Frank Novak - 75th Birthday Album - Tony Petkovsek Golden Jubilee CD.
Double Golden Jubilee
It was in 2008 when I met Tony Petkovsek at my first ever Thanksgiving Polka Party
in of all places Cleveland, Ohio. It was not the first time I was in Cleveland.
No, that was ten years earlier. That’s when I made my pilgrimage to I visit the
city where my very favorite music started - Cleveland-Style polkas. I could not
get enough of polkas so I visited the Polka Hall of Fame, Kollander Travel and Frankie
Yankovic’s grave. All of that came rushing back to me as right in front of me was
standing one of my heroes – Tony Petkovsek. That night I had the opportunity to
have a drink, relax and talk to him after another successful Polka Party. It amazed
me to learn that he had been on the radio every day for 47 years bringing polka music
to the public. And, in addition to the radio program he was the person behind this
wonderful annual Polka Party! The first year he was on the radio the idea of the
Polka Party spontaneously started with the Frankie Kramer Orchestra. From that moment
the Polka Party just grew and grew until it became what it is today. It was during
that conversation I decided I had to do something very special for Tony’s 50th anniversary,
his Golden Jubilee. I didn’t know what but I knew that he deserved something special
for sharing his love of polka music with me and everyone else who listened every
day to his radio show. Last year, again while attending the annual trek to Cleveland
like so many other polka lovers, I was having lunch with Tony and Cilka when the
idea came to me. My idea was sparked by our conversation with Tony sharing his memories
of the early years of polkas in Cleveland when on every corner you could hear polkas
floating out onto St. Clair Street. I learned that Frank Novak was one of Tony’s
very dear friends and that he loved to listen to Frank play. So with that in the
back of my mind I embarked on the journey of producing this CD so Tony could listen
to Frank anytime he wanted. Dear Tony, Congratulations on your double Golden Jubilee
– 50 years radio and 50 years of Polka Party!!
Tony Petkovsek and Frank Novak Promote Cleveland-Style Button Box Music
Tony Petkovsek has been a major motivator in the renewed interest in polka music
in America. He has been on radio, six days a week for 50 years, hosting a two-hour
Slovenian show and news notes of community events. Tony not only plays old time
favorite polkas, but has introduced a new generation of polka players by premiering
new albums and interviewing the musicians live on the air.
In the late 1960s, Tony sponsored a “Band of Tomorrow” contest, which started the
careers of several musicians who were teen-agers at the time. The youngsters who
played in the contest are now some of the leading polka bands, including Don Wojtila
and Eddie Rodick, who are successfully performing polka music 60 years after the
heyday of Cleveland-style polka music.
Pride in his Slovenian heritage and love for its music came full circle when Tony
initiated “Polka Tours” through his partnership in Kollander Travel. He came up
with the idea of having polka musicians join his tour groups on excursions to Slovenia
and other countries, so there would be music and dancing wherever they traveled.
Cleveland button accordion artist Frank Novak went on tour with Tony to lead groups
to Australia, the Holy Land, and Spain. Frank, a button box star in the 1920s and
1930s with Matt Hoyer and his own trio, was associated with Tony because of Tony’s
Polka Village record and gift shop. Tony invited Novak to open a music studio in
his Polka Village to teach the button accordion.
Frankie Yankovic also admired Novak’s talent, and came out with a long play recording,
“Beers and Cheers”, in 1967, featuring Novak. He also recorded one of Novak’s polkas,
“Top of the Hill”, in 1963, which was named a Greatest All-Time Hit Polka by the
National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame.
In 1970, Lojze Slak, the Slovenian maestro of the button box, toured America, and
more students came to Novak to learn how to play. From then on, interest in the
button accordion snowballed and continues today. It also led to Novak recording
five albums of his own, with his original compositions, backed-up by all-star musicians.
Novak passed away in 1991 and Slak passed away in 2011. The American and Slovenian
polka influence on button accordionists in the United States the past four decades
can be traced to these two musicians. Tony Petkovsek gets the credit for promoting
their sounds and original music.
President, National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame
Golden Double Jubilee
Tony Petkovsek has decided to semi-retired after his 50th anniversary on being dayly
on the radio. Tony celebrate also this year his 50th anniversary of the annual Thanksgiving
Polka Party. In honor of all the work that Tony has done over the years I decided
that polkas.nl would bring out a Tony Petkovsek Golden Jubilee CD.
After getting to know Tony I learned that one of his all-time favorite artist and
one of his best friends was Frank Novak. The artist on Tony's anniversary CD is
Frank Novak and The Cleveland Polka All Stars. I received the original master tapes
and rights to put Frank Novak's 75th Birthday Album on a CD release. The tapes were
digital remastered and the CD is supplemented with two Frank Novak bonus tracks from
the archive of Walter Ostanek.
During the 50th Thanksgiving Polka Party, Cecilia Dolgan, president of the National
Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame, will be presenting to Tony the first copy of
the Special Edition - Tony Petkovsek - Golden Jubilee CD.
About Frank Novak.
More than any other individual, Frank Novak was responsible for the button box renaissance
of the 1970s which, in turn, bolstered the strength and stability of the Cleveland-Style
Polka during that decade. Frank first played the button box at age 10. Once a member
of the Matt Hoyer Trio, the pioneer Cleveland-Style polka orchestra. Frank is regarded
as the driving force behind the resurgence of the button box as an integral part
of the Cleveland-Style movement during the 1970s. Novak wrote over 100 polkas and
waltzes, and his music continues to be in demand by recording artists searching for
new material. His modern-era recordings, beginning with "Tony's Polka Village" in
1971 and including his "75th Birthday Album" in 1981, are essential components of
any button box enthusiast's collection.
About Tony Petkovsek.
Tony Petkovsek, Cleveland's Polka Ambassador, differs in one important respect from
the many lifelong contributors to Cleveland-Style Polkas. Tony has promoted Cleveland-Slovenian
music and culture full-time his entire adult life. Hosting the longest running daily
polka show in America, he has been on radio since 1961. Tony began producing and
broadcasting his own radio shows on November 23, 1961-- Thanksgiving Day -- on WXEN,
Cleveland's "Station of the Nations." Going to daily broadcasts in 1962, Tony became
a continuous beacon over stations WXEN, WZAK, NBN, WCPN, and WELW. Tony has been
one of the most creative promoters of Cleveland-Style Polkas ever. For 50 years,
thousands of polka fans from all over America converge on Cleveland to take in the
many activities that encompass Thanksgiving weekend.
Since 2007 polkas.nl has been "on the web". Since it first was launched this web
site has grown to the largest polka web site in the world. It has more than 1,000
web pages containing information about polkas and the musicians that have been so
involved with this style of music. In the four short years this web site has been
live it has already had more than a half of a million visits. The polkas.nl web site
is owned by polka enthusiast John Hasper, avid collector and promoter of Slovenian
and Cleveland-Style polkas. The site is mainly based on his personal collection.
He really just want to promote the polkas that he have, know and love. The discographies
of the artists are from his large collection. Another passion of John is to "save
the Music." He's busy almost every week filtering and digitizing of polka records.