Lustige Leute Newsletter September 2020  

It's just about September, can you believe it?!?  We're 2/3 of the way through this wacky year!  It's nearly autumn; it's nearly Oktoberfest season, so time should start to fly a little bit!  Hang in there, things are slowly going to get better.   In the mean time, we'll keep staring 2020 in the eyes and take what it throws at us the best we can with a smile on our faces and a prayer for strength in our hearts. 

Things around the Lustig Haus have remained busy busy.  Ross is continuing to devote 6 - 8 hours a day to accordion and alphorn rehearsal, vocal warm ups, and working on a few very difficult new songs.  I've stayed busy with promotions, and am coordinating Tomball's German Christmas Market.  In preparation for Oktoberfest season, I've made another batch of Sauerkraut.  It's fermenting as we speak, and will be ready on Sept 28!  You can watch the video here.  I did forget to mention in the video to add caraway seed - as much or as little as you like to your taste.  Also add a little water so it reaches the top of the tamped down cabbage.  The cabbage, salt, caraway mash should sound like this before you close the lid. 

We know there are many of you who still can not get out to do things in public, so we are continuing our online shows for the time being.  We're moving to Wednesdays at 7pm and will begin again on September 9.  We're always happy to play requests.  We also plan to share some footage we'll gather while at the Walburg German Restaurant over Labor Day!  All of the live online shows are broadcast from my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/valinapolka 

Oktoberfest season:  We are able to offer something this year that we have not been available for in a long time.  With the big festivals being cancelled, it has freed us up to play for Oktoberfest parties at private homes!  Would you like to have a party in your backyard?  In your 2 car garage with the doors open to the driveway?  On your large covered porch?  At your airport hangar?  Paulaner USA just provided us with two boxes of decorations and party swag to bring to your event!  Even a couple of cool German hats for the hosts of the parties!  I've attached a flyer to this e-mail.  We have several dates still available to offer.  We can also play a private online party for just you and your friends if you'd like! 

Below are the dates and locations that are booked: 

Thursdays Sept 3, 10, 17, Oct 1, 8, 15, 29 we'll be at The Sauer Kraut Grill at 734 Crabb River Rd, in Richmond, Texas from 6 - 8pm.  They have excellent food, and a great Bier (lots of Paulaner, and local craft brews!) and Wein selection!  Picnic tables outside if you feel safer dining in the fresh air.  We'll come out and play for you if you like! 

Friday - Sunday Sept 4 - 6; Walburg German Restaurant, 3777 FM 972, Walburg, TX.  Three bands will be there; Alpenmusikanten, The Walburg Boys, and Das Ist Lustig!  Jeff will join us on the drums, and we can't wait!  The Bier tent and Biergarten will have music from 6 - 12 Friday and Saturday, with lots of space to spread out. Sunday Gospel service at 11am, then live music from 12 - 6. 

Friday, September 18;  private party near Allen TX. 

Saturday, September 19;  private party near Oklahoma City. 

Thursday September 24, we'll be at the KC Bier Co, 310 W 79th St in Kansas City, MO   from 6 - 9pm.  There's a nice outdoor Biergarten where we'll be if the weather is good.  If the weather is naughty, we'll be inside the Bierhalle. 

Friday September 25, we'll be at Siegi's Sausage Factory and Restaurant, 8104 S. Sheridan Rd, Tulsa, OK from 6 - 9pm.  Siegi's is a large restaurant, so there is room to spread out and still enjoy the music and great food. 

Saturday, September 26;  private party near Oklahoma City. 

Sunday, September 27; pending private party near Ft Worth, TX 

Saturday Oct 2; private party in Houston, TX 

Saturday Oct 10; private party in Houston, TX 

Sunday Oct 11; pending private party in Houston, TX 

Friday - Sunday Oct 16-18 pending in central TX 
Thursday Oct 22 pending in central TX 

All other weekdays / weekends in October and November are currently available.  We'd love to bring the Biergarten to you!  There are even possibilities for specials through Paulaner USA - We'll hook you up!  Of course, with the current circumstances, things can change rapidly, so always check our website, facebook, or the website of the public event to make sure it's going as planned or if it requires reservations before you leave your home. 

Hosting our trips to Europe will resume as soon as international travel is wide open again.  The trip we were going to host this year going to Germany and the Czech Republic has been postponed and reserved for next June, 2021.  Target dates are Tuesday June 8 - Tuesday June 22.   The itinerary will follow the same plan (as much as possible) we had in place for this year's trip.  If changes to the itinerary take place, it will be because of airline schedules and other factors beyond our control.  If you'd like to join us for travel to Europe in the future, let us know!  Our small groups have a ton of fun together! 

Website:  You can always find out what's happening with us at http://www.prostyall.com.  We update our calendar as information becomes available.  The store page has shirts and hat pins to get you ready for the Oktoberfest season.  Also, make sure to subscribe to our youtube channel, as we are loading the live shows from facebook up to youtube each week for those who prefer to stay away from facebook.  And you never know in this crazy world, there may come a time when we are broadcasting live on youtube. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/valinapolka 

Behind the scenes: Ross is looking forward to his 50th birthday.  Funds are super tight, but we had set a little aside over the years with the hopes of going somewhere fun for this milestone birthday.  We can't afford what he originally wanted, but we are going to get to do some neat things!  Sandwiched between performances in Oklahoma and Missouri, we are going up to South Dakota to see Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, and whatever else tickles our fancy in the 2 days we'll have while in that area.  We'll leave Oklahoma city early Sunday morning Sept 20 after playing a couple of Backyard Oktoberfest parties.  We plan to stop and see the Largest Hand Dug Well, the Largest Czech Egg, and the Largest Ball of Twine while driving through Kansas.  We'll make some short videos at each stop to share with you on our live online shows when we're back home.  We'll sleep in the van a couple of nights - it's plenty comfy in there.  We'll see Scott's Bluff on Monday, then head to the Black Hills for Monday night and Tuesday.  We'll certainly have some neat views to enjoy while we eat picnic meals from our cooler!  Wednesday, we'll need to start south again for the scheduled shows.  It will be a whirlwind trip, but Ross is very excited, and so am I!  I think the van is ready to get some road under its wheels too! 

Keep your hands together that the world will heal enough that we can get back to celebrating together again in person at these fun events!  We look forward to seeing you sometime soon!  Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay cool!  Prost Y'all!

Lustige Leute Newsletter August 2020 

Howdy Friends!  

Here we are in August, and here in Texas, we got a very rare cool front to start the month!  It lasted about 18 hours here in Houston, but that little surprise drop in the temperature sure got us all excited!  Did y'all notice the subject line?  I've been thinking and thinking for a while now; what would be a fun name for all of our friends who travel with us, follow our band, and visit with us?  What do you think of "Lustige Leute"?  Directly translated, it means "funny people".  You are our favorite Lustige Leute after all!  

Things around the Lustig Haus have thankfully been uneventful for the past few weeks.  Ross has been back to devoting about 8 hours a day to accordion and alphorn rehearsal, vocal warm ups, working up a few new arrangements we played in our themed online shows in July.  On his day off, he made a few repairs at the rent house, maintains the yard (I help) and brings in the delicious homegrown tomatoes he planted in early April.  I've been busy working on promotions, working on the songs I've been writing, and have been creating in our graphics dept again.  Getting price and availability for made in USA custom masks with our band logo, and our band slogan on them has not yet happened.  I sent out for 5 quotes over a week ago, and have not yet received a response from any of the companies I contacted.  It seems there's a waiting list just to get a quote.  I can't imagine what the wait for a finished product will be.  Oh well, back to the drawing board I guess.  Maybe we'll design bandanas instead, that way they can be worn as an accessory, a hair bow, used as a sweat rag, a Bier mug marker, or folded in to a mask.  I've been cooking a lot too - and making Sauerkraut.  Did y'all see the studies they've been doing?  There's a theory that people who eat Sauerkraut have stronger immune systems!  Can't hurt!  In the meantime, when Ross and I finish today's rehearsals, we'll be assembling and testing the sound system with the new stuff we purchased in January, to make sure it's all ready for our first road trip since February 29. 

Speaking of road trips, this week, we are bouncing off the walls excited!  We'll be out in public this weekend; 5 gigs in 3 days!  We can't wait! 

Thursday August 6, we'll be at The Sauer Kraut Grill at 734 Crabb River Rd, in Richmond, Texas from 6 - 8pm.  They have excellent food, and a great Bier (lots of Paulaner, and local craft brews!) and Wein selection!  Picnic tables outside if you feel safer dining in the fresh air.  We'll come out and play for you if you like! 

Friday and Saturday August 7 and 8, we'll be at the Kuckuck's Nest at 3150 N Hwy 16 in Fredericksburg, Texas from 2 - 3pm both days, to play music while you shop for German imports!  

Friday and Saturday August 7 and 8, we'll be at the Pecan Grove Store at 5244 N Hwy 16 in Fredericksburg, Texas from 6:30 - 9pm both days.  Live, in person, public performance in a large outdoor Biergarten with plenty of space for safe distancing, AND carefree German style rambunctiousness!  There will be Hamburger eating, Bier trinking, table pounding and schunkelling!  Won't you join us?  We're so excited to get out and play music in public!  I'm so wound up, I feel like I've had a liter of coffee from my brother's coffee shop, The Nook Cafe'!  It's going to be so amazing to see friends in the audience laughing, smiling, and getting to visit in person!  We'll have T-shirts, Hat pins, and CD's with us for sale.  Did I say this yet?  We can't wait to see you! 

We know there are many of you who still can not get out to do things in public, so we are continuing our online shows for now.  We had lots of fun with your submissions back in June and July, so we're hoping you'll join in again for some fun this month too!  

Saturday August 15 at 7:30pm; My birthday is Sunday August 16, so the theme of this show is "Whatever Valina Wants"  Have you ever wondered what my favorite songs are?  ...and of course, we're always taking requests. 

Saturday August 22 at 7:30pm; End of Summer Talent Show!  Here's your chance to star in one of our online shows!  Will you record yourselves demonstrating your talent?  Whatever it is (family friendly of course)  We're taking all sorts of submissions:  Tap dancing, Wood carving, One handed push ups, Furniture rearranging, Lip sync, Cup stacking, Playing frisbee with your dog, Standing on your head, Chugging a Bier, Removing a table cloth from a set table... There is no limit to the sort of talents we'd like to share as part of that show!  The wackier and more unexpected, the better!  What a fun online party it will be with you as part of our show, and joining in the comments section!  If you'd like to submit a video, please record it with your phone or camera in landscape (horizontal) so the video will work in our broadcast software.  Keep the length of your video to 2 minutes or less.  Please send your videos no later than Monday August 17, so we'll have time to process through them and get them in the broadcast software.  ...that also allows time for us to let you know if there is an issue with the video.  Let us know if you need help getting the video to us. 

Saturday August 29; We're not sure yet if we will be doing an online show on August 29th, as we have a private party pending for that date.  If that party does not happen, we'll be online playing your requests, and ramping up for the backyard Oktoberfest parties which start in September! 

In September, we will be moving to Wednesdays at 7:00pm for the live online shows.   We'll give more information on that next month.  All of the live online shows are broadcast from my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/valinapolka  We'll continue our shows at the Sauer Kraut Grill on Thursdays unless there is an Oktoberfest party to travel to, or work for.  

Oktoberfest season;  We are able to offer something this year that we have not been available for in a long time.  With the big festivals cancelling, it has freed us up to play for Oktoberfest parties at private homes!  Would you like to have a party in your backyard?  In your 2 car garage with the doors open to the driveway?  On your large covered porch?  At your airport hangar?  I've attached a flyer to this e-mail.  We have several dates still available to offer.  Below are the dates and locations that are already booked: 

September 19;  private party near Oklahoma City.   Sunday Sept 20 in north Texas or Oklahoma area is available. 

September 26;  private party near Oklahoma City.   Friday Sept 25 and Sunday Sept 27 in north Texas or Oklahoma area is available. 

Oct 2 - 4;  Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest in Houston, Texas - This is an outdoor covered Biergarten restaurant just north of downtown Houston.  We were there Sunday night for pizza, and it poured down rain.  There was still plenty of room for people to be spaced away from each other, even when the ones sitting out under the open air had to come under the roof.  The food and Bier was delicious, and the service friendly! 

Oct 10;  private party in Houston   Friday and Sunday Oct 9 and 11 around the Houston area is available. 

Oct 16 - 17;  Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

All other weekdays / weekends in September, October and November are currently available.  We'd love to bring the Biergarten to you!  There are even possibilities for specials through Paulaner USA - We'll hook you up!  Of course, with our current circumstances, things can change rapidly, so always check our website, facebook, or the website of the public event to make sure it's going as planned before you leave your home. 

Hosting our trips to Europe will resume as soon as international travel is wide open again.  The trip we were going to host this year going to Germany and the Czech Republic has been postponed and reserved for next June, 2021.  Target dates are Tuesday June 8 - Tuesday June 22, but may be shifted by a few days depending on when the non-stop flight to Munich is possible.  Right now, that is only once a week on Wednesdays.  The itinerary will follow the same plan (as much as possible) we had in place for this year's trip.  If changes to the dates or itinerary take place, it will be because of airline schedules and other factors beyond our control.  If you'd like to join us for travel to Europe in the future, let us know!  Our small groups have a ton of fun together! 

Website;  You can always find out what's happening with us at http://www.prostyall.com.  We update our calendar as information becomes available.  The store page has shirts and hat pins to get you ready for the Oktoberfest season.  Also, make sure to subscribe to our youtube channel, as we are loading the live shows from facebook up to youtube each week for those who prefer to stay away from facebook.  And you never know in this crazy world, there may come a time when we are broadcasting live on youtube. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/valinapolka 

The virus is slowly becoming a little less scary - we see on the worldometer site that there are fewer deaths per infections, and see on the county hospital websites that less people are being hospitalized, and for shorter amounts of time for it.  Since our last e-mail to you, that trend has continued.  Oh, we can't wait for the world to heal!  

We look forward to receiving your videos for the talent show!  We look forward to seeing you sometime soon!  Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay cool!  Prost Y'all!

Mid July Musings, and other stuff from Valina 

Here we are, in the middle of July, 2020.  We miss you!  We miss being out in public places and seeing your smiling faces.  How did we get here?  In some ways, it feels as though it's still early March, because all of the spring events were cancelled.  Those events have become so ingrained in our professional lives, that if there isn't a recent memory from one of those events, that time has not yet passed.  On the other hand, time has been flying, and it's really hot outside!  We are  trying to find a safe and health conscious way to bring live music to you.

We look forward to Thursday evenings at the Sauer Kraut Grill in Richmond every week.  It's a wonderful little place, has a great client base, and brings us back to a little bit of normalcy when we get to see friends and fans eating, drinking, and enjoying music as it's played.  In fact, the first day we were able to go play live music for a live audience, I cried when I heard laughter and applause for the first time in months.  A real live crowd enjoying the music and letting the outside world melt away for a few moments!   Saturday evenings, we broadcast our online shows on facebook, which for the past few weeks, we've had the pleasure of featuring friends and fans!  They've shared pictures and videos for us to include in the shows, and we've enjoyed seeing them.  It helps us to know they, and you, are out there!

As time goes by, and the virus is still doing what it does, we are beginning to hear about our fall events getting cancelled.  It's making a hard year even harder for everyone involved.  So many people depend on festivals and events for their income; our friends with food trucks, vendors with home made and import items who do not have a store-front or online presence, student groups who gather donations for their extracurricular activities - German language, music and folk dance. 

We're working hard to rehearse to keep the old songs that have been in our set lists for years going well, Ross has been working on a few ideas he's had.  I've been playing through the songs I've written, and am hoping to get Ross in on them soon.  Weeks go in to each song we learn together before we can put it on the stage, so we're just working on practicing. 

Mostly, we're thankful - we may complain that things are not what we'd hoped they'd be, but we are thankful for the way things are anyway.  We're healthy for now, our families are healthy for now.  There's food in the fridge, and enough in the pantry in case of a storm.  There's gas in the van ready to go on the road as soon as there's an opportunity to do so.  You're out there listening to our music, supporting our efforts, reading our ramblings, and we're thankful for you!

update on Ross' computer building and tests. Thursday May 14  

It's obvious as we check social media in the morning that many people are beginning to go back to public places.  It's good to see, yet it's still scary with all the unknowns.  But when has life ever promised to provide a plan?  I mean, we can plan as much as we want, but things don't always go as planned. 

But enough about all that mess.  Life in the Lustig Haus has stayed pretty busy.  Valina has hit another wall with song writing, but keeps working at it.  If nothing else, there's a little autoharp rehearsal going on.  Ross has continued to run tests on the computer to make the online shows as top quality as possible with the equipment and finances available.  The test run last Saturday (Valina's bar scene starring Little Dipper. their toy bird that "drinks" water) went pretty well, even switching between different cameras, AND captions!  Hopefully that will all still work this Saturday! 

Sunday morning, when we got home from church, where Ross is also assisting with the online video / sound, one of our laptops crashed, so Ross has been working for the past several days to get it wiped clean and re-built.  Dang computers!  We can't live with them, or without them!

We did an online poll asking which platform for the live performance people preferred; facebook or youtube.  Facebook, allowing real time comments and replies was the big winner with most of our online audience.  A few people are still only able to catch our shows on youtube, so we'll make sure to save the facebook videos, then load them to youtube. 

Not a lot else to discuss right now.  We hope to see you this Saturday night! 

Corona Virus Happenings March 12 - May 4, 2020 

This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone on this planet.  Dr's, nurses, small business, individual and family owned restaurants, event planners, people in the service industry, and musicians are getting an extra hard hit by the current illness and shut downs.  That is nowhere near as painful as the loss of a family member or a loved one that could be avoided by keeping our distance, and being patient through this "hold" in time.  So while we're weathering the storm, we are thankful for everyone staying home to keep the curve low! 

For the band, things are still uncertain.  They don't know when the restaurants and events they play for will be able to open to enough visitors to support their live music.  They don't know when they'll be allowed to play public shows again.  The trip Valina has spent over a year designing, planning, and purchasing advertisement for has been postponed to June 2021, and the couple of gigs they had booked in June have also been cancelled.  Of course, over time, these uncertainties will work themselves out, they always do.  But in the meantime, Valina has been writing songs, cleaning and organizing while Ross has switched his focus to upgrading their internet connection so they can provide a better quality live stream when they do their online shows.  Ross is also nurturing trees and plants in the garden.  They've both been rehearsing, hopeful things will turn around in a month or so.  They are mostly using social media (facebook and youtube) to do these videos, and they hope you'll tune in for some of the fun. 

They want you to know that they appreciate ALL of your support, whether it be by e-mail notes, writing a positive review on this page's guestbook, or on facebook, by supporting a restaurant they perform (The Sauer Kraut Gril is open again at 25% guest capacity and Rudi Lechner's Restaurant is still offering take out), or by sharing their videos with your friends online.    If you have the means and would like to contribute to help keep the music going, they would love your help.  There is a "donate" button at the top of the valina polka page, under the Pretzel and Bier bar, that links to paypal.   Or make a check to Das Ist Lustig, PO Box 424, Sugar Land, Texas, 77487. 

ALL forms of support, not just monetary, are crucial at a time like this, and that support goes in all directions.  Music can help get us all through these times, and Das Ist Lustig is committed to keeping the happy music flowing for you!