To generations of polka lovers in the Upper Midwest, the name Chmielewski (shiml-LESS-key) is writ upon the firmament.
The Chmielewski Funtime Band, a multi-generational group of family members have been playing polkas in church yards, taverns and VFW clubs since 1882.
At one time, their weekly polka show was broadcast “throughout the U.S. and Canada.” Apparently, you can still catch the show on he Dish Network. (I don’t have Dish so I can’t say for sure.)
Their leader since 1945 is Florian Chmielewski. Florian also served in the Minnesota Senate from 1971 through 1996. (Yup – the “Singing Senator.“) Florian, who turns 89 in February 2016, still performs.
Chmielewski was a conservative DFLer. He was defeated in the 1996 primary by the more progressive Rep. Becky Lourey, who went on to win the senate seat, and served until her retirement in 2006.
This reelection flyer is from 1982. His bio – “a lifetime of concern” leaves out that he is one of the best damned accordion players on the planet.