(L to R):
"Reckless" Rusty Russell (Drums & Vocals)
"Dandy Don" Hedeker (Guitar & Vocals)
Chris "Blitz Linster" (Bass & Vocals)
"They are a real Chicago treat. Like deep dish pizza, they may not be good for you, but they are TASTY!"
"...excellent musicianship and awful clothing since 1997..."
"We try to be as un-boring and uncool as possible!"
Traditional polka and polka type songs played with non traditional instruments (drums, bass, and guitar). A new generation of Polka music. It's fast, furious, and fun. We have electrified polka and made it rock! Local Chicago musicians, Dandy Don Hedeker (of Algebra Suicide & Bouncing Balls), Jumpin' George Kraynak (of New Rob Robbies) and Merry Mike Werner (of Handsome Family) were tired of the dark and dirty woes of the local Chicago alternative scene. Dandy Don (our leader) professed that we would make rock shows fun again. And so the legend began, old Polka bars like the Baby Doll were packed to capacity with angry punk rockers letting their guard down to dance and sing to polka classics like "In Heaven there is no Beer." Audience members were persuaded to come on stage and admit their addiction to the nearly forgotten genre of polka. Every show has been a blast. We are fun, that's it. In 2001, after 4 years of polkaholicism, Merry Mike and Jumpin' George moved on, but Polka Action Jackson Wilson and Jolly James Wallace stepped in to join Dandy Don to keep pushin' the polka! Since then, Stylin' Steve Glover took over the 2-beat time keeping in February 2009 and Action Jackson Wilson returned on drums in 2014. Blitz Linster took over bass duties in September 2012. Joining in November 2016, the newest polkaholic is Reckless Rusty on drums. The quest continues!
The band puts the oomph back in oom-pah and a punk edge on polka. Guitarist 'Dandy Don' Hedeker formed the Polkaholics in '97 by fusing his two main influences: the polka standards of Windy City polka king Lil' Wally and the '70s punk explosion of late guitar god Johnny Thunders (of New York Dolls). What began as a crash-course cover of the traditional 'Beer Barrel Polka' grew into a deep respect for Windy City polka forerunners like The Pala Brothers, The Naturals and Eddie Zima. Punk and polka was an unlikely mixture, but Dandy Don made it work -- and still does with current members drummer Reckless Rusty and bassist Blitz Linster. Today, the trio polkas their way into clubs all over the city, and if you ever catch a show, expect proof that the fusion worked: The entire crowd -- young and old, polkameisters and punkers -- bobs with a smile.
Playing the Town
The Polkaholics have performed at nearly all the standard rock clubs in town, but seem more at home playing traditional Polish bars. From the Southside Bridgeport VFW Hall to the Northside Zakopane Lounge, these haunts are well-worn polka joints with a built on the foundation of regulars. Add a few rockers and fun-seekers to the scene, and the place explodes.
Besides its self-titled debut and 'Polkas On Guitar,' The Polkaholics are featured on the German compilation 'American Polka' by Trikont Records. "It's a super honor to be on this CD because it includes such great traditional polka stars like Li'l Wally, Ampol-Aires and Walt Solek, as well as our pals in polka revolution, Polkacide," says Dandy Don. "There is no better CD for an introduction to the vast power and variety of American polka music." And its undeniable fun.
Don't expect to find the Polkaholics living the rock star life offstage. They turn to Chicago standards like Small Bar on Avondale, the Gold Star on Division, and Cal's Liquors.
Favorite local bands? The Polkaholics have many. Among them they list The Detholz, Mushuganas, The Afflictions, Twang Bang, Bombbone, The Commodes, and more!