On this West Virginia Morning, a weekend of comedy kicks off Thursday in Morgantown. Now in its second year, the Red Eye Comedy Festival is not only highlighting the state’s nascent comedy community, but also attracting national talent to the region.
Home » July 28, 1915: Polka King Frankie Yankovic Born
July 28, 1915: Polka King Frankie Yankovic Born
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America’s Polka King, Frankie Yankovic, was born at Davis in Tucker County on July 28, 1915, to Slovenian immigrant parents. But just days after he was born, his father was caught bootlegging and moved the family to Cleveland.
Yankovic learned to play the accordion from lodgers at his home in Cleveland. By age 16, he was playing polka music regularly on a local Slovenian radio show.
After serving in World War II, he returned to the states and did more to popularize polka music than any other performer. He was the first polka artist to score a million-selling single, the first to perform on television, and the first to win a Grammy for Best Polka Album. His hits included “Just Because,” “Beer Barrel Polka,” “Too Fat to Polka,” and “In Heaven There Is No Beer.”
Although he’d lived in West Virginia for only a few days as an infant, he returned to the Mountain State frequently in the 1980s to perform at the Vandalia Gathering. Frankie Yankovic died in Florida in 1998. A decade later, he was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
The 45th Vandalia Gathering returns to the state capitol grounds this weekend after being canceled in 2020 and scaled back in 2021. Saturday and Sunday will see the return of arts, live music, dance and storytelling.
Back in 1968, a West Virginia band did something brave. It wasn't the easy thing to do, but it put them on the right side of history. For this episode, host Trey Kay learns about an act of defiance against racial discrimination that happened 50 years ago in a Charleston night club and the consequences for four musicians.