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Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka

Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka
Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka
Hardcover: $29.95
208 pages, 140 color and b&w photos, 8 x 9
ISBN: 9780870207228

Published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Orders for Trade, Library or Wholesale
Price: $29.95
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Product Details
Photographs by Dick Blau
Words by Rick March


Polka Heartland captures the beat that pulses in the heart of Midwestern culture--the polka--and offers up the fascinating history of how "oompah-pah” came to be the sound of middle America. From the crowded dance tent at Pulaski Polka Days to an off-the-grid Mexican polka dance in small-town Wisconsin, Polka Heartland explores the people, places, and history behind the Midwest’s favorite music.

From polka’s surprising origin story as a cutting-edge European fad to an exploration of the modern-day polka scene, author Rick March and photographer Dick Blau take readers on a joyful romp through this beloved, unique, and richly storied genre. Polka Heartland describes the artists, venues, instruments, and music-makers who have been pivotal to polka’s popularity across the Midwest and offers six full-color photo galleries to immerse readers in today’s vibrant polka scene.





Dick Blau, has a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Yale. A self-taught photographer, filmmaker, and performer, he cofounded the highly regarded Department of Film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Blau calls his work an ethnography of the feelings. His subjects range from highly personal dramas to huge communal events. Blau has co-authored three books on the culture of celebration: Polka Happiness, Skyros Carnival, and Bright Balkan Morning. An exhibit of his polka work was recently shown at the Wisconsin Museum of Art in West Bend. Blau lives with writer Jane Gallop in downtown Milwaukee.

Author and folklorist Rick March has participated in the Midwest polka scene for more than three decades as a bandleader, sideman, deejay, and writer. March has a PhD from Indiana University and is a preeminent scholar of Midwest music history and culture, with an emphasis on previously little-studied music traditions. He was the longtime host of Down Home Dairyland on Wisconsin Public Radio and a producer of polka CDs for Smithsonian Folkways. As the State Folklorist for Wisconsin from 1983 to 2009 based at the Wisconsin Arts Board, March organized festivals, exhibits, and other educational programs in partnership with numerous Midwestern arts and cultural organizations.