National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum

605 East 222nd Street
Euclid, OH 44123




Phone: 216-261-3263

Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA

Fax: 216-261-4134


"Slovenian Soul" best describes Bobby’s original playing style. Born of Slovenian parents in Westmoreland City, Pa., he always was surrounded by Slovenian button-box music since his grandfather, father and three uncles also played. At age 11, he picked up a borrowed accordion and taught himself. With heavy influence from his uncle John Adamic, Frank Baloh and the Johnny Pecon/Lou Trebar recordings, he went on to perform as a child and teen at countless polka events in the Pittsburgh area. During this time, not owning an accordion, he would borrow accordions until he won money on an SNPJ raffle ticket. At 17, he drove straight to Trebar’s home and they went shopping for his first accordion. Another uncle, in ill health, then sold him a 1928 Mervar that he plays to this day. Bobby’s heartfelt style brings a tear to the eyes of old-timers just as it brings a tapping of the feet from the youngsters.


In 1960, he joined the legendary Al Morouse Orchestra, also playing the chromatic accordion, delivered their first hit, "SNPJ Polka.” Many recordings followed, most recently recording with the famed Bob Timko.


His contributions to Slovenian culture extend well beyond recordings. He performed at concerts, picnics, festivals and funerals, most often for free, often at events that had nothing to do with Slovenes, simply to spread the music. He was president of his SNPJ Lodge and Slovenian Home at 19 and was past president of the American Slovenes of Western Pennsylvania and the “Slovene Radio Program.” He was one of the original directors involved in the purchase, building and development of the Westmoreland SNPJ Picnic Grove in Evanstown-Herminie, Pa. In 1973, Bobby initiated the Grape Festival, which continues to be the largest cultural event of the year.  For 20 years he did the Slovenian segmant , co-hosting with his wife, Vlatka, the "Sounds of Yugoslavia" radio program.


Bobby has also been a driving force within the Slovenian community, helping and encouraging others to do as he has done. He has instituted several testimonials and benefits for deserving Slovenes.


It remains easy to find Bobby and his button box at festivals and charitable functions. Each year, too, he teams up with old friends Frank and Daryl Valencic at Slovenefest.  



National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame


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