You probably don't know, but the King of Polka lives in Florida. Well, Florida, New York, a tiny town 60-miles from Manhattan, but Florida all the same. Jimmy Sturr, the holder of this title jokes of his city's size: "Is there a post office there? Yes." As far as similarities between Florida the city and Florida the state, he says, "Just the way you spell it."
When asked to describe polka, Sturr asserts, "I'm sure most people know what a polka is." With his 12-piece band, he performs this Eastern style of music with lots of brass and percussion. "We take a beating with the word
polka," he admits, "but once people hear the band, then they enjoy it." He insists he doesn't just limit themselves to the genre he's best known for, he also plays country and other types of music. He has recordings out with big names like Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels,
Brenda Lee, and Bela Fleck.
He discovered while reading Nelson's bio that the country king started out in a
Texas polka band. Then, he said to himself: "If I ever get the chance to meet Willie, I'll ask him if
he'll record." Soon after, he met him, he asked, and Nelson said he'd love to. They've done four CDs so
far and have another on the horizon.
Every year, Sturr participates in Farm Aid with
Willie, who he calls "such a cool guy," along with Dave Matthews, Neil Young, and
John Mellencamp. "That's the best part of Farm Aid, as far as I'm
concerned," he jokes, "hanging out with all of those guys backstage."
Though Sturr has a condo on Singer Island in Palm Beach, he doesn't spend
too much time down here, unless he's playing a cruise, the Strawberry Festival, or Vero Beach. He lives
in the house he grew up in, having returned there after attending a
military academy and serving the country.
Sturr started a band at only 11-years-old. And when he came back from the army, he went back to playing and hasn't
stopped since. When asked if he dances the lively polka, he says, "No,
that's why I'm a musician. I'm a horrible dancer." But he guarantees a
good time at their upcoming Coconut Creek show. The truth is, the
polka is freaking fun.
though Sturr is of Irish descent, their big tour sponsor is Mrs. T's the
makers of frozen pierogies (delicious, if you've never tried them). Sturr has received 18 Grammys, he's up for his 19th for Polka Is My Life. A book on his life The Polka King is coming out soon, written by Alan Goldsher, published by Ben Bella. He has a radio show, and a weekly national television program, The Jimmy Sturr Show, featuring guests and music (you can watch every Friday
night at 7 p.m., Direct TV: Channel 345, Satellite: 231). A January cruise out of Fort Lauderdale he's performing on is already sold out.
We're pretty sure The Polka King will foster the flame of your desire for a music you never knew you loved.
Award-winning Polka King Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra Waltz at 1 p.m.
on November 18, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 5550 NW 40th Street,
Coconut Creek.Tickets start at $15 and are available at
www.ticketmaster.com. There will be German beers, Jägermeister, hot pretzels, popcorn, and beer basted bratwurst sandwiches.