2014-09-14 / Dining & Entertainment

St. Charles resident to be inducted into Michigan Polka Music Hall of Fame

By Mandilee looMiS
Staff reporter


Stand-up drummer Louie Krawczyk of St. Charles will be inducted into the Michigan State Polka Music Hall of Fame in Owosso on Oct. 5. Stand-up drummer Louie Krawczyk of St. Charles will be inducted into the Michigan State Polka Music Hall of Fame in Owosso on Oct. 5. ST. CHARLES – Louis Krawczyk has been playing the drums since 1951. His long career in the polka music industry will be honored Oct. 5 when he will be among three others inducted into the 2014 Michigan State Polka Music Hall of Fame.

Since 1972, 296 honorees have been inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame. For the Tri-County Citizen’s coverage area, Louie makes a total of 22 local inductees. Over the years, five Chesaning residents were inducted; six from St. Charles; eight from New Lothrop; and three from Montrose.

The requirements to be inducted include being 50 years or older and promoting or performing polka music publicly for over 15 years, according to Michigan State Polka Music Hall of Fame secretary Joan M. Smolka.

Louie was born in Sun, W.Va. He attended St. Charles High School until 1940. He served WorldWar II traveling throughout Holland, Belgium, Germany, England and France. Louie received many military medals during his army career before being honorably discharged in 1946. Later that year he met and married his wife Stella (Kushion) who passed away in 2001. The couple have five children: Charmaine (Krawczyk) Lashaw; Rodney Krawczyk (deceased); Cleston and Brenda (Krawczyk) Winters; John and Denise (Krawczyk) Trinklein; and John and Diane (Krawczyk) Raymond, as well as seven grandchildren and three great grand children.

Upon leaving the army Louie started a career as an auto body repair technician along with his son, Rodney Krawczyk, and opened his own business, Riverside Collision in 1975, all while maintaining a part-time side job as a stand-up drummer in various polka bands.

Louie started his career as a drummer with Jay’s Polka Band in 1951 and played with them until 1953. Then in 1960 he played with Leonard Lesek and his brother Joe Krawczyk; they called themselves The Polka Tets. He played a couple of times with Ray Fritz’s band, then two or three times with Bo Bo -N- Dick Zeets. He played three or four times with Frank “Frankie” John Yankovic. And then Louie was asked by Johnny Stanulis to be the drummer in his band called the Valley Aires, which later was changed to Johnny Stanulis and the Polka Jacks.

While playing with Johnny Stanulis and the Polka Jacks, the following albums were cut: Polka Twirl – Johnny Stanulis and Willie Schaeff on the accordion, Jimmy Walters on the banjo and Louie Krawczyk on the drums; Tap a Barrel of Beer – on this album they played several waltzes, fine tango and some polkas with their unique American style, with Johnny Stanulis adn Ron Tabiadon on the accordion, Jimmy Walters on the banjo and Louie Krawcyk on the drums; Really Honkin – this album has nine new songs written by Johnny Stanulis, with the Button Box Numbers played by Teddy Nosek, with Teddy Nosek on the accordion, Bob Eldred on the guitar and banjo, Harry Maurer on the bass, and Louie Krawczyk on the drums.

As the Johnny Stanulis Trio they cut the album Out To Play, a change of pace from a band that gained popularity as a Slovenian polka band, with Johnny Stanulis on the cordovox and vocalist, Bernie Kime on the guitar, banjo and vocalist, Mickey Kime as vocalist, and Louie Krawczyk on the drums. Louie played his drums up until the early 1990s.

The St. Charles polka stand-up drummer celebrated his 90th birthday this past February. He said he reminisces and misses the times he spent with his friends playing in the band and cherishes the wonderful memories of his polka past. He stated he wanted the legend of polka music to live on.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Oct. 5 at the Z.C.B.J. - WFLA (Western Fraternal Life Association) Hall in Owosso. The doors open at noon with the awards at 2 p.m.

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