Chardon Polka Band returns with a wild six-part series!
The World According to Polka
PBS Western Reserve (WNEO 45.1 / WEAO 49.1):
Fridays at 8:30 PM beginning Oct. 13
Saturday, Oct. 14, at 1 AM
Mondays at 3 PM beginning Oct. 16
Saturdays at 1:30 AM beginning Oct. 21
Mondays at 10 PM beginning Oct. 23
Tuesdays at 3 AM beginning Oct. 24
Fusion (WNEO 45.2 / WEAO 49.2):
Saturdays at 8 PM beginning Oct. 14
Sundays at 8:30 PM beginning Oct. 15
A passion project dedicated to the polka community, this new six-part series follows Ohio’s own zany Chardon Polka Band on an exciting journey across Northeast Ohio and beyond as it explores the rich history and lively culture surrounding polka, a popular style of music and dance originating in 19th-century Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic.
Hosted by Chardon Polka Band lead singer Jake Kouwe, the series embarks on a wide-ranging trip through the history books, from the origins of bowling to the purpose of the Slovenian Kurentovanje festival; hits the cookbooks with stops at The Pierogi Lady’s Akron kitchen, Chardon’s King Kone and more; and polkas through the pages of some of the genre’s most beloved numbers and new hits with several guest performances including Akron guitarist Michael Weber and Cleveland ukelele player Sara Beth Lowe. It’s a look at the world — according to polka.
“We have really been able to share our passion for local people, places and events. There is so much of this to explore in our area,” Kouwe said. He cited PBS programs THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW, TRAVELS IN EUROPE WITH RICK STEVES and BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY as inspiration for the series’ humorous and informative tone.
The series is created by Kouwe and Jeff Grau, and executive produced by Gary Manke. It is a featured program in PBS Western Reserve’s LuminUS collection of stories about our region. Two additional Chardon Polka Band programs — POLKA ACROSS AMERICA and A POLKA CHRISTMAS WITH THE CHARDON POLKA BAND — are available on the LuminUS section of the PBS Western Reserve website for free viewing on demand.
Let’s Go Bowling
The band explores a singular Youngstown haunt, the Westside Bowl — a music venue, bowling alley, pizza place and bar hybrid. Diving into the importance of community gathering spots, the band is joined by Akron guitarist Michael Weber and the Grammy Award-winning co-owner of Youngstown’s Peppermint Productions, Gary Rhamy. Performances include “Old Style Beer,” “Red River Valley” and more.
Polkas and Pierogies
The Pierogi Lady kitchen in Akron is taken over by the band for performances of food-themed songs such as “Deli Girl Polka” and “Dinner Time.” Drummer Bob Young performs “The Entertainer” using items from the kitchen including cutlery and mixing bowls. While there, owner Autumn Johnson teaches lead singer Jake Kouwe how to make her famous Polish dumplings.
Small Town Summer
Lead singer Jake Kouwe is joined by his wife Emily for a tour of their hometown, Chardon, Ohio. Stopping by Chip’s Clubhouse, King Kone and the Mayfield Road Drive-in Theater, the couple discuss the merits of providing joy to their community through the power of entertainment. The band performs “Summer Breeze” and more at the Chardon Square Gazebo, with a little help from Bob and Sawyer Buzecan.
Polkas in Nature
The band performs selections inspired by the great outdoors including “The Happy Wanderer,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Goodnight Irene” and more throughout the beautiful landscapes of the Geauga Park District. Joined by Chief Naturalist John Kolar, lead singer Jake Kouwe celebrates the excellent opportunity for outdoor recreation here in Northeast Ohio before being interrupted by a woodland creature.
Mt. Angel Oktoberfest
Polka is alive in Mt. Angel, Oregon, where the band travels yearly to perform at one of the premier Oktoberfest events in the country. Learn about the event’s history while the band plays Oktoberfest favorites including “Hofbräuhaus Waltz.” The band catches an alphorn performance by Salzburger Echo and pays a visit to Silver Falls Country Store for the famous “Sasquatch burger.”
Embrace winter traditions while learning about the history of Cleveland Kurentovanje, a festival held at the Slovenian National Home. The band performs songs including “Polka All Night,” “Silk Umbrella,” “The Midnight Special” and more. Lead singer Jake Kouwe is joined by ukelele songstress Sara Beth Lowe for a snowy outdoor performance.
The History of Polka: From Europe to Northeast Ohio
by Madeline Myers, Communications Specialist
Let’s take a journey through the history of polka, exploring its origins, evolution and enduring popularity.
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PBS Western Reserve Specials
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