Al Markic Biography

11/27/09

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Al Markic has been a major contributor to the success of Slovenian/American Style Polkas in each of three roles, leader, sideman, and promoter through an illustrious career spanning over fifty years. An unselfish promoter of all ethnic bands, Al considered the 600+ selections he has recorded among his proudest accomplishments. He is considered by many as the best rhythm banjo and guitar man in the business. Al was consistently chosen as the banjo/guitar man of choice for recording sessions among the very best.

After studying banjo under John Skrajner and guitar under Jerry Stone, Dick Lurie, and Johnny Lombardo, Al began his musical career as a teenager with the Al Strukel Orchestra, performing live on radio station WSRS under the sponsorship of the Cipriani Furniture Store. Subsequently, Al became a regular with Johnny Pecon, Frankie Kramer, Walter Ostanek, and Trontel and Zagger before forming his own band, the Almars, in the late 1960's.

During the 1970's, Al teamed up with accordionist Jake Zagger of Sharon, Pennsylvania to form the Markic-Zagger Orchestra. One of the hottest bands of its era, Markic-Zagger laid claim to much of the polka real estate along the turnpikes connecting Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Since Jake's retirement in 1984, Al has led the Al Markic Orchestra. The Almars and Markic-Zagger each have 4 LPs to their credit as well as numerous radio and TV appearances. Al's most popular recording, "Back Home in Pennsylvania," was recorded with the Markic-Zagger Orchestra.

Al has always been a "go-getter," promoting polka music relentlessly across North America. Beginning in the early 1950's, Al personally took his recordings to polka enclaves in the Midwest and West that had no prior access to the music. With his distribution business, Al achieved coverage throughout the balance of the U.S. and Canada, leading to engagements for Cleveland-based bands in such far-flung destinations as Alaska, Colorado, the Minnesota Iron Range, and Florida. More recently, Al has joined with Cleveland bandleader Harry Faint to produce a Cleveland Style radio program originating on station WKTX in Courtland, Ohio.

Taking his own bands on the road, Al has performed and promoted Cleveland/Slovenian music in Europe, Hawaii, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, the Caribbean, and on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Al's were the first Cleveland bands to perform in Alaska and Colorado, which have since become regular stops for the polka music's finest.


Al Markic, being ahead of his time, launched the first internet polka radio operation in this country with his "polkaradio.com" webcasting of WATJ polka programs.


Al has always made himself available to share his talents with other Cleveland-Style orchestras. Over the years, Al's stylings have graced the recordings and performances of Frank Yankovic, Eddie Habat, Stan Blout, Johnny Vadnal, Al Tercek, Art Perko, Fred Kuhar, Marty Sintic, Hank Haller, Jeff Pecon, Frankie Mullec, George Jurjev, Johnny Pecon, Walter Ostanek, Bob Timko, Joey Miskulin, and Frank Spetich. There's obviously been no fear of competition here.

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This site was last updated 11/27/09