Accordion Driven music covering many styles, appropriate for many occasions.
The Route 161 Happy Wanderers is a polka/variety band that plays popular music from different eras and different places. Our music is easy to dance to, and especially appreciated by grandparents and grandchildren. We are able to add requested songs into our playlist, but they may done as polkas, waltzes or two-steps. Weddings, Anniversaries, Memorial Services, Mardi Gras, Purim, Oktoberfest - whatever you've got, we're ready to play! If you want something completely different from your peers for your Wedding, party, or special event, we are completely different, and fun for dancing!
The band was formed when our drummer, Vince, wanted to return to the music he used to play with his Hungarian grandfather back when Vince was teen. His grandpa was a professional musician on the accordion, bass and violin, and played all types of music from all over eastern Europe. Because they were living in Cleveland, Vince played a lot polka with him, of course. Our multi-instrumental wizard Jason (Keyboards, Harmonica, Yodeling. Bass and more) also grew up with that Cleveland sound. Dan, the singing accordionist, grew up in Midland, Michigan and went to Bay City for the Polish festivals and Frankenmuth for the German music.
Styles we play include Polkas, Waltzes, Cajun and Zydeco, Musette, Klezmer, New Orleans classics, and Pop and Country standards. Solo accordion available.
Polka/Oktoberfest - Dan sings in German and Polish, and we've got plenty of material for your Polka party! In 2015 we played 10 Oktoberfest events, and in 2016 we played 18 events. We've got plenty of sing-alongs and nonsense songs to keep the crowd engaged.
Irish - We play Irish Pub Music, with a lot of songs made popular by the Dubliners, and we're happy to throw in rock music by the Dropkick Murphys, the Pogues and Thin Lizzy. We also play plenty of traditional Irish instrumental songs, and we'll be sure to throw in a Limerick or two. In additional to the accordion, Dan plays a fine Penny Whistle and we can give you that pure drop sound.
Italian - We recently added 20 Italian songs to our playlist for an anniversary party, and we're happy to add more. Additionally, Jason sings the songs of the great Italian-American crooners. Una Spina e Una Rosa, Calabrisella Mia, Eh Goombadi, Tarantellas, and many more.
Klezmer - Dan sings many songs in Yiddish and Ladino and has performed Klezmer concerts for communities in Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, and Detroit (where we had a lovely sing-along on the Yiddish favorites) , and we also play Klezmer instrumentals. If you are looking for some Mitzvah entertainment that will please the Bubbes and the Kinder, we just might be that bridge, since we can also play current pop hits when requested in advance.
Mardi Gras/NOLA/Cajun - Dan sings in French, and we can bring that bayou sound! We've also got some traditional New Orleans numbers at the ready, such as Louis Armstrong, Professor Longhair and more.
Musette - Is accordion-based music that was very popular in France in the 1950s, and you still hear it today in popular motion pictures that take place in Paris, such as the animated film 'Ratatouille. It makes lovely background music, cocktail hour music, and it was originally for dancing, so it's great for waltzers.
Enka/Japanese - Dan sings in Japanese too!
Dan sings in many different languages (German, Polish, Yiddish, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Macedonian), and actually speaks many of the languages that he sings (French, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese). If you want an EmCee for your event, Dan is a many-year member of Toastmaster's International.
Country Music: If you are specifically seeking slick modern country as heard on the radio, we are not a good fit. If you are seeking a high energy band that will play some Johnny Cash and Hank Williams (the original) and plenty of music that is great for dancing and sing-alongs, we may be a very good fit. By "country", I mean that we play music that originated in barn dances, country dances and rent parties throughout the world.
Weddings - Jason can provide ceremonial/processional music for your happy occasion on solo piano, and then the band can get the crowd dancing at your party!
Jazz - We can do cocktail hour jazz as well. Dan on Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone, Jason on Keys. We can bring a female vocalist if you would like.
Reggae - This may sound out of character, but Jason sings a fantastic Bob Marley impersonation, and we can play all the hits. Ask for a sound sample!
Travel - Our normal travel radius is about 250 miles from Columbus, Ohio. We will consider bidding longer distances on a case by case basis. In the greater Columbus Ohio area, we offer special shows for Senior Facilities and Hospitals, and we often bring an ensemble featuring saxophone and clarinet to those engagements.