TOM MROCZKA & THE MUSIC
has been entertaining audiences since 1968.
Playing many of the Greater Cleveland polka hotspots for years,
the band has also been a popular choice for many area weddings. Now they
are performing for many clubs, churches and veteran's groups providing
great polka music and a complete variety of non-polka tunes.
As with all bands, it's the musicians behind the instruments
that make a difference and behind THE MUSIC BOX are:
Accordion-Ted Bunevich, Drums-Ray Gonet,
Keyboard Bass-Kathie Slys (Leader Tom Mroczka's sister),
Clarinet-Sax-Trumpet-Jim Hitsman and
Original members included:
Accordion-Tony Zubek, Bass-Larry Gonet,
Clarinet-Sax-Jim Hitsman, Drums-Frank Zubek,
(Frank does the violin work on the Fiddler's Polka from the "At Last" CD.)
Other band members over the years included:
Clarinet-Sax-Jim Pekar & Pete Weber, Drums-Bob Hatters,
Dick Mischak & Frank Molski, Accordion-Dennis Kaminski
and Bells-Bev Mroczka.
In 1971 the
band won the Henri Brozi award as Cleveland's
most popular Polish Polka Band as voted by the listeners of WXEN.
TOM MROCZKA BIOGRAPHY
Tom Mroczka, is a graduate of James Ford Rhodes High School
in the "Old Brooklyn" area and The Ohio State University,
and was a member of both the concert and marching bands.
While at The Ohio State University was inducted into
Kappa Kappa Psi Honory Band Fraternity
and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Honorary Fraternity.
A music teacher and band director in the public school system
for 30 years, 28 of which were in Bedford, Ohio,
a southeast suburb of Cleveland,
Tom had the opportunity to teach instrumental music
to Halle Berry at Carylwood Elementary School.
He taught songflute to Halle in the fourth grade
and instrumental music exploration to her in the fifth grade,
(a class for students to learn about and try all common instruments
so they could best choose the instrument to start class lessons).
Halle chose the French horn
and took lessons on a school instrument through the semester.
That year there were more beginners on horn than horns available
so he had to give Halle an Alto horn and unfortunately for the band,
she chose to stop playing it at the end of the semester.
Tom currently teaches music privately on the
following instruments (trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute,
saxophone and violin) at the Bedford Music Center
in Bedford, Ohio (southeast suburb of Cleveland).
Besides trumpet, he played tuba one year in high school band
and accordion in the "Broadview Music Accordioneers."
This group, directed by his father, Alex, went to a
different city every summer to perform in contests against
similar groups from northeaster U.S. and Canada.
The highlight was performing in Chicago's Soldiers Field
before 80,000 people with a 1,000 piece accordion band one year.
In 1992 a unique addition to the band was made:
Buster, the peach front conure (a small green parrot) joined.
Buster helps the band play his favorite songs: "The 'Birdie' Song",
"Green Parrot Polka," "La Paloma" (The Dove" except Buster called it
"La Parrot") and any other song with a bird theme.
Unfortunately Buster met an untimely death this January
when a hawk swooped out of the sky and grabbed him
when Tom had him in his back yard on an extremely warm day.
However, there are three replacement birds:
Buddy..,,,another peach front conure who was born last Dec. 18,
Bunny.... a sun conure who was born last October, and
Sunny.....another sun conure who will be two in December, 2004.
On some occasions two birds sit on Tom's trumpet when he performs.
There will be pictures of the birds on the Picture page.
In addition to performing with and leading The Music Box,
Tom plays keyboard in another band (Stepping Out) when available.
Stepping Out specializes in music from the 20's to the 60's.
He also performs at nursing homes and assisted living centers
in the Cleveland area as a solo performer.
Tom Mroczka and his wife, Beverly have been married since 1966.
Tom's father, Al, was also a band leader, playing accordion and
piano while owning and managing the Broadview Music Studios
in the Old Brooklyn area of Cleveland.
Tom is a member of: Alliance of Poles, Polish
National Alliance, Parma Polish-American League, Elyria United Polish Club,
Brooklyn Polish American Home, Inc. (Ampol Club), Cleveland Polka
Association, United States Polka Association, and National Cleveland-Style
Polka Hall of Fame (lifetime member).
(call me Ted) Bunevich Biography
Born: Cleveland, Ohio
Played accordion since he was eight years old (took lessons from Tom's dad).
Competed in many contests throughout school years.
(Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Sandusky, Zanesville)
Attended: Lincoln High School in Cleveland.
Graduated from Parma High School where he played
French Horn in the marching band.
Attended Baldwin College in Berea, Ohio.
Joined 83rd Division Army Reserve Band.
Graduate of the American School of Banking
Worked for Society National Bank (now Key Bank) as assistant manager,
Bank Ohio as manager, and National City Bank as manager for 30 years total.
Member of Cleveland Accordion Teachers Association.
Member of Cleveland Realtors Association.
Founding and Charter member of Christ The Savior American Orthodox
Church in North Royalton, Ohio.
Founding member and Secretary of North Royalton Rotary Club.
Lives in North Royalton, Ohio (suburb 15 miles south of Cleveland)
Married to Eileen (had four children.... all grown now).
Jim Hitsman Biography
Born: Cleveland, Ohio
Started playing clarinet as a youngster
and formed first band at the age
of 13 playing in VFW's and similar clubs in the Tremont area of Cleveland.
Hooked up with a "real band" (Tom Mroczka &TMB) at the age of 15.
Graduated from St. John Cantius High
School in Cleveland
(the same school Dennis Kucinich, who made a run
for the presidential race this year, went to).
Entered the army in 1969 and was stationed in Germany for almost two years.
Resumed playing with TMB when he
returned from his tour of duty
and taught himself to play the trumpet.
(You can hear some of the trumpet work on the
"Live At Sea World" album which was recorded in 1972.)
Married Janice (who was accordion
player Dennis Kaminski's sister) in 1972.
They are parents of two children.
Left TMB in late 1976 to become
co-leader of a disco/rock/wedding band
called the Music Exchange. Rejoined TMB in 1988.
Now he divides his time between big band and polka music.
He teaches private lessons on clarinet
and saxophone at
Royalton Music Center located in North Royalton, Ohio.
In addition to playing clarinet, sax
Jim writes a lot of music in his spare time
that the band tries to play including two that we recorded.....
"Save Your Pierogi Polka" and "Tommy Edwards Records Polka"
and Jim does a lot of singing with the band.
His versatility helps give the band its unique sound.
Kathie Slys Biography
Kathie Slys, the keyboard bass
player is Tom's much younger sister.
She was born in Cleveland, Ohio growing up in the "Old Brooklyn" section.
Her bedroom was next to the bathroom and she got indoctrinated early
(but not always appreciated at 5:30 in the morning)
to polkas when Tom would have them on listening to
A. W. Zebrowski's Polish International Program
as he prepared to go to his teaching job in Bedford, Ohio.
Kathie, also known as "Dolly," because of her small birth weight as a baby,
took piano lessons from her dad, Alex.
Since she hated to practice, she became very proficient at sight reading.
This talent would especially come in handy
as an accompanist in high school and college.
She could pick up any piece of music
and play it the first time as though she had been practicing it for weeks.
She attended Benjamin Franklin School in Kindergarten,
Corpus Christi Catholic School until grade 6,
Mooney Jr. High through grade 9.
In order to participate in band she took up flute and played
that and piccolo holding first chair every year until
she graduated from James Ford Rhodes High School.
She then attended Cuyahoga Community College West (Tri-C West)
for two years getting an associate degree
and also heavily involved in music.
From there she attended Akron University for two years
studying music education majoring in piano with a minor in voice.
She was a member of the elite "Madrigal Singers."
After leaving Akron she had an unusual hobby, especially for a woman....
car racing and road rallys - SCCA, Mid-OHio, Nelson's Ledges
and various racetracks throughout the mid-west and east coast.
The highlight was coming in 3rd fastest time of day
in a beater VW 1976 Rabbit out of 150 cars.
The only cars to beat her were 2 Formula Vee's.
She almost had a sponsorship from Penthouse
but they pulled out of racing sponsorship.
She says you might have seen her as a Penthouse
centerfold if that had come to be.
After that she met her husband, Mark, getting married in 1986.
They now have two children...Mark Jr. and Abby.
They moved to Granger Township (Medina County) to their "dream home"
with a small lake in the front and are loving every minute.
Kathie joined the band Christmas in the late 1970's
when the original bass player, Larry Gonet, retired from playing.
She said "Get me a keyboard and I'll play!".
A few weeks later Tom showed up at her house with a synthesizer
and the rest is history!
She's enjoyed every minute of playing.
Music makes her happy and it makes everyone else listening to it happy too!
-TOM MROCZKA & THE MUSIC BOX Band-
RECORDINGS SONGS PHOTOS PICTURE GALLERY CONTACT Biography References E-MAIL
Tom Mroczka, Tom Mroczka & The Music Box Band
Steve Litwin, "Polish American Journal"