Teens play polka too!

Categories: Around the Diocese

Band bursts on the scene with young talent

June 7, 2013 edition
By Lynette Thelen

From floats to parish festivals, Nathan’s Oldtime Band will be making the rounds this summer. But if you take a look at them you probably wouldn’t expect polka music to be pumped from their speakers.

Nathan Neumann is a recent graduate from Albany High School and goes to St. Benedict Parish in Avon. The 18-year-old started playing the concertina just over three years ago and that led to him starting a polka band.


His younger sister, Alicia, started playing violin at a young age and that propelled him into the music world.

“Alicia played violin for a long while,” Neumann said. “I think this is eight years for her and I kind of got jealous of her and so I got a guitar and started playing with her. Then I got a concertina and started playing that and started accumulating instruments. I could do that because I wasn’t involved in school. So I had a lot of time.”

He also plays the accordion, guitar, saxophone and piano.

The other members of the band include Alex Wolter, 19, who just finished his first year at Bemidji State University.

A member of Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Anna, he plays trumpet and guitar.

There’s Ezra Lafleur, 14, who plays keyboard and just finished ninth grade through an online school.

He attends Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell.

One of the drummers is 14-year-old Matt Heinen, who just finished eighth grade at St. Cloud Christian School and attends Calvary Community Church in St. Cloud.

Travis Ramacher, also 14, just finished eighth grade at Albany Junior High School, plays trumpet and guitar and attends St. Anthony Parish in St. Anthony.

Alicia Neumann is 17 and is Nathan’s younger sister.

She just finished her junior year at Albany High School and plays fiddle and piano. The other drummer is Dan Ingman, a recent graduate from Rocori and a member of SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Richmond.

“We’ve been playing since January 2012,” Neuman said. “That’s when we started. Before that we were just getting going. We had a trumpet player. We actually had a tuba player too, but he was so busy with soccer that it didn’t work out with him. And then we finally got into a groove and got a whole bunch of songs lined up and started out as Nathan’s Oldtime Band.”

Watch for them

The band usually plays at ballrooms, bars, restaurants and festivals. They will be playing at a number of parish festivals this summer in the St. Cloud Diocese, including at Neumann’s home church in Avon.

But the band will be a little different at the St. Benedict Parish festival. Neumann will be playing with the St. Benedict Parish Band, which includes brothers Dean and Daryl Dirkes, Gabe Noska, Glen Tamm, Aaron Tamm and Ken Tamm.

Neumann started playing polka music soon after he learned how to play his concertina.

“I played concertina and so then I thought, ‘Hey, I better get my own polka band,’ ” Neumann shared. “Because I’ve played with other polka bands but it was just not energetic and exciting enough for me. So I started my own and it was with kids from school and they had the energy and excitement about it. So then it worked out because it was fun and people really like to see the youth involved.”

“We’ve done a polka Mass in St. Paul at St. Casimir Church,” Neumann said. “That was fun. That was March 3, during Lent, and so we learned a whole bunch of different songs. Half of it or more was in Polish because it was a Polish parish. So that was quite an experience.”

Nathan’s Oldtime Band will be playing another polka Mass Aug. 25 at Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids for their festival and then will play two hours for entertainment there. Later that same day the band will be heading over to St. Francis and is scheduled to play four hours for their festival.