Verne Meisner's Biography

01/30/11

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From Michael G. Corenthal, The Illustrated History of Wisconsin Music 1840-1990, p. 388. 

VERNE MEISNER has achieved international renown in a Cleveland-Style career spanning five decades. Performing throughout the United States, Canada and in Europe; distributing his recordings nationally; composing Cleveland-Style classics; and inspiring a new generation of Cleveland-Style musicians. Verne became "the most influential Wisconsin purveyor of Cleveland-Style sound."* 

Verne began playing the accordion in his native Milwaukee at age eleven, supplementing music lessons with independent study of Frank Yankovic and Six Fat Dutchmen recordings at the family victrola and the stylings of Pecon, Vadnal, Benedict, Cook, and Bashell on Fritz the Plumber's daily radio broadcasts. Verne formed his own band in 1950 and, impressing Yankovic with his keen ear, traveled with the Yanks during the 1950's. 

Verne Meisner and the Polka Boys made their recording debut in 1958 with "Memories of Vienna", one of Verne's finest and most popular compositions. Verne's recordings include 30 singles, 16 LP albums, and two videos on the Paragon, Leaf, Cuca, VM, Bright, and HG labels. Verne's first album, "A Polka and Waltz Holiday", achieved a 5-Star rating on the Billboard charts. 

Verne has contributed mightily to the popularity of Cleveland-Style Polkas in all regions of the United States, performing in California, Arizona, Maryland, Missouri. Pennsylvania, Florida, Hawaii, Washington State, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, and in Canada. He has also led two polka tours to Europe and five Caribbean cruises. 

A prolific composer, Verne is the genius behind nearly sixty songs including his two blockbusters. "Memories of Vienna" and "El Rio Drive", as well as "Doreen Waltz". "Michelle Waltz", "Sneaky Pete Polka", "Main Attraction", "Echo Valley Waltz", "Waltz of Love", "Sleepy Head Waltz", "Autumn Leaves" (adapted from a Croatian folk song) and "Ukrania", now a standard in Polish repertory. 

Devoting full time to music, Verne has bridged the gap between Cleveland-Style music's post-war giants and today's generation, mentoring the likes of Joey Miskulin, influencing bands throughout Wisconsin and the upper Midwest, and spawning the Cleveland-Style careers of son Steve and cousin Gordon Hartmann. 

Plying his trade with excellence and originality, Verne has combined the spark of Americana with the old-country flavor of Slovenian, German, Dutch, Czech, and Polish melodies in creating his own distinctive and refreshing sound. 

Among his many honors, Verne was inducted into the International Polka Association's Polka Hall of Fame in Chicago in 1989, was the first polka musician to win the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award (along with Steve) in 1988, repeated this honor in 1994, and has been commended by the Governor of Wisconsin for his accomplishments. Attesting to his fame, Verne's persona was appropriated by Mary Blayney in her novel, True Colors. 

 

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Article written about Verne in the Journal Sentinel
 

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This site was last updated 01/30/11