May 24, 2002 Karl and the Country Dutchmen to Perform at the Library of Congress

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-5510

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Folklife Program, presents Karl and the Country Dutchmen in a program of German "Dutchman" polka music on Wednesday, June 19, at noon, on the Neptune Plaza of the Jefferson Building, First and Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C.

The outdoor concert is the fourth in the center's new series "Homegrown 2002: The Music of America," monthly presentations of traditional music and dance, April to November, drawn from communities across the United States and arranged with the help of state folklorists. Co-sponsoring the concerts are the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The American Folklife Center's "Homegrown" series is part of "I Hear America Singing," a Library of Congress project celebrating America's music.

The music of Karl and the Country Dutchmen comes with a rollicking beat and an infectious spirit. With his Chemnitzer concertina, Karl Hartwich leads his band of brass and reed players. It is polka and a whole lot more: Dixieland, ragtime and old-time pop and country standards. The group plays for dances from coast to coast, and on cruises and European tours. The band has been featured on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" and at the National Folk Festival in Lowell, Mass.

The "Dutchman" style of polka, originating with German immigrants, is widely known in the rural Midwest. A key instrument is the Chemnitzer concertina, which is played in interaction with brass and reed instruments. The most famous Dutchmen musicians in the past, "Whoopee John" Wilfahrt and Harold Loefflemacher with his "Six Fat Dutchmen," based in New Ulm, Minn., succeeded in establishing a foothold in the Midwestern mass media and entertainment business from the 1920s through the 1950s. Today, Karl Hartwich is recognized as the outstanding Dutchman concertinist of his generation, and he brings this quintessential German-American roots music to the Library of Congress.

The American Folklife Center's presentation of Karl and the Country Dutchmen is free and open to the public. The inclement weather location for the concert is the Coolidge Auditorium, in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The Jefferson Building is located close to Metro stops at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line).

Future concerts in the "Homegrown 2002" series include:

  • July 24: Chuck Brown -- Father of DC GoGo
  • August 28: Campbell Brothers -- Sacred steel gospel
  • September 19: TBA -- 2002 NEA National Heritage Fellow
  • October 8: Old New England -- Contra dancing
  • November 13: Cellicion Family -- Traditional Zuni music and dance

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

Part of the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center's mission to make performing arts widely accessible. The Millennium Stage introduces the performing arts to the local community and to millions of people who visit the center each year. These free, 6 p.m. performances are offered 365 days a year. Tickets are never required. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available on the Internet. For a schedule and information on how to access the broadcasts, visit the Kennedy Center Web site:


PR 02-076
ISSN 0731-3527