by Andrew Norman
My feet are softly tapping to a bouncy polka-waltz from Al Grebnick "and the Boys." What happens when you start digging around into Nebraska's music history is you realize how deep and rich it is.
My friend gave me Grebnick's album, Play more Czech; Sing More Czech, today. It didn't have a date on the album, but "Nebraska Record Co., Schuyler, Nebraska" reads prominently on the album jacket.
Turns out Grebnick was king shit of polka mountain in his day.
The International Polka Association has a pretty great bio of the man. He was born a poor farm kid in 1919, taught himself how to play a $4 clarinet at age 10, and started playing professionally at 13 for anything from a sandwich to up to $4 a show.
"You've got to remember, I was a farm boy," Grebnick says. "I always worked farms — later owned one. A dollar was hard to come by."
Grebnick played the saxophone, too. And he played professionally through Nebraska and across the country for 50 years into the 1980s. The Nebraska Record Co. was his imprint. And Grebnick was featured on 26 full-length records in all, 21 8-tracks, 18 cassettes and 14 45s.
He was named Nebraska's "Polka King" in 1978, inducted into the Sokol Hall Polka Hall of Fame in 1982, and as a "pioneer" into the International Polka Association in 1988. The IPA says he played more than 5,000 dances and died in 1992.
Grebnick and his boys — playing their ethnic music in dance halls across the state — are some of Nebraska's musical pioneers. We plan to continue telling these stories: Read about the "The Coachmen" and "Smoke Ring" and in contributor John Wenz's Echoes series.
If you haven't watched the first three super high-quality, live videos Ingrained produced featuring Cursive playing Domestica at The Waiting Room Jan. 18, knock it off. And see them here: "The Casualty," "The Martyr" and "The Radiator Hums" (the best shot's 3:08). There isn't a better live Cursive video than any of these productions.
And when you get all settled at work on Monday, remember to put on your headphones and watch the fourth and final video, "The Night I Lost the Fight."
More Cursive news: Frontman Tim Kasher talks about his writing (songs, film and theater), Bright Eyes' new album and, in familiar territory for him, relationships in a Q&A with UK-based webzine Drowned In Sound. Read it here.
Love Drunk's Hear Nebraska Session with Thunder Power received more than 440 views in fewer than a week, thanks in part to reposts by The Old Kentucky Blog and Music Thirsty. See what the fuss is about here.
Omaha singer-songwriter Matt Whipkey has a new video for the song "No Place in this World," from the album, Instant Heart. Shot entirely on Super 8 film by Nick Neary in Minneapolis. It was edited by Omahan Justin Limoges. And it looks like it something Clark Griswald blew dust off of in his attic. Check it out:
Norman is Hear Nebraska's editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.