Now, finally, the Diva is on disc! “The Polish Diva’s Polka Party” is a 15-track romp through a mix of polkas and related pop tunes like Bobby Vinton’s “My Melody of Love.”
The record is released independently and available at www.polishdiva.com.
“The record was in the works for a few years,” says Palasz, from her New York home, “but most ambitiously since January 2006. I was particularly inspired when I performed at the Milwaukee Rep and tons of people who came to the performances sang along with me in Polish and came up to me after the show and told me of how their mothers and fathers had taught them old polkas and various types of old Polish, Slovenian and German folk songs. They even sang them for me. It was quite touching.”
The CD isn’t a soundtrack to The Polish Diva’s theatrical show, Palasz says, but there are some songs that appear in both projects, like "My Melody of Love" and "Who Stole the Keeshka." However, the only place you can hear the Polish Diva rockin' "In Munchen Steht Ein Hofbrauhaus" and "Jak Szybko Mijaja Chwile" is on "Polka Party."
And though the record wasn’t recorded in Milwaukee, Brew City fans can take some pride in it, Palasz says, as some Cream City connections helped make it a reality.
“Milwaukeeans played a huge part in my research of the album. As you can probably tell from my liner notes, I really worked hard to make sure I was accurate musically and historically:
Toby Hanson (accordionist) and I spent a long evening with Milwaukee polka DJ and historian Greg Drust and poured over his huge collection of polka music. Jerry Halkowski, Milwaukee polka DJ and proud Polish-American, helped me network with other Milwaukee polka musicians and historians. Ada Dziewanowska, artistic director of Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble, was my Polish diction coach.”
Palasz says other Milwaukeeans were also involved, including accordionists Tom Brusky, Steve Meisner and Grant Kozera, photographer Dick Blau and UWM professor emeritus Victor Greene, as well as members of the Milwaukee Accordion Club.
“I may have recorded in Seattle,” Palasz says, ”but the influence was definitely from Milwaukee.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.