TOM BRUSKY

News & Editorial Archives, 2019


Amazon's Copyright Infringement Department Run by Larry, Moe, and Curly
December 14, 2019

 


The other week, I came across an Amazon seller using one of my photos without permission to sell product on Amazon. Not only did I immediately recognize the photo as my family's Cairn Terrier, but my name from the copyright watermark was clearly visible when zooming in to the lower right corner of the photo. I filled out and submitted a copyright infringement claim asking Amazon to remove the photo. In my complaint, I added that I would be able to supply Amazon with the original uncropped photo if requested.


Open and shut case, right?

Wrong. What should have been a piece of cake claim to settle, Amazon managed to snowball downhill into the deepest pits of incompetence.

The first thing Amazon did was send me a reply saying further information was needed. The additional information they requested, however, was all of the information I had submitted in the original complaint. Furthermore, they wanted details about my business. I scratched my head, but nonetheless I resupplied them with all of the information I originally sent them. I also explained that my business [how did they even know I run a business?] had nothing to do with the claim, because my business doesn't own the copyright to the photo — I do.

A week later they sent me an email stating that they altered/removed the infringing material based on my report.

Several days later while browsing Amazon, on a whim I went to the product page that used my copyrighted photo, and saw that it was still there. I replied to the email from Amazon above to inform them that the infringing material was still posted, and asked that they please follow through with taking it down.

Amazon replied by telling me that if I am submitting a copyright claim, appealing a copyright claim decision, or reporting inaccurate information about a product, I need to go through the proper channels.

I emailed back saying I was doing none of the three, but rather following up on an existing complaint for which I did go through the proper channels.

Amazon replied by telling me they did not know to which claim I was referring, and to please include the claim number in my correspondence.

I responded with the same message and with the claim number included. (Apparently every message sent to their department requires the sender to include the claim number in the body of the message.)

Amazon replied by telling me that if I am submitting a copyright claim, appealing a copyright claim decision, or reporting inaccurate information about a product, I needed to go through the proper channels.

It was become evident that the people who work in Amazon's copyright infringement department are a few lights short of a Christmas tree. I reiterated that I was not filing a new claim, appealing an existing claim, nor reporting inaccurate product information. I explained in very clear terms that I was merely following up on an existing claim (number provided) and simply trying to tell them that they forgot or failed to follow through with removing my copyrighted photo as they said they did.

Once again, Amazon replied by telling me that if I am submitting a copyright claim, appealing a copyright claim decision, or reporting inaccurate information about a product, I needed to go through the proper channels.

By this time, I was convinced I was dealing with people who were either illiterate or unfathomably incompetent. Rather than waste my time any further, I reached out to the seller directly. The seller promptly responded and removed the photo.

If Amazon ever starts replacing customer service employees with robots, I hope they start with their copyright infringement department, because the people currently working there have less reading comprehension skills than a bucket of bolts.





You've Got Questions? I've Got Answers!
December 14, 2019

 
With apologies to Radio Shack for paraphrasing their slogan from the 1990s, I wrote this article to explain aspects of my music production that I am frequently asked about. It's not uncommon for me, especially after releasing an album, to field questions from fellow musicians in the business about my process for writing, recording, and releasing music. I will still respond to individual emails on these topics, but I thought it would be helpful to make public my answers to some of the most-asked questions I receive.
 
Who is performing the instruments on your songs?

I typically use guest musicians when recording polka albums, but for my non-polka songs, if no other musicians are credited, then I am performing all of the parts myself. Most of you know I play a few different instruments, but my productions also make extensive use of virtual instruments, which are software-based instruments controlled by MIDI (most often via a piano keyboard.) I own a lot of high-end virtual instrument libraries, and have gained a lot of experience in how to compose with them over the past several years. [For more detailed information on this subject, please read "The Holidays In Music — How Was It Done?"]
 
Do you use loops?

Loops are pre-recorded, pre-mixed snippets of songs that musicians can put together to create [the more appropriate term for this is "construct"] entire songs. The use of loops is extremely popular in almost all contemporary forms of pop music. There are also companies that create loops for many other styles of music.
 
I do not use loops, ever. Even though loops can yield great-sounding, radio-ready results, I personally feel using pre-recorded loops would sap all the creativity out of music composition. I create songs the old fashioned way... by writing, composing, and arranging them from scratch.
 
Instead of posting 30-second snippets of your music, you post the whole song. Doesn't that hurt your sales?

No, and it has to do with how young people and old people approach music consumption in totally opposite ways.

The largest consumer of music has always been young people, and young people today want their music as conveniently as possible. They subscribe to streaming services so that they can get all the music they want on their phone, whenever they want it, wherever they are.

For this reason, if you provide your full song on your website, you're not going to lose a single sale to a young music consumer. I gaurantee it. Anyone who likes your song enough to want to hear it more than once will look for it on Spotify, YouTube, or whatever subsciption service they use, and add it to their playlist, because it doesn't cost them anything extra to do that. And you will get your due royalty from each stream.

But that's young people. What about older people and polka music?

The way most older polka people get their music is completely the opposite of young people. Most don't subscribe to streaming services. They get their music in more traditional ways. Those who don't have computers get their music by listening to the radio and watching reruns of the Mollie B Polka Show on cable TV. Those who have computers get their music by listening to internet radio shows like 24/7 Polka Heaven and browsing through YouTube videos. I lieu of buying music, they bookmark their favorite polka music videos and websites.

So why am I providing my full songs to these older listeners instead of 30-second song clips?

It's because they won't purchase the music either way. If I post full-length songs, they'll listen to the full-length songs and not buy the album. If I post 30-second clips, they'll listen to the 30-second clips and not buy the album. You simply can't sell music to people who don't buy music.

When you release an album on CD, 30-second "teaser" music clips may help drive CD purchases from your more devoted fans who have been anxiously awaiting your new release. But, after those few sales are done, restricting sound clips to 30 seconds will do absolutely nothing to boost sales, especially if your songs are also available on YouTube. If this sounds totally counterintuitive, it's because it would have been just 10-15 years ago. That's how fast the music industry has changed.

[Edit: January 9, 2020]  I need to mention one other disadvantage to posting entire songs online, but one which has little impact on sales. Some people who get their music for free by listening to sites like SoundCloud, YouTube, and 24/7 Polka Heaven may go the extra step to record the music they're hearing on those sites. This is a flagrant copyright violation, but someone who would go to that length would likely never pay for a an album anyway.
 
Is digital distribution of one's music a viable way to make a profit?

To answer this question, I'll cut right to the chase. If nobody's buying your polka CDs, chances are you won't fare any better with digital distribution. There are no lucrative polka music markets anywhere in the world waiting anxiously for the latest album by Joe Derpmeister and the Polka River Ramblers. When you put your music out there for the world to see, you're just one of a thousand bands releasing songs to the world that day.

These are the three main ways you get paid from the digital distribution of your music:
  • Selling Downloads: Offering downloads online is already a mostly-obsolete format. Most young people don't buy downloads anymore, and most old people never did.
  • Royalties from Streaming Services: The number of times my music is streamed each week far outnumbers the quantity of CDs or downloads I could ever sell. This may sound impressive, but there's a catch. Streaming royalties are small. Very small. Verrrrry small. I think you get the picture.
  • Royalties from Sync Licensing: The short definition of sync licensing is when someone uses your music in a video. A royalty is paid, much like when your music is streamed.
How much money you make from any of the above revenue streams depends on how popular you are, the quality and content of your music, your marketing skills and strategies, and pure luck.
 
Are you done with polka music?

No. I produce all different kinds of music because I enjoy all different kinds of music, but I am still a polka musician at heart. No matter what kind of music I write and release, I always come back to polka at some point.






New EP Just Released! "Country Christmas Collection"

November 29, 2019




After five months of writing, arranging, recording, and surviving not one but two hard drive failures, I'm proud to present a truly unique offering of brand new, original Christmas music. "Country Christmas Collection" is an album of five songs, with each song respresenting a different era of country music.


My goal with this project was two-part: To write good songs, and to give each song a distinct sound, feel, and arrangement reminiscent of a particular decade.
 
1. A Christmas She'll Remember  (1940s)
Making a recording to sound 80 years old is no simple task! Ribbon mics, vintage-colored preamps, and a whole lot of creative software processing was used to intentionally degrade the audio of each track. The song is a simple story about an unaffluent yet gladsome man who meets the girl of his dreams and begins saving his money to buy her an engagement ring for Christmas.

2. Santa, Don't Sneeze!  (1960s)
Inspired by the AM radio-optimized Bakersfield sound of the 1960s with a touch of Western swing (and accordion!) mixed in, this whimsical song is about a boy who is so determined to get a new bike for Christmas, he implores Santa Claus to stay healthy so that he doesn't risk missing his ever-important, annual sleigh ride.

3. Fifteen More Miles  (1970s)
Performed by vocalist Dawn Jones and engineered with an ultra-warm, analog sound, Fifteen More Miles is a sentimental song about a loved one trekking her way back home to be with family and friends. Although the song is set in the 1800s before the age of the automobile, the lyrics carry a message which holds true to this day: No matter where life takes you, you can always come home for Christmas.

4. Angel of Christmas  (1990s)
Country music's popularity surged in the early 1990s as the genre took on a more contemporary, crossover sound. The poignant lyrics of this song, delivered by vocalist Jay Isaacson, concern the memories of a loved one at Christmas. Whose photos do you hang on your Christmas tree every year? As long as you remember them, they are always with you.

5. Christmas Shopping Fool  (2010s)
If your favorite holiday is Black Friday, this song is for you! It's a whimsical portrayal of one girl's take on the spirit of the holidays, which for her, is hitting all the Christmas sales and buying more than she can afford. Nashville session singer Christine Corless is the featured vocalist.

 
I started this project in July. At first, it was going to be just one classic country ballad for my friend Dawn to sing, but as I was writing it, the music in my head started leaning toward a more modern sound. I decided to continue developing that song and hire a different singer for it, and then write another classic country ballad for Dawn.

So now I had two country songs in production, one with a 1990s sound and one with a 1970s sound. I thought, why not keep going? I always wanted to write and produce a contemporary country song, and I also thought that trying to recreate the vintage sound of a 1960s 45 RPM would be a fun challenge, so I began writing two more songs.

By the time September came around, I was working on a total of four songs. Then Ken Burns' PBS special on country music  started airing on TV, and that inspired me to go back even further — to the 1940s — and write a fifth song. Getting the music to sound like it came off an 80-year-old 78 RPM was more challenging that I had anticipated. Each track required layers of software plugins to get the job done.

Getting the music and sound right was only one part of the equation, because all of these songs are centered around the vocals and lyrics. I take great pride in writing and arranging my songs to fit the tone, style, and range of the vocalists I hire, but it takes a high degree of talent from those singers to bring it all together. That's why I am particularly proud of the job Christine, Dawn, and Jay did on this recording. They took the time to learn the songs and pour their talent into them, and I want to publicly thank them for their dedication and professionalism. Without them, this project would never have been realized.

About the guest vocalists:
 
Dawn Jones ran a very successful karaoke business for many years before signing up as a backup vocalist to tour with a popular Midwest-based entertainer. I met Dawn at a private Christmas function a few years ago where my band was performing. She came up to sing a few songs with us, and within the first few measures of hearing her rich voice, I knew she'd have to appear on a future recording project.

Jay Isaacson is a professional singer and pianist who has been entertaining at public and private events for decades. I first heard Jay's vocals three years ago when I was searching for singers for my "Holidays in Music" album. I remembered how incredbily warm and sincere Jay's voice is — a kind of a blend between Barry Manilow, Richard Marx, and Michael W. Smith. That's exactly what I wanted for Angel of Christmas, and Jay's delivery was spot-on.

Christine Corless is an established session vocalist living and working in Nashville, Tennessee. Several local singers auditioned for Christmas Shopping Fool, but it was when I heard Christine's vocals while searching outside the local circuit that I knew I had found the right person for the job. Because of her Nashville-based work experience, Christine was able to connect with the song and give the attitude and edge it required.
 
I have no idea how many hours I've put into this EP, but I'm sure it's well over 300. I never bother to count anymore because it's typical for me to put 50-100 hours into each original song I produce.

If you enjoy Country Christmas Collection, please share it with your friends on social media and help spread the word. And if there is a particular song you connected with, let me know. Your feedback is valuable. Thank you!






The "Problem" with Today's Pop Music Revealed
October 30, 2019

 
I knew it would happen sooner or later. My friends— the people I grew up with are complaining about today's pop music. "It's got no melody"; "It's so risqué"; "It all sounds the same"; "How can anyone listen to this crap?" and so on.

It's one thing to have an opinion about a song or style of music, but when you start making blanket statements declaring how bad today's pop music is, whose voice are you hearing? Your own, or your parents'? If you truly feel that today's pop music is void of substance and moving in the wrong direction, you're welcome to that opinion, but please be advised... you run the risk of revealing your age.

Pop music changes with each new generation. It's supposed to. World events, social trends, and technology continually shape and transform pop music. It was once parlor music and ragtime, then became jazz, then became swing, then became rock n' roll, then became surf rock and British pop, then became punk and album-oriented rock, then became hair metal, rap, and synth-oriented dance pop, then became boy bands, divas, indie, and more. When pop music hit the new millennium, it had already branched out into unlimited, blended forms of styles like EDM and trap.

Whether or not you like today's pop music, it's right where it's supposed to be and doing what it's supposed to be doing: appealing to young people with lyrics, sounds, and beats tuned specifically to their ears. It's not supposed to sound good to you, because you're too old to feel what it has to offer.

The reason pop music has always appealed to young people, and why young people are the driving force behind it, is biological in nature. Music is a vehicle by which young people form and establish their identities and social connections. Before they enter their teens, they start growing virtual antennae tuned to the frequency of pop music. When they reach their mid teens, their antennae grow to their maximum height. As they enter adulthood, the antennae start to shrink, and within about ten years, they're completely gone. They're no longer needed, because the person's identity has been established.

Your antennae are long gone, so any hope of sharing your children's emotional connection to today's music is futile. If you're open-minded, you can still appreciate aspects of today's pop music, but your brain is incapable of responding to it like it did when you were 15.  If you are aware of this, then you can understand why your parents didn't "get" your music of the 80s, just like your grandparents didn't get your parents' music of the 50s, just like your great grandparents didn't "get" your grandparents' music of the 30s.

So if you think today's pop music sounds so bad, you can swear up and down that it's the music, but... is it?






Autumn Colors
October 23, 2019

 
Some photos I've taken over the years of fall foliage in my area:

Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Root River Parkway in Greendale
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin
Root River Parkway, West Allis
Root River Parkway at Morgan Ave.
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Root River Parkway in Greendale
Root River
Root River in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Root River Parkway in Greendale
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf TraiI in Franklin
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail - 106th & Norwich
Oak Leaf Trail
Greenfield Park in West Allis
Greenfield Park
Greenfield Park in West Allis
Oak Leaf Trail
Residence in Greenfield
West Allis in Autumn
79th Street in West Allis
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail in Franklin





Goodbye to an Old Friend

October 6, 2019



Samson Vogt





2019 Oktoberfest in Tinley Park, IL
September 8, 2019




We're proud to have been the Saturday night headlining band for this event, which we estimate drew around 2,000 people — the largest crowd for which we've played to date. If you're looking for a spectacular Oktoberfest with everything but you can't quite get to Munich, the
Oktoberfest in Tinley Park, Illinois is the best thing!





Polkasound Studio Closing Its Doors

September 1, 2019

 
After thirty years of being in service, Polkasound Productions will be closing its doors to the public. The sharp decline in polka music sales over the last ten years has rendered professional studio recording economically unviable for most local bands. The studio will not be dismantled, but in April of 2020, it will become private for the exclusive use of Tom Brusky LLC.
 
Public notice to all past clients: Polkasound has shelves of multi-track studio projects on 1/4" reel-to-reel, 1/2" reel-to-reel, Super VHS, and IDE hard drive, as well as DAT and bin-loop duplication masters. YOU OWN THESE RECORDINGS, NOT POLKASOUND. If you want to save your recordings, you must take possession of them before April, 2020. Please
email to arrange for pickup. Recordings not collected will be destroyed. (Note: I do not have the capability to transfer music from these older formats to newer formats.)





Polka Artist's CD Gets Pulled

August 25, 2019


There is a Wisconsin polka accordionist who recently released an album of live music tracks. I will not reveal his name, but only say that he is a young, up-and-coming bandleader. Musically, he has a ways to go yet, but he is a likable, ambitious musician nonetheless. Since he was a teenager, he has been receiving support and encouragement from some of the best musicians and bandleaders in the business. Occasionally, the support he receives is in the form of talent. To give him a boost, established A-list musicians and bandleaders have performed with him on stage, sometimes as a paid sideman, sometimes gratis.

Earlier this summer, I played a job with him on drums. I've done it before. It's a small concert in a small town on a Monday night. I'm happy to have played these jobs, but I always played them under one very strict stipulation: no recording of the performance could be commercially distributed (made available to the general public.) I reminded him of this stipulation several times, which he acknowledged and clearly understood.

The other day, I discovered that he took audio from the concert, which he recorded on his phone, and commercially released it as an album on CD Baby. My photo was on the album cover as a member of his "band." Even though he was explicitly forbidden to do that, he did it anyway.

CD Baby has since removed his album from their website, and he has been instructed to remove the album from his Facebok page.


To use a musician's likeness and recorded performance for commercial gain without their consent is a violation of professionalism, but sometimes it's a mistake made by young musicians due to ignorance. To use a musician's likeness and performance against their express wishes, however, cannot be regarded as a mistake. It is a willful, flagrant betrayal of trust.

I harbor no ill will toward this young bandleader, yet, I must protect my rights as a professional musician. I will no longer perform with him, and I also must caution all other Wisconsin bandleaders and musicians that if you perform with him, it is at your own risk, because you may end up an unwitting, unwilling and unpaid session musician on his next album.

Bandleaders and musicians who need additional information are welcome to email me.






Three Original Christmas Songs Slated for December Release

August 20, 2019


I've been busy writing and producing three new songs for the Christmas season. All of them are in the same genre of music, but from different eras: the 1970s, the 1990s, and today. I'm not revealing at this point which genre of music it is, except I'll say that it's not polka. Each song will feature an amazing vocal performance from a different professional singer.

I don't have a specific release date set for the songs, but I aim to roll them out between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When the songs are released, you'll be able to hear them in their entirety on my website's music page, where you'll also have the option to purchase and download them. You'll also find them on all the major music download and streaming subscription services.

Speaking of my music, there are still some Positively Polka CDs available from the Mollie B Store. The album is barely more than a year old, but only a handful of CD copies remain. CDs will not be reordered after they've sold out. Due to CDs becoming obsolete, Positively Polka is my last album to be released on compact disc.

Incidentally, I saw that the album was included on the ballot for the 2019 National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame awards. I'm grateful it was considered for inclusion, however, I encourage all my friends and fans who are voting members to vote for another album on the ballot, not mine. An award given to me would be an award wasted, because I create music purely for the love of creating music, and the only awards for which I strive are the smiles and compliments I receive from people who enjoy my music. Trophies and plaques are best served going to musicians who proudly view and display them as symbols of achievement. I'm just not one of those musicians.
 
I ran into Joey Miskulin at a function a few months ago, and he took the time to acknowledge a song I wrote and share some high praise about the arrangement. That conversation was worth more to me than an entire wall full of Hall of Fame awards. Compliments like that are what encourage me to keep making music. Plaques and trophies can't do that.





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 buyers, but purchases by polka fans throughout Southeast Wisconsin have finally dwindled to the point where manufacturing CDs is no longer an economically viable avenue for most bands.

From the late 1990s to the late 2000s, I never had a problem recovering all of my recordings' production costs. 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 too low to recover production costs.

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 lucky to sell five. 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 music-buying 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 spend just enough money to record one or two songs, and then 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 royalties and download sales.

When the last of my Positively Polka CDs sell out at 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.

 

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 your new 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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