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Button'Boxin':Seasonal Polka Jam returns to Junkanoo on the Beach

February 15, 2012
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Adding a fun little mix to the Fort Myers Beach Spring Break scene through March, Canadian couple Charlie Tomecek and Mary Lou Downs, along with multiple musicians near and far, have been performing a polka jam session at Junkanoo on the Beach, 3040 Estero Blvd., each and every Tuesday afternoon through February and March, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

"We've been doing this for a few 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 two-and-a-half-hour session every week, Charlie, Marylou and about 10 other talented polka and waltz musicians entertain the crowd with vintage tunes that have a fresh twist, showing off the vibrant sounds that accordions, banjos, harmonicas and a full band can really make.

Article Photos

Be sure to join Charlie Tomecek and Mary Lou Downs every Tuesday afternoon through February and March, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., for some knee-slapping fun during Polka jam session, at Junkanoo on the Beach, 3040 Estero Blvd. Feel free to bring your own instrument and join in. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

"I was born into the craze, performing the last 11 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 alias "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."

Fact Box

Polka Jam

When: Every Tuesday afternoon through February and March, 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Junkanoo on the Beach, 3040 Estero Blvd.

What: All-out polka jam session. Plenty of buttonboxes and keyboards to get anyone on their feet. Feel free to join in with your own instrument.

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 for any other inquiries, email Charlie at



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