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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 09:50 am

Roll out the barrel

Trio Freddi of St. Louis performs Sunday at monthly polka event

One of the best parts of attending a polka dance is listening to the band. I love going to the old-timers’ (sorry) area at the Illinois State Fair and listening to the bands. They don’t jump around too much or amplify beyond what is necessary, and they are actual studied musicians who are proud of their craft and respect the music they’re creating. That’s not to say that this isn’t the case with other bands, but to me there is something more schooled, more thoughtful, and more musical about a band that plays music made before rock & roll came to town. That said, allow me to suggest a Sunday (April 23) afternoon visit (2-6 p.m.) to the Riverton Knights of Columbus Hall and the monthly dance sponsored by the Illinois Chapter of Po. L. K. of A. (217-414-1198). That acronym stands for Polka Lovers Klub of America, a national organization of polka-loving folks who have banded together to show their undying love for this once hugely popular and now slowly disappearing dance. Polka (the dance itself), I learned from the group’s informative Web site (, originated in Bohemia in the 1830s from a tune written by a young girl who later died in poverty as her song and dance went on to huge international popularity. How about that for a tragic tale in the music business? On a lighter note, Trio Freddi, this month’s featured group, comes to us from St. Louis. According to a Web site featuring St. Louis polka bands, Trio Freddi comprises three regulars — Freddi, Jim, and Harold — joined by “special artist Mary Ann, and her button box accordion.” The group performs polkas, waltzes, big-band songs, Central European and Hawaiian tunes, and even some country. That sounds hard to top, but the best treat of all is in the last sentence of the profile: “Music is augmented with the latest electronic sounds and effects.” I’m not sure how or why that works, but it’s certainly worth an investigation. Brave Combo is tentatively scheduled for an appearance at UCT in July. Polka on!
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