Kathy Hlad to Be Inducted into Polka Hall of Fame

Accordionist and instructor Kathy Hlad, a Collinwood resident, will be inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame at the gala Polka Music Awards Show in the Grand Ballroom of the downtown Marriott Hotel in Cleveland on Saturday, November 25.

Collinwood's Kathy Hlad joins two other popular polka musicians to be inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame at the annual awards ceremony on November 25, 2017. Accordionists Kathy Hlad, Stan Blout and Frank Stanger were voted for their lifetime achievements in Cleveland-Style polka music by Hall of Fame members and trustees. The announcement was made at the October 12 membership meeting of the American Slovenian Polka Foundation in Euclid, Ohio.

Kathy Hlad has performed on the diatonic accordion in the Cleveland area since she was a teen. She has taught two generations of button-boxers. She appears with the Button Box Divas. Frank Stanger has been a popular bandleader for more than fifty years. The Doylestown, Ohio, native is a three-time Musician of the Year. Stan Blout has led a well-known polka band and recording artist in Cleveland and California since the 1960s.  He is best known for “Waltz of Love.”

Two all-time Cleveland-Style hits were also chosen by voters. “Slovenian Home Polka” was written by Kenny Bass and Eddie Habat. "Riverboat Polka" was made popular by Eddie Habat. Both songs became hits around 1950.  The New Song of the Year was also announced, “Happy Polka Day” by Milwaukee bandleader Mike Schneider.

The Board of Trustees added five names to the Polka Hall of Fame Honor Roll. Mikey Dee is a bandleader and entertainer based in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Bob Doszak is a Joliet bandleader and major force behind the Illinois Polka Fest. Drummer Harry Faint has led a Cleveland band since the 1960s. Accordion-player Linda Hochevar leads Cleveland’s Magic Buttons ensemble. Ray Somich is a musician and promotes polka music on his radio station, WINT, in northeast Ohio. 

The 30th annual National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame awards ceremony takes place on Saturday afternoon, November 25, 2017, 2:00, in the Grand Ballroom of the Downtown Marriott Hotel on Cleveland’s Public Square. This year's all-star stage show, “Polka Road Trip,” features TV’s Barefoot Becky, Minnesota’s Singing Slovenes, and Canada’s Polka King Walter Ostanek, among other entertainers. The stage orchestra is directed by Tom Mroczka. A Polka Mass follows with Minnesota’s Polka Priest, Fr. Frank Perkovich.

The Awards Show is the high point of the annual Thanksgiving Polka Music Weekend hosted by the Polka Hall of Fame at the Marriott. The event was first produced by radio personality Tony Petkovsek in 1963 and attracts polka entertainers and fans from the U.S. and Canada with three days of music and dancing, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 23, 24, and 25. Performers include Nashville’s Joey Miskulin, Jack Tady and Dick Tady, New York’s Frtiz’s Polka Band, the Don Wojtila Orchestra and reigning Band of the Year, the Jeff Pecon Orchestra.

Dance admission Thursday and Friday is $20 per person and $10 on Saturday, including free indoor parking. 18 and under free.  Awards Show tickets are $25 each. Save with a Weekend Polka Pass – the Awards Show and three dances are only $60 per person. For dance and show tickets, call the Polka Hall of Fame, (216) 261-FAME, toll-free (866) 66-POLKA, or polkashop@aol.com.

Reserve rooms at the Downtown Marriott Hotel through Kollander Travel at a special rate of $105 per room-night, including free indoor parking, (216) 692-1000, toll-free (800) 800-5981, or kwt@kollander.com.

The Polka Hall of Fame and Museum was founded in 1987 by musicians and leaders of Slovenian and ethnic organizations. The Cleveland style of polka has roots in Slovenian folk music with influences from country and western, jazz, Tin Pan Alley and other nationality sounds.

The museum features audio exhibits, photographs and original instruments tracing the Cleveland-style polka to its origins in Slovenia in the late 1800s. The Hall of Fame portrait gallery pays tribute to significant musicians and individuals. The archive preserves 5,000 Slovenian and Cleveland-style recordings, dating back a century. Each year members nominate and vote for polka musicians and achievers in ten categories, including from orchestra, album and musician of the year.

The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum is located at 605 East 222nd Street in Euclid, Ohio, in the historic former Euclid City Hall. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11:00 to 4:00. Admission is free. Polka recordings are on sale in the museum store.  ###

Joe Valencic

Joe Valencic is a North Collinwood resident and President of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum.

Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 1:22 PM, 11.03.2017