National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Al Markic has been a major contributor to the success of Cleveland-Style Polkas in
each of three roles, leader, sideman, and promoter through an illustrious career
spanning over fifty years. An unselfish promoter of all Cleveland-Style bands, Al
considers the 586 (and counting) selections he has recorded among his proudest accomplishments.
Considered by many as the best rhythm banjo and guitar man in the business, Al has
consistently been the banjo/guitar man of choice for recording sessions among the
"Who's Who" of Cleveland Style orchestras.
After studying banjo under John Skrajner and guitar under Jerry Stone, Dick Lurie,
and Johnny Lombardo, Al began his Cleveland-Style playing career as a teenager with
the Al Strukel Orchestra, performing live on radio station WSRS under the sponsorship
of the Cipriani Furniture Store. Subsequently, Al became a regular with Johnny Pecon,
Frankie Kramer, Walter Ostanek, and Trontel and Zagger before forming his own band,
the Almars, in the late 1960's.
During the 1970's, Al teamed up with accordionist Jake Zagger of Sharon, Pennsylvania
to form the Markic-Zagger Orchestra. One of the hottest bands of its era, Markic-Zagger
laid claim to much of the polka real estate along the turnpikes connecting Cleveland
and Pittsburgh. Since Jake's retirement in 1984, Al has led the Al Markic Orchestra.
The Almars and Markic-Zagger each have 4 LPs to their credit as well as numerous
radio and TV appearances. Al's most popular recording, "Back Home in Pennsylvania,"
was recorded with the Markic-Zagger Orchestra.
Al has always been a "go-getter," promoting Cleveland-Style music relentlessly across
North America. Beginning in the early 1950's, Al personally took Cleveland-Style
recordings to polka enclaves in the Midwest and West that had no prior access to
our music. With his mail-order business, Al achieved coverage throughout the balance
of the U.S. and Canada, leading to engagements for Cleveland-based bands in such
far-flung destinations as Alaska, Colorado, the Minnesota Iron Range, and Florida.
More recently, Al has joined with Cleveland bandleader Harry Faint to produce a Cleveland
Style radio program originating on station WKTX in Courtland, Ohio.
Taking his own bands on the road, Al has performed and promoted Cleveland-Style music
in Europe, Hawaii, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania,
Michigan, Illinois, the Caribbean, and on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Al's were the
first Cleveland bands to perform in Alaska and Colorado, which have since become
regular stops for the Cleveland-Style's finest.
Al has always made himself available to share his talents with other Cleveland-Style
orchestras. Over the years, Al's stylings have graced the recordings and performances
of Frank Yankovic, Eddie Habat, Stan Blout, Johnny Vadnal, Al Tercek, Art Perko,
Fred Kuhar, Marty Sintic, Hank Haller, Jeff Pecon, Frankie Mullec, George Jurjev,
Johnny Pecon, Walter Ostanek, Bob Timko, Joey Miskulin, and Frank Spetich. There's
obviously been no fear of competition here.