Thursday, May 9, 2013

Music from Home

Sixty-five years ago our music from Home was at home in our house.  Sometimes on a Friday night, Mama and Tata would take out their harmonike from the closet and they would play and sing to us.  Sometimes they teach me to sing along with them. Tata made puppets from wood and plaster and mother made clothes for them.  They presented little shows for people as a hobby. To dramatize the shows, Tata would play music the way he liked to play it.
I remember when the leather broke on Tata's harmonika how he cried.  Tata did not cry very often.  Mama had already tried to fix hers with artificial leather. Leatherette they called it - it was a good covering for chairs but not for use in Harmonike so it had not worked very well. They cried together  because sister needed money for piano lessons and so at that time we did not have the money to buy the material to repair any harmonike.
Now there was no music anymore that could go around places with the puppets and soon they went away in the closet forever.  Mama and Tata are gone now but I still have two or three of their puppets.
Sister wanted now to go to college so Mama and Tata had to sell her piano for the money for college.  Some years later when Tata had more money and he bought piano for mother, sister became angry and she would not sing anymore with us.  Too bad for her, we sang anyway when she was not around.
In High School I played clarinet.  Sometimes then we had a clarinet / piano duo playing while Mama and Tata would sing.  We had a little record player which would play big records.  We owned a few good records and when people came  from Home many times they would bring new records.  We would share records with other families we knew and they would share with us.  Mama controlled the record player.  When it was time to listen to music she would say to me what she wanted to hear and I was the "disk jockey."
In those years I bought a little radio.  Mama and Tata were afraid at first about what kind of music I would play on this radio.  When they discovered  that I tuned into KFRD Rosenburg and KULP in El Campo they were pleased.   These stations had early morning shows which were for all kinds of Slavic people.  One of the Disk Jockeys at KFRD was Croatian man so we heard good music now in the morning. 
I went away a long time to college, to the military, to work.  When I came back, KFRD is gone from the air. But KULP is there still in the morning with a Polka Show but for many years I was too far away to get even their broadcast. Lots of years went by when I was busy just trying to make a living.  I missed the old ways and the old music but there wasn't much time to do anything about that except just miss it in my heart - until I was at the end of the earth down here in Brownsville where the only radio or TV is Spanish or
Then I had a terminally ill wife on my hands who dearly wanted to hear the old music.  Somehow it was comfort to her - and to me. We had a few cassette tapes and then we bought a few CDs from Home but with all the medical  expense we did not have money to buy very many. 
I set out to discover what to do.  On the internet I found Dennis Svatek. He is not Croatian but he plays a lot of good music and he makes it freely available to download and listen to it. 
Then I discoved Radio Narodna on the internet.  On Easter after Carole died, they played on croatian a song same as in Lutheran Hymnal "Jesus Christ is Risen Today."  I shall not forget that Easter.  I stayed awake all night for Easter Vigil and was rewarded at the top of every hour with the recording of those wonderful women singing that song.  Someday I will find that recording -
I want it.
Along the way, I discovered many other internet radio stations with croatian language broadcasts.  Most of these stations are based in Croatia but many  are or were based also in North America. 
I discovered YouTube and the world of croatian music to be found there. The ladies at Croatia Gifts in Ohio once asked me how I choose the music I buy and I answered that I go to YouTube and listen to a singer first. If I like the sound, then, when I have the money, I buy the CD so I can hear the music in my car when I am away from my house. Eventually I learned a  little about making videos and I am now a "broadcaster" on YouTube. I am grateful that almost all of the Croatian performers are friendly about the promotion of their material I try to give them there. 
If the performers can figure out how to do it, they could even run
advertising on my videos with their music and make a little extra money for themselves.  Right now the Germans are trying to claim their material and make this money but I keep chasing them away.
The learning curve on YouTube is interesting.  I've had an account on YouTube since 1999 but it was a couple of years before I understood the potential there.  Now I'm getting over 3,000 views each day and that number is growing rapidly.  I've been learning and experimenting with various things and I expect that number to be over 10,000 views a day by the end of next year.  So, in fact, I am broadcasting to a fairly large and growing community.
Recently, Nenad Bach asked me to work on a project with him. What an honor to be asked to do this!! The project was to discover all the Croatian language radio stations in the world outside of Croatia.
I discovered there are some broadcasts I knew nothing about before.  There is even a broadcast from China on croatian language.  There are internet broadcasts from Australia and New Zealand, and from Argentina.  In fact, there are broadcasts from every continent except Africa and Antarctica.
I discovered some changes in North America which surprised me, although I should not have been surprised at all.  These changes reflect the lives of  Croatian Americans and the changing realities of an interconnected world. Radio Stations like my old KFRD are gone now from the air because we all grew up and went away somewhere else.  I remember broadcasts in the southern Wisconsin area.  There was a "Radio Club" there, organized to raise the money to see to it that Croatians had at least a little sound from Home.

In Ohio there are still broadcasts but they are mostly one hour  "packages" from Home.  One is carried by a mostly Afro-American station which views us as a "minority," which of course we are, I suppose.  I would guess that over the next five  years most of these one hour a week broadcasts will disappear.
I found nothing at all in Seattle where there is a sizable Croatian community.  There is a station from Vancouver however, and one in Toronto and Ottawa.  Down in California where there is a large Croatian population, there are no longer any broadcasts. St Anthony's Croatian Catholic Church used to broadcast their mass on a Sunday, but no longer.  I spoke to a priest from  there and he was not interested in the idea even that I could help him either broadcast or rebroadcast the service for free on YouTube.
On the Gulf Coast region of the USA there are no stations that I can find broadcasting either on the air or on the internet in Croatian even though Croatians can be found strung out all along the coast line in various  communities.
When I put out an appeal on both YouTube and FaceBook to help me locate Croatian Radio Stations around the world, Marijan sent me a list of Croatian radio stations accessible in Germany - all are based in Croatia.  Ana wrote "David every Monday at 14:00 your time on Radio 105 songs on request and calls live from around the world for the Croats at Radio 105! [Selnica]"
Does the diminishing presence of North American croatian radio indicate a lack of demand for croatian language material?  As Croatians are assimilated into an english speaking world do we want less material on croatian?  I think that these would be incorrect conclusions. The demand may be higher than ever before. The fact is that now we are connected around the world via Facebook, YouTube and other media.  The radio stations, and some TV broadcasts, from the Homeland and various locations are only a few clicks away on the internet and the streams are usually reliable. At this very moment I'm connected to Vox Croatica down in Argentina, FaceBook, and YouTube simultaneously and my cellphone is right beside me so I can talk or text anyone anywhere.  I don't need a broadcaster located in my backyard anymore.
That leaves open the questions surrounding the unique needs concerning Croats in the diaspora.  I don't have an answer except that as always we shall make good advantage of all the tools which come available and keep on scrambling like we always have. There are new tools just now available on YouTube and G+.  Other technology will come along.  Mama and Tata's harmonike went away years ago, but we have what we have and we shall find how to make our way somehow.
If you don't mind, keep your ears and your eyes open for croatian language broadcasts of any kind outside of Croatia,  and let me know what you hear and see. Also, let me know what you would like to hear and see.  There are a lot of us Croats out here in the world away from Home.  What do we want available to us?  Talk to me.  

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
9 svibanj 2013


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