The "polka compass", trees and theory of evolution
Music is and always wlll inevitably be like a tree ... always branching out into new directions ... some offshoots thriving ... while others for whatever reasons don't quite.
Relatively, I tend to believe that polka music is like the old locust standing guard outside my window here in the office, ever sprawling ... no matter if I care it not to (even after years of consistent pruning). Interesting enough, I also note that even though its "umbrella" is quite large and substantial, every year new "shoots" still spring out of the trunk.
Well I could metaphor till the cow's come home ... but I trust most have been able to decipher the message somewhere between the lines ... you can't stop change, growth or evolution without killing the very thing that which you so cherish... and frankly you're foolish to even try. But, even if such change isn't your cup of tea, it doesn't have to compromise your preferences ... especially with regard to polka music today. If you don't always appreciate such efforts (e.g. my Dad!) for whatever reasons ... don't sweat it ... turn the dial, or pop-in your favourite CD or tape and life will continue on within the aesthetic you desire.
This said, though only in my early 40's, I've come to realize that usually life seeks a natural balance. And while within the polka scene there has recently been some very progressive and essentially creative endeavours ... its only a matter of time till a neoclassic band(s) of some vintage emerges (or re-emerges) to continue such balance.
In the meantime, on looking at polkas from the "big picture", what's happening today is really no different than what's been transpiring in the polka scene over the past 100 years. Are there many popular bands still thriving within the stylings of Ignacy Podgorski or Bruno Kryger?! Too much of a stretch ... okay ... what about the sounds and arrangements of early Blaz (with Chet Kowalkowski), Marion Lush or Frank Yankovic recordings? How do these stack up against even their own recordings 20 years hence (e.g. EBV "Polka Parade" versus "Wide World of Polkas" or Maniu's "Na Zdrowie" versus "On the Road Again").
I tend to think I'm as open-minded with regard to polkas as they can come ... but even I now realize time has affected me to a certain degree. As while I truly appreciate and recognize the musical talents and creativeness of Brave Combo, Freeze Dried etc. (and do choose to listen to their CD's on occasion), I can't say they're my absolute favourite recordings... HOWEVER it should be noted that they are of my 9 and 12 year old daughters!
And there my friends lies the rub ... in that I liked some of Dad's records (and still truly cherish them today) ... some I thought were pure "trash" in comparison to the relatively progressive offerings of my teens and early 20's (i.e. Chicago Push, TBC, Dynasticks, The Sounds, Magitones etc.). History repeated itself recently when my girls asked ME to play The Beat and some "cool" polkas (e.g. Another Girl) versus a classic Happy Louie CD which was playing (and which I hadn't heard in a while).
And ... while alone in my office later that night, I found myself suddenly appreciating my parents' ( and grandparents') generations perspectives just a little more ... and proceded to burn a few of Dad's favourite records from the 50's so that he could enjoy them while "out and about". Of course that is ... till I get into the car with him, pop out his treasured Marion Lush Greatest Hits CD and watch him grimace as I subject him to the latest polka "adventure"!!!