The Cuca Records Database

Citation URL:

http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/CUCA

URLs to browse or search the collections

Cuca label galleryThe aim of this database is to provide discographical information for all known LPs released by Cuca Records and its affiliated labels. Many of these recordings are available in the Mills Music Library. The database also contains information on Cuca’s 45 rpm recordings that are in the Library’s collection. These include releases using alternate label names such as Sara, American, Top Gun, Polka Dot, and Sounds of Wisconsin.
Cuca Records of Sauk City, Wisconsin was founded by James Kirchstein in 1959 and actively produced LP and 45 rpm recordings until the early 1970s. During this period Cuca recorded and released primarily polka and ethnic music on LP but also issued other musical styles including pop, rhythm and blues, folk, and traditional jazz. Most musicians recorded by Cuca were from Wisconsin or adjacent states. Consequently, Cuca’s recorded documents represent a focused view of Wisconsin musical performance during these years.

The Cuca studios recorded performers for commercial release on other popular record labels as well. Its recording of “Mule Skinner Blues” by the Fendermen (released as a 45 rpm on the Soma label) rose to number five on the Billboard charts in 1960 and sold over a million copies, and its recording of Birdlegs and Pauline’s tune, “Spring” (released on the Vee-Jay label) rose to number 18 on the Rhythm and Blues charts. Other notable musicians recorded by Cuca include bluesman Earl Hooker, the pop group Corporation, country music legend Pee Wee King, and jazz musician Doc Dehaven. Cuca, which adopted the slogan “World’s Largest Line of Old Time Music,” is widely known for the host of polka and ethnic musicians it recorded including Alvin Styczynski, Verne Meisner, Syl Liebl, the Goose Island Ramblers, John Check, Jerry Goetsch, Roger Bright, and the Edelweiss Stars, to name a few.

The Cuca Record Collection forms part of the Wisconsin Music Archives, a non-circulating special collection in the Mills Music Library. Individual recordings in this collection are only listed in the accompanying database and will not be found in MadCat, the online catalog for the University of Wisconsin Libraries. Users may request to listen to any recording in the collection at the library’s Audio Facility.

Additional Resources

To view a sampling of the label types used on Cuca recordings, visit the Cuca Label Image Gallery

For an expansive study of the Cuca label, read Sarah Filzen’s The History of Cuca Records, 1959-1973.
The complete text is available online at: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/MillsSpColl.FilznHCuca

Discographical information on Cuca’s 45 rpm recordings can be found in the following publications:

The Directory of American 45 R.P.M Records, v. 4. Philadelphia: Stak-O-Wax, 1997. ML156.4 P6 C57 1997 Music Reference.
Myers, Gary. Do You Hear That Beat: Wisconsin Pop/Rock in the 50’s & 60’s. Downey, CA: Hummingbird Publishing, 1994. ML3534 M98 1994 Wisconsin Music Archives. Credits

Credits

Jon Meyer developed the database in 1996 from a fledgling version begun by Mary Seim several years earlier. It has been modified and expanded by Steve Sundell for use on the world wide web. Sarah Filzen kindly contributed a great deal of information on the recordings resulting from her thesis work on Cuca. Technical support was provided by Kirstin Dougan, Charles Dean, Sue Dentinger, and Adi Shrivastava.

It is hoped that the search features of the Cuca Records Database Collection will be a convenient aid to scholarship and study. Both the individual titles and the collection as a whole can be browsed and searched by keyword. Users are advised to consult the table of contents and indexes in individual works to conduct a thorough search for specific information in the texts.