LP’s Chuck Thiel makes day trips easy and enjoyable

Senior Connections – August 2018

Starrla Cray, Associate Editor

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Polka and potato salad draw them

Rochester Post Bulletin – October 23, 2017

Tom Weber, Life Reporter; Elizabeth Nida Obert, Photographer

Post Bulletin 102317It can be hard to concentrate on church hymns when the tangy smell of sauerkraut and German potato salad is wafting through the sanctuary.

Unless, that is, the church hymns are sung to the tune of your favorite polka songs, and played by Chuck Thiel and His Jolly Ramblers.

Yes, it was the annual polka service Saturday evening at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Rochester, and a crowd of 264 worshipers was on hand for the occasion. “Saturday nights, we would normally have about 120,” said the Rev. Adam Koglin, who conducted the service. “There are a lot of people who love the polka music.”

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Polka worship service coming to St. Paul Lutheran Church of Le Center

Le Center Leader – September 30, 2014

Josie Oliver, Reporter

Adding a polka twist to traditional church hymns, Chuck Thiel and the Jolly Ramblers have provided polka worship services throughout Minnesota for over 20 years. One of Le Center’s own, Ken Schmidt, has been part of the band since 1971.

The polka band makes its way to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Le Center for a 9 a.m. worship on Sunday, Oct. 12.

Schmidt said the band provides traditional polka music with recognizable melodies, combined with the lyrics of traditional religious hymns. He will perform as a member of the band, but St. Paul Lutheran is also his home church.

“People seem to sing to this rather robustly because they know the melodies and have religious lyrics in place of the traditional ones,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the Jolly Ramblers do a lot of Lutheran church services, as well as Catholic.

Each service the Jolly Ramblers do is unique. The polka band has five Christian CDs, 14 CDs overall, with about 20 different church hymns on each. So, the local church has over 100 songs to choose from that the band will incorporate into the church service.

“People really enjoy. They have a smile on their face and their feet are tapping,” Schmidt said.

Churches often pair their polka worship service with a fundraiser or church dinner, Schmidt said. With the entertainment it brings visitors to the church, which helps with the fundraising.

Following the St. Paul Lutheran Church service, a hot beef sandwich lunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Profits will go to help youth with a Bible camp fund.

Schmidt said the band has done polka worship services for over 20 years, but they got their start as a wedding dance band. In addition to the Sunday worship services, which is where the band gets most its business, the Jolly Ramblers also do Sunday afternoon dances, anniversaries, music in the park and other events.

“During Oktoberfest season we are pretty busy, being some place pretty much every Saturday night and Sunday morning,” Schmidt said.

The Jolly Ramblers are known in this area, as they have done services in Belle Plaine, Le Sueur, Madison Lake, Eagle Lake and other nearby locations, but the band is headquartered out of Lester Prairie, with most of its members from north of here.

Chuck Thiel and the Jolly Ramblers are Jason Thiel of Bloomington, Leon Haefner of Northfield, Chuck Thiel of Lester Prairie, Ken Schmidt of Le Center and David Kroells of Mankato.

Search Jolly Ramblers on Facebook for more about the band.


LP’s Jolly Ramblers release two new albums

Herald Journal – February 27, 2012

Starrla Cray, Staff Writer

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – The wait is finally over.

Lester Prairie’s much-adored polka/Christian band Chuck Thiel and his Jolly Ramblers recently released their 18th and 19th CDs, and they’re every bit as pleasing as their predecessors.

One of them, “Beautiful, My Savior Be,” is a blend of 18 polka, waltz, fox trot, and country melodies with Biblically based lyrics.

The other, “Good Old Polka Rhythm,” features 20 selections, including 13 old-time tunes, five country and modern arrangements, and two favorites from the 1950s.

“We give the people their money’s worth,” said Lester Prairie’s Chuck Thiel.

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