Johnny is now sponsored by Three Rivers Accordion Company!
March 4, 2015
Three Rivers Accordion Company, which was started in January 2015 fills a void in the accordion community in the greater Pittsburgh area. The new storefront will offer accordion sales, repairs, lessons, and appraisals. They are proud to sponsor Johnny and Kevin Solecki.
Check them out at www.threeriversaccordion.com
"Party Like A Polkastar" CD is available!
August 29, 2014
The long-awaited sophomore release, "Party Like A Polkastar" is now available! This CD features various styles of polkas and waltzes all with Johnny's fresh and exciting sound. Johnny's vocals can be heard on songs such as "Angel", "Party Like A Polkastar", "Hey Little Sweetheart", and others. Johnny has an arsenal of musicians on this CD, including his cousin, drummer Jon Ihle. The flawless bass playing of Jerry Zagar can be heard on many selections. The hard-driving banjo was played by Don Wojtila. Glenn Dydak played some awesome melodies on his tenor and alto saxophones. Nick Koryluk can be heard blowing those bright notes on trumpet. Juan Barco brought some of his Tejano stylings on bass guitar. Drummers such as Tom Brusky and RJ Likovic can be heard on drums keeping those polkas popping. Matt Grossman added rhythm guitar and tasteful fills on a few songs. Rockstar Ian Lloyd made a guest vocal appearance on "Brother Louie", along with his son David Lloyd on guitar and mellotron.
The CD captures the multitude of ethnic influences of Johnny's music. Be sure to pick up a copy, and enjoy the roller coaster of a musical journey with Johnny and his band!
Slovenia trip was a success!
July 3, 2014
Here’s a recap…
Dušan Hedl was there to greet me at the airport – walking out of Ljubljana’s airport I thought, “Wow – I really made it! This place is beautiful!” We immediately drove to Postojna, to meet Aleks Rutar of Rutar accordions. Rutar was nice enough to let me borrow an accordion while I was in Slovenia. We met at one of Dušan’s offices where he had some of his books published. We met with Aleks for about an hour, and after trying both accordions he brought, I chose the 4/4 tone chamber model with 120 basses – the quality of their product was superb! Then it was off to Ljubljana to spend an hour or two seeing the major sights in town. I had my first beer in Slovenia at a nice pub close to the center of town – Union! Afterward we left for Maribor, and I enjoyed all the views along the way. We drove through Maribor and saw the town festival setup which lasts for three weeks, but was empty due to inclement weather. I settled in at my accommodations Tuesday evening, and thought “Wow, I’m not really feeling jetlagged!”
Day two in Slovenia allowed me to sleep in a little bit – Dušan brought me to the office of Akord Records, and headquarters of Subkulturni azil Maribor. The offices were empty because June 25th is a holiday in Slovenia. After seeing the offices, it was off to meet Alfi Nipic for lunch. I first learned of him as a kid listening to my dad’s Avsenik records. Mr. Nipic is a true gentleman and it was a pleasure to meet him – he gave me a copy of his 50th anniversary concert CD/DVD package. After lunch it was off to the studio – Studio Na Meji as they call it – and Misa and I began a marathon of three days of recording!
The recording marathon continued on day three in Slovenia – we spent close to 13 hours in the studio! The day went by quickly as we recorded song after song, stopping only for a lunch that Dušan prepared. We spent some time Thursday evening working on a couple of Doosan’s songs that I played accordion on.
Day four began the stretch of the busier days while I was there – we started in the studio around 9am, and spent eight hours recording and working on new compositions. Now it was off to Zgornja Velka to perform for the Ujemi ritem sveta – DOMA, a folklore festival right in the center of town. I provided the closing musical entertainment for the evening which was a lot of fun! It great to see the audience smiling and clapping along as I sang in English.
Saturday, day five was extremely busy – in the morning I had three performances in Maribor – at Grajski Trg, Glavni Trg, and Vodnikov Trg. Many people were out and about enjoying the beautiful weather and walking around and shopping at the markets. In the afternoon it was off to Jeruzalem in Ljutomer since we were graciously invited to Aleks and Janja Rutar’s wedding party – they got married back in March and threw a party now – and they sure know how to party! Their house at the top of a hill surrounded by vineyards was a sight within itself, and the crowd of at least 200 people eating, drinking, dancing, and playing music. There was a sound system setup and I played a few songs later in the day. Bands that showed up were playing while walking up the street to the party, walked up the stairs and right onto the stage continuing to play! It was so cool! At the party I got to chat with my friends from Navihanke – Tanja, Sonja, and Tamara – who then invited me to their gig Saturday night in Selisci. We arrived in the small village of Selisci after a couple detours, to find a huge crowd of over 1,000 people enjoying the music of Navihanke. The band and I spoke on their first break and coordinated the couple tunes I would perform with them during their last set – Na Golici and V Dolini Tihi. It was an honor and a privilege to perform with these five very talented ladies!
Sunday morning Dušan and I went to check out the Maribor flea market – all kinds of goods for sale. Then in the afternoon of day six, it was off to Dolina Pod Brlogo for Radio Pohorje’s music festival, where I was one of about 20 musical acts that performed. A crowd of about 800 people filled the rustic building, which part of is built over a pond! I had the chance to speak with some of the other musicians and radio personalities, and we both look forward to future meetings!
Monday was the first day I had some downtime, so my last day here I headed to Ljubljana to check out some more sights and pick up a couple souvenirs. Dušan and I met TV producer Sebastjan Artic at the Rutar party Saturday. Sebastjan invited me to come to TV Golica for a live appearance on their music show Monday night! I arrived at the studio early, and met Sandra and Martina, who quickly arranged for me to appear on Folx TV which airs live in Germany and Austria since I was there! Thanks again to Ziga, Martina, Sandra and the whole production crew. It’s amazing to see folk music have their own dedicated TV network – something we don’t have in the USA.
Tuesday morning, I left Ljubljana airport very early for my trip home. I spent most of the 16 hour trip reflecting on how lucky and fortunate I am to have this opportunity to bring my “style” of music to a whole new audience! I’m thankful for every day I can pick up my accordion and “go to work”.
It’s not work when you love what you do!