Ruth Adams memorialized with video, photos, and memories


We were heartbroken to hear about the passing of Ruth Adams, the accordion player for the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band that held down a longtime regular gig at Nye's Polonaise Room, just a few weeks ago.

Now, thanks to local documentarian Sonya "Sonny" Tormoen, we have a few sweet memories of Adams to share with our readers in honor of her memory.

[jump] Tormoen is the producer and director of the short documentary, The World's Most Dangerous Polka Band, which has been screened at film festivals around the world. She kindly uploaded some clips of the documentary for us to share, in addition to giving us some hilarious and touching tidbits that she learned about Adams and the WMDPB while making her film.

Without further ado, we give you 7 Amazing Ruth Adams Facts:

  1. Ruth could play accordion while sleeping.
Photo by Michael J. Allen
  1. To keep from laughing while performing the "Barking Dog Polka," Ruth played with her eyes closed and kept a deadpan expression.


  1. Ruth played an Iorio Accordionan Italian electronic instrument with the capacity to make gunshot sounds.


  2. Sonny Tormoen, while working as an extras casting director, cast Ruth Adams for a parade scene in the 1999 movie Drop Dead Gorgeous (starring Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley) and also worked with the WMDPB on Comedy Central's Let's Bowl, which is where she got the idea to do a film about them.

    1. Ruth and the band averaged 60-70 songs a night, for 2-3 nights a week for 35 years which, means Ruth's fingers played likely more than 200,000 songs for fans at Nye's.
  3. The band played 16 songs an hour (most live bands play 12) and kept it moving by allowing only 10 seconds between songs. Though they were the "polka band," 60% of what they played were Foxtrots, 25% Latin/country and waltzes and only 15% true polkas. Their entire repertoire of 1,000 songs (that they knew by heart) dates before 1955.

  4. Once Ruth learned a song, she never needed to look at the music again.

Here are some segments from the documentary The World's Most Dangerous Polka Band:

Thank you, Sonny, and thank you, Ruth Adams. You will be missed.