The Polka Dots band
Sixty years was quite a rare milestone for a band to celebrate.
Ray Sands and The Polka Dots celebrated that milestone in October 2010 with performances at Treasure Island Resort and Casino for the Goodhue County Historical Society’s 140th birthday, as well as the band’s anniversary. They also celebrated with a dance at Grandpa’s Event Center in Cannon Falls. Later that month, Garrison Keillor helped the band celebrate at a show at the State Theater in Zumbrota, MN.
Ray Sands and The Polka Dots “oompah music” hit the radio air waves on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” Jan. 23, 2016 to a capacity crowd at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN. The live radio show broadcasts to over 700 US stations, as well as in Europe to over 4.3 million listeners. Also appearing on that broadcast was “Sweet Dreams,” a girls trio from the Goodhue, Wanamingo, and Kenyon area in Minnesota.
“It was quite an honor to work with Garrison Keillor and his great staff,” commented Ray. “I thought the concert that we played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC would be the highlight of our band’s career, but now I think that this one topped it.”
Other highlights for the band include being invited to play at the International Polka Festival in Kitzbuhel, Austria. One hundred and fifty friends and fans acccompanied the band. A few years later, the band and its fans toured Scandinavia. Another highlight was performing a concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC representing the state of Minnesota in 1997. Sweet Dreams and tuba soloist, Stan Freese also performed at that concert.
Jason Davis of KSTP TV featured the band’s 50th anniversary on his show, “On the Road.”
In November 2000, Ray Sands, the band’s leader was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
The most recent CD commemorating the band’s anniversary is entitled, “Ray Sands and The Polka Dots Present 60 Years of Polka’n Around.” This CD features standard old time tunes, as well as three songs composed especially for this CD.
Ray wrote “The Polka Dots Waltz” and “How Soon?”. Sue composed “Bryan’s Polka” for their grandson. “Flyswatter” is a unique tune that was recorded by the California alternative rock band, The Eels. They asked Sue to arrange it “polka style” and was performed by The Eels on the Late Night Show with David Letterman.
A book entitled “Musical Memories” by Ray telling of many fun times and adventures during those 60 years is available, as well as these CDs: “The Polka Dots Celebrate 50 Years of Music,” “The Polka Dots Classic Collection,” and “A Night Out at the Chart House With The Ray Sands Combo.” The cost of the book is $10, and CDs are $15 plus $2 shipping and handling. To order any of these items, contact Ray.