Taron is a rural punk-turned polka enthusiast determined to keep the spirit of both alive for as long as he is. Here are six songs he recommends for celebrating Saskatchewan’s polkafest season. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to hear some of them live this summer! /Gregory Beatty
“Happy Day Polka”
Dennis-N-Curtis Show, Danceland’s Spring Polkafest (May 12–13, 2023)
Imagine your dad was a well-known and respected accordionist. Now imagine he shared his talent and passion with you so you could perform together. That’s Curtis Ficor’s dream. Seeing him and his dad perform together at Watrous’s famous venue earlier this spring? Well, that was a dream come true for the rest of us!
Len Gadica, Assiniboia Polkafest (July 21–22)
Len plays these events so much they might as well call them Gadica-fests. He’s played the accordion for over 50 years, released seven albums, and written six books on learning the instrument. Even more impressive: he wrote every song he plays. He performs this one in the 1999 Saskatchewan documentary They Live to Polka.
Leon Ochs, Rouleau Polkafest (July 29)
Name a better one-man band from Landis who’s been performing for over 40 years — you can’t! Like Len, Leon seems to play all the Saskatchewan polkafests. Maybe we should just call them Gadica-Ochs-fests?
“Let’s Have a Party”
Walter Ostanek and The Western Senators, Prince Albert Polkafest (Aug. 26–28, 2022)
Canada’s King of Polka, Walter Ostanek, and Saskatchewan’s only Grammy-nominated polka band, The Western Senators, have performed together for decades. Their Polkarama season five performance of “Let’s Have a Party” has over one million views on YouTube (if you look closely my grandma and I can be spotted dancing in the background). Sadly, the original composer of this hit, Ted Zalac, passed away recently. Thankfully, his memory will remain through this song.
“Was Ist Das”
The Drehers, Was Ist Das (1992)
What’s not to love about The Drehers? Starting out as a family band from a small Saskatchewan village, they’d eventually find their ace in the hole with Todd Richter — a drummer who could not just sing, but yodel! His talents truly shine on this title track from one of their best albums.
“Three Yanks Polka”
Jordan Rody, Main Squeeze (2018)
Widely known as the theme song of America’s Polka King Frankie Yankovic, this is a great fit for Leduc accordionist Jordan Rody. The grandson of late Saskatchewan accordionist Mike Kushneryk (The Western Senators/Happy Roaming Rangers), Jordan comes by his talents honestly. Currently the youngest member of The Western Senators, he’ll hopefully be playing this song at polkafests for years to come! ■