National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Kenny Bass, born Peter Bastasic, Jr., was the consummate promoter of Slovenian Cleveland-Style
Polkas and Waltzes. Attacking on three fronts, Kenny became the Dean of Cleveland-Style
Polka broadcasters; led the nationally famous Kenny Bass Polka Poppers Orchestra;
and was a mentor to scores of important Cleveland-Style musicians.
After serving in the U.S. Navy as a radio man in the Pacific and winning three Battle
Stars and a Purple Heart, Kenny Bass began his broadcast career in 1948 with a daily
polka show on station WSRS. A contemporary of Cleveland radio greats Jim Doney, Howie
Lund, Hal Morgan, and Bill Randle, Kenny promoted polkas over Cleveland's airwaves
for nearly 40 years on WSRS, WJMO, WBKC, WELW, WLYT,and WCDN. Kenny's daily polka
shows were a staple in Cleveland for thirteen years. Already in 1949, Kenny was doing
remote broadcasts, enticing his appreciative audiences with the magic and allure
of "live" polka music.
Originally a guitarist, Kenny Bass took up the string bass and became a member of
the Sokach-Habat Tunemixers from 1945 to 1950 during which they produced the half-million
selling rival version to Frank Yankovic's "Blue Skirt Waltz" on Decca Records.
In 1950, Kenny formed the Polka Poppers, which went on to become one of the most
prolific polka recording orchestras of all time. Over 20 years, the Polka Poppers
made seventeen albums and more than 200 single cuts for Coral, Decca, and Roulette
Records. Known for their excellent engineering and lively sound, Bass' recordings
attest to Kenny's discerning ear and outstanding skill in the studio.
As a performing orchestra, the Polka Poppers appeared extensively in the Greater
Cleveland area as well as throughout the United States. Always popular in Western
Pennsylvania, the Polka Poppers attracted a large following which included another
soon-to-be famous ethnic artist, Bobby Vinton. The band appeared on its own television
shows in 1954 and 1960 and made guest appearances on "Polka Varieties" and the "Old
Dutch Polka Revue". in 1962, the Kenny Bass Orchestra appeared in the Hollywood produced
film, "One Potato, Two Potato".
In addition to inspiring many young musicians and bands with its exciting sound and
tempo, the Kenny Bass Orchestra produced an impressive roster of graduates who went
on to become outstanding Cleveland-Style musicians and bandleaders in their own right,
including Dick Flaisman, Buddy Kumel, Frank "Whitey" Lovsin, Dick Lucas, Joe Luzar,
Lou "Baron" Luzar, Duke Marsic, Frankie Mauer, Jacky "Porky" Ponikvar, Dick Sodja,
Ronnie Sluga, and Bobby Timko.
Tireless in his efforts to promote Cleveland-Style Polka music and musicians, Kenny
Bass was also inducted into the International Polka Association's Hall of Fame in
Chicago this year. From every vantage point, Kenny Bass was a high impact player
in the success of Cleveland-Style Polkas and Waltzes.