Interview with Polka Band Leader Fritz Scherz

Interview with Polka Band Leader Fritz Scherz

DSC02462FrankFritzMikeGabe_ezrFritz’s Polka Band has eighteen recordings to its credit and has achieved international airplay. They have performed on stage with such notables as Canada’s Polka King, Walter Ostanek, and America’s Polka King, the late Frank Yankovic. The group has also performed at B.B. King’s Club, The China Club, and the Metropolitan Club. The ban appears on The Manchurian Candidate DVD, released by Paramount Pictures in 2004. And has had two songs appear in episodes of the hit cable TV show ‘Breaking Bad.’

Fritz took the time from his busy schedule to do the following interview.

Who inspired you to take an interest in polka music?

My Dad, the late Fred Scherz Sr. was a huge inspiration.  When I was a kid, after he’d come in at night after milking cows, he’d get out his accordion and play. He and my Mom must’ve seen that I took quite an interest as they took me to my first accordion lesson when I was just six years old. My music teacher (John Newton) gave me more formal lessons…scales, reading sheet music, etc. Dad taught me polkas, waltzes, and some other tunes by ear. I was getting the best of both worlds. My years of accordion lessons and practicing paid off. I won the National Accordion Contest in Gibbon, MN, back in 1989.

When did you decide to have your own band?

I was just eight years old when my Dad, my brother-in-law, and me along with a trumpet player formed Fritz’s Polka Band. Yes, we had a trumpet player back in the day.

Where and when will you be playing in the next few months?

We play once a month at Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack in Farmington, NY. This is usually on a Tuesday or a Monday (if a holiday) 11 am to 2 pm. During the winter we play a few times a month because of the unpredictable nature of CNY weather.

How long did it take you to gain a fan following?

The fan following grew as we kept playing. We were a more traditional polka band in the 70s and 80s. We have evolved to include various other styles, ranging from country to rock and even some blues. Our modern-style polkas, that we write, energize the crowd, whether eight or eighty years old. Once we got sponsored by Jagermeister (2002), I started noticing younger people taking interest in what we do. We do really break the polka stereotype.

Who are the musicians you most admire?

My Dad was the biggest inspiration, both personally and professionally. His work ethic was second to none. I miss him so much!

As far as other musicians, I admire those who put forth an incredible effort when they play. For example, if I attend a concert of a rock band, I expect more than 88 or 90 minutes from the headliner. Bands like Bruce Springsteeen, Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, and Joe Bonamassa who regularly play more than two hour sets impress me.

In the polka field, I admire Walter Ostanek, as he’s been performing for many years and we are friends. He’s even a special guest on one of my band’s CDs. There are so many talented musicians out there that I admire. Truthfully, I admire the guys that are in my band now and those that were in my band before, as it’s a collective effort when we play.

Do you write any of the songs you play?

Yes, between my Dad and me, we’ve composed over 100 songs. I don’t play all of them at gigs, but I do make a point to mix in some originals with cover tunes when we play. As much as I love playing a tune like ‘Polka Time in The Morning’ that my Dad wrote, I also enjoy rocking out on ‘All Along The Watchtower.’

Give a short description of the members of your group.

I play piano accordion, button-box, and do vocals. Gabe Vaccaro plays bass guitar, guitar, and does vocals. Frank Nelson plays guitar and does vocals, and Mike Faraino plays drums. I can honestly say that Fritz’s Polka Band performs an eclectic mix of musical styles that appeals to all ages.

How do you spend your spare time?

Ideally, I get to spend time with my family, as I love them so much. I do have other jobs besides my band, but the band doesn’t seem like a job because of how much I enjoy playing the music. My day job is at the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. I am also a Councilman on the Verona town Board. I’m an adjunct professor at Morrisville State College. I’m involved with various community organizations, such as the Oneida county Association of Towns, where I am currently serving as President. For more information on my non-FPB life, check out: www.fritzscherz.com.

Where can fans purchase your CDs?

My band’s CDs are available at our gigs as well as through the mail and on-line, at places such as iTunes, CDBaby, etc.

People who love an eclectic polka style should check out Fritz’s Polka Band and can attend whenever he is playing. The band does not repeat setlists. With a click of a mouse you can find out more about the band at www.fritzspolkaband.com, www.facebook.com/fritzspolkaband, and www.twitter.com/fritzspolkaband

eading sheet music, etc. Dad taught me polkas, waltzes, and some other tunes by ear. I was getting the best of both worlds. My years of accordion lessons and practicing paid off. I won the National Accordion Contest in Gibbon, MN, back in 1989.

When did you decide to have your own band?

I was just eight years old when my Dad, my brother-in-law, and me along with a trumpet player formed Fritz’s Polka Band. Yes, we had a trumpet player back in the day.

Where and when will you be playing in the next few months?

We play once a month at Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack in Farmington, NY. This is usually on a Tuesday or a Monday (if a holiday) 11 am to 2 pm. During the winter we play a few times a month because of the unpredictable nature of CNY weather.

How long did it take you to gain a fan following?

The fan following grew as we kept playing. We were a more traditional polka band in the 70s and 80s. We have evolved to include various other styles, ranging from country to rock and even some blues. Our modern-style polkas, that we write, energize the crowd, whether eight or eighty years old. Once we got sponsored by Jagermeister (2002), I started noticing younger people taking interest in what we do. We do really break the polka stereotype.

Who are the musicians you most admire?

My Dad was the biggest inspiration, both personally and professionally. His work ethic was second to none. I miss him so much!

As far as other musicians, I admire those who put forth an incredible effort when they play. For example, if I attend a concert of a rock band, I expect more than 88 or 90 minutes from the headliner. Bands like Bruce Springsteeen, Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, and Joe Bonamassa who regularly play more than two hour sets impress me.

In the polka field, I admire Walter Ostanek, as he’s been performing for many years and we are friends. He’s even a special guest on one of my band’s CDs. There are so many talented musicians out there that I admire. Truthfully, I admire the guys that are in my band now and those that were in my band before, as it’s a collective effort when we play.

Do you write any of the songs you play?

Yes, between my Dad and me, we’ve composed over 100 songs. I don’t play all of them at gigs, but I do make a point to mix in some originals with cover tunes when we play. As much as I love playing a tune like ‘Polka Time in The Morning’ that my Dad wrote, I also enjoy rocking out on ‘All Along The Watchtower.’

Give a short description of the members of your group.

I play piano accordion, button-box, and do vocals. Gabe Vaccaro plays bass guitar, guitar, and does vocals. Frank Nelson plays guitar and does vocals, and Mike Faraino plays drums. I can honestly say that Fritz’s Polka Band performs an eclectic mix of musical styles that appeals to all ages.

How do you spend your spare time?

Ideally, I get to spend time with my family, as I love them so much. I do have other jobs besides my band, but the band doesn’t seem like a job because of how much I enjoy playing the music. My day job is at the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. I am also a Councilman on the Verona town Board. I’m an adjunct professor at Morrisville State College. I’m involved with various community organizations, such as the Oneida county Association of Towns, where I am currently serving as President. For more information on my non-FPB life, check out: www.fritzscherz.com.

Where can fans purchase your CDs?

My band’s CDs are available at our gigs as well as through the mail and on-line, at places such as iTunes, CDBaby, etc.

People who love an eclectic polka style should check out Fritz’s Polka Band and can attend whenever he is playing. The band does not repeat setlists. With a click of a mouse you can find out more about the band at www.fritzspolkaband.com, www.facebook.com/fritzspolkaband, and www.twitter.com/fritzspolkaband

 

AWomansRoleCover

 

In A Woman’s Role: A 1950s Romance, Polka Dances play an important role in the story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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