Acclaimed polka musicians Fred Mlakar and Frank Rote will lead Smiley Library guests on a musical journey with songs and dance melodies tracing the evolution of polka music from a European to a distinctly American style. The free event, part of a growing series of musical events called Smiley LIVE!, will take place at the Library’s Contemporary Club at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, August 31. Polka dancing was the rage in Europe in the 19th century. Immigrants first brought polka to North America in 1844, where it soon became popular in ballrooms and dance halls. Playing vintage diatonic, chromatic, and piano accordions, Fred and Frank will also explain how accordions evolved through the years.
Fred Mlakar is a third-generation accordionist, whose band has entertained at festivals, wedding receptions, private parties, and dance clubs for over 50 years. Fred and his band recorded albums with his late father Joe Mlakar, an honoree of the Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame who was also the proprietor of a polka night club in Fontana, the Elbow Room. Fred currently lives in Irvine.
Expert accordionist Frank Rote is a band leader and Director of the Fontana Slovene Button Accordion Club. When not performing, he repairs and refurbishes vintage accordions at his home workshop in Rancho Cucamonga.