BOULDER, Colo. –
Do you have what it takes to be a rock star? Are you filled with musical passion? Have you spent months crafting your sound in your garage or handy abandoned warehouse?
Are you finally ready to take the stage, plug in and blow away an arena full of fans yearning to hear your licks of genius?
Then go away.
Yes, yes, I hear what you’re saying — the dead hand of the past must not be allowed to steer the freighter of meaning into the sun-dappled dawn of blah blah blah.
Call me old-fangled, but I like a nice polka.
Now that I’ve lost half the readers, let me explain.
In my career, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of serving as the media gatekeeper for the purveyors of new music, movies, books and just about anything else that came in over the transom. (This was a little hinged window over an office door, and . . . oh, never mind.)
The wagonloads of crap I have passed through my delicate and rapidly deteriorating senses are too numerous to count. That’s why, when I want to relax and annoy my friends, family and coworkers, I choose a musical backdrop from among these infuriating niches:
Jazz:Yes, I dig it, and so should you, especially the small-combo work from the mid-1920s that showcased the burgeoning talents of arrangers such as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman and Sy Oliver, which in turn led into the momentous transition to hot swing that ignited that rare correlation of popular taste and insanely divine musical artistry from 1935 to 1945.
See what I mean? I am turning into that peculiar, monomaniacal little man at the party who keeps following you around the place talking until you sneak out across the roof, shimmy down the drainpipe and head for your car.
This is what jazz will do to people. Its intoxicating intricacies and intellectual challenges are enough to confound younger brains — leaving the room and any snacks laying around therein to me.
Bluegrass:It’s pleasant family fun, despite the staggering number of murder ballads and songs about knockin’ back a jug and having at one’s sister. It shares with jazz a virtuoso sensibility, the tendency of fans to sit under things such as trees and listen to it, and the general and abundant use of weed among all involved.
Definitely too mellow for the aspiring electrical musician.
Polka:Now you’re talking! My ignorant peasant ancestors came to this country for the express purpose of living somewhere they could drink lots and lots of beer, wear dirndls (a traditional Alpine dress noted for its … aw, skip it) and whirl around the F.O.E. hall to the merry trill of accordion and clarinet until the cows literally came home.
Want some alone time? Simply spin some vintage Jimmy Sturr, Walter Ostanek or the Six Fat Dutchmen.
Of course, there is a more forward-looking band that practices this scorned art form: Polkacide.