Youth polka band play tunes throughout the summer
HUDSON - When Danni Kiesow, a sophomore at UW-La Crosse, and John Asmus, a sophomore at UW-Eau Claire, started a polka group of their peers earlier this summer in Hudson, they questioned how successful it would be.
"We didn't think that a lot of our friends would want to play polka or that the band would even leave the planning stage. We're all between the ages of 15 and 20, so we're all busy as it is and obviously polka isn't the most popular music genre of our age group, so John and I were preparing ourselves for low numbers," said Kiesow.
Instead, the St. Croix Valley Polka Band took off and reached a total of twenty members. They have performed at 13 events thus far, with two more planned as the summer winds down, according to member Sarah Bauer, who will be entering her senior year at Hudson High School. Bauer said the original plan was to play only at nursing homes, thinking residents there would "enjoy it the most". However, along with concerts at multiple nursing homes, the group has expanded performances to private parties and festivals.
Kiesow enjoys playing for the elderly
"John Asmus and I started the band because polka music is just so happy. When we play at the nursing homes, everyone has a smile on their face- the residents, the employees and all of us in the band. Some of the audience sings, others dance, but there's always happiness in the eyes of the people we play for and that's why we wanted to start this band," she said.
The group plans to continue playing next summer.
"We'd really like to go back to all of the nursing homes where we performed this year, as well as perform in other nursing homes that we weren't able to get to this summer. If we could play at the St. Croix County Fair next year, that would also be a great experience for all of us," said Kiesow.
She thanked Ernest Broeniman, the head of Hortonville's polka band Dorf Kapelle, whom the group received all of their music from, and Asmus' UW-Eau Claire music professor, Dr. Jerry Young, for their help.
"We couldn't have done this without Mr. Broeniman and Dr. Young," said Kiesow.
The band's final two performances will be on Sept. 2 in Weyerhaeuser and Sept. 30 at the Trinity Equestrian Center in Eau Claire. Both events are open to the public.
To contact the band, call Kiesow at 651-238-1923 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.