The Cords

The Cords in the Pulaski monastery dining room
The Cords in the Pulaski monastery dining room From left: Matthew Gawlik, Ignatius Kacprowicz, James Kendzierski, Jim Bertler and Bertin Bedia

The Cords Cuca 45 Cords, Inc
The Cords Cuca 45 TrinkThe Cords were a group of Franciscan monks based in Pulaski, Wisconsin, northwest of Green Bay. Most of the group came from Wisconsin, but a couple members were from Buffalo and one from North Chicago. Jim Bertler and James Brojek started the group in 1961, and the band’s lineup and styles evolved over the next decade. They played their first public show at the Pulaski Polish Sausage Day Festival in 1964.

The band didn’t record until 1969, when they traveled to Sauk City to record an album The Franciscan Cords – Spiritual Troubadours and two 45s for release on the Cuca label.

Members on the album and 45s are:

Jim (Bonaventure) Bertler – Vox Jaguar organ, also saxophone, bass and occasional vocal
Kevin Schroder – rhythm guitar
Bertin Bieda – electric accordion and vocals
James Francis Kendzierski – tambourine, vocals, screams, turkey calls
Matthew Gawlik – bass and 12-string guitar
Sebastian Nocinski – drums (polka numbers only) and maracas
Earl Hylok – drums (for rock numbers) and percussion
Kenneth Mach – vocals

The Cords, photo from the back cover of their LP
The Cords, photo from the back cover of their LP From left: Jim Bertler, Matthew Gawlik, Earl Hylok, James Kendzierski, Kevin Schroder and Bertin Bedia

The Cords Cuca 45 Ghost Power
The Cords Cuca 45 Waiting Here for YouThe Cords had two different drummers, Sebastian Nocinski for the polka numbers, and for the rock numbers first Tim Ryan and then Earl Hylok, who was not a Franciscan Brother but played with a local Pulaski rock band.

The Franciscan Cords - Spiritual Troubadours LP on Cuca

The LP was released first, in 1969, followed by the singles the following year. The album demonstrates they were mainly a polka and pop band, and includes a gentle version of “The Letter”. Jim Bertler produced the recordings, taking a more experimental approach with the singles to include sound effects, percussion and distortion. “Ghost Power” was chosen for the first volume of Back from the Grave for this wild instrumental sound.

The version of “Cords, Inc” on the album has the same backing track as the 45, but the album version doesn’t have the heavy fuzz guitar that distinguishes the single. The album version also has many more shouts and calls from Jim Kendzierski, especially on the drum break at a minute in. I like hearing the accordion upfront too.

Excerpts from the Cords singles:

The Cords – Cords, Inc
The Cords – Ghost Power
The Cords – Waiting Here For You

Excerpts from the Franciscan Cords album Spiritual Troubadours:

The Franciscan Cords – Cords, Inc (Theme – excerpt)
The Franciscan Cords – The Letter (excerpt)

Cords 45s label scans courtesy of Jim Bertler. Thank you to Oktay Gürbüz for providing the scans, transfers and information he received from Jim Bertler and and Jim Kirchstein.

Franciscan Cords LP back cover
Back cover of LP
Pulaski News, January 23, 1969

32 thoughts on “The Cords”

  1. This is tremendous. Thanks for another chapter in Wisconsin rock ‘n’ roll history, and one from just up the road. Great job as always.

    1. What a blast from the past. I was a student at St. Joseph HS in Pulaski from 1965-69. I heard The Cords many times during that time and was taught music by Jim Bertler. Thanks for this archive. I knew all the guys in the band and it’s great to be reunited with their music.

      1. John its good to read your comment, and I’m trying to place you as a student. there is a movement by several people at the present time, to reintroduce our album. At present the reels are in Switzerland going through high tech sound systems to better bring out the sounds.

        1. Hey Jim,

          I went by Harley all 4 years at Joe’s. My class was Ron Kacprowicz, Tony Chmura & John Achtyl. I was the main organist and even subbed for you in the friary a number of times. Went on to get advanced degrees in music and performed professionally as a Classical singer in opera, concerts and recitals in the US and Europe. Lived in Milwaukee until recently, am now in South FL.

          Glad to hear The Cords stuff may be reissued. Keep me posted. I sent you my email address via your FB account.

  2. I was the drummer for the Chords and other rock bands in the 60-70-80. Had a great time back then
    I hale from the same area as the Boss.
    Would love to have a chords reunion. Still play in my basement
    Tim Ryan

  3. Jim,

    Great to see this! Would like to hear from you. Remember Paul in your prayers!
    Ron ( St. Joe’s Class of ’69 )

  4. My Uncle Richard, (Matthew Gawlik) gave this album to all his siblings. We listened to it as children all the time. My brother has my mothers album. One of my Uncles gave me his a few years ago. Recently a friend made a CD for my brothers and sisters. I keep it in my car now and am able to revisit my childhood. Would love to buy the new album or CD.

  5. Glad that I decided to look at this site today. Br. Matthew was my main bass and 12 string guitar player. I am very happy to hear that you still listen to the recordings, and very soon the new release of them. A guy from Canada is doing all this. He and others are interested in the 60’s and because we are different (religious brothers) doing rock and roll etc. they are putting g this together. I still write and record music with my Church choir, 1 album and 2 C.D.’s Will keep in touch.

  6. Hey there-
    I have another45 by a band called The Cords Termites/Country Church on Rakki Records…any idea about this?

    Thanks-

    Howie

    1. The group that cut Termites was from Amarillo, Texas. They also had the great “Ain’t That Love” on Atco. Recorded at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis. There were some good unreleased recordings including “Sin Crazed Woman”, “Too Late to Kiss You Now” and “The Lesson” which Ace / Big Beat put out on CDs ‘Get Ready to Fly’ and ‘Now Hear This’

  7. I find that there are countless lost (not now that “You Tube” is in town) 60’s tunes that are expanding my mental catalogue and broadening my musical horizons. I very much appreciate those that invite fellow music lovers to share in the pleasure and I am truly grateful for that. “Strickly 60’s”

  8. Franciscan Cords followers, our Album and the 2 -45’s that we produced back in the 60’s will be re-released sometime before March of 2018. The group that is doing this had notified me recently. It will come out on a package deal (album/45’s) for about $15. This is what I have been told, although things may change?

  9. I am told that Amazon and Exclusive records stores will be handling the records when they come out. I am told that it still scheduled to come out this March 2018. New cover and new write ups about the group I am told. Of the touring group of Brothers, only one Brother has passed away that I know of, and that was Brother Matthew Gawlik our base and 12 string guitar player. A reunion in the very near future would be nice in Pulaski Wisconsin, around Polka Festival which is held the 3rd weekend in July every year. The album is also in the Museum in Pulaski.

    1. I have not been able to find the new release of The Franciscan Cords album. Wondering if anyone has been able to purchase it yet. Brother Matthew was my Godfather. I would like to get one for myself and all my brothers and sisters.

    1. I was told today that I will going to Madison Wisconsin next week to pick up the first order of the records. This is thanks to Oktay from Canada who is putting this whole thing together. I am just an instrument at this time in this ongoing release. Amazon and Exclusive records are to be handling some of the distributions I’m told by Oktay. There is going to be a lot of advertising in Pulaski and the Green Bay area once this is released next week. There will also be articles about the group in some of the local papers. Thanks again everyone for your continue interest in our group from the past.

  10. the 45’s are now available of The Franciscan Cords through Exclusive Records in Green Bay Wisconsin, and also through yours truly at the present time. They did a splendid job of the cover (jacket) along with a great historical story of the group. Good pictures are also on the cover of the jacket, and man were we young. I am very proud of the job that Oktay has done putting this together. Thanks, and big Alleluia.

    1. Brother Iggy played only within the confines of the Monastery. He did not go out with us. He became busy with the carpenter crew going from friaries (Monasteries) different place s to repair, build etc. He was a good carpenter, and I think he made his own guitar(or at least one of them). Sorry to hear that he passed away. Jim Bertler
      (Bro. Bonaventure)

  11. At the present time, I don’t know what Oktay has in mind as far the album. I do know that the 45’s are just about out, except for Exclusive Records in Green Bay Wi. they did a splendid job on the cover and recordings. Who would have thought that 49 years later this would happen about our band. I think that Cuca Records in Wisconsin has the album (33 1/3) on a CD.

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