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Chris Rybak / Press

“TAKE A LANKY 22-year-old kid in a cowboy hat who cites Flaco Jiménez and Myron Floren as major influences alongside Hank Williams, Garth Brooks, and George Strait, and you just know there’s a whole lotta polka in his country soul. And that’s precisely what Chris Rybak’s self-titled CD is all about: Bohemian-German hybrids that reflect his hometown roots (Hallettsville, in the heart of the Texas Polka Belt), including standards like “All by Myself” (sung in Czech), “German Waltz” (sung in German), and “Jambalaya” juxtaposed with renderings of “Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon” and “I Want to Dance With You.” But when he throws “Hey Baby Que Paso,” the National Anthem of San Antonio, into the mix, with backing vocals provided by the late Doug Sahm, Rybak demonstrates he’s got the right stuff to take the accordion to the next level of Texas cross-cultural fusion.”

“Texas Gets The Accordion Bug And Never Looks Back Fort Worth has a young accordion star named Ginny Mac, and accordionist Chris Rybak hails from Hallettsville, Texas, near Shiner and Yoakum. Rybak is Czech; his family has been in Texas since 1880. He got his first accordion at age 12. A Texan Mix While a band along the Texas border can make a living playing only conjunto, and a band in Houston can do the same playing only zydeco, a young German or Czech accordion player is wise to play a broad repertoire. Rybak, a young husband with a 3-month-old baby girl, plays traditional polka, of course. But he also plays zydeco, conjunto and country, multiplying his chances for work. He makes solo albums, spends a few weeks in the summer playing festivals in Italy, Austria and Germany — it's not a bad life. Rybak plays a Roland digital accordion, a new kind of accordion which allows him to shade the sound in different ways. At times, he can make it sound a little violiny, or fiddly.”

“POLKA NIGHT AT THE OPRY! We just returned from the polka program at Brenham’s Bluebonnet Opry. They have two of those each year, May and October. Tonight was absolutely spectacular! Everyone around us seemed to enjoy the program as much as we did. Guest artists were Shane Lala of the Red Ravens, Chris Rybak from Hallettsville, and Al Sulak of Al Sulak’s Country Sounds. Chris Rybak brought along his new-found friend, Santiago Jimenez, Jr. We’ve heard Chris and Santiago together previously. They make an awesome pair. We were so happy to see Santiago there. One of the songs they played was written by Santiago’s father. You’ve probably heard it many times. Definitely one of my favorites – “Viva Seguin”. These guys mixed it all up – Robert playing “Orange Blossom Special” with Chris and Santiago, Al playing trumpet along with Chris and Santiago, and of course besides his fiddle Robert brought along his harmonica and his accordion.”