On the weekend of September 27, Jimmy K & the Ethnic Jazz performed at the Sons of Italy Hall in Fontana, Ca.
Gail & I joined Gene Swick, a long-time polka promoter on the west coast, to bring Polish bands out west. We bring bands into Fontana, California and Phoenix, Arizona during the season. I won’t repeat this information in future articles – I’ll simply call it a Swick/Haderle promotion. Whenever we bring in the Ethnic Jazz, I always get a handful of phone calls and emails asking if they’re a polka band? The answer is yes, they are a Polish polka band who throws in an occasional Slovenian number. They do a bit of improvisation (hence, jazz) on the Polish tunes (hence, ethnic).
In photo: Joe Lengyel celebrating his birthday with Gail
On this weekend they were fantastic. We drew a big crowd on Saturday and a slightly smaller crowd on Sunday when there were lots of other festivals going on in the area. The hall was hot – someone stole all of the copper piping off of the roof air conditioning system rendering it useless, so the hall brought in portable a/c units which at least made it tolerable. It didn’t bother the crowd – they danced with vigor. And the kitchen crew served up another great Italian meal both days.
The band is made up of well travelled professionals – and it shows. We last saw this band in 2010 at the Phoenix Pulaski club and 2008 in California. Jimmy joined the Ethnic Jazz in 2006 after a long stint with the Toledo Polka Motion (TPM), which is where we originally saw him. He’s as good as ever, as are the other guys who have played with countless other bands. Jason Uzi played a hot trumpet. When they were out west last time, Jack Beachly teamed up with Jason on trumpet. So where was Jack? We had just seen him in May with Polka Family and last year with John Gora. As I said, these guys are polished professionals who mix it up with everyone. Jimmy K and the guys did a great job playing many of our favorite honky style polkas and closed out the evenings with a hug-your-honey set. They don’t pause long between tunes, so they test your endurance.
In Photo: Gene Swick celebrating his birthday
Helga Leonard moved from California to Pennsylvania some time ago, where she organizes cruises, most importantly polka cruises. Helga was a long-time member of the polka scene in California. She surprised us all by dropping in on Sunday. It was great to see her on our dance floor again.
In photo on right: Helga Leonard visits with Roger Kenderes
In photo on left: The Pirukis