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Scrubby

At the end of 2015, I read many articles about all the music stars who passed in 2016. Today I’d like to salute one more performer who was very very well known within his own musical world, but his passing did not get a mention among the bigger international stars.

Who was Scrubby Seweryniak? He was a singer and chemnizer concertina player, and along with drummer Larry Trojak, he led a band from Buffalo New York that might have been the greatest polka band ever – The Dynatones.

I highly recommend the CD, Vintage Dynatones for those of you who want to explore a different musical world, one populated with the most fantastic polkas, obereks and waltzes. The singing is in both English and Polish, but I don’t think of this as Polish music so much as Polish-American music. I love the swirling concertina melodies, the bellows-shaking, the driving polka beat and the wonderful horns.

Scrubby Sewernyniak passed on July 22, 2015 from cancer. He was just 68. Mr. Seweryniak was inducted into the polka hall of fame (yep, there is one!) in 1994. Below I’ve shared an introduction to Dynatones material. Enjoy.

2 Comments

  1. Oh man, thank you for this.

    My sentimental memories come from singing with a Kraut chorus, who hired in bands for the New Year’s and Carnival balls, but then the borders were always fluid.

    In the early oughts I fronted a political candidate who was proudly of Polish extraction but had been badly bashed in Vietnam. Still, “if you can walk you can dance,” I told him when there was a local political fundraiser that involved dancing. I wish he’d tried. These guys could have argued my case.

    • In the 80s when the Dynatones were polka royalty, I had no idea this kind of action was happening just down the road in Buffalo’s Polonia. By that time I was already becoming disenchanted with the musical gruel served up to us by the music industry, but I was turning to blues music, and then Zydeco. On the heels of the popularity of Queen Ida, several Zydeco acts came up to Toronto, like Fernest and the Thunders and Terence Simien and the Mallet Playboys, as well as the more bubblegum zydeco of Queen Ida. I remember seeing – and dancing to – Fernest and the Thunders at the Horseshoe Tavern like it was yesterday. I only started to listen to a lot of polka music after I picked up the button accordion in the early 2000s, when I started listening to both Polish-American polka as well as Conjunto music from Texas, as well as that wonderful Basque music called Trikitixa. Since falling hard for the banjo a few years ago, though, I’ve been lost in stringband music – but I still love a good polka.

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