Archive for Polka King

Dec
23

Doc Lalli: My Best Friend

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Christmas is upon us once again.  Christmas is a time of love, a time of joy and hopefully peace for all.

At this time of year in particular I find myself thinking about my special friends who have passed on.  Of course I think a lot about my good friend and America’s Polka King, Frankie Yankovic.  But this year I’m lamenting about my best friend, Dr. Victor Roger Lalli who left us this past August.

Dr. Lalli was known to his friends and loved ones as “Doc”.  He was born in 1922 in the South Buffalo area.  Doc was an accomplished artist, a dedicated teacher named Amherst Teacher of the Year in 1970.  He authored a secondary text book called Intermediate Perspective which was selected by the New York City Board of Education as well as Chicago for use in their schools.

When Doc retired he kept himself busy by restoring several older houses in the Buffalo area.  In 1989 at the age of 67 Doc decided to display his love of Buffalo by painting a series of watercolours devoted to architectural scenes that characterized his city.  This is the now famous “Buffalo My City Series”.  Doc gave 10 years of his retired life to the project.

Doc was also an avid cyclist who road his racing bike until last year.  At 88 years old he was very fit and strong as a bull.

Doc and I became very good friends in my early years of frequent travelling to Cleveland.  It was a ritual to pick up Doc who would bring a supply of his own pepperoni and Italian bread for the trip.  You could have a conversation with him about virtually anything.  He was such a great conversationalist…so intelligent, yet he never made you feel inferior.  He was always a source of inspiration for me.

I know I’m in good company of a lot of folks who will miss Doc this Christmas.

You can read more about my good friend Dr. Victor Roger Lalli here.

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Jan
15

Grammy Awards: Grammy Nominee Party

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The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is the organization that presents the Gammy Awards each year.  The membership is made up of 10 chapters across the U.S.: Chigaco, Florida, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nashville, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Texas, and Washington D.C.

As a member of the Nashville Chapter, I am invited to a Pre-Grammy party for the Grammy Nominees, held in Nashville Tennessee.   Many of the top country music artists attend this event each year.

As a huge country music fan, the Nashville Pre-Grammy party is a real thrill.  It’s always a very casual event, and usually with a surprise or two.  Over the years the party has given me the opportunity to meet such stars as Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and many more.
What I enjoy the most about this party is the casual atmosphere. Imagine being in a room, surrounded by some of the biggest names in country music, and then discovering that they’re just normal folks like you and I.

Attending the Pre-Grammy party is also a great excuse for me to visit Nashville, and my very good friends, Jack Clement, and Joey Miskulin.

Cowboy Jack, also self proclaimed as the Polka King of Nashville, got his start in the music industry with Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis during the years of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and so many more. This guy is a living legend who has worked with some of the most recognizable names in recording history: Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, U2, George Jones, Chet Atkins, and far too many more to list here.

I love to hear Jack tell the story of a session at Sun Records with Jerry Lee Lewis:
During this particular recording session, Jack suggested that the guys take a break from the country style material they were working on. They agreed, and to loosen up, Jerry Lee Lewis broke into “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”. Jack quickly hit the record button in the control room, mixed the sound on-the-fly, and the legendary Rock ‘n Roll hit was recorded live with only one take!

Cleveland-Style polka fans of course know Joey Miskulin.

I’m proud to say that we’ve been the best of friends for many years. Joey is a musical genius who at the age of only 13 years, began travelling with America’s Polka King, Frankie Yankovic. Joey, moved to Nashville in 1987, and is a member of Riders In The Sky.

In addition to working almost 200 dates a year, including the Grand Ole Opry, with the Ryders, Joey is a sought after producer in Nashville. Some of his recent projects have been with Alan Jackson, Alison Kraus, Alabama, and John Prine. He’s also worked on some Disney projects such as the movie “Cars”, and “The Wild”.

It’s always fun and very interesting to visit with these two guys.

Here’s some vintage Joey Miskulin from the early 1980’s with the Cleveland All Star Band featuring Paul Yanchar, Tony Vadnal,Al Markic, & Jack “Porky” Ponikvar.

Categories : Grammy Awards
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