Stanky and The Coal Miners
For the past 65 years, the Pennsylvania coal-mining town of Nanticoke's own John "Stanky" Stankovic has been one of the giants of Eastern-style polka, a Polish-American sound with horns, reeds, and accordion driving the uptempo music. With joyous, bouncy melodies and a delightful stage presence, Stanky and The Coal Miners are sure to keep dancers on the floor all weekend long.
Polka music in America was developed by immigrants from central and northern Europe. In the 1840s, the polka, a lively couple's dance in 2/4 time, had emerged from its folk roots to become a European dance craze, an event that coincided with the booming popularity of brass bands and of the new "squeezeboxes." Nineteenth century immigrants arrived with polkas ringing in their ears, and the prized possession in many an immigrant's pack was a button accordion or concertina. In America, distinctive regional styles have evolved – Slovenian, Polish, Norwegian, Croatian, Bohemian (Czech), Dutchman (from "Deutsch" meaning German). The names refer to the origin of the core repertoire and ethnic heritage, though the music often differs markedly from the respective old-country traditions.
John "Stanky" Stankovic learned accordion from his Czechoslovakian father. His mother and brother were also musicians and by age 14, Stanky was playing local weddings, parties and festivals. In 1962, he formed Stanky and The Coal Miners, so named because mining was the occupation of several of the band's members. The group recorded numerous albums and hits including the polka smash "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie."
For Stanky, polka has always been a family affair. Daughters Debbie and Kim spent their youth on the polka circuit, and Stanky's wife, Dottie, sang harmony and managed the band's schedule. Debbie met her husband and bass-player Vinny Horoschock through the band. The Coal Miners has also included Stanky's grandchildren. All of the family cherish this legacy, and as daughter Kim told the Times Leader, "I play whenever dad asks me to. I'm honored to carry on his tradition." At the Lowell Folk Festival, Stanky and The Coal Miners features John Stankovic on accordion and vocals, daughter Deborah Horoschock on drums, Wash King on trumpet, John Ptashinski on sax and clarinet, andNorbert Wisniewski on sax and clarinet.