Buy The Waltz to Westphalia Now

Format: DVD Video
(NTSC, North America)
Buy The Waltz to Westphalia Now

The Waltz to Westphalia tells the convoluted story of how a pretty Polish folk song became a famous American fiddle tune. A fiddler myself, I’ve heard many conflicting stories about where the tune came from, and I wanted to find out the truth.

In March, 2006, I took my search on the road, visiting Westphalia, Texas, a tiny hamlet about 35 miles south of Waco. There I met with Helen Lingnau, who attended a dance at the Westphalia Parish Hall in the early 1940’s when fiddler Cotton Collins and his band played a “new” waltz, whose name they didn’t know.

When I interviewed Helen, I didn’t know that I was beginning five and a half years of traveling, filming, recording, studying, corresponding, editing, and writing. And I didn’t know that the tune had been recorded in New York sixteen years earlier by America’s largest record company, RCA Victor. Known as "Pytala Sie Pani," it was performed in the Victor studios by a Polish-American band from western Massachusetts, and in 2007 I met with the grandson of the lead trumpet player of that session. Eventually, I would interview Joe Smiell, son of a Polish immigrant coal miner from the Allegany Mountains of southwest Pennsylvania, who had insisted Joe learn music as a way out of a desperate and dangerous life style. I interviewed Polish-American folk musicians in northern Wisconsin who still play the tune and sing it in Polish, unaware of its separate identity as the Westphalia Waltz.

The Waltz to Westphalia is told in the voices of the participants and their descendants, and finally sets the historical record straight, correcting years of misunderstandings and marketing hype.

For additional copies or information on obtaining other recordings by Joe Weed, please contact
Highland Records
PO Box 554
Los Gatos, CA 95031-0554

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The Waltz to Westphalia

Musicians, their descendants, and other participants in the story colorfully relate the meandering evolution of the Westphalia Waltz, uncovering its emergence from a Polish-American past to a fiddle standard named for a tiny hamlet in south Texas. 60 minutes.

Produced and directed by Joe Weed

Featuring musical performances by:

Norton Buffalo, harmonica
David Grier, guitar
Rob Ickes, dobro
Arthur Kee, fiddle
Marti Kendall, Bass
Brian Marshall, fiddle
Todd Phillips, bass
John Lee Sanders, piano
Rik Siverson, cornet, alto horn,
alto sax and tuba
Joe Weed: guitar, fiddle, mandolin
Katie Weed, guitar, fiddle

...and many additional musicians from around the United States and Poland.

The Chapters:

1. The Blue Bonnet Music Company
2. Westphalia, Texas
3. Boom Time
4. Bremond, Texas
5. Pennsylvania
6. New England
7. Wisconsin
8. Lyrics and Names
9. Cotton Collins
10. Copyright
11. Summary
12. Credits and End Notes

Total playing time: 60 minutes

Written by Joe Weed and Martha Kendall
Art direction by Sandy Frye and Katie Weed
Filmed on location in Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachussets
Audio edited, mixed and mastered by Joe Weed at Highland Studios, Los Gatos, CA

Produced by Joe Weed

Buy The Waltz to Westphalia Now

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