In the 70's and 80's, the Little Wally Polka Band, led by Lou D'Antonio, often performed at WFMU post-marathon fiestas or at staff holiday parties. The band is comparable to what is now The Hoof and Mouth Sinfonia.
This 13 minute performance [Download MP3] occurred shortly after the 1978 marathon, when the fundraising goal was about $25,000! The band members are: Master of Ceremonies, Little Wally (Lou D'Antonio), Accordionist Chuck (Pussy) Russo, Guitarist Frank O'Toole, Tiny Norman (Jim Price) on Clarinet, Bad Bob (Brainen) on bass, Harmonica Player Bjorn Forehead (John Narucki), Drummer/Percussionist Paul Sobolik, and vocalist Larry White. Oddly, Irwin Chusid who attended every other Little Wally performance as the drummer was absent for this one. Included in the photo group are pictures of Cindy McKee on drums and Colleen Choffey on bass, at a later station performance.
Everyone is familiar with the superb talents of DJs Frank O'Toole and Bob Brainen. However, some background on the other participants might be needed. Lou "The Duck" D'Antonio hosted a freeform program (for many years called 'The Hour of the Duck') at WFMU from 1962-1990. Listening to this archive will give you some idea of his brilliant ability to improvise. He now lives in Randolph, Vermont, and hosts 'Jazz Spectrum on the Point' in Montpelier. John Narucki who sadly, died on December 13, 2003, was a blues loving, switchblade packing, cigar smokin' son of a gun. Quoting Irwin, "John was intelligent, articulate, and could wisecrack with precision timing. He was personable on the air, but didn't suppress his cynicism. If you cut him verbally, he got the last round. He was a career curmudgeon." Dave the Spazz said of John, "When I was a kid, listening to Jean Shepherd made me want to listen to more Jean Shepherd. Listening to John Narucki made me want to do a radio show." Paul Sobolik's career was short but he did leave his mark in many ways. The most famous was when he broadcast his final show when retiring, and played the Turtles song, "Eleanor" for three hours without saying a word. He exited the station and never returned. Jim Price was a full-time broadcaster during the period of 1976 to 1991. Also, he was on the air for two years with the late Frank Balesteri (aka "The Vanilla Bean") (1997-98) as "The Price is Beans". He currently makes noises with the band Neblung Price. During the Little Wally shows, Jim was always featured as the band leader's avant-guard protégé, Tiny Norman. In this show, Tiny demonstrates a new and modern sound with "Piece For Cardboard Boxes." Chuck Russo was the band's accordion player and without his contribution, there would have been no Little Wally. Without the polka theme, who knows what musical direction the band would have taken. Chuck also was the station manager and chief engineer and as Bob Rixon said, "Our equipment was fragile, to say the least. We had a couple of funky turntables, usually one working cassette player & two four track reel-to-reels that could be set up for an awesome layered echo if they worked at all. It was all held together with duct tape, Byzantine wiring, and Chief Engineer Chuck Russo's peculiar genius."