News & Editorial Archives, 2022

Why You Won't Find This Album on Any Ballots
December 7, 2022

I'm proud of the positive reception my album has received since its release five months ago. Mollie B has propelled album sales well beyond what I thought was possible in 2022, and this album has probably received more radio airplay than any of my albums over the last 33 years.

It was strongly suggested that I submit this album for awards, but I'm not going to do that. For reasons I will explain, I instructed both the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and the International Polka Association to leave my album off their ballots.

The polka industry has changed a lot over the last 15 years. It's is not dead by any means, but it's a shadow of what it once was. Comparatively few bands are recording professional studio albums these days, and the number of new, young artists coming into the fold is scant compared to the previous generation. These inevitable changes to the field of competition have made awards programs for polka musicians and albums, in my opinion, impractical.

Although an award win might come across as a notable achievement to the unwitting general public, to fellow musicians in the circuit, it's just fodder for ribbing. "Congratulations on your win. Did the other band not show up? Har har har!" It's all in jest, but there's no mistaking how different things are today.

Just like the polka industry has changed over the past 15 years, so have I. When I started my journey in the world of virtual instruments about ten years ago, I discovered tools that allowed me to unleash my creativity like never before. I branched out into all the different styles of music that influenced me as I grew up. The satisfaction of writing and composing music in those styles with authenticity is a reward greater than I could have ever imagined. It rekindled a joy to which no music award could hold a candle.

There are plenty of musicians in the polka industry who still believe in the prestige of music awards and find joy in winning them, so it only makes sense that they are the ones who win them. It would be a waste for any award to go to me. That is why I ask that my albums and efforts be stricken from ballots.

If you were hoping to vote for my album as your way of showing appreciation for it, there's something much more meaningful you can do — send an email. Let me know you enjoy it. A simple, personal compliment has infinitely more meaning than a vote for a trophy.

I speak only for myself on this issue. The other musicians and vocalists who appear on my albums are deserving of the highest accolades, so please consider voting for them in any category befitting their expertise. They are not only the most talented in the business, but they are also some of the hardest working and most reliable professionals I've had the pleasure of working with.

Social Media Free 11 Years Strong
December 5, 2022

Do you remember when I was an avid social media user? I was once on MySpace (and AOL before that) but it was in the late 2000s that some of you might remember seeing me as a regular on Facebook. In September of 2011, I deleted my Facebook account. By the end of the year, I was completely done with social media.

I quit social media for two reasons: privacy and health.


Social media services gather enormous volumes of data about their users. They know everything about you: what you say, what your interests are, who your friends are, who you communicate with, where you go, what businesses you frequent, etc. The more you use it, the more they learn about you. They then compile, store, and sell that information.

This data collection is intentionally unobtrusive. Even though it's roughly the equivalent of being followed everywhere by a complete stranger who stands over your shoulder and documents everything about your life, it's actually a silent, invisible process running in the background. The only indicator a social media service is gathering any data about you at all is found in the tiny print of their privacy policy.

People care about their privacy, but most only care to an extent. For them, the thrill of using social media outweighs any privacy concerns, so they turn a blind eye to the data collection and storage. My guess is that 99.99% of social media users have never read a privacy policy.


Most people use social media as a tool, but oftentimes it's the user that becomes the tool. Before I quit Facebook, I realized that most of the time I spent on it was wasted. Did I really need to learn that someone I haven't seen for five years had surgery on his foot? No. Did I really need to know what my neighbor had for lunch an hour ago? No. Likewise, I was certain none of these people needed or wanted to know the details of my life. Facebook was a fun way to pass time, but from a practical point of view, I realized it was not enriching my life.

When I quit, I lost contact with a lot of friends, but all I lost was the arbitrary contact. I didn't lose any of the necessary contact. My family and friends still reached me just fine in person, over the phone, and through email. I took the time I had freed up and used it to benefit my life offline.

Social media is convenient way to keep up with family and friends, but for people with personality disorders, it can become an addiction. Studies have shown that likes and comments trigger a dopamine rush which makes social media especially addictive to people with lowered self-esteem. Do you know someone who posts a lot of selfies? It doesn't take a psychologist to figure out what's going on.

For people with narcissistic personality disorder, social media become a necessary crutch in their lives. Since they're not emotionally strong enough to handle criticism and therefore have trouble maintaining relationships in real life, they'll put an exalted version of themselves out on social media and then gravitate toward strangers who can only see and respond to that exalted version. Someone with NPD may be egocentric, intolerant, and unempathetic in real life, but they'll portray themselves on social media as loving, giving, and compassionate. This portrayal creates a protective bubble of positive-only, non-critical feedback.

If I ever do return to social media, it will need to be paid service — I would rather pay for privacy with my money than pay for a free service with my privacy. Until then, I'm perfectly happy using my website to convey everything I want to share.
My news page gets a lot of hits every day. I find that a surprising considering the world today is dominated by social media, but maybe it's because I'm a musician still delivering information the old fashioned way — instead of cramming your news feed full of filler, I'm selectively creating content for you to come read whenever it's convenient for you.

As long as that works for you, it will work for me, too.



Are Virtual Instrument Libraries Overpriced? I Say Whine Not
November 21, 2022

Note: This is an industry-specific topic that may not appeal to the general public.

Every now and then, in a music forum somewhere on the internet, you'll find a musician whining: "Why does Developer ABC charge $500 for their virtual instrument library when Developer XYZ sells their library of the same instrument for $250? If any developer charges more than $250, they're obviously greedy. If ABC wants my business, they'll have to cut their price in half."

These complaints all scream the same thing: "I have very little experience as a VI composer, absolutely no experience in business, and I'm completely clueless about economics... but I'm going to tell everyone in this industry things should be done anyway."

If you'll please indulge me, here's my response to all the like-minded whiners:

Not all products are created equal. If I wanted to create, say, a symphonic string ensemble library, there are unlimited ways I could go about it. I could create it from free samples found on the internet. I could also hire an orchestra, rent a movie scoring stage, hire a team of recording engineers and scripters, record ten times as many samples as other libraries for ultra-deep sampling, etc. The first option would cost me nothing, whereas the second option would cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you're not experienced enough to hear, appreciate, and understand the time, money, and effort that went into that second library, you have no business telling me that my retail price for that library is too high.

That $500 library exists for a reason — the basic economics of supply and demand. If one string ensemble library offers two dynamic layers and the other library offers four or five, you may not hear or care about the difference, but a discerning composer will, and they'll be willing to pay the higher cost to cover the expense of creating such a library. How can you possibly suggest a library is overpriced if it is actively and successfully selling at that price?

You're not a virtual instrument industry expert. You've never sat on the board of a large developer. You've never researched, financed, developed, marketed, and sold a virtual instrument library. Your only experience with virtual instrument libraries is that of a consumer. So, while your outspoken complaints about retail prices might make you a hero among some of your fellow cash-strapped, inexperienced peers, if you're going to set foot in a forum full of industry experts and start suggesting they're overpricing their products, don't expect the same hero's welcome. You're just going to be passed off as a troll.

My personal belief is that these complaints are borne from a sense of entitlement. All young, budding bedroom music composers wish they could have the same tools as professional composers, but few can afford them. This is normal. We all start out as poor musicians, and it can take us years, even decades, to work up to the level of being able to afford higher priced tools of our trade. That's how the world works. But entitled kids today want the high-priced tools NOW. Instead of learning from the tools they have available to them, they'd rather waste their time making spiteful comments about the tools they wish they had.

I started out in the recording business as a young person working a minimum wage job. A lot of my equipment was borrowed. As the years went by, I took out loans and invested in better equipment. Through the years since, I worked hard and have become able to purchase the tools I need to do what I want to do. It clearly wasn't an overnight process.

If you cannot afford the virtual instruments you want today, stop whining about how expensive they are and focus your time and energy on developing your skills with what you already have. The experience you'll gain learning how to make cheaper libraries sound their best will benefit you much more than you realize. My first productions forced me to find ways of squeezing realism out of the basic libraries I could afford at that time. The money I made from those productions, along with the skills I developed using those libraries, were then invested into the more comprehensive, more expensive libraries I use today.

There's nothing wrong with having and sharing an opinion about the price of a particular product, but the quickest way to making a complete jackass of yourself is to claim you know what's best for an entire industry when you have absolutely no experience in that industry to support your opinion.


Polka Paradise CDs Couldn't Escape USPS Hell
November 2, 2022

Toward the end of September, a polka artist asked me to ship a box of "Escape to Polka Paradise" CDs to the hotel where she was staying in Minot, North Dakota. She needed them by 5pm, October 1, because that's when her bus was departing for Georgia on the next leg of her tour. I promptly shipped off a box of 92 CDs.

Right before her bus left the hotel, she called the front desk one last time and inquired about the package. The gentleman at the desk said no packages had arrived for her, so she left Minot without the CDs. As she was leaving North Dakota, she contacted me to tell me the CDs never arrived.

I got home later that night and checked the tracking number on the package of CDs. The number confirmed the package arrived at her hotel that morning. I called the hotel and the same gentleman reiterated the CD package never arrived, but when I told him it DID arrive, he immediately found it and apologized. I asked him to send it back to me, which he said he'd take care of right away.

On October 12, after still not having received the CDs, I contacted the hotel to find out what the status was but couldn't get a hold of the gentleman who was to have mailed them back to me. Over the next week, I tried to get a hold of him, but was unsuccessful. On October 18, I escalated the issue to the hotel manager. The manager found the box of CDs still sitting there. She apologized and said she'd have their regional manager take care of sending back the CDs right away.

I tried for a week to get a tracking number from the hotel, but they never returned my calls. Finally on October 21, the hotel manager called to say the CDs were shipped back using "Return to Sender". The original tracking number worked on the return, so I was able to watch the progress of the return — and what a ride those CDs took!

On October 18, the package was processed for return shipping. It arrived in Milwaukee on October 25. But then then the post office sent it to Minot, ND again and brought it back to Milwaukee, finally delivering it on November 2... postage due!

The box look like it had been through a war. When I opened it up, the contents were a disaster. Of the 92 CDs I sent, over three dozen were missing. Of the remaining CDs, over two dozen were too damaged to sell. The CDs were loose in the box. Almost all of the air bubble padding was missing.

When I pack wholesale CDs for shipping, ask any retailer and they'll tell you I pack them extremely well. I have a huge supply of bubble wrap, air pillows, and foam peanuts, and I use them liberally. For USPS to destroy a box of my CDs, they'd have to exercise some excessively negligent handling. It looks as though the box was tossed from such a great height that the CDs literally burst through the bottom of the box. I think postal workers probably then picked up what CDs they could salvage, tossed them into the box as-is, and swept of the rest of the broken jewel cases, scratched CDs, and packing material into a garbage heap.

Needless to say, I'm not thrilled. Everyone but me screwed up, and so far it's all come out of my pocket. That doesn't sit too well with me. I'm going to seek full shipping reimbursement from the hotel, and I'll be going after the post office for the destroyed and missing merchandise. If you are wondering whether or not I insured the package, I did not. There was no risk of porch piracy, and I pack CDs well enough to survive the roughest ground or air travel. I did not, however, ship these CDs with the expectation they'd be dropped from a three-story building, or that they'd get hauled to North Dakota twice and back to Wisconsin twice.

Those of you who know me best know that I am not a pushover when it comes to customer service. I've spent many years on both sides of the customer service counter. I know how to handle and solve problems like these, so as a customer, I expect to be treated as fairly and properly as I would treat a customer in my same situation.

I'll be posting updates on this debacle in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!


December 27: I have not yet received a reply from the CEO, so I mailed out a second batch of letters to the hotel's corporate headquarters as well as a copy to the hotel in North Dakota as added insurance. If they do not respond by February 1 with any sort of an answer, I will pursue a small claims civil suit. Do I have the time? Hardly. Does my life depend on recovering fifty bucks in postage? Certainly not. But this is a matter of principle. If I don't stand up for what's right, then I'm advocating that it's OK for corporations to screw people out of their hard-earned money. My integrity won't allow me to do that.

January 24: I received a check from the hotel in North Dakota for the amount I was asking. The note on the check stub stated it was reimbursement for shipping and damage, however, I don't hold the hotel responsible for any damage — I blame the Post Office for the missing and broken CDs. Unfortunately there's no recourse for that because you can't sue the Post Office for negligent handling of mail. Since the hotel has taken responsibility for their part in this matter, I will not be making public the name of the hotel, parent company, or any persons involved. I consider this matter to be resolved and closed.


What's the Best...?
October 16, 2022

I belong to several internet discussion forums related to music production, and if there's one question that keeps coming up in every forum, it's "What's the best...?" What's the best microphone for... what's the best preamp for... what's the best virtual instrument library for... what's the best audio cable for... what's the best reverb plugin for... etc. If I earned a nickel for every question posted that starts with "What's the best," I could retire from music.

There's a perfectly good reason why these questions are so common.

Unlike going to school to become a doctor, lawyer, or architect, music production is something most people get into as a hobby with no formal training. Without any idea of what it takes to be a music producer or engineer, they buy a few pieces of gear to get started and learn as they go along. While there's nothing wrong with that, people who start this way don't know what they don't know, so they tend to put far more importance on gear than knowledge. They often latch onto the common misconception that when it comes to music hardware and software, there is a definitive best this and a best that, and if they can only discover what these best tools are and buy them, they'll sound like a pro.

So they jump on the internet and ask questions like, "What's the best mic for recording vocals?" or "What's the best string ensemble library for film composing?" hoping to be graced by the industry's elusive keys to success. But then reality sets in when a hundred people respond with a hundred different answers.

The fact that every answer is different has a very profound meaning — there are no bests. There are only choices, and in order to choose wisely, one needs knowledge. It's a humbling revelation for young producers and engineers. The stars in their eyes start to dim as they realize no particular piece of software or hardware on earth is going to put them ahead of the curve.

Unfortunately, the retail music industry preys on these inexperienced, wide-eyed music creators. Manufacturers advertise that if you want to give your music a professional edge, their product is the shortcut. And it doesn't help that the internet is flooded with self-proclaimed "experts" who puff up their chests and parrot what they read in those advertisements. But the cold, hard truth is that $200,000 worth of gear in the hands of an inexperienced music creator won't hold a candle to what an experienced creator can do with $2,000 worth of gear.

When I work with artists who record remotely in their own studios, I'm not nearly as concerned about the gear they use as I am about whether or not they know how to use that gear. If they have an acoustically-treated recording space, know how to place mics, and know how to set input and output levels, then the fact that they're using a $350 mic instead of a $3,500 mic is largely inconsequential.

If you're new to music production, don't let the hyped product advertising and internet forum cork sniffers steer you into investing over and beyond your needs. Whether it's a microphone or software plugin, focus on learning how to get the best sound possible with what you already have. At some point your hearing may become refined to where a gear upgrade is warranted, but don't upgrade your gear because others say it will make you sound better — wait until you have gained the knowledge to understand how and why it will.


How "Escape" Became My 2nd Best-Selling Album in Just Seven Weeks
September 12, 2022

Every now and then, someone will ask me why I released Escape to Polka Paradise on CD when, just a few years ago, I said I would never release another album on CD.

After releasing Escape to Polka Paradise, it took me six weeks to make my first sale off the stage. To date, I've sold only 5 copies of the new CD off the stage, and yet, wholesale orders have made Escape to Polka Paradise my 2nd best-selling album of all time. How is such disparity even possible?

First, let's look at why locally-based bands like mine sell very few CDs off the stage today. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, polka CDs sold like gangbusters. There were more people attending dances and buying albums, more venues in which to play, more retailers, the internet was young [YouTube didn't yet exist] and cars were still coming off the assembly line with CD players. Every local dance hall circuit had enough polka music consumers to make album production viable for almost any band in that circuit.

Within just a few years, however, all of that changed:

  • Downloads and streaming pushed compact discs into obsolescence (although this mainly affected mainstream music, not polka music.)

  • CD players in cars were phased out in favor of auxiliary inputs for portable MP3 players and later Bluetooth technology.

  • The polka fan base continued waxing older, and more and more dancers and supporters passed away or stopped traveling to dances.

  • Polka music flourished on cable TV, internet radio, satellite radio, and on-demand streaming services

The demand for polka CDs waned considerably through the 2010s. One by one, online and mail-order polka music retail businesses folded. Many bands stopped recording albums. I was one of those bands who experienced the dramatic drop in album sales, and in 2018, I vowed that Positively Polka would be my very last album released on CD.

But then, in 2020, a unique thing happened — Mollie B ordered a bunch more Positively Polka CDs. Then Polka Parade placed an order for their membership renewal enhancer. Then Polka Connection ordered more. When all was said and done, I had broken even on the album... a goal I had previously deemed unattainable.

I was thrilled, but also surprised because I am a locally-based, non-touring polka band. Album sales, from the perspective of bands like mine, are dead. The only bands capable of profiting from recording and releasing professional studio albums today are the more popular traveling/touring bands that reach polka music consumers far beyond any one local circuit. Alex Meixner, Box On, Steve Meisner, and Polka Family, for example, have a reach that extends well outside their home base.

Ted Lange and Mollie B's band, Squeezebox, is just such a band. But they're not just a successful touring band — Ted and Mollie have worked hard promoting polka music both on and off the road. Over a span of many years, they've cultivated and grown an enormous base of loyal, supportive fans all over the world. When Mollie started taking my music to her fans, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on sales. It turned out to be quite profound.

Sales of Positively Polka exceeded my expectations, and today, sales of Escape to Polka Paradise are exceeding my expectations to an even greater extent. I'll humbly take credit for writing and producing a good album, but even the best albums won't go anywhere if someone doesn't do an exceptional job of marketing them. The two biggest factors in the success of Escape to Polka Paradise are Ted and Mollie's hard work and the generosity of their fans. Without these factors, my album would literally not exist, because I never would have produced it. My albums cost thousands of dollars to produce, which means I have to sell hundreds of units to break even. No non-touring polka musician like me can achieve sales numbers like that in 2022, but thanks to Mollie, Ted, and their fans, polka album production for me is an economically viable pursuit.

Also extremely important in the album's success is the role of polka music retailers. In an age where polka bands can no longer generate enough album sales in their local dance hall circuit, retailers do the job of making those bands' albums available to the rest of the world. The hard work they do is a labor of love, and it is especially vital to the preservation of polka music. The next time you order a CD from Cy's Music, Jimmy K Polkas, Polka Connection, or anywhere else polka albums are being sold, please include a note of thanks with your order.

A third reason Escape to Polka Paradise is thriving in 2022 is due to Polka Parade and the generous support of all the Polka Parade Pals who renewed their membership this year. Many donated a little extra to receive complimentary polka CDs from Polka Parade, including my new album. The support from those Polka Pals is not only helping keep polka radio on the air in Milwaukee, but it also helped make my album possible.

Radio shows and DJs also continue to play a vital role in polka music sales. Most DJs announce album releases and where they can be purchased. Escape to Polka Paradise has been receiving a lot of airplay all over the county on both terrestrial and internet radio, thanks to all the supportive DJs and radio show producers.

Without the assistance of all the people above, nothing I'd release on CD would go anywhere. I'm not a marketer, and I'm admittedly no good at self promotion or putting myself in the spotlight. What I can do, however, is write and produce music. So that's what I do. I create the music, and then I leave it in the hands of those who can take that music to the people. It's because of all this assistance that Escape to Polka Paradise has become a commercial success in such an amazingly short period of time.

Why I believe CDs are still the most popular format for polka albums today:

Despite the fact newer cars don't have CD players, and CD players are not standard equipment in home theater systems, CDs remain the most popular choice of format for polka music aficianados today. Why?

Music streaming gives listeners instant, on-demand access to just about every song ever released. While this is as good as it gets for convenience, there'a a coldness to the process. Something's missing.

Think back to the days of LPs. Buying, opening, and playing a vinyl record was an experience. There was a feeling of engagement with the music and the artist that came from owning a physical album. From the enjoyment of the artwork to the scent of the jacket, there was more to the process than just listening to the music.

Thankfully, young people today are discovering this phenomenon. Even though streaming is still the most popular music format, physical album sales have been soaring since the pandemic. In 2020, vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time since 1986. In 2021, global vinyl records sales surged to exceed $1 billion in sales, yet CDs still enjoyed a remarkable 21% increase in sales.

   Most Popular Music Formats in U.S. by Year:

   1973-1983: LPs
   1984-1990: Cassette Tapes
   1991-2011: CDs
   2012-2014: Downloads
   2015-    : Streaming


CDs, in my opinion, are the perfect album format. They're like records, but more compact, portable, they hold more music, and they're less prone to playback issues. They contain artwork, liner notes, credits, and and everything else you'd expect to find. Buying, opening, and playing one is an experience. When I talk to people in the polka circuit, that sentiment is almost unanimous.

There's something special about holding an album in your hands, reading it, popping it in the CD player, and dedicating a moment in time just for the playback of that album. It's no wonder the compact disc dominated music sales for two decades, and only ten years later, thanks to the influence of vinyl, is already poised to start making a comeback.

Shepherd Express Article
August 20, 2022

An article just came out in the Shepherd Express about my latest release, and my thoughts about polka music in general. I'm not one to promote the media attention I get (which is ironic considering I work in the entertainment business!) but the article was very well written. Jamie Lee Rake has a real flair for writing, and he's always been a friend to polka music.

Article link: "Tom Brusky Escapes to Polka Paradise"

There are just a couple of things in the article I need to clarify/correct:

  • The article says Escape to Polka Paradise is my first collection of original tunes since 2018's Positively Polka, but Country Christmas Collection, which I released in 2019, is an EP of original songs.

  • My comment about wishing my older albums were laid to rest in an unmarked grave has nothing to do with mechanical licensing. The article inadvertently conjoins two independent thoughts. The only reason I'd prefer my old albums buried because I've musically evolved a lot over the years, and my early albums are no longer an accurate reflection of my work as an artist or producer. A comment I made to the author regarding mechanical licensing explained that if I were to digitally re-release any of my earlier albums, I wouldn't sell enough downloads to recover the cost of licensing the cover songs on those albums.

Snickers Brusky Memorial Fundraiser (and Dance!)
August 10, 2022

To honor the memory of my beloved cat Snickers who passed away in 2021, I am running a fundraiser to raise money for Happy Endings No-Kill Cat Shelter in Milwaukee. The fundraiser will run through August 30, ending with a polka-variety dance at Pat's Oak Manor in South Milwaukee.

For more information and to donate, please go to the fundraiser website: Snickers Brusky Memorial Fundraiser

Major Change to Band for 2023
August 9, 2022

I'm making a significant change to my band that I have contemplated over the past few years. Since my band started gigging back in the mid 1990s, we've prided ourselves on delivering the classic Milwaukee polka sound to both the largest and smallest of venues. We're going to keep delivering that sound, but starting in 2023, we'll be delivering it as a duo for smaller venues only. We will no longer be playing larger events and concerts as a three- or four-piece band.

There are a couple of main reasons why I am making this change:

1. Polka musicans, especially during the Oktoberfest season, are in very short supply. Since they are independent contractors free to take any job with any band, most will take the first offer that comes in. When all the best musicians are taken, it can be impossible for a bandleader to put a full band together.

2. Over the past 25 years in gymnasiums, beer tents, and pavilions, I've been cranking myself through a powered monitor so I could hear myself over the other musicians and crowd noise, but when I do that, I lose the ability to discern pitch. It's always been a struggle for me to hear what I'm playing or singing in noisy environments, and I'm done fighting against the noise. I find playing as a two-piece band in places like small clubs, senior residences, and at outdoor gatherings to be the most enjoyable because we can hold the volume on stage to a comfortable level.

We may still play one or two special events a year with a full-size band, but most of the jobs we currently play as a three- or four-piece band will either be re-contracted for the two-piece band or passed on to other bands. We're going to focus instead on backyard parties, wedding reception cocktail hours, assisted living facilities, beer gardens, fundraisers, and anywhere else a smaller, more affordable band will be a good fit.

New Album Released!
July 17, 2022

I'm thrilled to announce the release of my 17th studio album, Escape to Polka Paradise. I started production on this album in Spring of 2021, and officially released it on July 15, 2022.

Link: Escape to Polka Paradise

Royalty Payments Hit a New Low
July 11, 2022

A couple years ago, I posted an article lamenting about some digital streaming royalty payments had dropped as low as $0.0001. That's one one-thousandth of a cent. At the time, I joked about how payments would eventually hit $0. Guess what?

Luckiest Brake Failure Ever
June 23, 2022

Last Saturday, I was traveling to Willard for the Polkafest and decided to stop at the Qwik Trip in Fond Du Lac for gas. As I was pulling out of the gas station and rounding the corner to get on the highway leading back to the freeway on-ramp, my car's brakes suddenly failed — not partially, but completely.

What makes the timing of the brake failure so fortunate is that, just minutes before, I had exited a freeway at 70MPH and wound my way though a very crowded gas station. My brakes didn't fail until after I had filled up with gas and was exiting the station traveling 15MPH up a shallow incline. I simply put my car in neutral until it rolled to a stop.

New Polka Album Done, Expected to Ship Mid-July
June 21, 2022

My upcoming album "Escape to Polka Paradise"  has been mixed, mastered, and sent off for CD manufacturing. I didn't take into account how the economy and labor shortage is affecting that aspect of the music business, so the CD pressing will take about a week longer than anticipated. I expect to have retail-ready CDs in hand by the 2nd full week of July. Please allow another week for me to ship wholesale orders off to retailers, and then they should be in stock everywhere.

This album's production has had more ups and downs than any other of my releases over the past 33 years. Those of you who have followed the journey on my blog since the beginning know that the album originally started as a collaboration between myself and a vocalist friend from outside the polka genre who quit mid-production due to mental health reasons. Out of concern, many of you have inquired of the status of her health, and I thank you for that. [It's that very kindness that makes me proud to be in the polka circuit with all of you!]

I'm sorry to say I do not know her health status as I have not spoken with her since January. When she ended our friendship over a misunderstanding, she didn't just burn the bridge between us — she was in a very fragile state of mind at that time and obliterated the bridge with a 10-kiloton bomb. At some point since, she did return to social media, which I recognize as a sign that she's at least out of danger. Still, prayers are requested as her journey toward healing will undoubtedly continue to be a long and arduous one. But I believe she will get there someday, and I also believe she is destined to do great things in the future.

When my friend left the project, Mollie B stepped up to fill the vacancy, and I am extremely grateful for the phenomenal job Mollie did. I am also very thankful to Betillo Arellano, Abby Broeniman, and Dawn Jones for taking the reins on such short notice to command the lead on several vocal numbers. They, along with Andrea Ehlinger and Steve Meisner, elevated the production of this album to the highest professional standards with their exceptional vocal talent. When you add the instrumental talent of David Austin, Don Hunjadi, and Ed Klancnik into the list of credits, you've got yourself one hell of a polka album, and I say that unabashedly — I'm really proud of how this one turned out!

During the last six weeks of production, I had a family situation that took priority over everything. I won't share more than to say my duties as a family member required almost all of my waking hours from day to day. I still managed to work on the album, though, by cutting into my early morning sleep hours. That probably wasn't the best move from a health standpoint, but I was committed to getting this project done as so many people have been patiently waiting all year for it.

A few of the contributors to this album had to take time off for personal reasons as well, so it just goes to show that there's never a guarantee the production of a studio album is going to go as smoothly as glass. It usually doesn't. But I wasn't worried, because the vocalist and musicians I hired are as professional in their work ethic as they are in talent.

Here's a little bit more about the album:

Escape to Polka Paradise is an album of 20 original songs — 18 newly-written songs plus two previously-released digital singles. The two singles are "My Daddy Lives On" (2022) and a modern remix of "Cruisin' in My Crown Vic" (2022). The total length of the album is just over an hour.

In past blog articles, I wrote that one of the vocalists on this album was going to be Dee Wolf. The song Dee sang is in the style of blues-rock, but I felt it was a little too out-of-place for this album, so I omitted the song from the album and will be instead be releasing it later this summer as a digital single.

The album is mainly Slovenian-style polkas and waltzes. Half the polkas and waltzes are vocal numbers, and the other half are instrumentals. The polkas have the solid, driving Cleveland sound you've come to expect, with two of them possessing a unique, hybrid Cleveland–Oberkrainer sound. The waltzes are the same, with some of them embellished by string ensembles. Several of the vocal numbers were arranged with three-part harmonies shared by Abby, Betillo, Dawn, and Mollie.

One of the waltzes is an epic rendition of an Eastern European-style folk song beautifully sung by Andrea Ehlinger. Andrea in a singer/songwriter who studied vocal performance and theater at UW-Milwaukee.

The album will be made available only on CD and via digital download. It will not be submitted to any streaming or subscription services until 2023.

Barring any unforeseen delays, you can expect me to announce the official release of this album to likely be sometime during the week of July 17-23.

Thank you all for your patience over these past few months!

New Album Title and Cover "Leaked"
May 19, 2022

For those of you who are anxiously awaiting the release of this CD, you're getting a rare sneak peek at the artwork for the cover.

Normally when I am working on a new single or album, I'll share some general information about it, but the title, song list, and graphic design will remain under wraps until the day of the release. This time around, a draft of the cover was released early to the public. I won't say who released it, except that her name rhymes with "golly gee!" Hahahahah! But seriously, a simple miscommunication between Mollie and me led to the title and design being revealed a little earlier than I had anticipated. No big deal. I'm proud of how the cover turned out, so I'm happy to show it in advance.

The cover design conveys a very simple concept: The music and vocals on this album, performed by the best in the business, will elevate your mood and take you to your happy place — your polka paradise.

So there it is... the album in production is called Escape to Polka Paradise.

Funny thing about the photo shoot — it was taken on top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Right after the photo was taken, a squirrel jumped up onto the log. It spooked Mollie, who then accidentally knocked my accordion off the log. The accordion tumbled down the steep western slope of the mountain, where we all watched it disappear below the cloud layer. We later found it, mostly intact, sitting on a rocky outcrop. Since the accident was caught on video, Mollie now holds the official Guiness World Record for the farthest-thrown accordion: 1,148 feet.

Believe It, or Not!

[I strongly suggest you don't. But hey, if you want to know who probably holds the world record for the longest distance of travel achieved by a Leslie speaker, ask Steve Meisner.]

The production of my album is moving along on schedule, so I expect to release it somewhere around the very end of June. That's just an estimate though; it's not a promise. It will be available on compact disc at Jimmy K Polkas, the Mollie B store, Polka Connection, and other fine polka music retailers.

New Single Released!
May 17, 2022

Production of Album Moving Along
May 4, 2022

The past few days, I've been spending 8+ hours in my studio polishing various tracks and moving several steps toward the mixing phase. Some recording needs to be done yet, but I estimate the album is about 93% tracked.

One of the latest tasks I've been working on is processing recorded vocal tracks in preparation for mixing. This step gives me an idea for how the final product will sound. Most recently I've been working with Mollie B's vocal tracks. Using all the dimensions of her voice, Mollie crafted her vocal tracks — both lead and harmonies — to fit each song like a glove. The same goes for all the other vocalists and musicians, and that's why I can't wait to release this album.

The duet between Steve Meisner and Abby Broeniman is already creating a bit of a buzz. Their reputation for being two of the best in the business goes without saying, so I certainly hope my song and arrangement does them justice.

And you all remember the golden voice behind my 2018 Disney-flavored duet with Mollie — that's Betillo Arellano, and he's coming back for this album. I like working with Betillo because his classical training brings such a welcome change of pace to this genre. He'll be showcasing his vocals on two waltzes.

[Betillo is also recording a non-polka single with me. It's a beautiful, powerful, vocal-centric duet with a California-based artist. More info on that will come in the weeks ahead.]

One of the songs that I think will particularly pique the interest of listeners is a waltz sung by Andrea Ehlinger. It's unlike anything I've done before. It's big. It's almost bombastic. Only a vocalist like Andrea could make it work, and she sang it to perfection.

After all these years, it still never ceases to thrill me to hear my arrangements come to life through the interpretation and talent of such incredibly gifted and hard-working vocalists and musicians. Everyone brings their own style to the production, and as I sit in the engineer's chair and put it all together, I feel grateful and honored to be working with the best.


Arthur's Insulin Schedule vs. My Schedule
April 22, 2022

Managing diabetes in a cat takes commitment, because the cat needs insulin twice a day, 12 hours apart, without fail. For most people, this is manageable, but I didn't realize how much it would affect my freelance work as a musician.

Since 95% of my jobs are in the afternoon or evening, Arthur's insulin schedule is set for approximately 1:30pm and 1:30am every day. This allows me to play both night jobs and afternoon jobs. But what about jobs where I have to leave earlier in the morning, or traveling jobs where I'd be gone for more than 12 hours? As it turns out, some of those jobs I simply can't take.

Already this year, I've had to turn down offers for over a half-dozen sideman gigs — work that I otherwise would have taken — because the gigs would have had me on the road or performing during the time Arthur was due for his insulin.

During the course of a week, I can gradually slide Arthur's insulin schedule forward or backward, but that only works when all of my jobs on a weekend are earlier or later. What Arthur's insulin schedule prevents me from doing is mixing both early and late jobs on the same weekend.

I always have the option of boarding Arthur, but the expense of boarding a special needs cat, plus the stress Arthur would experience being boarded all day and overnight, makes most gigs not worth taking.

I'm hoping that with proper diet and insulin treatment, someday Arthur's diabetes will go into remission. That would be fantastic. But until or unless that happens, he will continue to require daily care. He is a member of the family, so his health and well-being is my #1 priority.

RIAA Designates New Record Certifications
April 1, 2022


Under increasing pressure from the American Polka Hall of Fame, the Recording Industry Association of America has decided to add new certifications to its existing designations of gold, platinum, and diamond records based on sales.

"Just because Hank Fartzmueller & the Hoolerie Playboys can't sell as many albums as Taylor Swift, they shouldn't be denied official recognition for the music they do sell," said APHF president Leonard Wysocki.

Currently, the RIAA only certifies albums as follows:

      10,000,000 units = Diamond Album
1,000,000 units = Platinum Album
500,000 units = Gold Album

Beginning April 1, 2022, the new RIAA certifications will add the following designations:

      250,000 units = Silver Album
      100,000 units = Bronze Album
      50,000 units = Copper Album
      10,000 units = Steel Album
      5,000 units = Aluminum Album
      1,000 units = Concrete Album
      500 units = Wood Album
      100 units = Sod Album

"Imagine being able to advertise your polka album has having gone Concrete, or even just Double Sod," exclaimed an ecstatic Wysocki. "Think of the prestige that will bring to the nation's current top-selling polka bands!"


U.S. Prepares for Putin to Invade Metaverse
April 1, 2022


"Everything is going according to plan," cackled Russian President Vladimir Putin as he slowly stroked a white, long-haired cat on his lap.

Putin, who is new to the metaverse, met with his military advisors on Monday to strategize how to conquer the unfamiliar territory. The meeting ended with Russian soldiers hacking into a virtual Facebook meeting and giving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's avatar a wedgie.

President Joe Biden deemed the wedgie an act of war, and has put the U.S. military is on high alert for a full-scale Russian invasion of the metaverse.

"Putin thinks he can do whatever he wants," said Biden. "He thinks he can waltz into the metaverse and take it over, but he doesn't know what he's up against. We've got gamers. Lots of 'em." Biden is calling on the nation's video gamers to unite and stand up against Putin's soldiers in the metaverse.

Ethan Wilkerson, 14, of Maple Grove, Minnesota has been selected by General Todd Loeffel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lead an army of 2.8 million gamers.

Wilkerson is well-known in the gaming community for his exceptional skills on the virtual battlefield. He is credited with single-handedly defeating an entire legion of ancient Roman zombies by arming Level 6 power cells with volatile Zibanium crystals, and launching them at the zombies' mothership control pods using the tails of captured Grogoniak dragons.

"That's the kind of forward-thinking that makes him a leader," said Loeffel. "Putin's soldier avatars will be no match for the mercenaries, wizards, and cyborgs under Wilkerson's direction."

Wilkerson's parents, Steve and Elizabeth, are proud of their son's leadership role.

"We always knew his excellence at gaming would lead to greatness. OK, that's not actually true. We tried for years to get him out of the basement and go outside to experience life in the real world, but we never expected he would be called upon to crush the Russian military in places like Hyrule Castle, Golem City, or Anor Lando," beamed a proud Elizabeth Wilkerson. "Nobody can fight on a deserted, post-apocalyptic moon base like our Ethan."

"But there are strict rules," added Steve. "No wars may be fought after 10pm on school nights, and no giving battlefield orders from the dinner table."

Aw, gee Dad," mumbled the gaming world's top military leader.

US Postal Service Butchers New Polka Stamp Designs
April 1, 2022

"Where do I begin?" complained Martin Lisowski, president of American Polka Association, in response to the U.S. Postal Service's new designs honoring America's polka music heritage. "Every stamp is screwed up! They misspelled Frankie Yankovic's name, the accordion is upside down, the dancers are Tibetan, and how many polka bands do you know feature a flugelhorn?"

We reached out to Postmaster General Gary Cochran for an explanation.

"We apologize for the errors on the Polka stamps," said Cochran, "but the US Postal Service only had a budget of $1,000 to get the stamps designed. We blew through that budget in ten minutes, so my neighbor's kid offered to grab some pictures from the internet and improvise the rest for fifty bucks. To be honest, Mr. Lisowski's complaint is the only one we've received."


FuboTV Charges On My Credit Card
March 3, 2022

Today I found a couple of fraudulent charges on my credit card statement, both from "FuboTV Inc." I talked to the fraud department at my credit card company, and the gentleman there informed me that someone charged for those services using a digital wallet. He then asked me if I authorized my card for use with a digital wallet, and my response was, "I don't know what that is."

He explained, "It's a mobile app like Apple Pay".

I replied, "I still don't know what that is. I have a landline and I pay my bills by sending checks through the mail."

There was a brief moment of silence.

I'm old-school. I won't use a mobile device to conduct financial transactions. Sure, it's convenient and there are security measures in place, but I refuse to store or transmit any personal information on a mobile device that shares other apps. If I lost my phone, the most information anyone could get from it is my contacts list and maybe a short call log. There would be no social media accounts to access, no emails to read, and no GPS trails to see. I don't use my phone for anything except calling, texting, and using the calculator. But I'm unwavering when it comes to my privacy and security. I won't even file my taxes electronically. Whenever a document involves a social security number, I personally take the document to the post office and mail it.

Based on transaction data, I believe my credit card number was skimmed at a car wash in New Berlin. This would be the second time my credit card number was skimmed, with the first being at a local gas station several years ago. This is one of the reasons I almost never use my credit card to make offline purchases. Whereas most people use theirs every day, I use mine about a dozen times a year.

I plan on going back to that car wash, but I'll be bringing rolls of quarters, just like the old days.

Missing Snickers
February 22, 2022

It's now been two months since Snickers has passed away. Life is moving along, but it goes without saying that Snickers is greatly missed. My home is so quiet without him. He truly was the master of the house. Everything ran on his schedule, not mine.

Arthur is doing well, but I can tell he misses his brother. There are times I'll come home and walk in through the door, and Arthur will sit and wait for Snickers to walk in behind me. Sometimes when I place Arthur's dinner bowl on the ground, he'll pause and wait for Snickers to come into the kitchen as dine with him as had been the routine for so many years.

My primary focus right now is on Arthur's health. Arthur is a diabetic cat who requires insulin injections twice a day. I'm going to be trying a new insulin to make the injections more tolerable for Arthur, but the cost is prohibitive — whereas the cheap insulin costs just over $200/year, the new insulin will cost about $1,000/year. If the new insulin works better, than that's what he's going to get. Snickers and Arthur always got the very best healthcare available, and that will certainly continue for Arthur.

Update February 24: Fundraiser to Be Planned

Today I stopped at Happy Endings, a no-kill cat shelter on 53rd & Forest Home Avenue in Milwaukee, to donate Snickers' canned prescription food. I had never been there before, and was impressed with their operation. The facility was clean, the cats were happy, and their president with whom I spoke was as kind and professional as could be. I've decided to make Happy Endings the beneficiary of the 2022 Snickers Brusky Memorial Fundraiser.

After Kittling passed away in 2009, I ran an annual fundraiser in her honor which benefitted two West Allis cat shelters. I'm going to run a similar fundraiser this summer in honor of Snickers. It will start sometime in July and end on his birthday, August 10th. My goal is to raise at least $880.00 for the shelter, which is what the Kittling Fundraiser raised in its last year.

More information on this fundraiser will be posted in the months ahead.



New Single Released!
February 16, 2022


Help Support My Upcoming Album's Production
February 19, 2022

Recording a professional caliber polka album typically costs a few thousand dollars. To help offset the production costs of my upcoming album, I'm offering an opportunity for anyone to purchase the naming rights to seven of the album's instrumental polkas and waltzes.

Tony's Polka, Kramer's Polka, My Alice Waltz, Grandpa John's Polka, Emily's Waltz, My Darling Ann, Schneider Polka... all of these songs were named after someone. Traditionally, to have a song named after you, you either had to be personally endeared to a songwriter or wealthy enough to finance the production of an entire album. My upcoming album has four instrumental polkas and three instrumental waltzes that do not yet have titles. If you've ever wanted to have a song named after you or a loved one, I'm offering that opportunity for $199.

For example, let's say you have a granddaughter Sophie. For her birthday, you want to give her something extra special, so you have one of the waltzes on my upcoming album named "Sophie's Waltz". On Sophie's birthday, you hand her a CD and an official certificate acknowledging the song is named after her. "Sophie's Waltz" will become the permanent title of the song, so not only will it be listed on my album as "Sophie's Waltz", but no matter who performs or records it in the future, that song will always and forever bear your granddaughter's name.

This would make a unique gift not just for a grandchild, but would be a great way to honor a parent, friend, favorite pet, or even to give as a gift to yourself. If your name were Arbuckle, now would be an opportunity to make it possible for polka fans to call into a radio station to request "Arbuckle's Polka!"

Only family-friendly titles will be considered. No titles related to politics or any controversial topics will be accepted.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, please contact me. This offer expires March 31, 2022.

Album's New Direction Is Set; Production Is Full Steam Ahead!
February 11, 2022

Since losing my partner on my upcoming polka album a few weeks ago, I've come up with a new theme, title, and design for the album, and I've successfully reassigned all the vocal parts. I'm very excited about the new direction the album is taking, and you will be, too, when you hear where it's going!

I'm thrilled to announce Mollie B has stepped up to be the featured vocalist on the album. She will be singing on half the vocal numbers, so I've designed an eye-catching, all new album cover with Mollie on the front. The rest of the vocals will be divided among various guest artists.

I'm also happy to announce one of those guests artists is Abby Broeniman. Abby sang "Autumn in the Meadow" on my Positively Polka album in 2018, which has become my most downloaded and streamed song from any of my polka albums to date. She'll be featured as a lead vocalist on two songs, with one being a duet with Steve Meisner. (I've always wanted to bring these two amazing vocalists together on a song.) Steve will also be featured on another song.

Andrea Ehlinger was at the studio today, and in one of the shortest recording sessions on record, delivered a stellar vocal performance on an epic rendition of a tradtional Eastern European folk song.

Dawn Jones will be coming into the studio in the next couple of weeks, and Betillo Arellano will also be making a return to the studio. Both Dawn and Betillo will be featured as a lead vocalist.

Upcoming Polka Album to Take New Direction
January 22, 2022

It's every music producer's nightmare — you offer a job to someone and they accept, but just as it becomes time for them to do that job, for one reason or another, they bail. Unfortunately this happens from time to time. It's a risk that comes with the job. Usually it's a result of hiring an amateur musician or vocalist who gets cold feet and flakes out. In this case, however, it wasn't that simple.

Back in April, I proposed an offer to a friend of mine — a vocalist from outside the polka circuit — to partner with me on a new polka album. The nuts and bolts of the agreement were that I'd produce and perform it, she'd be the featured vocalist, and she would be very well compensated. She ecstatically accepted. Over the months that followed, I wrote 20 songs, with all of the vocals for her arranged in accordance with her vocal range and style.

In the fall, during the instrument tracking phase, she dropped a major bomb and said that she did not know if or when she'd be able to commit to her end of the deal.

For reasons I will explain in a moment, I wasn't angry with her at all. I was sympathetic. I calmly advised her that too much of the project had already been completed – including the graphic design and the recording of the music – to make backing out a viable option, but if she needed more time, it was fine. To take some pressure off, and considering I was having some nerve issues in my hand anyway, I told her I would halt production through November and December, push the expected release date back a few months, and then we'd see how things were sitting.

As we headed into 2022 and after more than a hundred hours had already been invested in production, she reiterated that she would be unable to honor her commitment.

At face value, this vocalist sounds like someone who got cold feet and flaked out. I wasn't happy that she reneged on our agreement after I had already invested over 100 hours into the production, and I started writing this article to express in general terms how unprofessional and amateur it is whenever hired musicians and vocalists bail on producers. It would have made for sensational reading, but it would have told a story that was neither accurate nor fair.

My vocalist friend has been dealing with lifelong issues affecting her mental health, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. When she accepted the album proposal in April, her mind was apparently in a better place. As the year went on, her mental health suffered apparent setbacks. Through the entire year, I offered her all the encouragement, support, and love that a friend could. I emphasized repeatedly that her health and well-being would always come before her commitment to the album, and that the album would patiently wait until she was feeling better, no matter how long that would take, whether weeks, months, or longer.

Excerpts from her most recent emails included:

"Honestly, I have no desire to sing..."
"I don't know if I'll ever sing again I don't want anything to do with music..."
"I have zero desire to even listen to music."

I remained compassionate about her situation and told her not worry about the album, and that it would wait however long was necessary, except something threw me for a loop. On the days she wrote those excuses for needing to bail on the recording project, she posted videos of herself on social media, happily singing like a lark and jamming to music in her car.

I remained sympathetic to her situation and sent her a long, positive email, but I also expressed how seeing those videos hurt, because her actions completely contradicted her words. I couldn't understand how she could bail on the recording project citing the reasons above, and then post those videos as if nothing had happened. It was almost as if she were celebrating being released from her obligations to the album. In my usual amicable, empathetic tone, I reached out to her and suggested we sit down and clear the air so that I could get an understanding of the whole situation.

And then all hell broke loose.

She went completely off the rails in a scathing email response, ignoring everything we shared over the past year and focusing on that one comment about feeling hurt. As quickly as flipping a light switch, her perception of me reversed 180 degrees, and I went from being her caring, compassionate, trusted friend to the most callous, selfish, egotistical, maniacal, malicious spawn of Satan with whom she never again wanted to speak.

I sat there in front of my computer in utter amazement trying to make sense out of what had just happened. But after a little while, I figured it out.

My friend shared with me that she has low self-esteem, or "zero" self-esteem as she put it. I know from my college psychology courses that a common characteristic of people with low self-esteem is that their emotions are so fragile, they can very easily perceive innocuous comments as hostile attacks. And that's what happened. She focused on that one part in that one email where I said I felt hurt by what she did, perceived it as an attack on her character, and ended our friendship over it.

For a person with normal self-esteem, the natural response would have been empathy, not hostility. I thought she'd be able to see situation from my perspective and understand why I felt hurt, but I gravely miscalculated the fragility of her emotions.

Because people with low self-esteem often perceive harmless, non-judgemental communication as hostile, they have trouble trusting others. They have frequent falling-outs with friends, family, counselors, and just about everyone else in their lives. They perceive them as enemies, drive them away, and leave a trail of burned bridges. It just happened to be my turn.

Even though this vocalist ended our friendship over a misunderstanding and bailed on the album midway through production, I have no ill will toward her whatsoever. I feel nothing but empathy. She's in a very dark place, and under the circumstances, I believe she's doing the best she can. If she weren't struggling with low self-esteem, none of this would have happened. She would have easily slayed this recording project last fall, and would now be hearing herself on the radio for the very first time. I am confident someday she'll receive the healing she needs to live a normal, happy, productive life. Until then, she'll remain in my prayers.

And I have something to be grateful for. If my friend had not accepted the album proposal in the first place, the 20 songs I wrote for it would not exist. So even though the album will go on without her, it's because of her that there will be an album at all.

In the days ahead, I'll reassess the album's production and determine the new direction in which to take it. Although it's a shame this album will no longer be a joint venture between my friend and me, the album itself, from a quality point of view, will not be affected. I'll be able to rely on my studio veteran friends to fill the vacancy. Mollie B was going to be one of the guest vocalists on this album, so I'll be happy to delegate more of the work to her. Some of the other guest vocalists to be featured on the album are Andrea Ehlinger and Steve Meisner, with supporting vocals by Betillo Arellano and Dawn Jones.

I can't estimate a release date at this point, but I will aim for sometime this spring.

[Note: No doubt, some of you are curious as to who this friend is. Out of professional courtesy and to protect her privacy, I will never reveal that information. Not even the other musicians on this recording were told who she was. From the very beginning, I kept her identity a secret just in case her mental health might have caused any problems with the album's production.]


How COVID and Other Setbacks Turned Out to Be Blessings
January 15, 2022

I was recently reflecting on the twelve years I had with Snickers, and I realized just how much life and joy had gotten  packed into those twelve years.

At the end of 2009, after I spent most of the year working on and releasing my album, "The First Forty Years," I met and adopted Snickers. For the next couple years, I didn't have a lot going on. I didn't have any music albums in production, and I wasn't yet playing tennis. Snickers had his dad at home most of the time.

So why did Arthur come along at the end of 2012?

2013 was my breakout year for outdoor fitness; I logged 175 hours on the courts and over 800 miles on the bike trails. I was gone from home a lot. In 2014, I was away at the studio almost every day working on my "Polka Pontoon" album. Later that year after releasing the album, I met a girl and was spending half my days staying at her house. Snickers was going to need a companion. I didn't know it, but Kittling did. She brought Arthur into our home at the perfect time.

Over the next few years, my band business grew, and I was spending more time away from home. It was okay for Snickers, though, because he had Arthur to keep him company.

When COVID hit in March of 2020, all of my gigs were canceled. The pandemic's effect on my business continued all the way through the end of August, 2021. For my cats, however, it was the best 18 months of their lives – I was home practically all the time.

In November and December, I was supposed to be hard at work in my studio recording my album, but nerve damage in my hand, coupled with the lead vocalist's priorities, delayed production and kept me out of the studio. That delay turned out to be an enormous blessing, because those were Snickers' last two months. I was able to spend them with him.

I've come to realize that because of the pandemic and a few other setbacks, Snickers and Arthur received the equivalent of at least five years' worth of attention in just the last two years. Although I would have preferred to have Snickers around for another five years, the time I had with him was quality time on a whole other level.

Snickers is Laid to Rest
January 6, 2022

My sweet angel Snickers was laid to rest last night. I retrieved his ashes from the veterinary clinic, put them in his special urn, and placed the urn next to Kittling's.

This spring, I will take some of his ashes to his grandma's house and place them in the plants there, just as I did with Kittling's ashes. Like Kittling, Snickers spent his younger days visiting his grandma often. He'd relax in the sun, watch birds at the feeders, get spoiled with toys, and hang out with her dog, Meg.

August 10, 2010 - A spoiled-rotten Snickers gleefully celebrating his first birthday at Grandma's house.

I plan on holding a fundraiser this summer in memory of Snickers, just like I did for Kittling. It will benefit a local cat shelter, and it will start sometime in July and run through his birthday on August 10th. More news on that will come this summer.

 Copyright 2005-2020, Tom Brusky LLC