It was a bit unusual to see so many vehicles parked on Main Street in downtown Bremond Texas on Saturday evening, November 5, 2011. The crowd had gathered in the Texas Slav & German Warehouse for a premier showing of “The Waltz To Westphalia”, a documentary film produced by Joe Weed. To celebrate the occasion, there was also lots of beer drinking, dining on delicious Polish food and dancing to good Polish music.
Jason and Denise Gouge opened the doors to the old warehouse in downtown Bremond about noon to allow folks to congregate and take advantage of the discounts on their merchandise. At 5pm, Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz took to the stage and played a lot of old Polish tunes on his concertina accompanied by Frank Motley on accordion, Mark Hopcus on guitar and James Mazurkiewicz playing the bęben. Later in the afternoon, well known Polish dance band leader Brian Marshall took out his fiddle and entertained the crowd with many old Polish tunes including old tunes that he had learned from Bremond’s own Steve Okonski. James Mazurkiewicz accompanied Brian on the bęben and that simple arrangement made for some really nice music.
While the music was playing, Denise’s family was busy serving home made gołąbki and desserts to the hungry crowd. The crowd grew bigger and bigger throughout the evening and when it came time for the film showing, the warehouse was full and it was standing room only.
The highlight of the evening was the premier showing of the documentary film “Waltz to Westphalia” which tells the fascinating story of “Pytała się pani”, a Polish folk song’s metamorphosis into an American country fiddle classic. It explains how in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s Cotton Collins, a fiddler from Waco, Texas, heard the tune in nearby Bremond, then the largest Polish settlement in Texas, and re-worked it into a Texas fiddle waltz. The film captures a wide array of people, places and artifacts significant in the tune’s regional and national development. Since the evolution of the tune took place in the twentieth century, some of the primary sources are still living, and shared their memories with producer Joe Weed. In 2006, he began traveling around the United States to speak with them, their children, or their grandchildren.
The show began at about 7:30 pm with an introduction by Joe’s wife Marty. The hour long film held the attention of the large crowd and got lots of smiles and applause whenever Bremond or one of the locals was mentioned.
After the film showing, a 40th birthday party was held for Denise Gouge. Brian Marshall, Mark Rubin, Silas Lowe, George Carver and Herb Belofsky provided the music. Joe Weed, an accomplished musician himself, played a few tunes with the band and Marty Weed sang a beautiful song while her husband Joe played the fiddle. The party continued into the early hours of the morning.
Below are a few photos of the fun and there is a slideshow of many more photos on page 2. There are a few music videos in the Polish Texans Video section or you can see more videos on our YouTube Channel.