About Last Year And What Comes Next: Looking back on 2018 and ahead to 2019: Part 1: The Polka Riot

It was not for lack of booking that we neglected our blog! IN FACT we participated in two of our biggest shows to date AND we released a new EP!

The Black Hand EP is
AVAILABLE NOW!

The Ups and Downs of any year are just as easily documented in the music and in the performance of any band but in addition we like to use this arena for reflection. What was difficult about The Black Hand was having to revert to some of our old school methods of recording, mixing, and mastering… i.e. somebody’s attic (in this case the incomparable John Gleisner’s ), somebody’s spare room (the indispensable Kevin Christensen), and somebody not in the band (the incredible TJ Wallace). All this for just three new songs BUT the new songs helped us to bookend with thematic resolve, both some histrionic and sonic, allegiances we created for ourselves.

On the live side of things however, the 2nd half of 2018 really starts with the 2nd annual Milwaukee Polka Riot! Our good friend, Jim Rice, along with NTSC, Laura Schaub, Spade ONE and myself organized and/or participated in the build up to the event. Much like last year this labor of love bore fruit as were able to deliver the goods on stage along with bands from around the country!

 

The event kicked off with Sgt. Sauerkraut’s Polka Band overcoming a glitch in the matrix early on and bringing the fun into the crowd during a brief power outage. They also demonstrated marketing savvy in customizing their attire for the festival which is something we’ll have to steal at some point!

Sgt Sauerkraut’s Polka Band at the Milwaukee Polka Riot

 

 I should mention that in between sets I was doing my utmost as DJ Brumeister to keep the old fashioned polka records spinning. One of these years I’ll invest in a 2nd turntable and mic stand! However I am still grateful to WXRW for the use of their equipment. Also, the food trucks were in effect this year as was the Tullamore Dew tent along with some very good beer from War Pigs Brewery. I know I saw NTSC go back for a 2nd and possibly 3rd soda from the good folks at Sprecher Brewery. He needed it though as Preomnor was set to steal the show by throwing down heavy with their set which included a Led Zeppelin cover that would be enough to make Greta Van Fleet think twice about following them!

 

Forró Fo Sho at Milwaukee Polka Riot 2018

Not to worry though because Riot veterans Forró Fo Sho came up and gave the crowd an update on their sound that was as infectious as anything heard on the street that day or at any festival that summer!

 Then it was our turn to close down the outdoor stage. Next year we may yield our outdoor closer status to another act, depends what sort of permits we get and how inflated our egos are, but even with an abbreviated set we were thrilled to power through our first EDM style set with Mike Ritter putting down the bass and managing the samples and making us sound way cooler than we thought possible! It proved yet again that keeping an open mind to new sounds creates new possibilities and frankly I would not be surprised to see more of this in the future.

Acclaimed Polka/HipHop/EDM act November Criminals

 

I also did my best to look like Cousin It at the start of things.

you can’t see me

Shutting down a street in Walker’s Point to present a Polka-fusion fest is not something I would have imagined doing 10 years ago. I don’t know if that was something we thought we’d do when we started this band. I don’t know if we thought we’d end up last this long either but we have. The Riot went indoors with heavy hitters out of Madison Yid Vicious , Chicago legends The Polkaholics and Kansas City road warriors Apolkalypse WOW!

 

With acts coming from far and wide and an audience that stayed late into the night we drank in the wonder of it all along with some well earned libations. This night was a success and we had to believe we were on the way up. But 2018 was not done and neither is this post! We still have to talk about the EP release, meeting Polka legends Brave Combo, The Greatest War, and the last First Friday! AND OF COURSE Kevin Christensen’s nomination for Best Hip Hop Producer in the Shepherd Express Best Of Milwaukee 2018 poll!  Part two will be up soon! Stick around!