Grkmania to take stage at Arts Center

The sprightly beat of Slovenian folk music and the strains of the button box accordion cannot be beat for breaking up the dark clouds over your head. It’s impossible to be depressed when you’re stepping to tunes like “Roll Out the Buttons,” “Grandpa’s Coal Mining Song” and “Squeeze the Box” – selections from Grkman’s most recent CD, “Grkmania.” It’s happy music for happy people, Grkman avows.

In Pennsylvania’s polka world, the 73-year-old Grkman – the founder and oldest member of the Joe Grkman Band – is something of a superstar. The band, which includes three generations of Grkmans who live in and around Yukon, a tiny hamlet outside of Pittsburgh, has recorded six albums consisting of original compositions of Cleveland-style Slovenian music and traditional folk songs.

The Cleveland style is a form of traditional Slovenian music that was brought to America by an influx of immigrants after World War II. The music is distinctive because of its Anglicized lyrics and American beat.

In 1995, Grkman was inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame Trustees Honor Roll, which is sponsored by the American-Slovenian Polka Foundation based in Cleveland.

“We wanted to identify anyone who has made a significant achievement in Cleveland-style Slovenian folk music, and Joe Grkman has delighted audiences for years with his unique renditions,” said Fred Kuhar, president of the Polka Hall of Fame.

“Joe Grkman and Grkmania are a favorite of polka and waltz fans all over the country,” said Kurt Barkley, executive director of the Randolph County Community Arts Center. “They’ve entertained thousands of people for decades, and we’re extremely happy to have them perform. They’re world-class musicians and really entertaining showmen. It’s going to be a real treat.”

Since it was formed in 1967, the Grkman band has played everything from weddings and family parties to a concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where they represented Pennsylvania in concerts featuring one artist from each of the 50 states.

Grkmania will perform two concerts at the Randolph County Community Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 26 as part of the Family Concert Series, one at 4 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the show are $15 in advance for adults, $13 for seniors and $5 for students. On the day of the show, tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $7 for students.