BMHOF Class of 2011
Ron Urbanczyk is a popular "polka band" leader, musician, promoter and writer from West Seneca, NY. He began playing music at the age of five taking accordion lessons at Ruda's Music Store in Lackawanna, NY. By 15, he was the leader and accordion player in his first band The Jesters, playing parties, weddings and dances. As he entered college in 1969, he joined the Pole Cats, a new polka band in the area, playing bass guitar and concertina. He gained his first recording studio experience with the Pole Cats, recording two 45's and a LP, Introducing the Pole Cats and wrote his first song, Polish and Proud, a sing a long which became popular throughout the country as the song was recorded by both Bobby Vinton and Jimmy Sturr.
Through the years, Ron was involved in promoting Polka Dances at his home parish in Lackawanna, NY St. Michael’s which featured many of the polka stars of the past including, Li'l Wally Jagiello, Marion Lush and Eddie Blazonczyk among others. His associations with these musicians helped his musical career as he patterned his musical style and many of his songs after them.
Ron was influential in the forming of the Buffalo Concertina All-Stars an all concertina band and lead the group on a European Tour in 2001 which included performances in Poland and Chemnitz, Germany, the home town of the inventor of the Chemnitz Concertina, Karl Uhlig.
He has played in the Steel City Brass, Honky Hoppers, The Buffalo Concertina All-Stars, The Bedrock Boys, and The City Side Band. Since 2009, Ron has been the co-leader of THE NEW DIRECTION BAND, a Chicago Style Polka Band in Western New York.
He is the author and composer of "Staś and Stella's Mostly Traditional Polish Wedding" a dinner theatre musical that features the music and traditions of an old time Polish Wedding as it was celebrated here in Western New York, in the 50’s and 60’s. The dinner show incorporated the script from the book and music as written, published and recorded by Ron Urbanczyk and his musician friends. There have been over 50 performances of the dinner theatre show since 2006.
A long time polka promoter, Ron continues to bring in out-of-town Polka acts to play with his band locally. The list includes, Eddie Biegaj and Crusade (Ohio), Jimmy Weber and the Sounds (PA), Eddie Blazonczyk Jr and the Versatones (IL), The Boys from Baltimore (MD), Tony Blazonczyk and New Phaze (IL), DynaBrass (MI) The Mass Brass (MA), John Gora and Goralè from Burlington, Ontario, and Ed Guca and the Polish Canadians from Toronto, Ontario, to name a few.
He has also mixed polkas with other music venues successfully running events featuring local bands such as Crash Cadillac (RocknPolka); Auslanders (German-Polish), Cross Country Express (Polka Country).
The New Direction Band released their first CD in 2011 entitled "FOLLOW DIRECTIONS", which featured six original songs written by Ron, including their theme song, The New Direction Polka, It's Polka Time Somewhere, Lost My Shoes at a Polka Dance, I Go Crazy for You Polka, Nights Alone Polka and Tell Me Waltz.
They released their second CD, "CLEAR DIRECTIONS", in 2014 that features four more new songs by Ron, It's Alright to be a Polka Fan, Life's Too Short So Live it Up!, Party at My House and My Prayers Have Been Answered.
In October 2011, Ron was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, Buffalo, NY; one of only six polka musicians enshrined from over 350 inductees since its inception in 1983.
In October 2016, Ron was inducted into the World Concertina Congress, Hall of Fame in New Ulm, MN only the fourth concertina player from Western New York to be honored with this award.
In January of 2017, The New Direction Band released their third CD entitled “GREAT DIRECTIONS”, once again Buffalo Music and World Concertina Congress Hall of Famer, Ron Urbanczyk was back writing new tunes for this CD which includes these five new songs: Great Directions Polka, My True Love Polka, Polka Greats Oberek, Falling In Love and If You Like Our Polka Music.
Ron has hosted a one hour internet polka show on www.247PolkaHeaven.com the world's polka network since 2008 and can be heard Monday nights at 7:00pm, Wednesday mornings at 11:00am and Saturday evenings at 9:00pm.
He makes spot appearances on local polka radio shows and has been influential in the startup and has performed on WBBZ-TV’s Polka Dance Show “Polka Buzz” appearing on more than a dozen shows. He is also responsible for airing Polka Joe's “It's Polka Time” on Western New York Cable stations since 2009.
Ron continues to host trips for local polka fans to various polka conventions around the country and since 2006 he has hosted polka fans from Western New York on Polka vacations with polka musicians from around the country. These trips have included Caribbean Cruises and All-Inclusive packages to island resort destinations like Aruba, Curacao, Nassau, St. Thomas, Punta Cana and St. Maarten.
Ron's fan base includes polka fans from Western New York, but his popularity extends across the US and with his internet polka show; he is heard around the world.
Back - 2011