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Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band World Pop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Confessions of a Polka Convention Virgin"

With a name like Czyzewicz, it’s no surprise that I’ve been around polka music my whole life. I grew up listening to polkas, watching family dancing to polkas, learning and competing in youth polka dance competitions with my cousins and eventually toe tapping back at the table while pounding a beer and catching my breath from dancing. Polkas were a glimpse of my heritage played at weddings, parties and family gatherings when we would grab our partners and circle the floor. Little did I know that there were polka bands out there that had “groupies” and people that traveled from all over to stand in front of the stage, sing along and listen to the music rather than simply dancing around the floor to a familiar beat.

I learned about FreezeDried and USPA while watching my oldest son play baseball for a park district league. While standing on the sidelines cheering on our sons, I struck up a conversation with a great guy that shared similar interests. Little did I know at the time I was talking to “Johnny O”. Initially, neither of us knew of the others background in the polka world, mine listening and his playing. Over the course of the season, we became good friends and “Johnny O” told me about FreezeDried and shared a CD with me. As I listened, it was both familiar and yet strikingly different. Coming from a “traditional” polka background, it took a few listens and then it started to grow on me. I liked Confessions of a Polka Convention Virgin the change, the beat keeps the tradition and the songs keep you singing.

Seeing my growing interest, John invited me to go with him and some of the guys to the USPA this year to show me what this was all about. FreezeDried didn’t play until Saturday, so Friday we checked out the other bands, they were great, your typical good ol’ polka bands. I did like the Polka Family, especially the dueling drums. John was right though, people just stand there and listen to and enjoy the music. One band finishes, you get another pitcher of beer and move to the next. People are dancing, there’s room, heck, there’s a lot of room to dance. So, three bands, a couple of golabki’s, and one Denny’s stop later, we’re heading to the hotel singing some polka song that I’m faking and slightly slurring the words to as we look forward to yet another day of this.

Saturday morning came fast and FreezeDried was busy setting up, so I was hanging out at the hotel with two other FreezeDried fans. John O'Brien and I were busy having a few cocktails while watching Al Zawislak iron his clothes before the big show. Eventually, we all got to the show, paid our $15 grabbed a couple golabki's, a pitcher of beer and here we go again. This time it's Maestro's Men, great music, fun to watch and quite a few people taking up space on the dance floor making for a very nice crowd. At some point I start to notice that there are people milling around, the hallway is filling up, people are coming in. You could feel the energy building. Now it's Eddie Blazonczyk's, Versatones, smooth as silk, right out of the book, everyone in the hall is mentioned by name at some time or another for their birthday or anniversary. This is what I remember growing up. Not a sole left the place or the dance floor. What a wonderful thing to see, again, all the older people dancing just like when I was young, probably some of the same people. Now I notice though that people are lining up in front of a dark FreezeDried stage. Hey, hey, hey, Eddie's not done yet, have some respect! I'm standing about halfway back from the stage, waiting to take it in, this is what I came out to see, I know the music, my kids have their favorites, my wife actually listens to polkas now as long as it's FreezeDried. Eddie's done, yes, it's time! The dance floor is filling up, the people are crowding in and here comes "Vamos", what a rush! There's nothing like live music and a huge crowd that is there just to see FreezeDried play. A couple of songs into it I'm noticing the crowd keeps getting larger and the dance floor is getting smaller, but no one really cares because everyone from young to old is standing around toe tapping and singing to the songs. Not everyone stayed to watch, but the ones that did were not playing Pinochle at the table.

The night was great. The Icicles came out and blew away the crowd with their singing and dancing and a few new tunes got the party really rocking, especially "Tequila" and "Pay Me My Money Down". I went up to an older couple, fully expecting that they would not appreciate this kind of music, and asked what they thought. They replied that FreezeDried was the only reason they came. That was it, I'm hooked. Completely! We headed out to Denny's after the show, singing "pay me oh pay me, pay me my money down", even in the restaurant, peoples head turning and smiling, even the manager came to our table for a visit.

What a great night, what a great weekend ... "Good times, good times!"
- David Czyzewicz


DegenerationGap 2009
Fear of Rubber Cushions 2006
Deliberate Confusion 2003
Artistically Challenged 2000
The song "Pay My Money Down" was released on a compilation CD for the Old Town School of Folk Music in Fall 2007.



FreezeDried is polka band from Chicago that brings Polish push-style polkas to the polka and non-polka fan. They are known throughout the field to be on the cutting edge of polka music. FreezeDried mixes polkas with other music styles such as latin music, zydeco, gospel music, dixieland music and rock music. Their efforts have been inspiring other traditional polka bands to be more creative in their approach to new material, musical arrangements and showmanship. FreezeDried did not stop at their quest for musical diversity. In 2006, FreezeDried continued to progress in the vocal area by adding a female vocal trio. Affectionately known as "The Icicles", the singers bring flavors of motown and soul to the FreezeDried sound.