...last update 24 April 2007.
How can be be 25 years have passed since that "Live Wire" night? Then anticipation for the night was almost as exciting as the event itself. People talked about it for months and planned their trips to the Nickel City. That night brought together Larry Trojak, Dave "Scrubby" Seweryniak, Al Piatkowski, Chris Gawlak, Mike Evan and David "Nigel" Kurdziel, a group that made polka history. They created not only the music, but established a night entrenched in the Polka vocabulary. The recording was released on LP by WAM Records and the recording done by Gary Rhamy of Peppermint Studios and Produced by Dave Zychowski. The WAM LP was a hot-ticket item and included a fold-out poster of photos, liner notes and lyrics.
The WRS label released "Live Wire II" in 1989, giving us "the never before released live track...from the original 1982 live wire session. It was almost anti-climactic but still sold well.
You cannot duplicate what was but wouldn't it be great to have Trojak, Seweryniak, Piatkowski, Gawlak, Evan and
Kurdziel back on stage in a true "Live Wire" reunion - just one more time?
As the winds created a storm outside, The Dynatones produced a polka storm inside the Colonel J.B. Weber Post on April 3, 1982 and made polka history with their "Live Wire" recording session and dance. With the WAM/Peppermint studios transported to this Lackawanna, NY hall to put down on tape this polka happening for the next Dynatones' album, hundreds of fans from as far away as Michigan and Massachusetts gathered to partake of an experience unmatched in the polka field.
After over seven hours of mic set-up, level checks, trials and tribulations, the Dynatones took to the stage and placed themselves into the expert hands of Dave Zychowski, Gary Rhamy, and the fabulous WAM equipment. While Hrukus, Rowdys, and all DyŮatones' fans alike stacked the stage front, Buffa1o's best and, at least on this night, the Nations best filled reels of tape with polkas, waltzes, obereks, comments, out-takes, in-takes, and gems, all in the style, class, and chararacter of the Dynatones. "Boys from Chicago," Zosia," "Dusty Shoes," Scrubby's Foot, and others had the crowd singing, dancing, yo-ing, yea-ing, and yip-ing with polka joy and musical madness. The Dynatones collect fans like a magnet and the force that holds these fans seems to grow stronger with every performance. This night in Western New York was a great night for both the band and the fans, and gives each a chance to say "Thanks" to the other.' It was one of the Dynatones finest hours and one that will live on in their next album, "Live Wire."
LIVE WIRINGS: It was like a Buffalo polka reunion with a lot of out-of-towners joining the Nickel City folks...AWARDS that could have or should have been presented at the live Wire: Best Vocal Group at the dance - Hrukus and Rowdys, Best Ego Builder - Emily B., Best Dancer-Drinker Combination - Barb the Dancer and Ed the Drinker, Best Dressed - Mike Nowakowski & Bob Zielinski, Best Time by an Individual-Mike Samsonik, Best Tapeman - Mike Chipchak, Most Populating - Roger & Marlene Nowaczyk, Best Hair Style - Mark Cwiklinski, Best Polka Association President Present - J.A. Spitak, Most Reflective - Gino Olszowka, Most talkative- Dave Nigel Kurdziel, Most Inquisitive-The guy checking purses and bags at the door, Best Somersault - Barb Benkowski, Most band members present of a band no longer together - The Original Varitones, Best Drivers - Linda & Debbie, Best Mixer - Canada Dry or Gary Rhamy (not necessarily In that order), Best Quote - Anonymous- "it must be July, It's snowing 1n Buffalo," Most Recognizable without a microphone - Bobby Calvert (or was It Jackie Llbera).
LIVE UNW1RINGS: Strange events or happenings that occurred at, or because of, the Live Wire Session; Scrubby playing concertina with a bare foot (most people, use their hands), three Buffalo Polka DJs being in the hall at the same time, Bobby Calvert selling invisible albums, Nigel Smiling on stage, such a large gathering of Hrukus & Rowdys outside the Broadway Grill, Bernie Z getting dressed up, it snowing in Lackawanna?, Mr. T's hair turning gray (or did it happen before the dance?), Greg Chwojdak presenting WECK Polka Alarm Clock T-shirts to the winners of the Steve & Adele Litwin Look-A-Like Contest, The new Hrukus buttons being presented to members in good standing, Spitak and crew boating it in via Lake Erie ice Breaker, Massachusetts sending one of its Angels to the Weber Post, W&S NOT showing up with concertina in hand, The Nu Tones showing people that young does not mean untalented or inexperienced, and All of Buffalo realizing that the sharing of a stage by Scrubby and Larry, back In the late 60s was the beginning of a Buffalo polka legend... Plenty of photos taken at this one...Plenty of bands present... Holy Toledo, Brass Connection, Ampoltones, Skylarks and more...nice telegram -by the Dynamic Duo to the Dynatones...With the Dynatones' talent, WAM expertise, and the fans support, The Live Wire Album will be a super dIsc. Watch for it... It will feature a continuous music format, like a dance, photos, and a lot of great music. ...Special hello to Angel, Linda Mltchkowskl-columnist, frIend, dancer, star, photographer, and a really nice person.
CONCERTINA CORNER: Plenty of good concertina music around the past couple of months....Watch for the Kolipinski
commercial on that Live Wire. (You old Buffalo radio freaks will recognize it).
Itís funny, but there are so many things that stick in my mind about that night in 1982 ó most notably the weather. I remember the forecast being just positively horrid: snow, sleet, freezing rain ó typical April weather in Buffalo ó yet us not really being that concerned about it. For some reason we just had a good feeling that we were going to have a nice crowd and were convinced that the night was going to be special no matter how many showed up. As we now know, there was an excellent crowd on hand to share that special night with us. And it wasnít just the size of the crowd, it was the quality of the crowd. Over the years, we had attracted quite a following of characters from our road work and they all seemed to converge on the K of C in Lackawanna that night. Whether it was to show support or to see if they could get their voices heard on vinyl (talk about dated technology) didnít matter. They were there and we were grateful. On a personal note, there is a moment when my dad yells something like ďAtta boy, Wawrzyniec,Ē which is Polish for ďLawrenceĒ and which, Iíve come to realize, he called me when he was proud. Heís gone now, but itís pretty cool that I have that on record forever.
In retrospect, itís hard to put a finger on what made Live Wire so special and so popular among polka followers (Iíve had many people tell me that they were on their fourth or fifth copy of the disk or cassette, having worn the previous copies out from regular play). If I had to guess though, it would be this: Live Wire, the recording, accurately captured the mood of the hall that night. And maybe more than that, it captured everything about the Dyna-Tones that people apparently liked about the band: the music, the banter between songs, Scrubbyís antics, the loose, free-flowing mood that was the typical Dyna-Tone gig. It captured it and allowed those who played it on disc to relive that night over and over again. Call me partial but Iíve yet to hear another polka LP that draws a person into the moment like that recording does. When I was playing I was never a big fan of listening to our own music and Iím still not, but I have to confess that there is not a time I listen to the last song on Live Wire that I still donít get a chill. It was a special night for which I am extremely grateful and it produced memories that Iíll treasure forever.
The weather was angry that day, my friend. Just like an old man trying to return a bowl of czarnina at a Polish deli." I've always wanted to use that knock-off line from an old Seinfeld episode and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity. In a way, the Live Wire band was similar to the cast members of Seinfeld. Just as each of the Seinfeld actors never had as much success on their spin-offs as the original show, each member of the '82 Dynatones never recorded another album that was as trend-setting as Live Wire.
Just thinking back to that event in April of 1982 brings back memories of what Buffalo meant to me - the Broadway Grill, the Pink Fountain Motel, the Hrukus Hellraisers, the Michigan Rowdies, East Meets West and my first taste of Buffalo wings washed down with vodka and iced tea. I can't believe it's been 25 years. It seems like it happened yesterday. One thing that pops in my mind is a conversation I had with Gary Rhamy. He rented a truck to haul all of the recording equipment to Buffalo. I asked if anything was damaged during the transport and he replied that they only lost one of the VU meter light bulbs on the Skully 16 track recorder. I was amazed that there were no major equipment failures. That equipment was meant to stay in a studio and not bounce around in the back of a truck.
It's hard to believe Live Wire took place 25 years ago. In some ways it seems like yesterday and in others, it seems like a lifetime ago. It was a great pleasure to record, travel and hang out with the guys in that band - not just musically, but also on a personal level. I've had a great many musical moments playing a variety of musical genres since then, but the memories of the people we met, the friends we made and the music we created will last a lifetime.
Sad about being in a whole other room from the dance and missing all the excitement that was going on next door.
I remember the weather....the snow. We all left Youngstown on Friday in short sleeve shirts because it was so warm here. No one us even took jackets. Saturday, we were freezing and up to you know where in snow. Lesson: no matter how hot the music, mother nature is the coolest lady at the dance.
Scrubby was incredible. His rapport with the audience is amazing. This recording demonstrates that. The magic between the band and the audience is spellbinding. I told Dave Zychowski, that two of the most important microphones were the ones I used to capture the audience.
This recording set the stage for many future live albums. But there's nothing like being the first, and to have contributed to this historical polka event is priceless.
A live recording being done in Buffalo with the Dynatones! Nothing would stop me from attending. My first child was just home from the hospital that day, but to see an actual recording with THE polka band, it was something I couldn't miss, great time, great friends from all over the U.S., but who was that guy with the whistle?
Being an active Polka radio DJ, I was talking about the session for weeks prior to the actual date. The airwaves on WECK AM 1230, were abuzz with the anticipation of a history making event right here in Buffalo. We were anticipating a huge out of town contingent, and then when it was all over Buffalo did what it does best, a major snow storm to cap off the night!
Polka Radio DJ