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World Music CD Reviews North American

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published February 17, 2006

DEEPER POLKA: MORE DANCE MUSIC FROM THE MIDWEST
Smithsonian Folkways

Polka music has often been dismissed as a stodgy music that appeals to a limited number of mostly conservative people of a certain age. That image isn't completely unjustified but polka began to be better understood when several musicologists began to write seriously about the genre a decade or two ago. Deep Polka, this album's precursor, focused on contemporary polka bands from Wisconsin while this 27-track sequel features an equal share of tracks by seven bands from seven different Midwest states, each with its own distinct sound. The groups are of Polish, Croatian, Czech, Slovenian, Finnish, German and Norwegian heritage and the instrumentation and styles change accordingly from group to group. While some tracks will undoubtedly confirm some listeners' stereotyped image of polka music, Deeper Polka at least demonstrates the breadth of styles that its practitioners pursue. As far as polka compilations go, this one contains plenty of diversity as well as impressive musicianship. The accompanying annotation is up to the label's high standards.