Sounds of polka music filled the grounds of St. Joseph Catholic Church on July 14 as the Jim Busta Band and Squeezebox performed at Farley’s Julyfest.
The music started as a hobby but came to be a career for two generations of the Busta family: Mollie Busta Lange of Squeezebox grew up playing with her father Jim.
The Jim Busta Band performed at the polka Mass in the morning, and both bands performed in the tent following Mass.
Busta lives in Spring Grove, Minn., but has roots in northeast Iowa. “I taught school in Cedar Rapids and then became principal at Edgewood-Colesburg High School,” he said.
The Jim Busta Band has been playing polka music for 35 years at Masses and festivals throughout the Midwest.
Busta says he just likes to play polka music. “I didn’t really know if we’d ever get this popular. This started out as a hobby band.”
He said one of the benefits of the band is that all of his children were given opportunities to play with him. Two of his children still play in the band. Busta’s son, Chad, plays drums for the band. His daughter, Mollie Busta Lange, sings as well as plays saxophone, trumpet and keyboards. She also plays in her band, Squeezebox.
“Chad was a regular in the band at age 8. Mollie was a regular by age 11. I tell people it was before child labor laws,” said Busta.
His daughter is better known as Mollie B. She is the host of the RFD-TV show, “Mollie B Polka Party.” The show airs four times a week.
The RFD-TV tapings of the show take place on location around the United States. The show will tape polka bands over four days. Usually 30-40 bands will come to the location to be taped over the course of the four days.
“It was never a dream of mine to make this a career,” said Lange. “But the opportunities have fallen in my lap and I’m very thankful for that.”
Besides the RFD-TV show, she tours with the bands. “Our busiest time is between June and November,” she said. “But I think the next weekend I actually have off is in March.”
Lange says she enjoys performing regardless of the size of the crowd. “I can play for 30 people or 1,300. I’m comfortable anywhere, and they all deserve the same show.”
Dallas Millard from Dickeyville, Wis., is a fan of both bands. Millard’s daughter surprised him with a trip to Farley so he could hear his favorite bands. He said he never misses the “Mollie B Polka Party” on television.
“If there was more of that kind of music, there’d be less trouble in the world today,” he said.