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While Jimmy Sturr may not be able to single-handedly remove the social stigma associated with polka, he is the music’s finest contemporary ambassador and greatest commercial success. With more than 90 albums and eight Grammy awards to his credit, Sturr is a great popularizer of the music, to the extent that such a thing is possible with polka. Sturr “Americanizes” the traditional and regional variants of polka, especially through his frequent use of English lyrics. The infectious dance rhythms and instrumental breaks of his 13-piece orchestra showcase Sturr’s clarinet and alto sax glissandos as he is supported by trumpets and a rhythm section, not to mention the much-maligned accordion. The lyrics sometimes offer all the camp that gave the music a bad name in the first place. Consider these words of wisdom: “Hoop de doo, hoop de doo/I hear a polka and my troubles are through/Hoop de doo, hoop de dee/This kind of music is like heaven to me.” I won’t argue that the music would be more “authentic” if these lyrics were sung in Polish or Czech, but it might sound a little less like the Seven Dwarfs or the Oompa Loompas. The album features guest appearances by Grand Ole Opry holdover Bill Anderson, Elvis’ frequent vocal backup group the Jordanaires, and accordion legend Flaco Jimenez. His duet with Jimenez, “Hey Baby, Qué Pasó,” underscores the two-step polka rhythms common in conjunto and Tejano music. Any polka album would be incomplete without a handful of instrumentals, of which “Sweet and Lovely,” an oberek (uptempo waltz), is a highlight. Sure, it’s kind of hokey, but what could possibly make for better listening on the drive to Jessup for polka night at Blob’s Park?Matt Watson