In the latter part of the 19th century, Colorado Fuel and Iron Company sent agents
throughout the United States to recruit workers for its new plant, in Pueblo, Colorado.
From this trip thousands of Slovenians, Slovaks, Germans and Italians signed up,
and made their way to southern Colorado for employment - among the new arrivals were
Frank and Caroline Bregar. On April 28, 1918, the couple became the proud parents
of a son - Frank. Born in Pueblo, young Frank would learn to speak Slovene, the Bregar's
native language, and by the age of seven the Edison Elementary School student was
playing his father's accordion. "At age 12, Frank started his own five-piece band,
and began playing at parties, weddings and bars," Frank's son, Frank Bregar, Jr.
said. "His band continued to play for various functions all through his days at Central
High School." By the start of World War II, Frank took at job as a clerk at CF&I
steel. That same year he joined the military and was stationed at Fort Logan, in
Denver, where he continued to perform. "He married my mother, Connie, and they moved
to Cañon City," Frank Jr. said. "After the service he went to work for his brothers-in-law,
in a local coal mine, in Florence." While in Cañon City, Frank and Connie started
a duo playing at a local bar, the Fawn Hollow Tavern. Before too long he added Fred
Breedlove on bass, and Lou DelPizzo on banjo and guitar. They would go on to play
at the Mellow Moon - a club the band would call home for four years. On Saturday
afternoons Bregar could be heard on his radio show, on KFEL. Soon it became apparent
that Cañon City offered limited venues for his music. In 1953 he left the coal mine,
and moved his family back to Pueblo, where he was rehired at CF&I - and became a
regular on the Pueblo music scene. "He started another band and played at the Veterans
Bar and Dance Hall. He did that for eight years," said his son Frank. For the next
40 years Bregar's band played numerous other venues, and radio shows, including The
Slovenian Radio Hour, and Hank Krasovic's Polka Show, which aired on KDZA and KGHF.
Frank Bregar's popularity was not just limited to Colorado. It was during this time
that he and his band performed throughout the mountain states - and caught the ear
of "America's Polka King" - Frank Yankovic. "In the late 1950's, my dad traveled
to Cleveland, Ohio and met Frank Yankovic," said Frank's son. "This meeting began
a true friendship between both musicians that lasted up until Yankovic's death."
Whenever Yankovic performed in Colorado, Bregar sat in with the band. When Pueblo
was on the tour stop, Yankovic would stay with the Bregar family. "After a Yankovic
dance, the whole band would reconvene at our home for jamming, drinks and an early
breakfast," said Frank Bregar, Jr.
Frank Bregar started his own recording company, Pikes Peak Records. The label's first
single, released in 1957, was Frank Begar with "Frankie and Connie's Polka." The
flipside, "The Petticoat Waltz," featured Frank Hren on vocals. Both songs were recorded
at local Pueblo radio station KCSJ. Frank Bregar recorded a second single, also recorded
at KCSJ, "Mountain Climbers Polka," and the b-side, "Bessemer Rock Polka." The records
were sold all over Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa, Ohio, and California.
Frank Bregar passed away on September 5, 2001. He was buried at St. Theresa Church
in Pueblo on September 11, 2001.