Even though I just learned about this band about a month ago, I already can’t get enough! I came across the Chardon Polka Band on Instagram and from there I fully immersed myself in their social media including their YouTube videos and bits and pieces of their Reality TV Show, Polka Kings, on Reelz. The group is funny, creative, and entertaining but still humble and super talented. They take traditional polka sound and mix and match it with modern songs like Lady Gaga’s Band Romance but still have a soft spot in their heart for classics like the Liechtensteiner Polka. Here is a little bit more about the band from their webiste: http://www.chardonpolkaband.com/who-is-the-chardon-polka-band-and-where-did-they-come-from/
In 2003, 16-year old Jake Kouwe was told there was no place for an accordion in his local high school’s marching band. In response, Jake recruited a group of five mismatched teenagers to form a genuine oom-pah style polka band. This group, known as “The Chardon High School Polka Band”, was a rather motley group of teenage musicians that included in the line-up an accordion, tuba, clarinet, saxophone, electric guitar, and trumpet. The group quickly found a following in the most unlikely of places- local nursing homes. Despite their ripped jeans, high school lingo, long (and even pink) hair, piercings and tattoos, senior citizens and nursing home residents turned a blind eye to their looks and fell in love with the polka-playing teens. However, the phenomena weren’t lost on their own generation. Soon, “Support Your Local Polka Band” t-shirts were being worn in the halls of Chardon High by fellow classmates and fans. Now, over ten years later, the band continues and its fan base grows. In the small town of Chardon, Ohio, long haired Jake Kouwe and his oom-pah gang are celebrities. The band no longer calls itself “The Chardon High School Polka Band”, since the original group has all graduated from high school (barely), and is now simply “The Chardon Polka Band”. Though the band’s membership of sometimes eccentric and always unique individuals has changed over the years, their eclectic style and uniqueness has never wavered.
Despite the band’s sometimes gruff appearance, this delightfully eccentric gang is both friendly and outgoing. They are among the greater Cleveland area’s most recognizable performers at local parks, festivals, parades, parties and fund-raisers, and still perform regularly at local nursing homes. The polka band has a faithful fan base, ranging from senior citizens to small children, teens, and twenty-somethings.
One of my favorite videos is this 90s medley! Yes… it’s quite long, but the songs that they covered take me back and hearing them in polka form simply makes me smile! So great!
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