traveling years. Some bands are still able profit from CD sales depending on their popularity, extent of their travels, style of music, and other factors, but they are the exception to the rule. For your average, locally-based, Slovenian-style polka band, spending a couple thousand dollars or more on a professional studio production is no longer a recoverable expense. There just aren't enough people buying polka CDs to justify the investment of making them.

The alternative to recording and releasing albums on compact disc, and one which I and other musicians are embracing, is to record singles and release them individually via digital distribution. Instead of recording a whole album of songs and ending up with a huge studio bill and a box full of unsold CDs, a band can record just one or two songs and share them with the world through music subscription services and download sites.

There are not yet many polka music fans using their phones or computers to stream polkas on sites like Pandora, but this is how
mainstream music is distributed these days. Since 2016, I have been digitally distributing my music all over the world, garnering loyal listeners from Sweden to Singapore. In lieu of CD sales, I earn money through performance royalties and song download sales.

When the last of my Positively Polka CDs sell out at Polka Connection and the Mollie B Store, it will officially herald the end of the compact disc era for me. With possible exceptions such as fundraisers and giveaways, all of my future music productions will be released online only.
If you want to buy my music on compact disc, this is your final chance to get a copy of Positively Polka.
 

Speaking of future music productions, I have a brand new contemporary pop single coming out this spring which features a powerhouse singer from Chicago and talented rapper from Milwaukee. I was originally planning for a March release, but the singer came down with bronchitis. She is set to record her parts in early April, so the song is expected to drop around the third week of April barring any additional delays. I am also going to be collaborating with an incredible singer from Milwaukee on a Christmas single to be released in December. Neither of these songs will be in the polka genre, but please be assured I will be producing more polka music down the road.

 

 
Caravan of Destitute Cleveland Musicians Reaches Milwaukee
April 1, 2019


Nearly a dozen polka musicians from Cleveland, OH, desperate to find work, packed their instruments into their cars and embarked on a 450-mile journey to Milwaukee yesterday. Their hope for a better life quickly took a turn for the worse soon after pulling into the parking lot of the Blue Canary on College Avenue.

"They don't look very open," remarked accordionist Ronnie Tercik as his car became stuck in shrubs growing out of the parking lot.

Drummer Stan Demrovich walked around to the front of the building to knock on the door but quickly returned with a somber look on his face. "There is no door. And I was assaulted by a pack of raccoons. I'm pretty sure this place is
closed."

Twenty minutes later, the caravan of cars pulled into the parking lot of Perko's Lounge on 54th & Burnham. A pile of cigarette butts around the back of the building gave everyone hope that maybe Gentleman Jim was still playing there, but the boarded-up windows adorned with Latino gang graffiti and bullet holes indicated otherwise.

The musicians got into their cars one more time and headed out to the suburbs, stopping at the Walgreens pharmacy on Hwy 100 & Layton to ask where they could find the Melody Bar.

"I'm sorry. I wish I could help you guys, but I
've never heard of the Melody Bar," said store manager Craig Struhle, 44, "and I've lived here my whole life."

With all hope lost, the musicians faced the reality of the situation.

Bass player Rudy Belgaszic let out a big sigh. "That's it. We're done. Milwaukee is just as dried up as Cleveland. We might as well head back to... wait! I just remembered something! What about the Polka Palace?!?"

With renewed excitement, everyone jumped back into their cars and zoomed down to Milwaukee's South Side to their new destination:
 

 

 
Back in Style — Turtlenecks with Gold Chains
April 1, 2019


It was an iconic look for men that faded in the late 1970s, yet, it somehow remained a staple of polka musicians' and dancers' wardrobes well into the 21st century — it's the turtleneck and gold chain ensemble, and it's finally come back into fashion.

Most polka musicians and dancers over the age of 55 likely own turtlenecks and gold chains from years past, but younger musicians will no longer have to scope out these fashionable duds at second-hand stores. As of this spring, Macy's, Kohl's, and Neinman Marcus department stores will begin carrying the "Polka Night" line of clothing from the Sylvester Cyrwiarczesky Collection, which can be found in the men's department between Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger.

"This is great news!" said Bob Kolbe, 65, an avid polka dancer from Glaucoma, Wisconsin. Kolbe, sporting blue denim shorts with white tennis shoes and tube socks, boasted of his collection of gold chains. "
I have about a dozen chains going back fifty years. One of of them I found on the street while standing in line to see Star Wars.

"My favorite chain," Kolbe reminisced, "was given to me by my father in 1975. I asked where he got it, but he wouldn't tell me. On the back is an inscription that says 'Property of Deney Terrio'."

Rose-tinted prescription glasses with thick frames, however, are expected to remain out of fashion for an indefinite period of time.


 
Dodge Announces New Caravan Model for Musicians
April 1, 2019


Trusted by soccer moms for over three decades, the dependable Dodge Caravan is now available in a new design for musicians on the go. The 2019 Dodge Caravan MTV (Musician Transport Vehicle) is a stylish vehicle boasting a winning combination of retro looks and sophisticated engineering.
 


 


30-year-old design inspired by 1989 Caravan, complete with missing hubcap and faux rust bubbles, assures MTV will blend in with the rest of your band's vehicles.

Sherwood sound system features CD changer, cassette player, 8-track player, and pop-up 7" reel-to-reel tape deck.

In-dash GPS navigation automatically disregards car ferries, toll bridges, and other route options musicians can't afford.

Power doors have been proactively disabled since they always break anyway.

New ITIGBS Panic Button simultaneously opens all six side windows. (ITIGBS stands for "I Think I'm Gonna Be Sick".)

Every seat features a USB charging port, two ash trays, and three beverage holders: 12 oz, 16 oz, and 20 oz.

Specially-designed air induction vents around driver's side window ensure driver's breath cannot be smelled outside vehicle.

MTV goes from 0 to 60 MPH in 9.5 seconds. More importantly, it goes from 85 to 55 MPH in just under one second.

Special safety straps ensure accordion cases will not tip over or slide around. (Straps do not fit button box cases. As if that matters.)

Computer-assisted loading helps you configure optimum equipment placement, and automatically alerts you when you end up with less equipment than what you started with. Special "Yankovic Mode" alerts you when you end up with more equipment than what you started with.

BOSE® in-cabin noise cancellation system is specifically tuned to clanging cymbals, rattling drum hardware, and snoring.

Hooks in headliner let you mount up to six Polka Hall of Fame award plaques. (Plaques not included. Plaques may be easily obtained by becoming a polka musician.)

Heavy-duty rear bumper made of high-impact steel is engineered to absorb low-speed collisions with trees, brick walls, stage doors, tent posts, entitled bicyclists, and your wife's car.

Special 1,500-lumen LED reverse lights can be manually engaged to tell the idiot driver behind you his high beams are on.

Old-style square headlights are field-replaceable in the event of a deer strike. All MTVs sold at dealerships within 25 miles of New Glarus, WI come with a dozen spare headlights.

Driver's side sun visor features a convenient fold-out citation organizer.

Special financing for musicians is available at your local Dodge-Chrysler dealer. To receive a low rate of 3.99% APR, please bring your Moose membership, AARP membership, or Old Country Buffet Senior Citizen Discount card to your dealer. To receive an even lower rate, show them your Polka Hall of Fame membership card. To receive the "Pity Rate" (the absolute lowest rate allowed by federal law) show them your drum cases.

 

 
Steve Meisner (Finally) Named Official Spokesperson for Korbel Brandy
April 1, 2019


A huge congratulations to bandleader Steve Meisner for landing this prestigious, new gig!
 
  

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