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Copyright © 1999-2014
Please pause and listen to Karl and the gang play the Mud Puppy Polka
Copyright © 1999-2014 Gary Brueggen
HISTORY OF KARL AND THE COUNTRY DUTCHMEN In 1973, at the age of 12, Karl Hartwich got his first concertina (a Silberhorn) as a combination birthday and Christmas present. Karl's mom and dad bought the Silberhorn from Christy Hengel (who manufactured the Hengel Concertina) in New Ulm, Minnesota. Karl had never played a concertina before he'd gotten the Silberhorn as a gift from his parents. During the seven hour drive home to Orion, Illinois from New Ulm, Minnesota, Karl was teaching himself how to play the concertina. By the time they reached their final destination, Karl was playing two waltzes and a polka. Six months later, Karl formed "Karl & The Country Dutchmen". The original band started out with only three musicians, consisting of Karl's mom, Norma on the tuba, Karl's schoolmate, Doug Ihlefeld on drums and Karl on concertina. Three months later, Karl's sister, Holly took over on drums and another classmate, Amy Sampson started on trumpet. Shortly after, Karl's sister Joyce started playing piano and Karl's dad, Herb Hartwich did the announcing and some singing. Within a two year span the band grew to six and sometimes a seven-piece band. Karl has owned six concertinas since he first started playing. The concertina he currently uses is a Hengel that he has had for approximately 18 years. Karl has played in at least 30 states, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, and in 1998 the band was chosen to represent the State of Wisconsin at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. Karl and his band were also filmed for two television specials (River of Song and Wisconsin Folks) in 1997 and 1998. Karl has also played for Garrison Keillor. In the early years, Karl's dad drove the band from job to job since Karl was too young to drive. All those miles have taken its toll on 1 truck and camper, 3 cars, 4 vans, 3 buses, 1 motorhome, and 7 trailers. Karl has about 20 of his own original tunes. The most popular tune is his very own "Christmas Toy Polka". Another favorite of the crowd is "Flasher on the Rhine". The amazing thing about Karl is that he does not read music, nor does he write music. Karl plays all of his music by ear. Karl has nine recordings available on cassette tapes and compact discs. Some of his recordings are still available on records. Karl has also played and recorded with several other bands.
Recordings; LP's, cassettes, CD's
Songs Karl Composed
Photo Gallery of the Band