National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Joe Grkman. Sr. is the patriatch of a polka family dynasty in Western Pennsylvania.
He along with his sons Joe and Steven, and grandson Mike are members of the Joe "GRKMANIA"
Joe Grkman, Sr. was the youngest of six children born into the family of Mary and
John Grkman, who emigrated from slovenia to Yukon, Pennsylvania. He was brought up
singing Slovenian songs and listening to polka music on radio. Joe admired "Smiling"
Joe Koracin, a button accordionist, and purchased his first Mervar accordion from
Joe married Elsie Lazar in 1948. He worked in coal mines as did his father and brohers.
His life changed dramatically in 1950 when he bought an Italo American piano accordion
and took lessons to learn play. Joe gained confidence and began to play not only
for family and friends, but also at picnics and dances.
He started a band, the "Slovenian Sound Masters" in 1967. with his son Joe. Jr.,
and two nephews. The band changed its name to the Joe Grkman Band and recorded four
albums in the 1970s. Many of the compositions were Cleveland-Style originals by Joe,
Joe and the band limited engagements to local venues in the 1980s, but returned to
the national scene in 1990. The band recorded two more albums and became known as
the Joe "GRKMANIA" Grkman Band.
In I997, Joe received a Fellowship Award from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts,
as one of Pennsylvania's distinguished musicians. He was invited to represent musical
artists from the State of Pennsylvania, the same year, to perform at the John F.
Kennedy Center for performing Arts in Washington, DC. He has played at many arts
festivals and concert series throughout the Eastern United States.
The recording "Great-Grandpap Grkman Sings Traditional Slovenian Favorites" features
generations of Grkmans: Joe, Sr., Joe, Jr., Steven, and Joe, Jr's son, Mike. At performances,
another generation was added with the debut of great-grandson Benjamin.