By Gabe Licht, Editor
For more than 50 years, Dan Albrecht has played music.
He started banging on a coffee can with wooden spoons when he was 4, upgraded to a drum set when he was 5, and wore a hole into it within a matter of weeks, before going on to teach himself how to play other instruments.
Knowing how to play the drums, guitar, and concertina came in handy recently, as he decided to record an album with himself as the only musician.
“Being I play a variety of instruments, I often wondered if I would be able to record each of them separately then combine them and make my own album,” Albrecht said. “I always like a challenge, and with today’s technology, it was possible.”
With his father commonly playing polka music in the house, it’s no wonder that Albrecht gravitated toward the accordion and concertina.
“There was music playing all the time,” Albrecht said. “I just picked it up. They were traditions passed down from one generation to the next.”
After he crossed the drums, accordion, and concertina off his list, he decided to challenge himself to learn a new instrument.
“After I learned the concertina, I figured I’d move on to something different and picked up the guitar,” Albrecht said.
By the age of 9, Albrecht was performing publicly.
His love of music continued, as he went on to play with the Highliners, as well as the Northern Stars out of Winsted at places like the Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood and the Pla Mor Ballroom in Glencoe.
“I filled in for quite a few bands, some pretty popular ones,” Albrecht said. “This town, at one time, had so many bands . . . You get to know all these musicians. They’d see you somewhere and say, ‘Come up and do a couple tunes with us.’”
His days of playing with a band are past him, though.
“The last time I played music with a band was probably 12 years ago,” Albrecht said. “You get too old and too busy with everything else. I got out of music.”
Fast-forward to this fall, when Albrecht got the itch to record an album.
“After giving some thought about musicians, I decided to do the CD myself,” Albrecht said. “I played all the instruments. With the help from Josh (Levi) at Winterland Studios (in Minneapolis), we multi-tracked the CD. I did the concertina first, followed by the drums, and then added a hillbilly-style rhythm guitar, doing all the music in an old style way.”
Levi at first wondered if Albrecht would be able to keep tempo, but he didn’t have to wonder for long.
“After the first 20 seconds, he said, ‘Let’s roll,’” Albrecht said.
He spent six hours in the studio, including four hours recording the 12 classic polka songs and waltzes he selected.
“They made a rough copy so I could listen on the way home,” Albrecht said. “It’s strange because it’s not physically possible to play all the instruments at the same time.”
The album has since been mixed, mastered, finished, and “turned out great,” Albrecht said.
Levi enjoyed working on the album, as well.
“Dan, the one-man band, was easy-going and fun to work with,” Levi said.
Albrecht said his favorite song on the album is the Ping Pong Polka, while he said many who have purchased the album have had a hard time picking a favorite.
He is nearly sold out of his first batch of albums and will soon be ordering more.
One of those albums made its way to 95.5 KCHK Radio in New Prague.
“It was kind of strange yesterday, coming home and hearing my name and music on the radio,” Albrecht said. “It’s been aired for about a week now.”
He has also been invited to take part in the station’s live radio show, likely in January.
In addition to the radio, people are hearing about his album from word-of-mouth and social media.
“I’ve had orders come in from New York and other states because my wife posted it on Facebook,” Albrecht said.
He believes the album could make a good Christmas gift for polka lovers.
To order a copy, send a $10 check to Albrecht at 11066 Fannon Ave. SE Delano MN 55328.