|News & Editorial Archives,
Why You Won't
Find This Album on Any Ballots
December 7, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Free 11 Years Strong
December 5, 2022
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.
quit social media for two reasons: privacy and health.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
version of themselves out on social media and then gravitate toward
strangers who can only see and respond to that exalted version.
NPD may be egocentric, intolerant, and
unempathetic in real life, but they'll portray themselves on social
loving, giving, and compassionate. This portrayal creates a protective
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.
long as that works for you, it will work for me, too.
Instrument Libraries Overpriced? I Say Whine Not
November 21, 2022
Note: This is an
industry-specific topic that may not appeal to the
now and then, in a music forum somewhere on the internet, you'll find a
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."
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."
you'll please indulge me, here's my response to all the like-minded
all products are created equal. If I wanted to create, say, a
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.
$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
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
complaints about retail prices might make you a hero among some of your
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.
personal belief is that these complaints are borne from a
sense of entitlement. All young, budding bedroom music composers wish
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
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.
started out in the recording business as a young person working a
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.
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
CDs Couldn't Escape USPS Hell
November 2, 2022
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
involved. I consider this matter to be resolved and closed.
October 16, 2022
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...
the best preamp for... what's the best virtual instrument library
the best audio cable for... what's the best reverb plugin for... etc.
nickel for every question posted that starts with "What's the best," I
could retire from music.
a perfectly good reason why these questions are so common.
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
is a definitive best this and
a best that, and if they
what these best tools are and
they'll sound like a pro.
they jump on the internet and ask questions like, "What's the best mic
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.
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.
the retail music industry preys on these inexperienced, wide-eyed music
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Became My 2nd Best-Selling Album in Just Seven Weeks
September 12, 2022
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
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
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
[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
consumers to make album production
viable for almost any band in that circuit.
Within just a few years,
however, all of that changed:
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.
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
happened — Mollie B ordered a bunch more Positively Polka CDs. Then Polka
Parade placed an order for their membership renewal enhancer. Then
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
for example, have a reach that extends well outside
their home base.
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.
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
work and the generosity
of their fans.
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.
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
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
internet radio, thanks to all the supportive DJs and radio show
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
to the people. It's because of all this assistance that Escape to Polka Paradise has become
commercial success in such an amazingly short period of time.
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
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
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.
Popular Music Formats in U.S. by Year:
1984-1990: Cassette Tapes
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.
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
for two decades, and only ten years later, thanks to the influence of
vinyl, is already poised to start making a comeback.
August 20, 2022
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
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.
link: "Tom Brusky Escapes to Polka Paradise"
are just a couple of things in the article I need to clarify/correct:
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
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.
Memorial Fundraiser (and Dance!)
August 10, 2022
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.
more information and to donate, please go to the fundraiser website: Snickers Brusky Memorial Fundraiser
Major Change to
Band for 2023
August 9, 2022
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
are a couple of main reasons why I am making
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.
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
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
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.
July 17, 2022
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.
Escape to Polka Paradise
Hit a New Low
July 11, 2022
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?
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
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
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
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.
all for your patience over these past few months!
New Album Title
and Cover "Leaked"
May 19, 2022
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.
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
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.
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.
there it is... the album in production is called Escape to Polka Paradise.
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
the accident was caught on video, Mollie now holds the official Guiness
World Record for the farthest-thrown accordion: 1,148 feet.
It, or Not!
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.]
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
May 17, 2022
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.
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
you all remember the golden voice behind my 2018 Disney-flavored duet with
Mollie — that's Betillo Arellano, and he's coming back for
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.
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.]
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.
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
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.
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
"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 =
units = Platinum Album
units = Gold Album
Beginning April 1, 2022,
the new RIAA certifications will add the following designations:
250,000 units = Silver
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
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
thinks he can do whatever he wants," said Biden. "He thinks he can
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
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."
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.
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
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."
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
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
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
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.
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
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
pet, or even
to give as a gift to yourself. If your name were Arbuckle, now would be
opportunity to make
it possible for polka fans to call into a radio station to request
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.
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
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
the Meadow" on my Positively Polka album in 2018, which has become my
downloaded and streamed song from any of my polka albums to date.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
was having some nerve issues in my hand anyway, I told her I would
production through November and December, push the expected
release date back a few months, and then we'd see how things were
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
with lifelong issues affecting her mental health, including depression,
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
suffered apparent setbacks. Through the entire year, I offered her all
encouragement, support, and love that a friend could. I emphasized
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
"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..."
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.
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
She went completely off
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
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
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
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
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
friendship over a misunderstanding and bailed on the album midway
through production, I have no
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
healing she needs to live a
normal, happy, productive
life. Until then, she'll remain in my prayers.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Although I would have preferred to have Snickers around for another
years, the time I had with him was quality time on a whole other
Snickers is Laid
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
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.
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.
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