Texas Polka News

The Texas Polka News

Texas Polka News Aug 1, 2014 Update

Due to the illness of my wife Marlys Rivard, I am unable to continue producing The Texas Polka News, which I did for 12 years as an unpaid (pro-bono) volunteer.  

TPN owner/publisher Marie Tupa has opted to sell the TPN to someone with both the interest and ability to keep it going.  On July 26 the TPN was transferred to new owner Theresa Parker, who intends to resume production at the earliest possible time.  Theresa currently produces the polka website http://www.polkabeat.com.  Check it out, and see her announcement about the TPN.
   Theresa can be contacted at (281) 389-5528. 

Thank you for your understanding.

John Rivard

A Tribute to Julius Tupa

Tupa, husband, father, well-known Houston area musician, music promoter and radio disk jockey, and publisher of The Texas Polka News died October 5, 2002 after a courageous and optimistic fight against esophageal cancer.  He was 71.

Julius Tupa was born July 22, 1931 to Czech parents in Moravia Texas (Lavaca County), attending the historic Moravia school and then Schulenburg High School.  He began singing and playing guitar at age 13.  Coming to Houston in 1950, Julius sang at clubs around the city in the Heights, White Oak Bayou and Shepherd area.  This included singing at the Plantation on South Main with the Dickie McBride Swing Band and a first recording in 1951 with Bennie Lueders Swing Band.  

Julius married Marie Schultz on Nov. 13, 1954, after proposing to her at Houston’s historic Bill Mraz Ballroom while on military leave.  The couple raised two daughters, Gayle and Tina, the first being born in Germany during Julius’ military duty.  Julius then served five years in the Air Force Reserve at Houston’s Ellington Field while working for Hughes Tool and attending the University of Houston 1956-61 in Electronic Engineering.  After college he began a career with Daniels Industries.  

But music was Julius’ love.  He formed his first country western band in 1956 and recorded an LP on the Guide Record Label in the 60’s.  He organized a second country and western swing band in 1973.  His involvement with the Houston music scene then continued as he owned and operated a recording and video studio.

Julius’ Houston area radio career began in 1984 from Rosenberg’s KFRD with a country polka radio show.  Increasingly, Julius returned to his Czech roots and the polka music of his youth.  In 1987 he took his radio show to KYND 1520 Cypress (TX), where the two-hour Saturday morning “Polka Express” program continued through a special program Oct. 5, dedicated to Julius and to the Texas polka and country music that he loved.  The program aired just hours after his death.

Ever the optimistic promoter, Julius’ next venture in 1987 was to establish this monthly polka newspaper, “The Texas Polka News.”  The Texas Polka News proudly covers the Texas and nationwide polka scene, with a little country swing and Cajun music coverage thrown in.  

In 1992, Julius co-founded the Sound Connection Band, the first Slovenian style polka band in Texas.  Gary Kunkel continues to lead The Sound Connection, which has two recordings.

In keeping with their polka involvement, Julius and wife Marie helped establish the Texas Chapter of the Polka Lovers Klub of America (Po.L.K. of A.) in 1989 and were elected first King and Queen of that organization.

Ever a man of vision, Julius then saw the need to document and recognize the contributions of Texas musicians who had created and helped preserve the rich polka music heritage of Texas.  In 1991 he organized The Texas Polka Music Association (TPMA) for that purpose.  For eight years Julius was the driving force and promoter of this multi-day event.  Along the way TPMA helped preserve and promote the rich heritage of this music, while recognizing over 30 Texas polka pioneers and patriarchs for their lifetime achievements as well recognizing the best current performers each year.  

The TPMA Music Awards was a big show, done in the usual Julius’ fashion.  Fittingly, the final TPMA Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Julius in 1998.

Through all of his other endeavors, Julius remained a foremost promoter of country and polka music in Texas.  He was also well known around the nation in these circles.  

Most of all, Julius Tupa was an optimist who believed that great things could be accomplished and then set out to do them.  He always bit off more than any man could handle, and he wasn’t always on time.  But he tackled life and it’s problems with optimism, and good cheer, and love for music and his fellow man.

Sweet dreams Julius.  We know you won’t miss a beat.  But we will miss you.


Texas Recognizes Julius Tupa

        The State of Texas has officially recognized the contributions of Texas Polka News founder, Julius Tupa, in House Resolution No. 614 passes unanimously in the House of Representatives on May 3, 2003.

        The Resolution, which was the work of State Representative Dwayne Bohac, states in part:

WHEREAS, The passing of Julius Victor Tupa on October 5,2002, brought great sadness to the many fans and friends as well as to the family of the Houston legend; and

WHEREAS, Born July 22, 1931, in Moravia, Mr. Tupa developed his musical talents at an early age, picking up his first guitar at 13; in 1950, he moved to Houston with a song in his heart and a determination to share his enthusiasm for music with the masses; and

WHEREAS, While studying as an electrical engineering student at the University of Houston, Mr. Tupa formed a country band, but later discovered that his true passion was the lively punch of polka; in 1992, he co-founded the Sound Connection, the first Slovenian-style polka band in the state; and

WHEREAS, This admired gentleman became a prominent figure in Houston's polka scene, editing the Texas Polka News, founding and directing the Texas Polka Music Association, and founding the Texas chapter of the Polka Lovers Klub of America; he was the animated host of the long-running Saturday morning Polka Express on KYND-AM, one of the most popular shows on the station; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Tupa shared 48 wonderful years with his wife Marie, and their union was blessed with two daughters and four grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, This beloved gentleman was a treasured artist who enlivened and enchanted audiences with the spirited and effervescent melodies of authentic Czech music and he will long be remembered as a passionate promoter and preserver of Texas polka music; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the official copy of this resolution be prepared for the members of his family and that the Texas House of Representatives adjourns this day, it do so in the memory of Julius Victor Tupa.

(posted 10/22/03)


                                                  The Texas Polka Music Association (TPMA)

The Texas Polka Music Association (TPMA) was established in 1991 by Julius Tupa, Texas musician, bandleader, polka radio DJ, and founder/publisher of The Texas Polka News.

The mission of TPMA was to help preserve and promote polka music in Texas by recognizing those persons and organizations that had made substantial contributions to Texas polka music.  TPMA functioned for eight years, producing a 2-3 day annual polka fest at which the awards were presented.  The first TPMA Awards were held in Belton in 1991, the last (8th) in El Campo in 1998.

In its eight years, TPMA recognized 33 individuals with “Lifetime Awards,” the highest honor bestowed.  Special Hall-of-Fame Awards were presented to two radio stations and for two songs.  In addition, annual awards were presented each year in 6-8 categories, including band of the year, musician of the year, song of the year, and similar categories.

The Lifetime Award winners are presented below.  Fittingly, the last recipient in 1998 was Julius Tupa himself.  Julius continued all his other activities until his death in 2002.






Baca, John

Early polka band in Texas, preserving Czech music (posthumous)


Gavranovic, Joe

Grass roots, traditional, admired polka DJ (posthumous)


Hofner, Adolph

For his lasting impression on Texas polka music


Krenek, Ed

Early pioneer in Texas polka music (posthumous)


Longoria, Valerio

For pioneering Conjunto music in Texas


Mikula, Jodie

Development of a respected and enjoyable sound in Texas polka (posthumous)


Mraz, Bill

Operator of most famous polka ballroom in Texas (posthumous)


Patek, Joe

Development of a unique sound in Texas polka music (posthumous)


Shimek, Wence

For his dedication to programming Texas polka music


Vrazel Brothers

To Alfred and Anton, for the development of the “central Texas Sound


Hi-Toppers Orch

Texas polka band bringing their music to the highest standard (39 years)


Kurtz, Rudy

Dedicated to promoting & preserving Czech music in Texas (posthumous)


Lichnovsky, Gene

Outstanding musician whose talents contributed to many bands


Matocha, Lee Roy

Dedication and longevity in promoting polka music on the airwaves


Majek Orchestra

Family band dedicated to preserving and promoting polka music for 95 years


Vrazel, Alfred

For polka radio music for longest uninterrupted time (since 1955)


Okanski, Steve

Early pioneer in performance of Polish music in Texas


Matocha, Lee Roy

Dedication and longevity in performing Czech music in Texas


Brosch, Henry

Early Texas polka bands


Brosch, Jimmie

Popular Texas polka band


Gebala, Bernie

Lifetime promoter of polka music


Kozel, Al

Longevity as Texas polka DJ


Sloan, Bill

Pioneering DJ in early days of polka radio


Veit, Charles

Drummer for the Joe Patek Orchestra


Cox, Harley

Polka promoter, booking for SPJST


Darilek, Leonard

Performer with several great polka bands, still performing at time of award


Kubala, Henry

Early polka musician, 100 years old at time of award


Pavlas, Adolph

Early musician of the Gold Chain Bohemians


Sefcik, Rudy

Pioneer in radio polka broadcasting


Jozwiak, Sigmund

Early pioneer in performing Polish music as band leader


Oldag, Ben

“The Voice” and one of the early pioneers in polka radio broadcasting


Baca, Ray

One of the early bands of Texas, from Fayetteville


Tupa, Julius

Musician, bandleader, radio DJ, creator of The Texas Polka News and TPMA

                                                 TPMA HALL OF FAME AWARDS

KTEM Radio – Temple

The Melody Hour, longest running continuous polka radio show

KULP Radio – El Campo

Pioneers of polka radio programming

The Shiner Song

All time favorite song (Joe Patek)

Corn Cockle Polka

All time favorite song (Jimmie Brosch)

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