Adding a fun, toe-tappin' element to the Fort Myers Beach scene through season, Canadian couple Charlie Tomecek and Marylou Downs, along with multiple musicians from near and far, perform a polka jam session at Junkanoo on the Beach, 3040 Estero Blvd., each and every Tuesday afternoon through February and March, from 2 to 5 p.m.
"We've been doing this for several years now when we're down. So far this season, it's been very good we had a full house during our last jam; a lot of people are coming out," 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. They make a whole day of it, reserving a table, having something to eat, having a couple of drinks and dancing all afternoon. We've really started to get a following."
During the three-hour-long jam sessions every week, Charlie, Marylou and about 10 to 15 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.
Join Charlie Tomecek and Marylou Downs Tuesday at Junkanoo for a fun polka jam session. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.
Charlie was born into the polka craze, performing the last 12 years professionally as the Buttonbox Buddies. "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'll have an average of about 20 jammers on the stage at once as many as 30 at a time. A couple of sets are guest players who come up for two or three songs. Others are up there all afternoon," Charlie said. "Anyone who knows polka, two-steps and waltzes is welcome to join us with any instrument that goes well with the genre: tubas, banjos, accordions, button boxes, any type of percussion, saxophones, that sort of thing."
During this week's polka jam session at Junkanoo, the bar was packed with an array of onlookers, and the dance floor was covered with waltzers and polka kings and queens from all over.
"It's just a lot of fun and great way to spend a beautiful afternoon on Fort Myers Beach," Charlie said. "We are the only polka band playing live on any beach that I know of in Florida with no cover charge. We encourage everyone from Fort Myers Beach to Canada to come down to this beautiful island for some great polka right here in the sand. It's a lot of fun. There's plenty of free parking, plenty of seating, Junkanoo often offers food specials that day, such as half-price pizza, and plus, we're right on the beach!"
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, visit MySqueezePlay.com or email Charlie at PolkaCharlie@hotmail.com.