"Polkas For A New Age" - 10/26/2003
After much delay and anticipation, Frankie Liszka & TBC's new recording "Polkas For A New Age" is scheduled to be released this weekend. The CD is available for order from TBC's web site (http://www.thebrassconnection.com).
Chris Yanetsky, bass player and side man for over 12 years, has retired from TBC to further his career. Chris will be in China for at least two years in a management role. TBC welcomes the accomplished bass and vocal talents of Vinny Bozzarelli. Vinny has been with the band since March of 2003. Steve Zelenak, previously with TBC, has rejoined the band. Steve replaces John Mikos on concertina who has decided to once again be part of Lenny Gomulka's Chicago Push when the band returns in 2004. TBC wishes John continued success with Chicago Push.
TBC, under the leadership of Frankie Liszka, has been together for over thirteen years and has released eleven recordings.
"Mercer County native earns polka acclaim" - 9/1/1998
By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Polka music originated in Europe and still remains much of its original flavor, but the day will come when polka will break from its roots, said Frankie Liszka, a West Salem Township native who was recently inducted into the United States Polka Association's Polka Hall of Fame.
Liszka, a third generation Polish American, said he likes the more ethnically charged polkas, but added that Americanization will ensure polkas continue in the United States as a viable musical form. Liszka points to how his own generation adopted polkas. "We just took a liking to the music. We didnít care if it was ethnically based."
"I do see a time when the ethnicity in polkas will disappear," said the leader and lead singer of the band The Brass Connection. "There arenít many Polish emigrating into this country."
Liszka, 45, lives in Northfield, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, but plays the Chicago push style of polka, an Americanized derivative of Polish polka. "Itís a more powerful style by virtue of the instrumentation." The Brass Connection has two trumpets playing in harmony, a hard-hitting drummer, a bassist that plays more than just the down beat," a concertina that switches between lead and rhythm and an accordion that "provides the action," he explained. "This is American music. Twenty-five years ago it was more ethnically based. Now we do a lot of country flavored tunes. Weíre expanding into a non ethnic feel."
USPA cited Liszka's ability to reach younger listeners in its induction announcement. Liszka said he got hooked on polkas at 12 or 13, and his parents took him to polka dances, where he saw other kids his age enjoying the music. He learned how to play when his father, Frank, was laid up with a back injury and bought a concertina to pass time while he recuperated. Liszka played trumpet in the school band and his father goaded him into playing along with him.
Playing music with his father showed him that he had something in common with his heroes, including Marion Lush, Eddie Blazonczyk and Lilí Wally. "All of a sudden I was a provider of music." Liszka said he never really got into the rock and pop that his friends were listening to. "I was into it (polka) so much I didn't care to listen to other music"
At age 16, Liszka joined the New Castle band the Harmony Sharps, and at 19 he started playing occasional gigs with Lilí Wally, whom he called polkaís greatest entertainer. "I learned a lot from him. I learned how to handle the people on stage, how to read a crowd and how to read a dance floor." Liszka joined Bruno Mikosí Harmony Stars in 1976 and the original The Brass Connection, led by Rich Benkowski, four years later.
TBC dissolved after six years, and Liszka moved onto the Boys from Baltimore. He reformed TBC in 1990, and took over its leadership. The Band scored best album awards from USPA for "Blue Magic" in 1993 and "Down Through the Years" in 1994.
Liszka records about an album a year. The latest, "This Time," was released in July on Ethnic World Records. Liszka saluted Blazonczyk on the 1997 album "Our Polka Hero."
Liszka said he was thrilled with the Aug. 8 hall of fame induction. "This is something that I never really gave much thought until the last five or six years. I thought is was out of the realm of possibility." Others would mention the hall of fame to him because he has been around so long. He said, "Itís been in the last five or six years that my band has really come into prominence."
For the acclaim that Liszka has received, he doesnít make a living from music. He works for a heating and air conditioning business during the week, and drives off to gigs on the weekends. "Unfortunately you canít make a career in the polka business," said the father of sons ages 22, 16 and 14 months. "I work seven days a week. I donít get to do any of the things that normal families do."
But Liszka still has musical goals, the next being a Grammy nomination. "Getting the nomination, that would be the big time for me." Liszka has confidence he will net a nomination but has little hope in ever winning one. "You know Jimmy Sturr is going to get the Grammy."
The Brass Connection and Eddie Blazonczykís Versatones will alternate sets at the seventh annual American Polish Central Committee of Lawrence County dance, from 2:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 27 at Cascade Park, New Castle. Tickets at the door.
"Liszka, Wasielewski inducted into Polka Hall of Fame" - 4/27/1998
The members The Brass Connection would like to congratulate Frankie Liszka & Matt Wasielewski on their induction into the International Polka Association's Polka Hall of Fame. The I.P.A. cordially invites you all to attend their festival this August where you can see the formal induction of Frankie and Matt Wasielewski. This is a well deserved honor for both inductees and it gives us great pleasure to have the opportunity to play with Frankie and to have gotten to know Matt Wasielewski through our endeavors. Congratulations to both of you once again!!!!
"Wisconsin Weekend A Success" - 3/16/1998
The members of Frankie Liszka and The Brass Connection would like to personally thank all of you that helped make March 14 at the Homestead Supper Club in Pulaski, WI and March 15 at the Colonial Ballroom in Wassau, WI such a big success. Crowds were estimated well over 400 people on Saturday evening and over 550 on Sunday afternoon. Polka fans traveled from parts of Minnesota and Chicago, IL to attend the dances that featured the music of T.B.C. on both days, as well as Pulaski, WI local favorites PolkaTown Sound on Saturday, and the versatile sounds of the Music Connection on Sunday. The polka fans of Wisconsin and surrounding areas are to be commended for the continued support of polka music.
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