The Polka Hall of Fame notes the passing of honoree Slavko Avsenik, one of Slovenia's
most influential musicians and composers in recent history. In 1953, Slavko Avsenik
and his brother Vilko formed the Avsenik Quintett, a band that would have a profound
influence on the music of Slovenia and Germany for decades to come. The band's style
was nicknamed Oberkrainer. ("Krain" is the German name for the Carniola region of
Slovenia and "Oberkrain" refers to the highland Gorenjsko area.) His Oberkrainer
sound became the primary vehicle of ethnic musical expression for Slovenia, Germany,
Austria, Switzerland, and more Benelux countries, spawning hundreds of Alpine orchestras
in the process. Landing a recording contract with Telefunken-Decca in 1960, the Ensemble
rose to meteoric heights throughout Europe. The Avsenik Quintett performed before
millions, including heads of state, on radio and television, and in thousands of
concerts. It appeared regularly on network television, toured relentlessly (logging
400,000 miles in 1967 alone), and recorded prolifically. Milestones include a 1961
performance before 80,000 in Berlin Stadium, tours of the U.S. and Canada in 1970
and 1985, and a one-hour German television network special in 1980.Selling more than
30 million records, Slavko Avsenik earned thirty-one Gold, two Diamond, and one Platinum
record. Slavko collaborated with his brother, Vilko, to produce nearly 1000 original
compositions and an integral part of Slovenia's musical heritage. In time, the Avseniks'
original compositions also became popular in Slovenian-American polka repertoires
in English translation. The Avseniks' influence over Cleveland-Style music began
in 1958 when Johnny Pecon's English lyrics transformed Slavko's "Tam Kjer Murke Cveto"
into "Little Fella," an all-time Cleveland-Style hit as sung by Paul Yanchar. Since
then, Cleveland-Style orchestras and performers recorded well over 200 Avsenik songs,
including Hank Haller, Fred Ziwich, Fred Kuhar, the Fairport Ensemble, Al Markic,
Roger Bright, Al Tercek, and Cilka Dolgan. Avsenik tribute bands formed throughout
Slovenia and Austria, as well as across the United States and Canada, first with
Duke Marsic and His Happy Slovenians, followed by the Alpine Sextet, Stan Mejac,
Tony Klepec, Andre Blumauer, Iskre and many others. His waltzes are instantly recognizable
for their romantic elegance, such as Veter Nosi Pesem Mojo (The Wind Song), Cakala
Bom (I'll Wait for You), and Na Mostu (On the Bridge). One waltz, Slovenija, which
extols the beauty of his homeland, is for many a pop anthem for the country. The
most popular song by Slavko Avsenik is the polka "Na Golici" (Trompeten Echo) which
is one of the most played instrumental polkas in Europe. He was inducted for lifetime
achievement by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in 1996.
Reception for Consul Jure Žmauc
The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum invites members and friends
to bid a fond farewell to the Honorable Jure Žmauc, Consul General of the Republic
of Slovenia, and his wife Janja. A special reception takes place at the Polka Hall
of Fame on Wednesday, July 8, at 6:00 p.m. In his six years at his Cleveland post,
Mr. Žmauc cultivated many business, cultural and professional contacts for Slovenia.
He also made friendships throughout his ten-state jurisdiction. As the face of Slovenia,
he did much to create interest and positive impressions of the country. Please reply
if you are attending. The Polka Hall of Fame is located at 605 East 222nd Street
in Euclid, Ohio, in the historic former City Hall building. To RSVP or for more information,
call (216) 261-FAME or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remembering Paul Yanchar 1925 - 2015
Paul Yanchar, one of the Cleveland-Style Polka's leading saxophone and clarinet players,
as well as one of its finest singers. Paul passed away at age 90. He set a standard
for side musicians during a career spanning well more than seventy years. Paul was
best known as the sax and clarinet player and lead vocalist of the Johnny Pecon and
Jeff Pecon Orchestras. Paul contributed to some of the Johnny's finest moments, including
a winning performance on the "Arthur Godfrey Show" on national TV in 1956. He also
recorded and toured Hawaii and Slovenia with the Pecon Orchestra. Paul's signature
tune was "Little Fella," based on the Avsenik hit melody, "Tam kjer murke cveto."
He sang in English and Slovenian. Paul also distinguished himself as a regular with
orchestras led by Johnny Vadnal, Louie Bashell, Eddie Habat, Pete Sokach, Chuck Smith,
Al Strukel, and Vic Intihar. Paul's playing was marked by quality musicianship. He
was able to step on stage with any band and make an immediate contribution. Johnny
Pecon once said that Paul Yanchar was "the one man you want next to you if a song
is in trouble." He was known for his willingness to help and practice with other
musicians, perform at benefits, and organize musicians to play at Cleveland area
hospitals and nursing homes. Paul was inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame in 1991.
Walter Ostanek Celebrates with Fans
Seven hundred fans wished Canada's Polka King a happy birthday as the National Cleveland-Style
Polka Hall of Fame and Museum saluted the legendary Walter Ostanek, Sunday, May 3.
Eighteen Cleveland-Style Polka stars paid tribute to his 80th year with eight hours
of music in two halls at the Slovenian Society Home in Euclid, Ohio - all in honor
of the three-time Grammy Award winner. Surprise guests included Fritz Scherz and
Gabe Vaccaro of Fritz's Polka Band from Verona, New York; Murray McFadgen, Walter's
long-time vocalist; and Joey Miskulin from the cowboy combo Riders in the Sky, who
flew in from Nashville. "Walter is not just a fine musician, but a warm and wonderful
human being," said Miskulin. "He knows how to share the joy he feels in his playing."
The accordionist is featured on a 80th birthday CD release of a vintage Walter Ostanek
album of polkas and waltzes, produced by John Hasper of Polkas.nl. Walter was honored
with speeches and presentations by several musicians and community leader, including
Frank Svet of Dayton, Ohio, and radio personality Tony Petkovsek and proclamations
from Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Joe Valencic, president
of the Polka Hall of Fame, presented Walter with a crystal bowl filled with packages
of Slovenian smoked sausages. Bandleader Fred Kuhar, past president, treated Walter
to a Slovenian potica nut roll. "It means so much to me to see all of you here today
because I owe it all to the people," said Walter during the presentation. "Without
them I am just another accordion player." He was accompanied by daughter Cheryl and
son Rick. His wife Irene could not attend due to health issues. Walter was the first
of a charismatic new generation of polka performers to appear in the 1960s. He born
into a Slovenian family in Duparquet, Quebec, Canada, in 1n 1935. Frank Yankovic,
America's Polka King, inspired him to start his own band at age 16 in St. Catherines,
Ontario. Walter's showmanship was perfect for television and he hosted his own program
for nearly 40 years. His flawless interpretation of the Cleveland-Style Polka earned
him Grammy Awards in 1993, 1994 and 1995. He will be releasing his 100th album in
the fall. Walter strapped on his accordion and performed with several musicians,
including Miskulin, Scherz, Kuhar, Fred Ziwich, Don Wojtila, Ron Sluga, Brian O'Boyle
and Mark Habat, who coordinated the celebration. Proceeds from the event benefited
the Polka Hall of Fame. The 80th birthday CD, "Walter Ostanek: Today and Forever,"
is available at the Polka Hall of Fame at a special price through June, 2015. Call
(216) 261-3263 to order.
Walter Ostenek, Canada's Polka King marks his 80th birthday with a special collection
of classic Cleveland-Style polkas and waltzes. Now available at the Polka Hall of
Fame. Walter's 80th birthday CD, "Today and Forever," is a digital re-mastering of
one of his top-selling recordings from the 1980s along with a selection of bonus
tracks. Two of Walter's signature tunes, "Jo Ann Polka" and "Lee and Ann's Polka,"
highlight this special edition. His good buddy Joey Miskulin, best known as Joey,
the Cow-Polka King, from the cowboy combo Riders in the Sky, makes an appearance
on several songs. A portion of the proceeds from this CD benefit the Polka Hall of
Fame, courtesy of John Hasper of Polkas.nl, the producer of this souvenir edition.
Have you composed a new waltz or polka?
Does your polka band have a new recording? Let the Polka Hall of Fame know. Your
CD or song might get nominated and win! Your Cleveland-Style Polka albums released
after June 1, 2014, needs to be delivered to the Polka Hall of Fame by Saturday,
May 30, 2015, for concideration. Orginal songs must be submitted with a lead sheet
and arrive at the Polka Hall of Fame by Friday, October 2, 2015.
Polka Nominations coming soon
It's time to plan your nominations for annual achievement in polka music, culture,
support and promotion. Nomination form are sent in June.
Board of Trustees
Bandleader and accordionist Bob Kravos has stepped down from the Board of Trustees.
Bob was a long time Trustee who played at many Hall of Fame events and in the Awards
Order your Polka Awards Show 27 DVD
Thrill to this polka spectacular with two hours of favorites, including Walter Ostanek,
Alex Meixner, Jeff Pecon, Don Wojtila, Chardon Polka Band, Fritz Scherz, Hank Thunander,
Fred Ziwich and more. Members $15. Non Members $20. Add $3 for postage. You can also
order a 2014 Awards Show Program Book for $4 including postage. Call or email the
Board of Trustees
After 15 years on the Board of Trustees, Joe Novak is retiring at the end of his
term. He performed for many events on the accordion and with his orchestra, Joe Novak
The populair Polka Hall of Fame raffle. Get a chance to win $200 weekly. Order raffle
tickets at the Polka Hall of Fame or call (216) 261-3263. You can't win if you don't
John Hasper has produced a CD from the Joey Tomsick Orchestra called Polkatively
Button Box. Mark Habat has relased a two DVD set of Tony Petkovsek's 25th Thanksgiving
Polka Weekend in 1988. Proceeds from both sales benefit the Polka Hall of Fame.
New polka CDs now on sale in the Gift Shop
Walter Ostanek - Today And Forever
Cilka Dolgan - The Best Of
Steve Meisner - Thank You Music Lovers
Alex Meixner - Happines Is A Choice
Jack Tady - Live On The Molly B Polka Party
Joey Tomsick - Polkatively Button Box
Bud Hyrczyk - Livin' The Dream
Tont Blazoncyk - Breakdowns
Musicworks - It's Showtime
Bob Kravos & Walter Ostanek - We Are Back
Zupanchick Brothers - Button Box Spectacular
Frank Svet - Don't Svet It -
Logan Watson - Polkas From The Woodshed
Frank Keil & Hank Haller - Polkas With Frank & Hank
Fred Ziwich - 60th Birthday Recording
Ron Pivovar - Hey Hi Hee Ho!
Glasbena Matica Singers - Golden Voices, 1 & 2
Polka and Slovenian T-Shirts
Show your spirit with a T-Shirt or sweatshort featuring a polka or Slovenian theme.
Choose from different colors, designs and slogans. Available in the Gift Shop.