The Just Plain Folks Music Organization, an independent grassroots community formed in 1985 and consisting of more than 51,000 music industry professionals, announced its nominees for the 2017 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. Verona’s Fritz’s Polka Band has been nominated for three awards.
Following an eighteen month process, where organizers sifted through 17,400 albums and 240,000 songs, the Indianapolis-based organization pared down the nominees among over 70 genres. Verona-based Fritz’s Polka Band garnered three nominations, two for songs in the Best Polka Song category – “Polka Time In The Morning,” written by the late Fred Scherz Sr. and his son, Fritz Scherz and “The Party Continues,” written by Fritz Scherz – and one for the album The WSKG Sessions, in the Best Polka Album category.
The JPF Awards began in 1999 as a way to recognize music and musicians that are often ignored by the mainstream awards. This year’s ceremony takes place in Los Angeles, April 29.
Fritz’s Polka Band’s leader, vocalist and accordionist, Fritz Sherz commented on the recognition:
The guys in FPB are excited by these nominations. It’s a complete surprise, especially given the level of competition and number of entries that were submitted. We had hoped we might get one nomination, but to get three is great! We owe a huge thanks to the legion of fans we’ve made over the years, the FPB Fan Club, as well as our former sponsor, Jagermeister and our current sponsor, Coldcock Whiskey. Plus, a special thanks to all the media that have covered FPB over the years! On a personal note, I’m extra thrilled that one of the songs I had helped my Dad write is one of our tunes nominated in the Best Polka Song category. Writing songs with him was always special, and I continue to miss him dearly.
Fritz’s Polka Band was formed in 1978 by lead accordionist Fred Sherz, Sr. and his eight-year-old son Fritz, the band’s namesake. The elder Sherz passed in 2009 but the band has continued his legacy, recording 18 albums and performing around the U.S. The current lineup is Sherz on vocals and accordion, Gabe Vaccaro on bass and vocals, Frank Nelson on guitars and vocals and drummer Mike Faraino. Guitarist Tom Campbell retired from the band in 2012 but was featured on The WSKG Sessions that was nominated this year.
One of Fritz’s Polka Band’s claims to fame is that they are the only polka band to ever perform at a Woodstock event, that event being Woodstock ’99 in nearby Rome. The band has also appeared in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate and had two songs appear in two separate episodes of the acclaimed AMC TV series Breaking Bad. The band was also honored as an inductee into the Syracuse Area Music (SAMMYS) Hall of Fame in 2010.
Fritz’s Polka Band can be found on the cultural festival circuit around the northeast in the summer months as well as the regional stage at the New York State Fair. While classified as a polka band, they are far from the stereotypical version of that style. You can often find them covering classic country and rock songs with that distinct FPB flavor. You can next catch FBP at Woods Valley Ski Area, just north of Rome, for a St. Patrick’s weekend party on March 18. For dates, follow the band on Facebook.
To get a feel for FPB’s diverse catalog, check out their JPF Nominated song “Polka Time in the Morning” and a cover of “All Along the Watchtower” below.