Formed in 2003 as a response to the absence of accordions in the local high school’s marching band, The Chardon High School Polka Band, led by 16-year-old Jake Kouwe, quickly transformed into a genuine oom-pah style polka group featuring a motley crew of teenage musicians. Despite their unconventional appearance, including ripped jeans, piercings, and tattoos, the band found an unexpected following in local nursing homes, endearing themselves to senior citizens. Seventeen years later, now known as The Chardon Polka Band, their high school project has evolved into a full-time career marked by eclectic performances at various venues, from local parks to the national Oktoberfest circuit. With a faithful fan base spanning generations, the band’s eccentric style, humor, and diverse musical range, from traditional polkas to punk-rock renditions, continue to captivate audiences nationwide.
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