Who do you think is which? Okay, Maggie is easy.
Trivia Quiz: Which Polkacide member holds the Guiness World Record as the nation's oldest bike messenger?
The (remaining) Original 5:
When the band was originally formed in 1985, there were a dozen players and at one point, had 15 on stage at once. These five are the remaining battle-weary few, still polkaing, swigging beer, and generally leading very fulfilling lives from the old folk's home.
Ward Abronski: Titular Head of Band, Saxes, Zils, Whistles, Vocals and Harangues!
Ward was born in New Jersey. He spent most of his adolescence in Ibadan, Nigeria where he studied Yoruba drumming and playing in Rock and High-Life bands. He is a Berklee School of Music dropout.
Because of his stylistic adeptness and versatility, Mr. Abronski has had the opportunity to contribute his unique artistry to numerous musical productions and ensembles. He has been a mainstay of the San Francisco music scene, and his ability to launch into improvised storytelling at a drop of a hat keeps him a favorite of the very young as well. Squeals of "oh, Uncle Ward!" are often heard.
Ward thinks Rhassan Roland Kirk may have been God.
Neil "the Basa" Kaitner: Clarinet Demigod & Director
Neil, aka Sikzpak Fashur, began clarinet at the age of six because it smelled good. He first studied with the great Polish maestro, Mr. Janowski, in Chicago, who at the outset was impressed with the intrinsic aptitude for the instrument demonstrated by his new pupil and was especially pleased to find that his protege came equipped with a formidably strong and remarkably well developed "natural" embouchure, rare in one so young. In fact, Maestro Janowski, was so impressed by Neil's embouchure that he was heard to remark after their first meeting "I can't believe the mouth on that kid. Freakin' amazing!"
Maestro Janowski's brother, Mr. Janowski, who only a short time later became Neil's school band conductor at good ol' BM (Bryn Mawr) Elementary, was also deeply moved by the young boy's talent. Concurring with his brother's (Maestro Janowski's) opinion he stated on more than one occasion,"I get more lip from that kid than all the other students combined!" After only 7 months of lessons and at 6 years old, Neil won the1961 Illinois Statewide Music Championship as clarinet soloist. Shortly afterwards his family moved to California.
The next several years of his life are shrouded in mystery though it is known that in 1984 he wed the lovely Sharon Kopecki, a crowned polka queen and ocarina collector from Modesto, CA.
Adamantly eschewing the symphonic tradition, ("They don't even let you drink beer during rehearsal let alone the performance!") Mr.Basa has played with numerous cutting edge bands in the Bay Area. He is purported to have the power to cloud men's minds as well as his own and has had a lifelong dream to go snorkeling in the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. His involvement with Polkacide could stem from his fascination with self organizing units of delusional and compulsive personalities or from a deep seated need to be near polka musicians.
Sax player J.X. Jones was born Jarowzysk Jloszczowa in Szczebrzeszyn, Poland, and immigrated to San Francisco in 1985 at the behest of his distant cousin, Ward Abronski to help found Polkacide. Between polka gigs, J.X. works as a mixer at the Paczkowiecz Sausage Co. in a nearby industrial suburb.
A multi-instrumentalist, he is also a student of Madame Rosa von Blucher, the world famous harpist with the Fresno Symphony. J.X.'s major musical influences are Myron Floren, A.Grill, and Kenny G.
Among the polka slutz, J.X. is known as Lovejones, for very obvious reasons.
An original Polkacider, Johnny dropped his last name and switched from trumpet to drums after extensive legal battles with his father, trumpeter Dudzo Wartniak (He doesn't like to talk about it much). Johnny has forgotten everything taught to him by the great polka drummer Tony Williams, actually his long term memory is pretty much gone and short term is on the way. Johnny wonders why he keeps hearing an accordion (we haven't told him that there is one in the band). He sites his major influences as: Alcohol, the Tick, and JX (The Smooth One) Lovejones.
Alistair Shanks, aka reverend Elvister, aka Lance Boyle, aka Murder'r Bob traces his ancestry back to the "black polka Scots" of the 12th century. He is an unpleasant little bastard who tempers his unfettered disgust for humanity and universal misanthropy by collecting pre-civil war quilts and Margaret Keane paintings. He also likes to kick small children for sport. He never learned to play his instrument properly and resolutely refuses to do so now saying, "What for/ I'm just going to die anyway." Despite his desperate, almost messianic pessimism, he finds playing polkas soothing and claims it makes him "sort of happy". He has been in jail several times, most recently for attempting to play bass in Detroit with S.F. nerd rock sensations, Three Day Stubble. The ensuing legal problems forced that band to spend five days in Hamtramck where he said he felt quite at home "if it wasn't for all the pollacks." He has been kicked out of most of San Francisco clubs and claims he went to hell once but got kicked out of there, too. "I didn't really like it anyway." he said, "They were all a bunch of wimps."
He is roundly despised by each and everyone of his bandmates who tolerate him because he's the only one with a van.
The New Bratz on the Block:
These are the "new kids" , though most have been with the band for close to 15 years and have earned their creds with the band (meaning they've bought enough beer!) They represent the current line-up and the sex appeal of the band, with their flirty ways and high-falutin' day jobs.
Roamin' Polkalanski: Trombone
A longtime member of Polkacide, Roamin' used to be the youngest and the shortest until Ed Ivey joined the band (now since gone). Known as the Lithuanian Lothario in his native country, Larry couldn't carry anymore, passed out, and decided it was safest to end his own roamin' ways. Later converted to an eclectic worship of late night ambulance chasing, Roman became a devotee of the goddess Birgit. He is known as the most flamboyant of the band.
Born of questionable ancestry but with a distinct musical proclivity and subsequently raised a roman catholic, composer and accordionist, Maggie considers herself lucky to be alive. She survived her childhood years by listening to jazz LPs on a large Blaupunkt Hi-Fi during the day and classical music on a small AM radio at night thus inadvertently and irreparably altering the patterns of her alpha & theta brain waves. In a nutshell, her thought processes, speech center and autonomic nervous system are inseparable from the cosmic flow of universal chaos with its implied melodic and rhythmic organisation. Though often misdiagnosed as a dementia, this condition is, in truth, only a mild adjustment disorder easily treated with chocolate. It in no way impairs her ability to play polkas on a regular basis. Indeed, it may be why she can play them at all.
At age 14 she formed an all girl rock band, the first of many performing ensembles that would shape her illustrious but obscure career. She has written music for stage and screen, as well as, for assorted instruments. How she came to join Polkacide in 1994 was a twist of fate from which she has not fully unwound.
An accordion rights activist, as well as, a capella enthusiast Maggie still finds time to be inspired by many other musical styles including gagaku, spoon playing, zampogna music, Ken Nordine & Elmer Bernstein. Her latest project is the Mad Maggies, a world inspired, retro tinged, accordion-laced, horn-filled, guitar-rich dance band.
John 'Johnny N.' Nieuwguyski was born in La Junta, Colorado in 1964 (making him one of the rare and collectible 6os issue Polkacide life size action figures.) La Junta is halfway between Possumtrot and Snake's Bladder, so you can imagine what kind of hellhole it is. He was raised up on a wheat farm by a family of lapsed Mennonites who were considering joining B'hai, which accounts for his somewhat reserved and introspective nature. Later he moved to Walla Walla so he could live near a prison and escape the hustle and bustle of La Junta.
At an early age he was attracted to brass instruments because they were the shiniest and you got to dribble spit on the floor. Inspired by the guy in Lawrence Welk's band, his dream was to play trombone and do those outrageous long armed slide pulls. After the unfortunate incident with the ming vase and the lady's ponytail, he changed to trumpet on the advice of his lawyer. He still hurts people occasionally.
Johnny N. has had many jobs during his life including pizza twirler, hot tub attendant, deck builder and various service sector jobs. Ten years ago he wrote to one of those colleges in the back of a comic book and he hasn't had one of those kind of jobs since. He lives somewhere south of San Francisco and we think he works in computers because he drives a nice car, but not too nice, and he doesn't seem as desperate for his pay at the end of a gig as the rest of the band does. John sometimes makes the other members of the band nervous because he is too quiet.
The newest member of Polkacide, Bryan made them an offer they couldn't refuse: he agreed to play in their band. Dubbed Ol' Dr. Mooseknuckles during soundcheck at The Bottom of the Hill, 2007, Kehoe is the only current practictioner of polka yodeling, holds the current record for consecutive yodels while swilling beer (not an easy task if you think about it), and can be found at the end of the bar with his lovely wife perched on his lap. The bastard love child of Elvis Costello and Minnie Pearl, ODM doesn't care as long as the beer keeps flowing.
This new section will grow as we hear from past Polkacide members. Some, like Hayok Kay and Bruno D'Smartass, were there at the beginning. Rico Goff, Bruce Ackley, Dudzo Wartniac, Josh Ende, Big Lou, Suzanne, Mark Allred, John Lieb, Ed Ivie, and more. We'll see them all, starting with the latest to leave (and missed for his infamous dropping of his pants):
Impor Hisky: Guitar (Ret.)
Impor Hisky was born in a railroad freight car heading west from Dubinsk shortly after the great war (WW1). His father, Arthur Hisky (pastry chef to Czar Nicholas and the Romanovs), his mother, Rubiyiat (the czarina's favorite corset tightener) and his infant twin sisters were fleeing the ruins of the Russian Empire. The Hisky family settled in Paris where Arthur sold sausages from a cart on the streets of the Left Bank. Ruby could only find work dancing the can-can at the Moulin Rouge. The young twins were left to Impor's loving care. After the incident with the spilled sulfuric acid it was decided that the young delinquent should be sent to away to cooking school under the care of his Uncle Harmon Hisky in Yonkers, New York. Harmon was an evil man who abused Impor by playing Debussy on the Victrola and dancing around their small two room flat wearing a sarong and a Tam o' shanter. Needless to say Impor left on a fast train. He disappeared into the great Alaskan Wilderness during WWII. The next we know of Hisky, he was found floating frozen in a block of polar ice near Wake Island in 1976. Upon thawing he found he had gained the ability to play guitar but had lost his memory (a small price to pay). He has been playing ever since.
Update May 13, 2007: Upon being found guilty for public indecency at the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter parade, the United States of America decided that Impy had dropped his last pants. Impor Hisky, a.k.a. Jeff Davis, was deported to China where it is said he spends his time doing the Mongolian Courting Ritual and teaching old Snake Oil Boys songs.
Polkacide's original guitarist, Bruno stunned audiences with his flaming guitar and flaming outerwear. A former Sluglord, Bruno married one of the pre-slutz dancers, Gail (Dancin' Dervish), and settled into a life of gentleman farming.
Fleeing the band in a desperate act of self-preservation, Hayok was momentarily distracted by the glitter of an ex-Flipper's garage funk but soon regained her balance and is reportedly living a dreamlike existence.
Ben emerged in a jungle mini-dress and wild guitar licks, but was most noted for his effect on women. Originally from Pop-o-Pies, Ben joined Polkacide after Bruno's departure. Ben went on to play with Sister Double Happiness.
Along with the now drummer, Johnny Jack, Dudzo was the father in Polkacide's father-son trumpet section, and contributed to the wall of brass on stage. Now estranged from his son, his name is not allowed to be spoken on stage, ever.
Big Lou was not an original member of Polkacide, but pretty darn near. She was invited in by Josh, so for a period of time there were two accordians onstage. At the time, she had been playing country rock in SF. Now she is a polka goddess and has her own touring group.
Polkacide's very first accordian player, he gave up all the scheming, conniving, back-stabbing business of squeezebox politics to become a lawyer in San Francisco.
Distracted while playing with the Extra Action Marching Band, Lieb forgot what the meaning of life was and had to revisit his guru to find out. While there, he was abducted by a pygmy band of brass horn players and is said to be touring local marketplaces.
Gail played a mean tuba for a brief stint with P-cide before forming her own band, Pennsylvania Mahoney and her Safe Sextet.
Suzanne G, the luscious accordian player was slipped a mickey by Mags and disappeared during a night of accordian debauchery. She re-surfaced with Those Darn Accordians, whose members were all shanghaid into joining anyway.
Ed Ivey formed his own brass band in the kingdom of Bhutan.
Mark Allred moved to the suburbs of our nation's capitol, where he gives trumpet lessons to the President's daughters.
Date last revised: February 13, 2010