Nashville's squeezebox sweetheart LynnMarie won Album and Song of the Year with husband
Eddie Rodick III for "Home," at the 32nd annual Polka Music Awards Show presented
by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 30, 2019.
Brian O'Boyle, of Concord, OH, repeated as Musician of the Year, as did Klancnik
& Friends for Band of the Year. Pennsylvania bandleaders Walt Groller and the late
Al Meixner and the late Cleveland accordion manufacturer Anton Mervar were inducted
for their lifetime achievements in polka music. The Awards Show was the high point
of the 56th Thanksgiving Polka Party Weekend, presented at the Downtown Cleveland
The show theme, "Loving the Polka Life," featured performers who epitomize the spirit
of the music, such as world diatonic accordion champion Denis Novato from Italy.
LynnMarie and Eddie Rodick III presented their winning song, "Home," from the album
by the same name. Alex Meixner, the accordionist in the recent Jack Black film, "The
Polka King," received the award for his late father and performed a tribute to him.
Walt Groller, 92, arrived from Allentown, PA, to accept his award and sing his best-known
tune, "Say Thank You Dear and Give Her Roses," with Cleveland bandleader Aaron Dussing.
A salute to Anton Mervar was presented by Pennsylvania accordionists Wayne Golob
and Dave Slick on their vintage Mervar button boxes.
Bandleader Joey Tomsick dedicated "Remembering," an original waltz, to the memory
of polka broadcaster Tony Petkovsek, who created the Thanksgiving Polka Weekend in
1963 and passed away in February. The finale included featured artists and Canada's
Polka King Walter Ostanek, Canada's Polka King, among others.
The two All-Time Hits were the party favorite, "No Beer Today," and "Windy City Polka,"
made popular by Las Vegas accordionist Roman Possedi. The seven-piece stage orchestra
was conducted by Tom Mroczka with arrangements by Aaron Dussing. The show was directed
by Ray Somich of WINT Radio and produced and written by Joe Valencic, President of
the Polka Hall of Fame. The weekend festival was organized by Vice President John
Muhvic with Denny Bucar. Each guest received a 64-page souvenir program book.
The Thanksgiving Polka Party Weekend brought polka entertainers and busloads of fans
from the U.S. and Canada. Performers included orchestras led by Linda Lee Brown (MI),
(WI), Fritz Scherz (NY), the Skovenski family and Brian O'Boyle (PA) and Ohioans
Frank Stanger, Don Wojtila, Kathy Hlad, and Patty Candela, plus the Fairport Jammers
and the Harmonia Band. Grammy-winning accordionist Joey Miskulin, of Riders in the
Sky, arrived from Nashville.
Forty musicians appeared on the main stage in the traditional jam session on Friday
evening. The traditional Polka Mass was celebrated by Fr. Norman Gajdzinski, with
Kathy Hlad, Suzy Pegoraro and Denny Bucar, plus singers. Spontaneous polka jam sessions
took place in hotel locations each evening.
"The music is phenomenal!" said Janice Glonek, from Trenton, New Jersey. "This is
my first time to Cleveland for this event and I'm dancing to every song."
About 650 room-nights were reserved at the Marriott Hotel for the weekend.
Other winners were Ron Likovic and Friends for Button Accordion Ensemble; TJ Likovic,
RJ Likovic and Eddie Rodick III for Side Musicians; the SNPJ Recreation Grounds in
Kirtland, OH, for Culture and Heritage; Murray McFadgen for Vocalist; and polka deejays
Pam and Jerry Zagar for Support and Promotion. After years of nominations, Pittsburgh-area
musician Joe Grkman Jr. was voted Button Accordionist of the Year.
Six plaques were added to the Polka Hall of Fame Trustees Honor Roll to acknowledge
the achievements of Minnesota accordionist Ron Setniker; Cleveland polka radio hosts
Val Pawlowski and Dale Bucar; Cleveland polka promoter Ed Grosel; and Dayton, Ohio,
accordionist Frank Svet. Longtime Cleveland bandmates Al Bambic, Dave Skrajner and
Dan Wojtila, were inducted together. Cleveland's St. Vitus Parish received the Tony
Petkovsek Award for community achievement.
The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame is located in Euclid's historic original
City Hall building. The museum presents audio exhibits, vintage photographs and original
instruments to trace the story of the city's home-grown sound from its roots in the
Slovenian neighborhoods to nationwide renown after World War II.
Hours are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 11 to 4. The Polka Hall of Fame and
Museum is located at 605 East 222nd Street in Euclid, Ohio. For more information,
check the website at www.polkafame.com or call (216) 621-FAME.