The Greatest War, A Nice Award, & A Pretty Good Year


DID YOU KNOW WE WERE ON FREAKING CSPAN-2 ?!?!?

And we are going to be in Madison on Monday night in The Greatest War at Shannon Hall!!!

It’s Saturday and I finally published a blog about this year’s pursuits relative to the the band but I feel like I short changed anyone that is used to long meandering blogs from me…and I have no idea if such a person exists or if anyone reads these for the most part but they can be excruciatingly difficult to churn out when you are trying to stay topic oriented. So with that in mind bear with me through some run-on sentences and questionable grammar. 

I love that we are doing this again this year. I still can’t believe we performed in front of a crowd of that size and that we were also a part of something so special AND now we get to do it again.

Left to Right: KC 2 Tha Beat, Brümeister, BassFace, SpadeONE, NTSC

Personally, I have felt a bit lost with our project of late. As a band we aren’t together as often as we need to be to get the creative juices flowing. Part of that is just the grind of capitalism. I have so many part time jobs I don’t know whether I’m coming or going and I am well aware that our Wild Wiemar project has been simmering on low for some time. And while I am proud of The Black Hand EP  there is part of me that think we could have done more. But trying to get 5 souls together at any given time is a nearly monumental task. 

The crowd assembling as we took the stage at the Milwaukee Polka Riot 2019!

It’s hard to stay ultra positive about every aspect of life let alone one’s own creative endeavors. The desire to compare one’s success to other and despair at one’s own shortcomings is ever present. BUT when something happens, no matter how subtle it is, and it can be seen in a positive light then you have to elevate that moment.  One such moment was indeed the Milwaukee Polka Riot 2019 . However there were a few things that made the night a little more difficult than any of us had intended. As we were on stage the merch tent was robbed. None of us have spoken about it and since it is now November and to my knowledge, as of this writing, the thief has not been found out or returned the money from two months ago we are unlikely to get any of it back. That person didn’t just us they robbed the festival. They stole money from touring bands and they stole money from local acts. It’s not enough for me to condemn it here but because we have all sat so long in silence and had no progress this year will forever have a stain on it. BUT live an learn. Next year will simply require more vigilance and hopefully greater investment from Milwaukee as a city as well as area businesses so that we are able to grow the festival to the point where something like this never happens again. 

Despite that what I believe came out of having an overall successful 3rd

Brümeister with Frank Chandek and Spade ONE at Crusherfest!

year was that we are now seeing a cultural resurgence of polka. How do I know this? Well, twice have your November Criminals been nominated in the Best Rap/Hip-Hop category in the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee awards. While some speculate as to the authenticity of the vote (is it democratic or is it like the Democratic Party in 2016?) I like to think it is genuine. How much fun would it really be to conduct such an award every year just to give it to Webster X anyways (he’s really good actually). AND not only were we nominated as rappers twice in the past but last year KC 2 Tha Beat our own Kevin Christensen was nominated for Best Hip Hop Producer! In our case, given our experimental nature it really did feel nice to be nominated. PLUS it’s not like there was an Alternative Polka category for us…then suddenly, this year, not only is there a Polka Category but BEHOLD WE ARE NOMINATED!

Spade ONE, JJ McAulliffe, Brümeister

My conclusion is that we have played some part in bringing back to life a genre of music with roots in this city and this state that are so much a part of it’s cultural identity that what had been, like the Grammy Awards, a dead genre lumped in with world music and folk, but through the popularity of Oktoberfests and our own Milwaukee Polka Riot. And it’s funny because while nearly every show we have played has been an outdoor festival with the exception of a few like at McAuliffe’s  and the upcoming Greatest War show; this year we also played the fewest shows we’ve ever played that I can remember! 
Which means that everyone who saw us probably did so at Summerfest, Eken Park in Madison, Riverwest Oktoberfest, Crusherfest, or The Milwaukee Polka Riot!

And all that ultimately means is that we’re becoming better at selecting when we play and where. We won a WAMI for Best Polka Band which

Friend of the band Agent Green and Spade ONE at Summerfest with the Best Polka Band WAMI

meant a great deal to us even though we were so convinced we wouldn’t win that we didn’t show up to the awards! 2020 has a chance to be a tremendous year for us if we play our cards right. Milwaukee this year is going to play a crucial role in the nation’s future and in reality it already has. Look at how we’ve brought Polka and Hip Hop together afterall! It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.