Joe Fedorchak Biography

Joe Fedorchak ... Pied Piper

From an article published in the Prosveta by FRANK REZEK, JR., Lodge 643, SNPJ.
25 February 1987.

Girard, Ohio. - What is there in a person's genes that has him reaching for a special niche in life? As he gazes at the stars, how does he know which one has his very own name on it?

Some youngsters dream of becoming firemen; some cast themselves as a star centerfielder for the Cleveland Indians and some sketch themselves in a scene that has them walking on the moon.

Joseph P. Fedorchak's vision was one that had him on stage center surrounded by superlative musicians. He would be an apprentice, to be sure, but he also looked forward to the day when he would be a master-craftsman.

Although financially handicapped, his parents made the necessary sacrifices so that Joe could claim ownership of an accordion. He started to unravel the jigsaw of the accordion at the Tee Ross musical store in 1944 here he began taking instructions from Joe Dimuzio. In late 1944, when Joe was in grade school at St. Matthias, and others were handling basketball, baseball and marbles, Joe and his close friends, Del Sinchak, Bob Smrecansky, Ray Hoza and Len Burham formed the Polka Serenaders. It was his first venture into the world of structured music.

In 1952, while a Junior at Woodrow Wilson, Joe joined the Johnny Butcho Band. It was here that he further strengthened his a petite for polkas and waltzes. They recorded several 78 RPM records (the size of a doughnut), performed on WBBW radio, WKBN radio and TV. They were also on WYTV, then Channel 45, in the early 1960s.

It was a glorious period for Joe and his companions but the thunderclouds of war disrupted this period of his life. In 1958, he was invited by the draft board to become a member of the Army, stationed at Fort Knox, Ky. He was honorably discharged in 1960 and was reunited with the Johnny Butcho band where he and Eddie Vallus became bookends with their accordions.

With some leadership expectations lurking in his mind, Joe began studying with instructor Frank Sainato. This proved to be a very wise decision as Johnny Butcho retired from the musical field in 1963 and moved to Florida. Thus began the Joe Fedorchak era. Little did he realize the scope of his popularity.

Every musical note has its own champion and every note has its own personality. Through . the process of laying musical chairs, Joe Finally found the combination whereby the instruments, the selections of tunes, and the personalities bonded themselves into an acceptable, cohesive unit. Now, he was ready to step into a new world; recording at the Peppermint Studios in Youngstown, Ohio. Thus, 1974 was a milestone in Joe's musical life.

What began as a small tremor developed into a musical explosion, the fallout of which still covers the greater Mahoning Valley, as well as several states. The word "success" and the Fedorchak band have a very close relationship. They have produced three very popular albums, the first of which was "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." They have traveled as many miles as Santa and they have been voted the Ohio State Polka Champs (1976) by the' PolkaRama Magazine.

As of now, Joe plays a very fruitful role in the Sunday morning WKBN Polka Parade where he assumes the position of "second banana. His brother, Gene, is the host. It is heard over WKBN radio, 570 AM in Youngstown, Ohio on Sunday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Joe and his wife, Phyllis Ann, kive in Youngstown. He is a charter member of POPPS and is also a member of the Girard Golden Eagles, Lodge 643, of the Slovene National Benefit Society (SNPJ) which owns and operates the Recreation Center at Borough of SNPJ, Pa.

The journey to the musical summit has not been all wine and roses but determination and perseverance helped smooth the path. His polka power has brought people out of their homes and into the dance halls. In his own special' manner, he has expanded the image of physical fitness.

On its 10th anniversary, POPPS chooses well in photographing one of their own for its Annual Awards Dinner. Joe's name is a household word in the Greater Mahoning Valley. It is synonymous with pleasure, good fellowship, capacity crowds and a general feeling of goodwill. He is considered to be the Pied Piper of polkas.

In addition to the prominence bestowed upon Joe, POPPS has come forward with an anniversary book. It is sort of a "birth certificate" for the 50 musicians who call POPPS their musical. home. The book was compiled and edited by Del Rezek, one of their members. Ed Vallus, also a member, always prepares a special plaque for the occasion.

As Joe promenades among the murals of music, POPPS wishes him an enduring relationship with his friends and the dancing public; a keyboard which increases his reputation on the Polka Hit Parade and that the Fedorchak style of music will trespass into the calendar of tomorrow.

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Joe Fedorchak Resume

1898 LEALAND AVE, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO - 44514, Phone (330) 757-0014

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS:

MUSICIAN; BANDLEADER; COMPOSER; AM RADIO POLKA DJ; TV POLKA SHOW HOST AND PERFORMER; POLKA TOUR PROMOTER, HOST AND PERFORMER. RENOWNED AND RESPECTED AS A STAUNCH ADVOCATE OF SLOVENIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA MUSIC. HAS PERFORMED THROUGHOUT THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, CANADA, HAWAII, MEXICO AND ALASKA. RECOGNIZED FOR HIS CONSISTENT AND UNSELFISH SUPPORT IN EFFORTS TOWARD FURTHER ENHANCEMENT FOR EVOLUTION AND PERPETUATION OF THE CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA MOVEMENT. HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN ENLISTMENT OF OTHER MUSICIANS INTO THE CLEVELAND-STYLE POLKA MOVEMENT AND HAS PROVIDED VALUABLE SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND:

BEGAN FORMAL ACCORDION MUSIC STUDIES IN 1944 AT THE AGE OF NINE. CONTINUED HISFORMAL STUDIES AFTER HONORABLE DISCHARGE FROM THE ARMED FORCES IN 1960. ALSO PROFICIENT ON THE BUTTON CHROMATIC ACCORDION. HAS DEVOTED MORE THAN FIFTY TWO YEARS TOWARDS PLAYING AND PROMOTING CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA MUSIC. LAUNCHED HIS CAREER WHILE STILL IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WHEN HE BECAME A MEMBER OF THE "POLKA SERENADERS ORCHESTRA" IN THE LATE 1940'S. IN 1952, WHILE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL, HE JOINED THE "JOHNNY BUTCHKO ORCHESTRA". AS A MEMBER OF THIS ORCHESTRA HE PARTICIPATED IN SEVERAL RECORDINGS ALONG WITH NUMEROUS APPEARANCES ON LIVE RADIO AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS DURING THE 1950'S AND 1960'S.
HE FORMED HIS OWN ORCHESTRA IN 1963 AFTER THE RETIREMENT OF JOHNNY BUTCHKO. HAS EARNED ACCREDITATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN UNIQUE TEMPO, RHYTHM AND SOUND THAT HAS ESTABLISHED HIS ORCHESTRA AS ONE OF THE MOST CONSISTENTLY POPULAR POLKA BANDS, BASED ON THE NUMBER OF REQUESTS FOR HIS MUSIC ON RADIO PROGRAMS AND ALSO THROUGH RESOUNDING ALBUM SALES IN RECORD SHOPPES.
CURRENTLY THE CO-HOST ON THE VERY POPULAR "GENE FEDORCHAK POLKA SHOW" WHICH IS BROADCAST EVERY SUNDAY ON WKBN 570 IN YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO FROM 9AM TO 11AM. THIS ENTERTAINING PROGRAM IS HEARD IN PORTIONS OF SIX STATES AND CANADA.

INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO SLOVENIAN HERITAGE AND CLEVELAND-STYLE POLKA MUSIC:

PRODUCED, ARRANGED, AND RECORDED FOUR ALBUMS; "POLKAS AND WALTZES-YESTERDAY, TODAY,TOMORROW" -- "FEDORCHAK - SECOND TIME AROUND" – "FEDORCHAK, BY REQUEST" - AND "FEDORCHAK - FOR THAT OLD GANG OF MINE". ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS INCLUDE: "LITTLE SLUGGER'S POLKA", "THE BLUE LADY POLKA", "HELVAK'S WALTZ", "JODIE’S WALTZ" AND "GRANDPA JOHN’S POLKA". THESE COMPOSITIONS HAVE ALSO BEEN INCORPORATED INTO OTHER POLKA BANDS' MUSICAL REPERTOIRE. A CHARTER, AND DILIGENT, MEMBER OF THE "PENN-OHIO POLKA PALS" ORGANIZATION AS WELL AS A "LIFE-TIME" MEMBER OF THE "CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA HALL OF FAME". ALSO BEING A MEMBER OF SNPJ LODGE #643, GIRARD, OHIO AND "NARAS" NATIONAL, ACADEMY OF RECORDING ARTS AND SCIENCES), CHICAGO-CHAPTER.

HONORS BESTOWED IN RECOGNITION OF CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS SLOVENIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE CLEVELAND-STYLE POLKA MOVEMENT:

INDUCTED INTO THE INTERNATIONAL POLKA ASSOCIATION (IPA) HALL OF FAME ON AUGUST 2, 1997 IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

VOTED THE "OHIO STATE POLKA-RAMA CHAMPS" IN 1976.

HONORED AS "THE MAN OF THE YEAR" IN 1987 BY THE PENN-OHIO POLKA PALS ORGANIZATION. OTHER HONOREES WHO HAVE SHARED THIS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD ARE JOHN KUZMAN, FRANKIE YANKOVIC, JOHNNY VADNAL, LOU TREBAR, WALTER OSTANEK, EDDIE HABAT, KENNY BASS, JOEY MISKULIN, DEL SINCHAK, JIMMY STURR, JOHNNY KRIZANCIC, NORM KOBAL, EDDIE VALLUS, GARY RHAMY AND DICK TADY. POSTHUMOUS AWARDS WERE BESTOWED ON JOHNNY PECON AND MATT HOYER.

CO-FEST MASTER FOR SLOVENE-FEST IX WHICH WAS CELEBRATED AT THE SNPJ RECREATION CENTER AT ENON VALLEY, PA. IN JULY OF 1990.

WINNER OF THE CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA HALL OF FAME, "BAND OF THE YEAR 1991".

WINNER OF THE CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA HALL OF FAME, "ALBUM OF THE YEAR 1994".

OTHER QUALIFYING INFORMATION:

A CONTRIBUTOR ON THE "PENN OHIO POLKA PALS SOUVENIR EDITION" ALBUM WHICH WAS A FINALIST FOR THE 1989 "GRAMMY AWARDS".

A CONTRIBUTOR, WITH TWO SONGS, ON THE "WALTER OSTANEK" GRAMMY-WINNING ALBUM "MUSIC & FRIENDS" FOR THE YEAR 1995.

INCORPORATES ALL FACETS OF SLOVENIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE CLEVELAND STYLE POLKA MUSIC INTO HIS RECORDINGS AND PERFORMANCES, VOCALS, PIANO KEY ACCORDION AND THE CHROMATIC BUTTON BOX.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

NATIVE OF YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO OF SLOVAK DESCENT.  DATE OF BIRTH: SEPTEMBER 4, 1935

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Joe Fedorchak
  1898 Lealand Avenue
 Youngstown, Ohio 44514 
(330) 757-0014
Joe Fedorchak