Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bootblogging #19: Krakersy (is Crackers in Polish)

In my basement, which sometimes I curate as a museum, is a small Polish table flag. It was given to me on Red Mountain in Washingston state by a Polish ambassador to the U.S. We were drowning in Washington wine at the time. The wine made us happy, and happier.

The Polish ambassador, middle-aged and white-headed, but also tall and rugged, had with him a much younger wife. We were put together because she knew music people and I had been carrying on outside on the winery patio about Polish music.

As the Polish amabasador's wife settled in beside me, having made a dinner choice, in the winery's grand dining room, she asked me to tell her about the Polish music that I knew. I started talking about my Polish pen pal Krzysztof and his fantastic bands over the years, and next thing I know the amabasador's wife falls off her chair onto the winery floor.

Turns out Krzysztof's current band Buraky (Polish for "beets") was something of a well kept secret among people who knew the truly creative folk music of Poland. Their sense of tradition is more wild, and associated with more wild and mountainous places, than what mostly passes for Polish folk music - even in Poland, but especially here, where one finds mostly paint-by-numbers polka bands.

"I can't believe I come to a place like this and meet an American and he is talking to me about Buraky," the Polish ambassador's wife kept saying, over and over, though the wine, the hubbub of the official dinner, and the language problems kept us from getting much further than that shocking recognition over Buraky.

Jackson Browne once sang, "These days I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do." "For you," Gregg Allman added, when he sang that song.

Today I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do for Polish music, and poetry. News of a plane full of Polish politicians going down behind enemy lines in Russia will do that to you. Especially if you once swung on Red Mountain with a rugged Polish ambassador and his young, smart, hip, drunk wife.

Here is one thing I forgot to do. I forgot to honcho an archival reissue of Krzysztof's college band, Krakersy (it means "crackers" in Polish). Krakersy formed around the Technical University in Wroclaw in 1979. I have in my possession most of their recordings, which are really wonderful.

I have long imagined producing a release called Krakersy: Polish pop, blues, rock, goof and cabaret from behind the Iron Curtain. I need  to go back to that project. After all, we never know how long we have. Do we?

Here is a taste ...


"Stoje na warcie" (I am standing on guard)

Krzysztof Opalski notes: this song describes "dreams of the soldier, who is standing on the guard but thinking about a girl, not the military duties".

"Grochowka" (Bean soup)

Krzysztof Opalski notes: "Bean soup with sausage is typical military soup. The idea of this song was to write the hymn for bean soup."


Krzysztof Opalski notes: "The number 44 is from Adam Mickiewicz. He lived in XIX century and is so imporant here, like Lord Byron in England. 44 is a magic number, but 43 is missing something."


More in this series

Bootblogging #1: Three by The Lettuce Heads
Bootblogging #18: Four by Russell Hoke


Photo is of Krakersy, back in the day.


A.A. said...

Wow! I hear a Lou Reed undertone....thanks for posting.


Deb S. said...

This site is a jewel. Blog on, my friend!