the band

since 1985 this has been a 6 piece band while other bands are much smaller.  one of the reasons for their popularity is their big band polka sound.
Brian Brueggen
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"Music is a very emotional thing. When I talk about growing up and the memories I’ve had with music, it chokes me up. If I hear the right song on the radio when I’m standing out in my garage, it can just about bring tears to my eyes. That almost makes me feel weird about myself, but that's how much I like music.

 

Life’s different than it was 40 years ago, but I’ve always heard our neighbors talk about how at night, after chores were done, you could hear the music echo through the hills. My family would be outside playing music, not thinking much of it.

 

Growing up, my dad was a farmer, a school bus driver, and a musician. I remember he had this old maroon concertina. When he went to drive the school bus in the morning, he’d hide the concertina in the closet because he didn't want anyone to break the buttons off of it. Well, being a little kid, I would sneak into the closet, pull it out and play. It was an awful-playing concertina, but how it worked intrigued me. On Saturday nights my dad would play music, so nobody could make any noise on Sunday while he was napping. When he was sleeping, I snuck his concertina outside and learned “At the Spring Waltz.” One day, after he woke up from one of his naps, I went to him and asked, “Dad, do you have a second?” and I played “At the Spring Waltz” for him. From then on, the concertina was never locked up!

 

A concertina is a bugger of an instrument that was invented by a man who, after having a serious argument with his wife or girlfriend, went into a serious drinking spell. He thought he would try to manufacture an instrument that would annoy everyone…and he succeeded! That’s a joke, of course, but the concertina is one of the most unique instruments. Everybody calls it an accordion, but it ain't even close — that's like calling a tuba a cello. On a concertina, there's fifty-two buttons and each button has a different sound going both in and out. They call it a diatonic instrument. It’s the quirkiest darn thing, and I’m still working on mastering it.

 

I played the trumpet in the high school band and could read music, but I cannot read any music for concertina. Everything is off the cuff. When I hear a song I like, I listen to it a few times and play. I think it turned out okay, and, honestly, that’s the way my ancestors did it. I don't have an aunt or an uncle back through the years who can read music. No one in my family can. The person that doesn't read music has no choice but to play from your heart.

 

When I look back to my dad, my grandpa, and my ancestors, I see that music is what held families together. My mother was a big part of my band’s success because she’d help us book our shows. When we would come off the road from our Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday jobs, we’d have to be at work on Monday. That was always the big day when folks called to book the band since it was the first business day after hearing us. So my mom was always especially busy on Monday. My wife Jodi is a drummer, piano, and saxophone player and comes from a very musical family. Her dad was a concertina player. My kids all play music. My ancestors all played music, too, but they made it to their dance jobs with horses and buggies through snowstorms. I’m just the one keeping things going and using vans and trailers.

 

If you can play music in a family, there's nothing like that. My cousins played in their bands together, and Sylvester Liebl also played with his family in his group Sylvester Liebl and the Jolly Swiss Boys. You know what everyone's thinking when you’re out there playing or singing together. When my dad was still alive, I remember we would play dances and stand on the stage and sing together. I would look at him, and he would look at me, and we just knew what was going to happen. Family knows what they can pull out of each other. With music you can express your feelings, you can express your emotions— but if you're doing it with family, it’s ten times fuller."

Jodi Brueggen
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lives in Cashton,WI.  Originally from New Ulm, MN.   She plays drums and piano with the band.  Jodi is married to Brian and started with the band in 2001.

Phillip Brueggen
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lives in Cashton,WI.  Plays trumpet, valve trombone and piano with the band. He is a Junior in high school.  Philip is the son of Brian & Jodi and has been with the band for 6 years.

Frank Galewski
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lives in Dodge, WI. He plays tuba with the band.  Frank is married and has one daughter and is a proud grandpa. He started with the band in 1985.

Mark Heinz
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from Colby, WI and originally from Wausau, WI. He plays sax, clarinet, trumpet, piano and accordion with the band and also helps out on vocals.  Mark is married and has 2 children and has been with the band for 12 years.

Marty Nachreiner

originally from New Ulm, MN and now resides in Tomah, WI. He plays trumpet, sax, clarinet and concertina. Marty has 3 children and has been with the band since 1998. 

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