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Polish Musicians From Texas


Polish Village Music In New Waverly Texas

Polish Village Music In New Waverly TexasSome many years ago Todd Buckner (Bochnia) informed me that he had a video from the 50’s of a 50th wedding anniversary in New Waverly, TX. It took some time but eventually we hooked up and he let me borrow the tape in question and I discovered that what he actually had was an audio recording duplicating exactly what had been played at a wedding reception in the early 1900’s.

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Faustyn Langowski on the Side

Great sidemen rarely get the attention they deserve. It’s long overdue that we pay tribute to Faustyn Langowski, whose career on clarinet and sax establishes him as one of the premier sidemen of Texas music.

Texas polka fans know Faustyn as the entertaining man on clarinet and sax with Harry Czarnek & the Texas Dutchmen since 1999. Or perhaps they remember him performing with Brian Marshall & the Texas Slavic Playboys, wearing a black hat and making wisecracks that kept the band in stitches. Friends may recall him as the heavy smoking “conversationalist,” who has many stories and the ability to tell them well.

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A Tribute To A Polish Texan Musical Icon

Sigmund JozwiakSigmund Jozwiak
August 25, 1925 – November 4, 2009

There is no doubt that Sigmund was an Icon in Texas Polish history! He was loved and will be missed, but it is up to us to remember the legacy that he has made for Polish Texans and celebrate the impact he has made on each of us. I personally know that he loved seeing all of us get together and celebrate our Polish culture and heritage. He knew that our music and customs, of which he help preserve, would be safe and passed down to another generation for others to enjoy. …

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John Louis Meleski

John Louis MeleskiJohn was born in Chappell Hill Texas, Washington County June 11, 1897. He moved to Houston, Texas in 1921 at the age of 24, with his young Chappell Hill bride, Nora Meleski. They eventually had two children Victoria and Florian, and settled on Aurora Street, in the then suburbs of Houston. John worked and retired from Humble Oil Company in downtown Houston.

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Steve Okonski

Steve Okonski and band in Chicago

Steve Okonski, born August 29, 1916 in Bremond, Texas was a lifelong resident of Bremond and was a farmer and musician. Steve was a fiddler for over 70 years and played in many towns for many weddings, family reunions, and community events throughout Texas (Houston, Dallas, Bremond, Brenham, Chapel Hill, New Waverly, Westphalia, and many others). His band usually included the instruments that were readily available in the small country town — violin, base, guitar, and accordion. They played the old time Polish favorite traditional fiddle based music. Many of the Polish family immigrants listened and enjoyed the music that connected them to their villages in Poland. Some of Steve’s favorites were: Steve’s Special, Steve’s Celia, Flat Lake Special, Village OBerek, Westphalia Waltz and others. Steve received a plaque for playing a fiddle for 70 years in Texas at the Ft Bend County Fair.

Steve supplemented his small farming income with many various jobs such as bus driver, painter, his band and others. He also served in the infantry with the US Army during World War II.

 -Bio from Okonski Family Website

Listen to Music By Steve Okonski

Stop The Fighting Boys Polka (Nie Bijcie Się Chłopcy) and The Bremond Polish Wedding Waltz by Steve Okonski Band

Texas Polish Polka and Sweet Potato Polka by Steve Okonski Band

Steve’s Special and Płynie Wisła by Steve Okonski Band

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Daniel Cendalski

Daniel Cendalski and his band Daniel and the Country Boys

Daniel Cendalski has been playing fiddle for 60 years, starting Dec. 17, 1947 when he was seven years old. He learned from his father Mitchell Cendalski, also a fiddle player, who in turn learned from his father, Stanley, who was an immigrant from Poland. Stanley Cendalski formed a band in Texas, bringing the music of Poland to Texas, and playing for the Polish and German immigrants around the Brenham and Washington County area. The music evolved into “Texas Polish” and was handed down through four sons (including Mitchell) to Daniel. Daniel now represents the 3rd generation Cendalski family band in Texas. Daniel played his first performance with his father at age seven, and has been fiddlin’ Texas ever since.

 -Bio from Texas Polka News

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A Tribute To Texas Musicians of Polish Descent

Technology advances are great, but sometimes it’s nice to look back on a simpler time before television and the internet ruled the day. Many of the early Polish settlers in Texas were simple farmers or laborers who worked hard to survive and raise their families. One of the things they brought from Poland that gave them great joy was a love for music. Pope John Paul II summed it up when he said "I have a sweet tooth for song and music".

According to well known Texas fiddler Brian Marshall; "The music has been passed down orally from generation to generation and this tradition continues today. The music of these peasant Poles typically consisted of a fiddle, a bowed bass, and an occasional clarinet: Later, guitars, drums, and accordions were introduced, though I’m sure the accordion was a Czech influence as it was not accepted as a Polish instrument at the time of this Texas migration. Music was played at all weddings and family gatherings, and this tradition continues today."

Music was a big influence in the early Polish settlers life and it is important to preserve the legacy of the early musicians who entertained their family and friends. The Polish Texans website in conjunction with Brian Marshall is actively searching for photos and information on these early Texas musicians of Polish descent. This musician tribute is a long term project that will continue to honor these men and women for years to come. If you have any photos or other information about early Polish Texan musicians, please contact us.

The musician tribute section contains lots of old photos labeled with the known musicians. When you click on the small thumbnail photos, a larger photo pops up along with the names of the musicians. Click on the small icon next to the musicians name to explore his family history in our genealogy database. Click on the small icon to read more biography information about the musician. We also have some unlabeled photos that we could use some help with. If you know the musicians in any of the unlabeled photos, please contact us with the names.

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