The Don Lipovac Band
Blind Love of Polkas in Kansas City, KS
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Don Lipovac Band Has New Solo Release...
The orchestra began as a trio in the early 1950's. The original members were Don Lipovac, accordion; Ray Rodina, tamburitza, and Frank Zager, bass. The band played for dances, wedding receptions, and other social events in the Kansas City area. In 1976, the group made its first recording and added Bill Hargraves on drums. The band then began playing events all around the country. In 1989, Ray Rodina left the band due to health reasons, and he passed away in 1995. Ray loved to sing and was the band's lead singer. We truly miss him. When Ray left the band, Phil Ashley was added on tamburitza and banjo.
The Don Lipovac Orchestra is:
Don Lipovac (accordions):
Of Slovenian heritage, Don started his musical career at the age of four, playing Slovenian melodies on a button-box accordion bought by his grandfather. He began piano accordion lessons with Alfred Vacca, who trained him thoroughly in the classics. In 1958, Don won the nation's top accordion honor - first place in the American Accordion Association National Championship contest. Don went on to represent the United States at the world competition in Brussels, Belgium. He attended the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and has degrees in both music theory and music education. Don has appeared on the Lawrence Welk Television show and as soloist with the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also been the Director of the St. John Tamburitzans for more than 35 years. He has the unique distinction of having been inducted into both the Tamburitza Association of American Hall of Fame, for outstanding contributions toward the preservation of Tamburitza music; and the Polka Hall of Fame, awarded at Ironworld, USA, in Chisholm, Minnesota.
Frank Zager (bass):
Frank is of Croatian and Slovenian descent, and an optician by trade. His interest in music also began at a very early age. He performed with the Blue Danube Tamburitza Orchestra and the Kolo Club, a Croatian folk ensemble. It was during this time that he met Don Lipovac and began their long association, which has lasted since the early 1950's. Frank's strong bass playing is well known by polka bands around the country and he is frequently asked to sit in with many other bands at various polka festivals.
Bill Hargraves (drums):
Bill was born and raised in western Kansas. He moved to Kansas City via the University of Kansas where he was a music education major and drum major of the K.U. Marching Band. His musical experience ranges from Drum and Bugle Corp competition to playing tympani with the K.U. Symphony Orchestra. He has been percussionist with many Broadway-style musicals which include the Starlight Theater in Kansas City. Most of his recent musical experience includes performing with many of the country music acts from Nashville, and several appearances with the Grand Ole Opry. In the last twenty years, Bill has played mostly with the Don Lipovac Orchestra, Waldorf Astoria Dinner Theater, and in the recording business. Bill is an avid bowler with two perfect "300" games to his credit.
Phil Ashley (tamburitza, banjo):
Phil is a K.C. native of mostly Lithuanian origin. He took piano and guitar lessons as a child. In 1974, he began music and Tamburitza instruction with Don Lipovac as a member of the St. John Tamburimm. Over the years, he's played with several Eastern European folk groups, rock and roll bands, polka bands, and even in the house band of a local Greek restaurant. He received a B.A. in Music from the U.M.K.C. Conservatory of Music. He was awarded the Tamburitza Association of America's Founder's Award in 1993 for excellence in the preservation of Tamburitza music. Although an attorney by occupation, Phil loves music of all kinds. Phil joined the Don Lipovac Orchestra in the summer of 1989, and gives credit to Don for much of his musical interest and knowledge.
For information on recordings and bookings, contact:
8004 Arcadia Court
Kansas City, KS 66112