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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 first record issued by Kirchstein was J-1000 by the Midwest Ranchers on the Swastika label. (Willie Tremain's Thunderbirds, "Midnight Express" b/w "Frankie's Rock") came out on the Swastika label 2cnd. Strong negative reaction forced Kirchstein to pull the single and reissue it on the Cuca label (both numbered 1001).
The Cuca studios recorded performers for commercial release on other popular record labels, as well. Its recording of "Mule Skinner Blues" by The Fendermen (Cuca 1003, rereleased as a 45 rpm on 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" (Cuca 1125, rereleased on the Vee-Jay label) rose to number 18 on the rhythm and blues charts. Other musicians recorded by Cuca include bluesman Earl Hooker, the pop 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 host of 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.
Citation Records was founded as a division of Cuca. It signed Paul Stefen and the Royal Lancers, who achieved local success with many of their singles, including their cover of The Crickets' "I Fought the Law".
The Cuca Record Collection forms part of the Wisconsin Music Archives, a non-circulating special collection in the Mills Music Library at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
- Filzen, Sarah (1998). The History of Cuca Records, 1959-1973: a Case Study of an Independent Record Company. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.