Uli Krack and his German Polka Band celebrate at the Fredericksburg Brewery during their last visit to the Hill Country in 2006. The Stutgart group returns this week for three performances. Courtesy photo.
Uli Krack and his German Polka Band have scheduled three performances:
A Little Night Musikgemeinschaft
by Phil Houseal
Introducing die Musikgemeinschaft "Harmonie" Tamm-Hohenstange!
"No one here knows how to pronounce it, so they just go by Uli Krack and his German Polka Band," explained Amber Nanni, who has been instrumental in getting this Stutgart-based orchestra over to Texas.
Although I'm not sure it is that much easier to say "Uli Krack," Fredericksburg audiences who are used to hearing the Czech-style polka music pumped out at festivals will find it interesting to sample the wider selection of styles brought by an authentic German band. They will perform three shows this week at Fredericksburg venues.
Leader Krack, who has played trumpet since he was 9, thinks the group's repertoire will surprise and please local audiences.
"We do play some of that old stuff now, because we think that Texan audiences want to hear polkas, marches, and waltzes," he said. "But if you only play these kinds of music, people get bored."
The association's goal is to keep the tradition of German Volksmusik alive with a variety of styles. So this German band will forego rolling out the barrel in favor of a little jazz, big band, Latin, cha cha, samba, and rumba.
"I think everybody knows Cuando Cuando Cuando for example," Krack said. "That makes it more interesting for the people, and of course for the musician."
The16 musicians range in age from 16 to 56. They are an amateur group, and belong to a music verein, which is an association common in Germany as well as in early Fredericksburg.
"These kinds of groups you can find in every community," Krack explained. "You can be a member, start playing there, get lessons, and then be able to play in the group after a few years. Members pay a few euros a year, and help whenever help is needed."
So how did this German band get booked in a small Texas town? Krack and a friend first vacationed in Texas in 1991, when they happened to visit Fredericksburg. They befriended the late Bob Wilson, who owned the Black Forest restaurant located just west of town. They stayed in touch, and Krack finally was able to bring his entire group over to play in 2006.
"We had so much fun that when we returned to Germany we decided to come back to Texas again," he said. "What we remember is the great hospitality. Everywhere we went people were very friendly. That first time they did not know what kind of band we were in advance. They just said, yes, come over and play."
I had one more question. On this trip, will they play the Chicken Dance?
There was a pause. A long pause.
"Yes, we will play the Chicken Dance," Krack said carefully. "We are a German band and they expect us to play that. It is fun for us to play that kind of music."
He paused again, then added, "But not for three hours."