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Dance Time
by Jennifer Pijanowski
© 2018 Polish American Journal

Dance will Memorialize Polka Matriarch Veronica Wanderlich

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Polka music, especially in the Buffalo, N.Y. area, lost a true polka enthusiast on NovemVeronica Wanderlichber 24, 2017 with the passing of Veronica Wanderlich (inset, right), just one day shy of her 83rd birthday. Always early to the party to set up her video camera, Veronica lived her life as a lover of all music but especially polka. Married to a polka musician, it was only natural that her three boys would begin learning to play instruments at a very early age. A violin player herself, she disciplined Sonny, Johnny, and Tommy to practice their craft and passed along her gift of playing music by ear.

Through the years, “Mrs. W” got to know many musicians and was always quick to share her carefully edited DVD recordings of polka bands. It is easy to picture her smiling face behind that video camera, dancing, and just enjoying the music. It was obvious to any bystander that she adored polka music. Her three sons have played with many polka greats and have paved a path of recognition on their own. The bands they have performed with include Marion Lush, Dynatones, Stas Golonka, The Knewz, Wanda & Stephanie, John Gora, and dozens of others along the way. Their resumes speak for themselves but the credit goes to one special woman who will be missed dearly. She instilled in them the drive and importance of offering nothing less than your best effort. The years of critiquing and celebrating their talents will remain with each of them forever.

In an effort to pay tribute, a memorial is planned for Mrs. Wanderlich, Feb. 24, 2018 at Our Lady of Częstochowa Church, 23 Willowlawn Pkwy, Buffalo at 9:00 a.m. To celebrate and remember Veronica the way she would all want us to, a dance will be held that evening at Potts Banquet Hall 41 S. Rossler Ave. Music begins at 7:00 p.m. and will showcase The Knewz along with Veronica’s beloved sons Sonny, Johnny, and Tommy, and special guest vocalist John Gora. A portion of the proceeds raised at the dance will be donated to Hospice of Buffalo in memory of Veronica.

Don’t miss out on a rare opportunity to see these brothers perform together knowing their greatest and most dedicated fan will be beaming down from up above. She may be gone from this earth but the joy her sons’ capabilities have given many will carry her legacy forward.

VISITORS FROM THE NORTH. Special Delivery hosted A Goralskie Christmas Koledy Night at Potts Banquet Hall. Polka music and Christmas classics were performed by the band, giving fans a chance to dance and sing along to their favorite Christmas melodies. Alternating was Toronto’s highlander group Ted Zdybal i Hyr, which provided traditional Polish carols.

The group, dressed in authentic costuming, showcased a violin, accordion and beautiful angelic voices, which instantly transported you to thoughts of Christmas time in Poland. The evening filled those in attendance with an authentic Christmas spirit that is missing from many of our modern day celebrations.

Rev. Gary J. Spencer of Holy Trinity PNCC, blessed opłatek to be shared with one another and afforded attendees the opportunity to bid good wishes for the coming holidays and New Year.

This enjoyable evening will be one that will be remembered for its warmth as each of these ensembles performed. I am hopeful that this will become a yearly event. It is a great opportunity for children to learn to appreciate those beautiful Polish carols we all love and cherish. This music has the ability to evoke wonderful Christmas memories spent with our loved ones. Events like this one keep those traditions and memories alive for all of us.

IMPORTING FANS. Potts hosted a Hangover Dance with Phocus on New Year’s Day featuring strong Bloody Marys for those who celebrated the beginning of 2018 far into the morning. While listening to the band and spreading New Year’s cheer, I heard the band announce a song going out to someone from Wheeling, W.V. Of course, being the butt of many hillbilly jokes since moving to Buffalo from West Virginia, I presumed that the band was harassing me and I began laughing.

Well as I listened, they were actually sending the song out to another table who claimed to be from Wheeling. I immediately walked over to talk to this mysterious threesome and found out that they are polka fans from the Ohio Valley who came to Buffalo to celebrate New Year’s. I had the pleasure of meeting John Mysliwiec, his aunt, Millie, and friend Mary Ann, who had attended the Millennium New Year’s Eve gala the night before.

We got a chance to talk for some time and realized that although we did not know one another from living in small-town Wheeling, we have hundreds of friends in common because of polka music. I cannot tell you how wonderful this chance meeting was and it is just another reminder of how lucky I feel to be a part of the polka world. We chatted about the Polka Jammer Network, our favorite festivals, favorite musicians, and bands, all while enjoying the entertaining fun of Phocus.

I look forward to seeing my West Virginia gang at the Wheeling Polka Festival in March and possibly Dyngus Day back here in Buffalo.

MAKING LEMONADE. Buffalo Bills fans were abuzz as the Bills entered the NFL playoffs for the first time since 1999. It seemed like the entire town held hopes of a Super Bowl appearance but it all abruptly ended when they were defeated by the Jaguars in the first round. As fans lamented the tragic end of their Super Bowl dreams, they were cheered up by the energizing sounds of Special Delivery at Clinton Bar & Grill. Bills gear was in full force as the bar room and dance floor were packed for the monthly appearance at this local watering hole. Band members know how to charm the crowd by mixing up fan favorites and throwing a few new tunes into the mix. This group consistently adds new material and focuses on playing exactly what the crowd wants to hear. It is evident as their fans arrive early to get a seat to savor the music of Special Delivery. You can check them out this month at the Annual Pączki Day Celebration, Feb. 11. The event will be held at Holy Mother of the Rosary PNCC 6298 Broadway, Lancaster, NY 14086. Tickets are $8.00 in advance/ $10 at the door. For more info contact Michelle (716) 983-5084. This event has been a long-standing fundraiser for the Polish Heritage Dancers of WNY who provide Polish cultural education through ethnic dancing and music.

SPEAKING OF WHEELING. It is time again to make your reservations for the Wheeling Polka Fest held at breathtaking Oglebay Park in Wheeling, W.V. The 7th annual festival will be held on March 23-25, 2018 in gorgeous Glessner Auditorium at Wilson Lodge. Start the weekend off right at the Kickoff Party starring Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push on Friday evening. The lineup for Saturday and Sunday includes The NuTones, The John Gora Band, The Knewz, Ray Jay & the Carousels and Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push. Ticket pricing is $40.00 for a three-day pass or admission can be paid separately for each day. For room rates & reservations call 877-822-6045 and for tickets & information call (304) 243-4064. Oglebay Resort offers many extras and amenities to roll your polka weekend into a luxurious weekend getaway. As spring begins, this resort presents beautiful gardens, mountain views, and wonderful hospitality that will make you feel welcome. This polka weekend lineup is one that you will not want to miss, so don’t delay making your plans.

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