Remembering Tony Janak

Tony Janak, who led the Tony Janak Orchestra for over 50 years, passed away at the age of 80 on May 28 in Yoakum. He was a lifetime member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, a 3rd degree Knight of Columbus for 60 years, SPJST, and KJT. He retired from Delta Armature Works as the former owner.

Tony got his start playing polka music with the Janak Family Band, comprising father, William; brother, Bill; and sisters, Bernadette and Joanne. They played at reunions and anniversaries, with Tony learning his craft on drums.

In high school and beyond, Tony was a part of the Sweet Home Playboys, along with Raymond Bordovsky and Linwood Berger. Their gigs were the seven beer joints around Sweet Home, playing for the kitty. In 1958 Tony began playing with the George Machart Band of Hallettsville.

Janak formed his own band, the Tony Janak Orchestra, in 1963. Original band members were Tony (drums, also trombone, guitar, piano), Joe Jansky (accordion), Rudy Petru (guitar), Harlan Hasse (sax, accordion), and Bobby Dornak (trumpet). These original members all returned to Sweet Home to celebrate the Janak band’s 40th anniversary. Tony celebrated his 50th anniversary with the band and retirement on New Year’s Eve 2008 at Sweet Home Hall.

Over the years, Janak made five recordings, beginning with a 45 rpm single (Happy Go Lucky) in 1963, followed by an LP Simply Beautiful in 1973. Two cassettes followed, On the Road Again and Heart of Texas Polkaland. His last CD 40 Year Anniversary 2003 contains 22 most-requested songs.

Those attending dances at Sweet Home Community Center over the years have seen Tony, and his wife, Alice, selling tickets and welcoming everyone. The couple were active members of the Yoakum CB Club which owns the community center, and Tony’s son, Mark, continues the family tradition of booking the bands for this “Music City.”

Tony is survived by his wife of 60 years, Alice (Bordovsky) Janak, of Yoakum, one daughter of Shiner, and two sons of Yoakum, 3 grandchildren, one great grandchild, and sister, Bernadette Baker of Everett, Washington.


Robert T. “Happy Bob” Pawlak, 76, of Hagaman, New York passed away on May 14. Bob was instrumental and co-founded the award-winning Polka Magic Radio Network in 1983, which airs on WSPN FM 91.1 in Saratoga Springs, NY, The Polka Magic Radio Network and Polish New Castle Radio.

, Com. In addition, Bob co-hosted polka radio shows on several stations in Amsterdam, NY.


The International Polka Association recently announced the 2018 Hall of Fame inductees and 2017 music awards. The new Hall of Famers are Mollie B, and Gary Brueggen, along with Joe Macielag in the Pioneer Category, and Leon "Bud" Hundenski in the Deceased Category.

The 2017 music awards went to Fred Ziwich & International Sound Machine for Favorite International Style CD, 40th Anniversary; John Jaworski for Favorite International Style Song, Dunaju, Dunaju; Alex Meixner Band for Favorite International Style Band; Mollie B for Favorite International Style Female Vocalist; Steve Meisner for Favorite International Style Male Vocalist; DynaBrass for Favorite Polish Style CD, Dance All Night, and Favorite Polish Style Song, Dance All Night;

Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push for Favorite Polish Style Band; Stacey Morris, Favorite Polish Style Female Vocalist; and Lenny Gomulka for Favorite Polish Style Male Vocalist.

The awards will be presented at the IPA 50th Annual Convention on Labor Day Weekend in Buffalo, New York. Watch for more details about the winners in next month's issue of Texas Polka News.

“We hope you can join us Labor Day weekend for our 50th anniversary of the IPA Festival & Convention,” said IPA President Rick Rzeszutko.

“The celebration will begin with a welcome party on Fri., Aug. 31, as well as a pool party on Saturday, and IPA Jam Session on Sunday afternoon, in addition to the awards ceremony Saturday evening.”

The 2018 IPA Festival & Convention Band Lineup features Phocus, The Boys, The Knewz, The Project, The KOSMIX Special Delivery, IPA Tribute Band, Eddie Forman Orchestra, Polka Country Musicians, Ray Jay and the Carousels, Jackie Libera & The Classix, and Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push.


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