Many mid-sized cities have their resident novelty/spoof bands, but they are rarely heard beyond their own city limits. The Happy Schnapps Combo from Manitowoc, WI, however, had two things going for them that most similar independent bands lacked: the official membership of a major (international) talent and the nod of approval from Dr. Demento. Their debut album 100 Proof was released in 1991 and their follow-up Raise It! in 1992. Both were produced by famed guitarist Jim Krueger (of the Dave Mason Band who also wrote a majority of their songs and was their lead guitarist and vocalist.) His writing was nothing like his weighty Dave Mason hit "We Just Disagree." As member of the Happy Schnapps Combo Krueger (under his alias "Otto") penned such classless but hilarious ditties as "Please Pass the Schnapps," "Pussywhipped," "The Bears Still Suck," and "No, I Don't Wanna Do Dat" which appeared on Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection. Their style was invariably a mix of hokey country motifs and polka beats which dealt sarcastically with alcohol consumption, football, and other mundane aspects synonymous with living in rural Wisconsin coupled with an exaggerated Midwestern dialect/German accent. The band also included drummer Rich Krueger, bassist Steve Heise, guitarist Dave Heise, and harmonica player Bill Soucy, who was the band's other songwriter. Jim Krueger passed away in 1993 but the band continued with Behind Bars in 1994 and Polka Power in 1996. The Heise brothers also left the band; new members would include bassist Shawn Sargent and guitarists Eric Werner and Steve Klein. The group's final recording, Beer Muscle, was released in 1999 in much the same spirit as their earlier records but with a greater country emphasis and perhaps lacking the crass charm of its predecessors.
Share this page