Joe-Patek003

Joe Patek at the microphone on the left

“We don’t do it for money, (or) trying to make a living out of it. We do it for hobby because we love music. I don’t go fishing. I don’t go hunting. I don’t own a gun and don’t own a fishing pole but I’ll go 150 and 200 miles to play a dance.” – Joe Patek

 

Joe Patek Interview: (34:40)  LISTEN HERE: Joe Patek

 

 

 

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Joe Patek
Interviewed By: Chris Strachwitz
Date: 1966 (?)
Location: Shiner, TX
Language: English

“It was John Lomax Jr., Alan’s brother in Houston, who told me once, “Chris, on your way back to California, drive through the area around Shiner and Gonzales and you will hear radio stations there that play all this Czech music.” So I took his advice, and sure enough I heard this wonderful swinging polka music on the radio. It was not like it sounded in Europe; this had much more of the Southwest swing to it. A year later I heard the Joe Patek Orchestra in person at a dancehall in north Houston. There were many of these bands in the area, but Patek’s was the best of them. I’ve always loved this “Shiner Song,” which is actually better known as “The Praha Polka” (Prague Polka), but they put the Shiner Beer name in front of it. Of course, Shiner is also the name of the town where Joe Patek and his whole family Lived. One of them was a butcher, and one of them was a baker. It was just an amazing family of all these nice rotund men who played happy polka music.”
– Chris Strachwitz
From the notes to the CD “This Ain’t No Mouse Music” by Chris Strachwitz. Used by permission from Arhoolie Records.

This is an unedited interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission. info@arhoolie.org

This is an unedited interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. Some interviews contain potentially offensive language, including obscenities and ethnic or racial slurs. In the interest of making this material fully available to scholars, we have chosen not to censor this material.


Transcript:
A Note About the Transcriptions: In order to expedite the process of putting these interviews online, we are using a transcription service. Due to the challenges of transcribing speech – especially when it contains regional accents and refers to regional places and names – some of these interview transcriptions may contain errors. We have tried to correct as many as possible, but if you discover errors while listening, please send corrections to info@arhoolie.org.

Shiner-SongChris Strachwitz:               where did your father come from?

Joe Patek:           Czechoslovakia.

Chris Strachwitz:               In Czechoslovakia, did you happen to know what town or what part of it … Was it the Northern area or …

Joe Patek:           It’s Bohemian name Netolice.

Chris Strachwitz:               Netolice, that was the name of the town where you came from.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               When did he come to this country? Do you remember?

Joe Patek:           When he was about 20 years old.

Chris Strachwitz:               That was … That’ll be around the turn of the century or …

Joe Patek:           Yeah, well, I don’t know what year would that be. He would be about 98 years old now so that would make it about 70 years ago, ain’t it?

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, 70 years ago, that was that …

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Did his family settle in Texas right away?

Joe Patek:           No, he came here as a single man.

Chris Strachwitz:               A single man.

Joe Patek:           He got married here after about two years when he settled here.

Chris Strachwitz:               Is that right?

Joe Patek:           Start farming …

Chris Strachwitz:               He came right to Texas from Czechoslovakia?

Joe Patek:           Yes, he came straight to Texas, yeah, and he played in a band in Czechoslovakia. He had a band there, you see, and over here when he got married, he had six sons.

Chris Strachwitz:               Six sons, that’s …

Joe Patek:           All six sons was playing in the band.

Chris Strachwitz:               Is that right? Did he teach it to you or … learned it in school?

Joe Patek:           Yeah, well, some of them had lessons but I myself didn’t have no lesson. I just picked it up myself.

Chris Strachwitz:               What instruments do you play?

patek_josephJoe Patek:           I play saxophone and clarinet.

Chris Strachwitz:               Saxophone and clarinet.

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               How many of your brothers are in the band?

Joe Patek:           Three of them died since and three of them are still here and my son and three others.

Chris Strachwitz:               Three adults.

Joe Patek:           Men, yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Who does most of the music? Where does come from? Did he leave you any sheet music or he just left it …

Joe Patek:           One time, you can still get Polka music at Chicago and another place is, they both in Chicago. Joseph Giram (sp?) and Viktark and Elsenick (SP?). That’s where he used to order his Polkas but now these Polkas come from anywhere and you’ve just got to make it yourself. See, you just can’t get it. That’s all.

Chris Strachwitz:               I was going to say … and especially, your band interest me because you seem to blend a lot of things that you probably hear around here like Mexican music and Rock and Roll. I have your record of the Corrido Rock which kind of …

Joe Patek:           Yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               Who made that up?

Joe Patek:           It was a boy by the name of Vernon Drusk who wrote it.

Chris Strachwitz:               Vern who?

Joe Patek:           Vernon Drusk.

Chris Strachwitz:               Vernon Drusk. Is he from Shiner, too?

Joe Patek:           He used to be from Schulenburg  but he lives in Houston now.

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, is that right?

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               He made it up?

Joe Patek:           He plays with the orchestra here. He used to play with us, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, I see. When did you first begin to record? Do you remember when the first record companies would come in?

Joe Patek:           We first recorded was many, many years ago about for Decca company.

Chris Strachwitz:               For Decca.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, and we made a few records that time. Then we made several, them bigger records, was this 78s, that’s about 15, 20 years ago.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, I have a bunch of them on the Hummingbird label.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, Hummingbird really …..

Chris Strachwitz:               I mean Decca was first. That was the first time …

Joe Patek:           Yes, yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               How did that come about? Did you contact them or did somebody from Decca come?

Joe Patek:           No, we didn’t contact them. We met with him in San Antonio and we made just a few songs. That was something … That time, Polka music wasn’t as … Going as strong as it is now.

Chris Strachwitz:               Is that right? What was mostly the music? What would most people …

Joe Patek:           Jazz music. It wasn’t this Rock and Roll Beatle music, that kills the world.

Chris Strachwitz:               Seem to, but the bands here still going strong. You get a pretty good audience, don’t you?

Joe Patek:           Oh, yes, we book for weekends always year ahead.

Chris Strachwitz:               Has this recently come back because you just said that in the 30’s perhaps things weren’t going to strong but …

Joe Patek:           No, not Polka music wasn’t going as strong but then at one time, now I would say it’s a little weaker than it was about 10-15 years ago, see.

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, is that right?

Joe Patek:           Because this Rock and Roll, the teenagers kind of taking it over. Used to play a Polka dance and you could have a good audience of young and old, you see, but now when you play a Polka dance, you mostly have married couples and no young generation or teenagers, you see. They all kinda go into that Rock and Roll but it’s predicted it won’t last.

Chris Strachwitz:               I think you’re probably right.

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               I guess your band though, I think here again, maybe that’s one reason why you are more popular. I feel it’s maybe that you have incorporated some of the Rock and Roll, even like that Corrido, to me that has some of the rhythm of the Rock and Roll.

Joe Patek:           We boys, we can play anything you sing, you sing. We don’t have to have music. We read music but we … You can sing the song and we’ll copy it, you see, and we’ll put melody to it and everything else and we’ll put a little jazz in it, if it have to be.

Chris Strachwitz:               See. That’s very good. What sort of work do you do besides playing, I guess?

Joe Patek:           I own several business places in the Shiner.

Chris Strachwitz:               I see.

Joe Patek:           I’ve got a grocery store, supermarket, café, two other meat markets where we make all our sausage wieners.

Chris Strachwitz:               You make your own sausage …

Joe Patek:           Yes, sandwich sausage e, everything, and we got a locker service. We have a bunch of locker boxes we rent and own slaughter house. We kill all our fresh stuff, every daily, daily, it’s …

Chris Strachwitz:               Wow.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, I’ve got 24 employees. Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do you sell it mostly locally or do you even have states like …

Joe Patek:           No, I don’t go out nowhere, they come to me and we can’t make enough because it’s good product and I’ve got five good sons with me, too.

Chris Strachwitz:               Beautiful, that’s great. Are you in any way affiliated with that Shiner Brewing company?

Joe Patek:           No, that belongs to one person only. That’s no stock company, one person owns that brewery and that’s a lady. She inherited from her father, Miss Cecile  Spoetzl, yeah, and they … No stockholders and nothing, she owns it herself.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, but I mean, your son for example and a number of other youths, have they liked this music right from the start?

Joe Patek:           Oh, yeah, yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Maybe I could ask them.

Joe Patek:           I said I have five sons. I have five sons but four of them are in business with me and one of them became a druggist and we build him a drugstore, too, down there.

Chris Strachwitz:               In Shiner?

Joe Patek:           Yeah, we part owners of the drugstore, too, down there.

Chris Strachwitz:               How many of your sons play? Two? One?

Joe Patek:           Just one.

Chris Strachwitz:               Just one.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, the rest of them busy working.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, busy working. Do you think playing this music gives you an incentive in life to make it …

Joe Patek:           We don’t do it for money, trying to make a living out of it. We do it for hobby because we love music. I don’t go fishing. I don’t go hunting. I don’t own a gun and don’t own a fishing pole but I’ll go 150 and 200 miles to play a dance.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s … maybe I think … Where do you find most of the people who like this kind of music in Texas? Are they mostly just right around Shiner or …

Joe Patek:           Houston is very good.

Chris Strachwitz:               Around Houston.

Joe Patek:           San Antonio is very good. Taylor, all down Temple and down that line, it’s all good Polka music.

Chris Strachwitz:               Are they mostly people of Czech background or they’re also Germans and so on?

Joe Patek:           A lot of Germans, too. We play in German settlements. We all Czech, we sing Czech and when we come to German settlement, they don’t know what we singing but they sure enjoying dancing, see.

Chris Strachwitz:               Are they also German bands around … I’m not familiar with these …

Joe Patek:           Not that I know. Not a real German bands. We have a few more other bands there but it all mostly Czech.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do you think that the Czech you speak is pretty much the way they speak in Czechoslovakia or do you think it has changed quite a bit as you handed it down?

Joe Patek:           I wouldn’t know. My daddy spoke about like I do in Czech and …

Chris Strachwitz:               I mean you just learned from him, did you learn to read it, too or …

Joe Patek:           Yeah, when I went to school, I was in the third grade in Czech, you see at that time …

Chris Strachwitz:               You mean they were teaching that school?

Joe Patek:           Yeah, they were teaching Czech at that time.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, and you learned how to read and write Czech?

Joe Patek:           Yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do they still do that in school?

Joe Patek:           No, they do not and it’s all going away just like the German language. The new generation, the children don’t talk it no more. My own children, when they started school, they didn’t know how to talk English but right now, they got a hard job to talk Czech, see, because everything is in English.

Chris Strachwitz:               When did the schools stop teaching? Do you recall?

Joe Patek:           No, I wouldn’t recall exactly, could be about 20, 25 years ago.

Chris Strachwitz:               You think just prior to the war or something like that?

Joe Patek:           Yes, I’m … I wouldn’t tell you because I myself didn’t go … I didn’t graduate because I had to go behind a plow when I was through. I was farming …

Chris Strachwitz:               Right, right, … All this on your own …

Joe Patek:           Yeah, yeah, I was farming up to 22 of my age and then I was the baby of the family and then daddy retired, gave us each a farm. He had five farms. One brother was dead already. He died when he was single, so he gave us five sons each a farm and I was single at the present. When he retired, he moved to town and that’s why him in town having business. He build me a filling station and he says, “I don’t want you to be a bum here. I want you to work and I want to see what you’re going to make,” and I really made good.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s great.

Joe Patek:           Right, yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               ….. to see that your children have this into it …

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do you think that if this music keeps up and if there’s an interest, do you think that the younger generation will even learn the language if they keep going to these dances and hearing it or …

Joe Patek:           I tell you, I don’t think that Beatle dances or one of your rock and roll dances can keep up or it’ll ruin this country. You know what’s happening all over the world.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yes, all the same kind of music so …

Joe Patek:           You look what the teenagers are doing in Galveston on the opening day. You read about it.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, I saw it in the paper, but I mean don’t you think that even in spite of all that, just like it was Swing in the ‘30s, there’s still a lot of this that … I mean your music survived all of the Swing period of Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey and all that sort of thing and wasn’t that pretty big?

Joe Patek:           Of course we can’t compare to they’re artist in music, you see, but we just boys from the country and we do it for a hobby but wherever we go, we have a good time and everybody likes it.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, that’s great. Oh, yeah, when you recorded for TNT, I guess that’s the label that you’re recording for now?

Joe Patek:           Yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do you actually pay for it and then sell the records or do they pay you and …

Joe Patek:           No, they pay me a flat price.

Chris Strachwitz:               I see, per record?

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               You recorded it in San Antonio when …

Joe Patek:           Yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               He has his own studio.

Joe Patek:           We don’t go there on our extra time. We go there when we play a dance over there.

Chris Strachwitz:               Does he record you right after dance or at his studio?

Joe Patek:           No, we go to his studio. We leave instead of maybe two, three hours earlier in the evening and he’ll make maybe five, six, records and go play a dance.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, and besides your own kind of music, what are some of the other music that you like or you pretty much just like the Polka?

Joe Patek:           I like Jazz. I like Jazz but not Rock and Roll.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, did you ever get to see people like Bob Wills and those …

Joe Patek:           Western?

Chris Strachwitz:               Western Swing?

Joe Patek:           Anything is better than Rock and Roll to me because if you stand too close to that band, they’ll either run you crazy or run you to go home, you see. Because I don’t believe it’s playing. It’s just hollering and bouncing and hitting something and that’s all.

Chris Strachwitz:               Okay, have you ever appeared at any folk festivals that you can think of or any … or you pretty much play dances all around?

Joe Patek:           You mean picnics or something?

Chris Strachwitz:               Actually, I think there’s a group at the University of Texas in Austin, they’re putting on a festival, I think, this fall and they told me they very much like to get your band. I guess they’ll be contacting you about it. Would you be willing to play for something like that?

Joe Patek:           Oh, yeah, we’ll … if we can, we’ll play for anything like last Sunday, we played for the crippled children over there at Gonzales(sp?) and the Warm Springs free of charge, we didn’t charge them … We just … They had a open house. We entertained them, the cripples and the open house, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, wow.

Joe Patek:           We didn’t charge them anything.

Chris Strachwitz:               Who books your band?

Joe Patek:           I do. I do, yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               I guess people know you and they call you or …

Joe Patek:           Yeah, so far, I’ve got to say, not to be bragging but I didn’t ask for one dance to play. They all called me.

Chris Strachwitz:               That certainly shows how popular your band is.

Joe Patek:           So far I didn’t beg anybody for a dance and I didn’t make a trip to go around the dance halls or try to book with them. They was all called to me.

Chris Strachwitz:               How does your wife like your music?

Joe Patek:           My wife likes the music and she’s very proud of it. She stays at home and takes care of the family while I’m gone.

Chris Strachwitz:               She doesn’t mind if you …

Joe Patek:           No, she knows we’re all good men, see. We don’t try to mix with the wild crowd or anything like that.

Chris Strachwitz:               I notice that this is a pretty solid audience.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Seems like it isn’t one of those people who have to have all kinds of stuff to …

Joe Patek:           Yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               This was something I wanted to ask you. Do you think many of your children, for example, of your friend and your own, do they stay around Shiner in that area or do most of them run off to the big cities and …

Joe Patek:           I would say when they get married that biggest part of them, biggest part to move to a big city and … but as far as town or Shiner’s a small town, but it’s a clean little town and we never quit building houses. We’ve got new additions building and we don’t have a house to rent, so I don’t know where them people come from but as you see, when a couple gets married, they can’t start farming no more because we got little farms up to a 100 acres from 50 to 100 acres and they can’t afford to buy farm implements for about 10 and 15,000 and it gets … The government didn’t let them plant but 15, 28 is a cotton.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s what happened.

Joe Patek:           They have to go to cities.

Chris Strachwitz:               I see, because most of the land is really all taken care of by people who are already here.

Joe Patek:           Yes, yes. It’s not a big ranches like some places, you know.

Chris Strachwitz:               How big would you say most of the farms are around here?

Joe Patek:           I would say, most of the farms are about a hundred and a 150 acres, 50, 60 acres. That’s where they run but …

Chris Strachwitz:               You can make it … Do you have any cooperative use of tractors or do you each … Each family has pretty much their own …

Joe Patek:           Each family got their own tractors and right now, at present, the older people are getting too old to farm, too, so some younger couples will maybe work two or three farms, you see, but them old people still live there but they working their land. See, retirement that way, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do they usually rent the land or is it a shared cropping proposition….

Joe Patek:           Bigger, lots of people own their own farms, little farms, and some we’ve got some people that owns a lot of land there. In fact, my boys are raising cattle, too.

Chris Strachwitz:               What is most of the agriculture there? Is it mostly cattle country or …

Joe Patek:           A lot of cattle and, well, they plant cotton, corn, maize, feed, a lot of feed and like I’m telling you, them older people when they get about 65 to 70, they don’t move away but they rent their land off and live there and draw social security and they own that farm. They can always make a living when you own your own place.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, do you think most of the people who live in Shiner, for example, came there about the same time, because it seemed like … It was interesting to me, why is the whole community formed in a mostly Czech people? You think they all came together or …

Joe Patek:           You know, that’s beyond my days, I couldn’t tell you much …

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, your father never mentioned …

Joe Patek:           We do have quite a bit of German people that do.

Chris Strachwitz:               Is that right?

Joe Patek:           Yeah, I would say it’s more Czech people then than German, but we had quite a bit of German people that …

Chris Strachwitz:               I see, I guess that …

Joe Patek:           I tell you, German people and Bohemian, they mix married there but they all good workers. They all are hard working people, Germans or Czech that …

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s true but …

Speaker 3:           How’d it go?

Chris Strachwitz:               When did the first people that you called Americans come in there? Do you remember?

Joe Patek:           We never had too many of them there, I tell you. The community was settled down with mostly Czech and German people and you’ll find that a whole territory like Fayetteville, Flatonia, Molton, Yokuma, I wouldn’t know was about maybe 50/50 of them.

Chris Strachwitz:               Because most of the land was already pretty much occupied.

Joe Patek:           Yes, yes.

Chris Strachwitz:               How did your father get that land? You know that he …

Joe Patek:           He bought it.

Chris Strachwitz:               He bought from the government at the time or …

Joe Patek:           Yes, yes … No, that was … See, they tell me when these real old timers came in here, well, they got some free land or maybe it got a section of land for a clock or something like that, way before my daddy’s days, see, and some of these men owned thousands of acres, you see and they were selling it, so …

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, yeah.

Joe Patek:           It’s the guys today that are rich, see. See, they got that land for maybe 2 or $0.50 or 6 bits ab acre or a clock, you see, and today it’s bringing two and $300 in acres.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah.

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Is it pretty fertile country? I mean you have … Can you raise crops most of the year round?

Joe Patek:           It’s a nice country to live in and nobody’s hungry. I’ll tell you that and who is hungry, he’ll be hungry even in the city because he don’t try to help himself.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s about true. You wouldn’t want to live in the city like Houston.

Joe Patek:           No, no, not at all.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s nice. Why?

Joe Patek:           The peace we got and friendly people. We think lots about each other, neighbors and then we … In cities, if you greet a fellow, they get mad at you, see. One man told me in California, if you talk to somebody that you don’t know that you’re liable be in jail next day.

Chris Strachwitz:               I guess it could happen.

Speaker 3:           Is that right or wrong?

Chris Strachwitz:               It could happen, I guess. It certainly has happened.

Joe Patek:           Yes, but we … I had a salesman that he wanted to sell me … I have a machine and I told him, I … he was from San Antonio and I told him, “We need the ice machine, we could sell the ice, too, but we got such a good ice man here and I think the worlds of him and I hate to hurt his trade.” He said, “My goodness,” he says, “I don’t know your little town really live right way, in city, they don’t care next man, whether he got … whether you’re going to hurt him or kill him or whatever or whatever it is …”

Chris Strachwitz:               because that darn dollar, you know.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, yes, and we in these little towns, we love each other, you see. We …

Chris Strachwitz:               I’m trying to hear that.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, they like …

Chris Strachwitz:               Do you usually play by music or do you just kind of hear a tune and then your whole band kind of …

Joe Patek:           We play lots by music and then we play lots without music.

Chris Strachwitz:               Interesting.

Joe Patek:           Because we have to because it’s some pieces brought here from Czechoslovakia maybe that was played there may be a 100 years ago or a 150 years ago, it was brought in here and you couldn’t get that print of that music nowhere, you see. You just got to … These old timers knew the words to it and knew how to sing it and knew the tune to it and we just picked it up and made a piece out of it and you can’t go to no publisher around here and try to ask for that music.

Chris Strachwitz:               What are most of the songs? I know most of it is dance music but … are there any story songs like ballads and some … Have you ever heard of these songs that tell a story about a place or about a …

Joe Patek:           No, I …

Chris Strachwitz:               or something …

Joe Patek:           Not in our songs and nothing like that.

Chris Strachwitz:               Nothing like that. It’s actually mostly dance music then?

Joe Patek:           Yeah, I would say it’s dance music. Of course, at picnics we used to play a lot of march music, you see. That’s not a dance music … That’s … and we used to play overtures and kind of …

Chris Strachwitz:               Almost concert pieces.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, but now why we don’t do that, we used to have 20, 30 piece bands, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               Well, did you?

Joe Patek:           We used to belong, we organized KC bands. We used to have a good band but today, the places when they make a celebration, feast or … they don’t care for them. Well, one thing, they don’t want to pay nothing for them. Another thing they don’t even hire or want to feed them free, you see, but they want to buy six, seven men band and play outside and sing and around the beer joints somewhere where people all come down there and set each other up and make a real celebration out of it. That’s what they want now. They don’t care about this concert music.

Chris Strachwitz:               Do you still play a lot of picnics outdoors or it’s mostly in dance halls now?

Joe Patek:           Oh, yes, yeah. We play. We played one on Easter Sunday in Molton. It was a very big picnic. I told you about that.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s right. Who would organize these events like that? For example, the big picnic?

Joe Patek:           These picnics are just like … Hermans is going to have next Sunday but that’s not a real picnic, that’s nothing to compare … I wish you could see one of our Catholic picnic. We all Catholics really.

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, mostly Catholic, I was going to ask …

Joe Patek:           Yeah, yeah, we all Catholics in the band and if you’ll come the Sunday before Labor Day to Shiner, you could ever make it, then you would see a real old time Czech picnic.

Chris Strachwitz:               All right.

Joe Patek:           You could eat till you bust for a dollar.

Chris Strachwitz:               Wah.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, that’s right.

Chris Strachwitz:               I mean this tradition goes on every year? Someone always organizes?

Joe Patek:           Oh, every year and then they donate cotton, then they donate this. They’ve got a big auction sale, you see. The highest bidder. That brings them thousands and thousands of dollars and he’s usually, my son is always auctioneer.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s ….

Joe Patek:           I wish you could see one of them picnics.

Chris Strachwitz:               Actually, I’m going to have to try … Are there more orchestras than yours who are …

Joe Patek:           In Shiner?

Chris Strachwitz:               In Shiner?

Joe Patek:           I would say, yeah. Rudy Courts is one.

Chris Strachwitz:               Rudy Courts.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, the rest of them from Molton and … Molton got about three.

Chris Strachwitz:               Molton, is that right?

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Molton’s  …

Speaker 4:           I think that’s a deep blend from Yoakum,…

Joe Patek:           Yeah, and then they have these …… boys, that’s another thing I’ll tell you. We brothers. We playing together about 45 years and we playing like real brothers that we never split. We never had a cross word. We the only band in anywhere you want to go that the brothers never did splinter. You find in other towns when two brothers play in a band, couldn’t get together, each one, they broke up and each one made a band. You find that in Fayetteville. You’ll find it in Helensville and Molton, too, you see. Meegles (SP?) at two brothers and … but we brothers, we holding the record that we 45 years together and we never split up …

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s quite an accomplishment

Joe Patek:           Because we not playing for … To make our living. We love it and we have a lot of fun and we go home like good men. There ain’t nothing done wrong and we always welcome to come home.

Chris Strachwitz:               Wow. During one of those picnics…….

Joe Patek:           All the young ones are … Ain’t it … and old ones there, the whole families go to picnics.

Chris Strachwitz:               I mean don’t you think that since they are there and enjoying this that they may carry on this whole thing for at least another generation or so or do you think they’re going to stop it?

Joe Patek:           I tell you, I hope that this Polka music don’t never stop because that’s the only music that is a little bit to it, that’s got music to it. The rest of the thing is all like you say, like we dancing now, this Rock and Roll. I think colored people dance that 30 years ago.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s right.

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Very much the same.

Joe Patek:           I remember when they used to have Juneteenth in Shiner?

Chris Strachwitz:               Who was that?

Joe Patek:           Juneteenth parades. The colored  people?

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, yeah, yeah.

Joe Patek:           Juneteenth that’s their day. They were celebrating. Now they don’t celebrate now. They like we are now, you see, but at that time, they had their own picnics, and I know 30-35 years ago when they had a parade through town of Shiner and then they had a dance at night. Well, we could … We went down and listen in the car. Well, that’s the kind of a music they was using, 30-35 years ago.

Chris Strachwitz:               What sort of music was it?

Joe Patek:           Rock and Roll and that dancing Rock and Roll dancing, all kinds of stuff.

Chris Strachwitz:               What’s sort of musicians would they have? Can you recall? Is that guitar players or horns?

Joe Patek:           They had trombone. They had saxophones. They had … Everything just like we have here.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, right.

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               Did they play a similar kind of music that they just danced to probably or was it …

Joe Patek:           They didn’t play exactly like the Rock and Roll do because this Rock and Roll ain’t no music, see. I believe anybody can go down and just  blow any kind of way it’s all right, you see. Just get that beat, that’s all. That’s all you need.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah.

Joe Patek:           That bass drum and the rest of them don’t have to know how to play. Just once in one holler and then once blow some tones and that’s all, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               I didn’t see too many colored people in Shiner when I was driving through there. Did you use to have a lot more workers there or …

Joe Patek:           We arguably, we have about the same colored people always, some of them are actually dying but we got a lot of young colored people there yet.

Chris Strachwitz:               They would always have that separate celebration … Was it on the 19th of June or would you remember?

Joe Patek:           June but they don’t have it no more.

Chris Strachwitz:               When did they stop that?

Joe Patek:           I tell you when they started mixing with us now, they just don’t think they should have it. They even … Sometimes, once in a while you can see one coming to our own picnics, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               They kind of enjoy this music then or …

Joe Patek:           I don’t know about this music now. I …

Chris Strachwitz:               I’m always curious, you know …

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               How the crossing of musical styles go …

Joe Patek:           As far as dance halls, I never seen one come to our dance yet.

Chris Strachwitz:               Was it mostly Jazz that they had at their Juneteenth things or can you describe Rock and …

Joe Patek:           It was more like Jazz music but they were jumping around like now and, well, the more bending and the more wiggling you do, that’s what they … You call Rock and Roll, you see. Just that my daddy was 80 years old when he quit playing.

Chris Strachwitz:               He was 80 when he quit …

Joe Patek:           Yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               What instruments have you played?

Joe Patek:           He played baritone.

Chris Strachwitz:               Baritone saxophone?

Joe Patek:           No, baritone brass.

Chris Strachwitz:               Oh, almost like the tuba, you mean?

Joe Patek:           Yeah, yeah.

Chris Strachwitz:               I see.

Joe Patek:           That was his horn he played in Czechoslovakia. That’s what he played here and he got feeble at 80 and he got a little stroke and we couldn’t take him along them. Every time we parted from the house he would cry because he loved it so much and he just thought a lots of those boys and we’re … we boys are much different brothers than lots of brothers are.

Chris Strachwitz:               We’ve seen them.

Joe Patek:           There are some brothers like we are, sure, but there’s lots of brothers they don’t get along but we do and same way like my family, well, I can’t have better children than what I have.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s great. How did … I’m just kind of curious, if he played the bass part, how did you all learn the tunes because he didn’t really carry the tune, that instrument, did he?

Joe Patek:           No, see, I had brothers that played … Two brothers played trumpets, see, and they carried the lead.

Joe Patek:           You see, I wouldn’t … They first … My daddy when he came to Texas, he played with different people. He first had to raise his family, see, and actually, he played in a Shiner band they called it and all kind of other bands, you know, but naturally, when he got married, he had a well … He had to wait at least 12 years or something for his first son to start playing you see. He couldn’t have his band right away but I would say that as far as we brothers and daddy, we, about 45 years ago, we started together.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, could you just list to me the names of each member of the band and tell me what instruments they played?

Joe Patek:           You mean my brothers?

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, just the band that you have now.

Joe Patek:           Now? Now what … Yeah, I got brother Charlie, he plays the base horn. I’ve got a brother Jerome or Jerry, what you can call him. He plays a trombone and I, Joe, I play the saxophone, clarinet. My son Joe Jr. plays saxophone and Leonard Darzlek (sp?) plays the trumpet and Charlie Vite (sp?) plays the drums and Robert Warner plays electric guitar.

Chris Strachwitz:               [Inaudible 00:32:10] When did you introduce the electric guitar to your band?

Joe Patek:           I tell you, we used to have piano. Always had a piano but we found it so bad with dance halls, the pianos were so bad that we couldn’t hardly tune our horns, so we just left the piano out and took the guitar and just get that after beats.

Chris Strachwitz:               That carries it.

Joe Patek:           Yeah, you have some halls right now, they got good pianos yet but some halls, you can’t play them because they don’t keep them up.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah.

Speaker 3:           Also so many places don’t have that.

Chris Strachwitz:               Yeah, that’s right.

Joe Patek:           We used to have two trumpets till now when my … About two years, my brother died, and he died on the way, we played in a Houston Country Club, that big place here that night and he got sick and he got as far as East Bernard and … Oh, Eagle Lake, yeah, that’s right. Eagle Lake and that’s where he died. Since there, we didn’t add on another trumpet but we will later, just …

Chris Strachwitz:               I noticed on one of your records, it’s called the Shiner Song, is that a new song that you made up or where did that start?

Joe Patek:           That’s kind of song comes from Europe but we just gave it the name, you see.

Chris Strachwitz:               What did they sing about in that song?

Joe Patek:           We sing about Shiner Sun when we left Shiner, what the sun was shining and then another verse is that was at the brewery and it was plenty to drink and plenty to eat and stuff like that. I can’t translate it all.

Chris Strachwitz:               That’s all right.

Joe Patek:           That’s why we call it a Shiner Song.

Chris Strachwitz:               Wait a min— One thing I did want to ask you about and that is, do you think there’s any difference in the kind of Polka music that you play and that is which is heard around Chicago or do you think it’s a …

Joe Patek:           Like the only one I heard was Six Fat Dutchmen when they was here. They played a little bit different than we do, yeah. They cut their notes and music a little different than we do and they for instance play three Polkas and quit. Then they go and start and play three Waltzes and quit. We don’t do that. We play one Polka, on Waltz and then we might throw in a little slow one or something, not Rock and Roll.

 

 


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