History of The Edelweiss Band
Our founder and previous leader, Lothar Steschner, began
playing Bavarian and Austrian polkas, waltzes and
bier drinking music on his accordion in the Schnitzelbank Restaurant in
Wheaton, MD, in 1969. Lothar, originally from Cologne on Rhine, Germany, was
soon joined by friend and neighbor, Roland Zeender, from Switzerland on tenor
saxophone and by another friend, Rainer Wetzling, originally from Stuttgart,
Germany on guitar. The three sang native German and the house rocked! Later
Roland shifted to button box accordion and still later to drums. And the
original Edelweiss Band was born.
Over the next decade or so the band grew first to 6 and sometimes 7 pieces,
and has proven successful, playing the German and French Embassies, and
Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., for Maryland’s Governor and other public
events. It has also played numerous restaurants like the Bavarian Inn,
Shepherdstown, WV, continually, since 1969, the former Blob’s Park in Jessup,
MD, countless parties, anniversaries and public and private functions.
During that time Lothar had a wonderful way of attracting talented musicians.
John Popielasz replaced Roland on drums, Roland moved to tenor sax and
clarinet, Dave Kasement joined the band to arrange music and play tenor sax
and clarinet, Vick Venema from Holland played bass until Ernie Buck joined to
play bass, tuba and alpine horn. Harry Kitchen played trumpet, later replaced
by Willie Steinebruenner on pocket trumpet and Bill Weinig on drums. More
recently Brian Priebe joined to play baritone, trombone and alpine horn, Jim
Canty to play trumpet, and Alan Jones and Rick “Hollywood” Thompson playing
In 2011 Lothar retired, leaving the band to Brian Priebe and Bill Weinig.
With this change, Brian serves as Musical Director, has replaced our book of
music, and continues to play, announce and sing. Bill Weinig serves as Band
Leader, books our jobs and remains drummer.
Brian and Bill collaborate on staffing the band to meet our goal to provide,
“Bavarian Music at its Best.”