National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
The Penn-Ohio polka belt gained momentum when Jake Zagger of Sharon, Pennsylvania
joined with Al Markic of Clevelans to launch the Markic-Zagger orchestra. The two
ban dleaders played in most of the cities and connecting the two states.
Jacob Joseph Zgger is better known as Jake. He was born to Mary and Jacob, Slovenian
immigrants. His parents bought the Golden Bear Tavern in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania,
and that is where Jake grew-up. He loved Slovenian music and started playing the
piano accordion at age 10. In high school, he enjoyed sports, including basketball.
After graduading, Jake served in the U.S. Army, until 1962. He married his late wife,
Jackie, in 1964, and the couple had three daughters. He owned the Golden Bar Tavern
for 25 years, until 1994.
He and his cousin Tony Trontel formed the Trontel-Zagger orchestra and recorded an
album. The band was together for seven years, until 1971. Jake was on his own for
a year, before the Markic-Zagger orchestra started up in 1972. The band had a great
run for nearly a dozen years, then Jake retired from professional music.
On a visit to Slovenia, in 1969, jake bought a button accordion. It wa love at first.
Jake practiced to develop his own style. He played the button accordion on three
albums with Markic-Zagger, and later his own "Melodies From Back Home In Pennsylvania",
which was voded the 2002 Recording of the Year. His daughters Judi, Jody, and Janelle
were the vocalists on the album.
The Markic-Zagger orchestra appeared on television in Cleveland, Canada, and Slovenia.
The group led many polka tours. One most populair songs Markic-Zagger recorded was
the waltz "Back Home In Pennsylvania". Jake has been voted the Button Box Player
of the year by the Polka Hall of Fame members three times: 1992, 1997, and 2002.
He was named Penn-Ohio Polka Pall of the Year in 2002.