Discographical database that provides information on Cuca LPs and 45s held by Mills Music Library. The data include titles, performer names, release dates, release numbers and other relevant information. Includes releases issued under Cuca-affiliated labels 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 (later re-issued by 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” (issued 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 rock 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 many 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. Users may request to listen to any recording in the collection at the library’s Audio Facility.
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.
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