Bluegrass Beyond Borders: Stacja Folk from Poland

When a band takes its name from a generalized genre, it would seem to reflect both confidence and credibility. Given the accolades accrued by Stacja Folk — a handle that’s loosely translated from the Polish as “Folk Station” —  those attributes seem well deserved. In 2022, they became the only Polish band to perform at the La Roche festival in France. This year, they’ll return, this time to play on the main stage.

The band — whose members include Karolina Bułas (vocals, mandolin), Michalina Putek (violin, harmony), Rafał Wiercioch (acoustic guitar), and Maciej Kozioł (bass) — can claim a number of other achievements as well, among them, a second place win in the Polish band competition known as Fest Muza (which also found Putek cited as the best instrumentalist), second place standing in the Song Review as part of the Piotr Skrzynecki Festival (which also earned Putek the distinction of being the best instrumentalist), a citation at the First International Festival of Entertainment for their composition Your Song in 2021, and participation in the Open Stage competition organized as part of the Mikołajki Folkowe festival in 2020.

The band was first founded by Bulas, who claims to have always been inspired by Americana music. “Most of the Stacja Folk  members now live in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, but everyone comes from a different city,” she said. “We were united by our love for acoustic instruments.”

The origin of the group can be traced to Bulas’ meeting with Putek during a jam session in Warsaw. “I was impressed with her expressive solos,” Bulas recalls. She then met Wiercioch during a blues workshops which each of them would attend every summer. Afterwards, they quickly found a common musical bond and opted to start playing together.

“In Stacja Folk’s songs, you can hear influences from bluegrass, blues, jazz, and Polish poetry,” Bulas explains. Her clear and vibrant vocals, coupled with the resonance of acoustic instruments, defines the band’s characteristic sound. “It’s further enriched by Michalina’s expressive violin and Rafał’s melodic guitar,” Bulas added.

The band’s repertoire consists of their own original songs, each enhanced by ear-pleasing choruses, catchy riffs, and dizzying improvisations. In August 2020, the band released its debut EP, tellingly titled Naturally, following in 2023 with  the long-playing album I’m On My Way and …. Both discs can be heard on streaming services, including Spotify and YouTube, in cooperation between the band and Agora Digital Music.

Bulas says that she came by her love of traditional music quite naturally. “My father was a fiddle player in a country/cajun band, and when I was little, I used to sit in on his rehearsals and absorb the music,” she recalls. “That’s why I’ve been a fan of Americana since early childhood. Also, my husband and his dad are mandolin and banjo makers. They are focused on instruments used mainly in bluegrass music. Here is their website.”

Although she serves as the band’s primary songwriter, she makes it a point to mention that Stacja Folk’s music derives from a combination of the musical preferences of each band member, and all of them contribute to the arrangements.

So far, Stacja Folk has mainly played to audiences in their native Poland, including a number of clubs and cafes in Warsaw, and in various cultural centers throughout the country. “Every year we play at Midsummer Night celebrations,” Bulls added. “We have also played at the biggest country festival in Poland, Country Picnic in Mrągowo. Unfortunately we have no bluegrass festivals in our country.”

Nevertheless, Bulas herself performs at various country music festivals Poland has to offer, and she had the opportunity to share a stage with the Colorado-based band called Rapidgrass at the aforementioned Mrągowo festival. She’s also sung with many of best-known country artists in Poland. 

“Our music is always warmly received,” she insists. “People often speak highly of our positive energy, catchy songs, and the great solos. Still, the music that we are playing is not popular in Poland, and so we would like to be heard by more people.”

Nevertheless, Bulas believes that bluegrass boasts an inherent energy that attracts people from all walks of life, regardless of their place of origin. 

“It has a great rhythm which doesn’t let you sit still!,” she suggests. “The sound of acoustic instruments is just beautiful, and this music has a lot of space to show one’s musical and technical skills. Also the lyrics are about main aspects of life and everyone can relate to them.”

Stacja Folk can be found on Facebook.

Share this:

About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.