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Polka! Visitors from the north add a flair to Fort Myers Beach through March

March 4, 2011

Adding a fun little mix to the Fort Myers Beach Spring Break scene through March, Canadian couple Charlie Tomecek and Marylou Downs, along with multiple musicians near and far, have been performing a polka jam session at Junkanoo on the Beach (3040 Estero Blvd.) every Tuesday, from 2 to 5 p.m.

"We've been doing this for a couple years now when we're down," Charlie said. "People travel from as far as Fort Lauderdale and Port Charlotte and make a full trip of it to see our jam on Tuesdays, really helping the beach businesses."

During the three-hour session every week, Charlie, Marylou and about 10 other talented polka and waltz musicians entertain the crowd with vintage tunes with a fresh twist, showing off the vibrant sounds that accordions, banjos, harmonicas and a full band can really make.

Article Photos

Charlie Tomecek and Marylou Downs lead the Polka Jammers during great jam sessions Tuesdays through March, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Junkanoo on the Beach. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

"I was born into the craze, performing the last 10 years professionally as the Buttonbox Buddies," Charlie said. "Our jam session plays Cleveland-style polka. It's a very happy music, lots of harmony. We like to maintain this music of another time and keep it going. It's just lots of fun."

The pro polka star, performing as the Buttonbox Buddies in Canada, goes by the Polka Jammers while entertaining on the Island.

"We set up the sound system and feature anyone all are welcome to come up and play with us. Sometimes we play 20 or 30 players at a time."

During a recent polka jam session at Junkanoo earlier this week, the bar was packed with an array of onlookers, and the dance floor was covered with waltzers and polka kings and queens.

"It's just a lot of fun and great way to spend a beautiful afternoon on Fort Myers Beach," Charlie said.

There is no charge for admission into the show or to jam with the group. For more information on the Polka Jammers, Buttonbox Buddies, to obtain a CD, or any other inquiries, email Charlie at



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