About Last Year And What Comes Next: Looking back on 2018 and ahead to 2019: Part 2: The Black Hand of Oktoberfest Season

The Black Hand EP
Available damn near everywhere online!

Click Here for Part 1

As previously alluded to the process of writing and recording The Black Hand at time resembled that of our first album. Lots of attics and spare room hangs. And while it seems like with just three new songs released it should not have been difficult there were times where, speaking for myself, the creative faucet was not on. And so I had to look to my brothers in PolkaHopHop for inspiration and motivation.

Even as we hacked away on our EP and celebrated the triumph of a successful 2nd annual Milwaukee Polka Riot we were also looking forward to upcoming shows including our first out-of-state gig with polka legends: Brave Combo! While it was not even 2 hours away and therefore not the farthest we have traveled for a show, the fact is we had yet to get a booking outside of Wisconsin. There’s a million reasons why we hadn’t been able to leave the confines of our fair state and the hope is we will be able to repeat that endeavor. The idea that we would play a show with Brave Combo was actually something on the wish list of NTSC  albeit the idea was that they would join us at the Milwaukee Polka Riot eventually. As fate would have it Polkatoberfest was scheduled to take place over two nights in Lombard, Illinois with headliners Brave Combo and Bolzen Beer Band with local support from our friends Sgt. Sauerkraut’s Polka Band. Bolzen however, had another booking that Saturday and SSPB dropped our name as a replacement!

Brave Combo is an absolute party!

In true November Criminals fashion we rocked the set but also in true November Criminals we had audio issues! For seemingly no reason whatsoever NTSC’s digital melodeon ceased to make noise. Super producer and drummer Kevin Christensen was on hand to make a killer beat and Spade ONE and myself freestyled to end the set. Thankfully, the melodeon ended up being fine but the gremlin that silenced NTSC remains a mystery.

We love playing in Racine!

September just kept rolling! We’ve been lucky to have our name get around more and more we found ourselves playing a show every weekend that month! To be sure we were meeting new friends and making new fans every time we played but we were also getting closer and closer to being able to release the Black Hand!  We had fun in Racine at Party on the Pavement and then we closed out September with a special duo performance of DJ Brumeister and solo melodeon by NTSC at the Riverwest Oktoberfest! I got to break out my box of 78s and discovered that those things are heavy but they are a joy to play to a new audience.

NTSC makes some really killer posters does he not?

To help celebrate the release of the Black Hand EP we did two things.  First we released a pre-mastered version of the song The Black Hand via the CheddaREvoluion compilation and Secondly we decided to coincide the release with a booking at the Pabst Tap Room. While the Tap Room was kind to us, sadly, the audience was primarily there for the fish fry. We are learning as much as some of the venues about what works when booking a show. Note: people go to restaurants to eat. While the eatery/bar/venue thing may work occasionally I have seen it fall flat more often than not. One of the three aspects always seems to suffer. Next time we play a restaurant we will figure out a food special. Thankfully, we closed out our October shows with a rollicking gig at Bremen Cafe… a place that no longer serves food but still has a bar and a room for bands! (see what I’m sayin?) Atheists and Airplanes are awesome and you should see them!

2018 wasn’t done yet however and though we didn’t realize it at the time we were slated to take part in the biggest show of our band’s history!