Oct 08, 2007 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The carpeted floor at the Vernon Downs racetrack bar Ring-Eyed Pete’s doesn’t stop determined dancers from kicking up their heels every Wednesday afternoon, as they revel in the exuberant music of the Salt City Brass Quartet.
When the foursome plays its polkas, the lunchtime crowd at Pete’s responds by enthusiastically cutting the rug.
“They don’t have a dance floor there, but people dance on the carpet,” said bandleader and accordionist Jasiu Klocek (pronounced YA-shoe CLOSE-sek), of Memphis, northwest of Syracuse.
“We started playing regularly on Wednesdays in the buffet room and then late last winter we moved to the barroom — Ring-Eyed Pete’s — which has the video gaming machines. We have a good following, dancers who come to hear us every week. They even came on the Fourth of July which fell on a Wednesday this year.”
‘The La De Da’
The quartet features Klocek on accordion and vocals, Frank Salvaggio on trumpet and vocals, Carl Borek on clarinet and tenor saxophone and Dick Milewski on drums.
The foursome is a smaller combo than Klocek’s regular Salt City Brass, a band which has been playing dances and festival in Central New York for more than three decades.
Since November 2006 the quartet has been performing on senior citizens’ day, every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Vernon Downs harness racetrack.
The band’s repertoire is primarily comprised of polkas, waltzes and obereks.
In Polish, oberek means “to hop and turn,” just as its dancers do. It is one of the national dances of Poland, and extremely popular with Polish-American Polka bands such as the Salt City Brass.
“The obereks, tunes like ‘The La De Da,’ are played in 3/8 time,” the bandleader explained. “They’re faster than a waltz but slower than a polka.”
Polkas are two-beat tunes played in 2/4 time.
‘Roll Out the Barrel’
While Klocek and his combo dutifully perform American polka standards such as “In Heaven There is No Beer” and “Beer Barrel Polka” (also known as “Roll Out the Barrel”), they also play less-familiar numbers such as “Helena Polka,” “Blue Skirt Waltz,” and “Green Grass Polka,” which is sung in Polish.
“Some of our polkas are sung in English and some in Polish,” Klocek said. And some have Polish titles such as “Pukaj Jasiu” which translates to “John is Knocking.”
The Salt City Brass got its start in 1975 at a Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Mattydale, near Syracuse. In 1980 the group released its only album, “Polka with Class,” on the Lemans Records label.
The Salt City Brass, which features the dual trumpets of Dave Wilber and Frank Salvaggio (who hails from Rome, N.Y.) will perform from 3 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 30, at the Rome Polish Home, 415 S. George St.
For Salt City Brass information, contact Klocek at 689-7427, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.