Wallyworld minus the Griswolds

The Polkaholics
“WALLY! A Polka-Rock Opera”
Self-released

Photo Credit: Dick Blau/James Wallace

Nothing says loving Chicago music like a good old fashioned polka. The lovely ¾ time art from may have not been born here – but it surely got its best hooks and three steps in such places as the Zakopane Lounge and the baby Doll Polka Club.

Perhaps one of the biggest names to stroll the music-filled streets of Division Street back in his day was Walter Edward Jagiello –  Lil’ Wally to his friends. His fame was such that he was Chicago’s Polka King. Later became known as the American Polka King. By the time he retired he was the World’s Polka King.

Enter Don Hedeker. By all accounts a man of above intelligence – a hard rocking guitar player and a – wait for it – a polka enthusiast. To call him an enthusiast is likely the single largest understatement I will make this year. Hedeker – the voice and guitar of Chicago’s Polkaholics. You gotta see ‘em to believe ‘em.

Hedeker and the boys consistently take polka to new heights and have been doing so for a number of years. In the past – they have relied on heavy metal guitars and twisted old polka classics. Those days were just a warm up to their new self-released disc. “Wally: A Polka-Rock Opera.”

Hedeker is a huge fan of Jagiello and the music – but more important I think Hedeker is a fan of the joy that polka – and Lil’ Wally in particular bring to people. You can’t be sad when there is a polka playing. You can’t even be annoyed if someone puts on “Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera” because its simplicity – wrapped in a sincere and beautiful tribute make for a good old time.

One might think that a heavy metal/polka band is a one-trick pony. One would be completely mistaken. This is my fourth disc of theirs and each one gets better and holds up well with repeated listening.

“Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera is a straightforward trip through Chicago’s past as well as polka’s history through the eyes and ears of an adoring fan – and a polka powerhouse in his won right.

The lives shows are a gas – the disc is truly alternative summer music – “Wally! A Polka-Rock Opera” will make you laugh and dance and hoist another beer (or three) in memory of polka music and Lil Wally.

Stand Out Tracks
Polka Superstar
I Miss Chicago Again
Zakopane Waltz

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