Bruce Bollerud collection

Biographical / Historical

Bruce Bollerud (1934-2020) was born on a farm near Hollandale, Wisconsin, and grew-up surrounded by music from the Norwegian-American old-time dance tradition. Bollerud played several instruments, among them the bandoneon, piano accordion, trombone, and jug, and also sang. As a gigging musician, Bollerud played with a number of local Wisconsin bands over the years, including the Rhythm Ramblers, Emil Simpson's Nite Hawks, The Polka Jacks, and Feller's Swiss Band. However, the best-known band was the Goose Island Ramblers, of which he was a founding member. They were a three-piece band, made up of Bollerud (“the Hollandale Wildcat” or “Loose Bruce the Goose”), K. Wendell Whitford (“Uncle Windy”), and George Gilbertsen (“Smokey George”). The Goose Island Ramblers were the house band at two taverns in Madison, Wis., Glen and Ann's and Johnny's Packer Inn, during the 1960s and 1970s, and they recorded for Cuca Records in 1964. They temporarily disbanded in 1975. However, they were featured in documentaries and radio programs in Wisconsin in the late '70s and early '80s. Bollerud also played regular gigs with the Good Time Band around Madison, including at the German-American bar and restaurant Essen Haus. Later, the Goose Island Ramblers performed for the Smithsonian Institution's Folk Masters series in 1994, and made 3 more recordings for Cuca Records in 1999 before Whitford's death in 2000. Bollerud continued to play with his Good Time Band throughout the 2000s, and wrote two books of accordion music, International accordion favorites and Uff da! Let's dance! Scandinavian tunes and house party music.