Charm City Sound
Charm City Sound, Maryland’s most celebrated contemporary polka band, was formed in 1997. Although the original members all hailed from the Baltimore area, current players reside in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Leader Mike Matousek, is the last remaining connection to the band’s musical predecessor, the nationally-recognized “Boys from Baltimore” band that originated in 1980. The Boys received many major awards including “Favorite Album” and “Favorite Band” by the United States Polka Association (USPA) and was featured in Paramount’s major motion picture, “He Said, She Said” starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins.
Over the decade, Charm City Sound has recorded five CDs, performed at major festivals across the country, and appeared on several TV shows. CCS has continued the award-winning tradition by garnishing its own recognition that includes the USPA’s “Favorite Song” (2001) and “Favorite Band” (2003) awards. Even the Baltimore City Paper voted the group as “Baltimore’s Best Polka Band” in 2002. Their latest release, “Charmed and Dangerous,” is currently one of the best-selling CDs in the polka industry and is enjoying considerable national recognition. Charm City Sound has distinguished itself as one of the innovators within the polka musical genre as they infuse Rock, Pop, Country, and Latin influences into the music that was born in Eastern Europe. Most of the material in their repertoire is original. They are one of several national groups leading the way to broaden the polka audience with a contemporary style referred to as Push.
The current version of Charm City Sound features two trumpets, sax/clarinet, accordion, concertina, keyboards, bass and drums, with four members sharing the vocals.
Mike has been playing polka music for over thirty-eight years. His professional career began in 1970 with a band he co-founded called The Polka Cousins. He went on to perform and record albums and CD’s with The Royal Cavaliers and The Brass Works in the 1970's, The Boys From Baltimore in the 1980's, The Hylites in the 1990's, and Charm City Sound in the 2000's. Mike was the “voice” of The Boys when the band was awarded Favorite Band and Favorite Album honors in 1989 and 1990 from the United States Polka Association (USPA). That band also starred in Paramount Pictures’ major motion picture “He Said, She Said”. Under his leadership, Charm City Sound has also been recognized by the USPA with Favorite Song and Favorite Band awards for 2001 and 2003. Mike continues to serve as a Director of the International Polka Association (IPA) representing the state of Maryland. Over the years Mike has also performed with polka bands that include Lenny Gomulka & The Chicago Push, Happy Louie, The Brass Connection, Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones, Polka Family, Freeze Dried, and many others. In August of 2008, Mike was inducted into the Polka Music Hall of Fame. Along with Lenny Gomulka, Jimmy Weber, Al Piatkowski, Mike Stapinski, and Roger Malinowski, Mike enjoys recreating the classic sounds of The Tones, The Naturals, The Ampolaires, and others in a group called Full Circle. He also enjoys touring with The Boys, starring Frankie Liszka, Ted Borzymowski, Al Puwalski, Jeff Yash and Mike Evan. Along with Mike Ziemski, Mike co-hosts Polkamotion by the Ocean, a four-day polka festival held in Rehoboth Beach, DE every September. Mike and Mike also host the Internet polka variety show, "The Mikes Are On!" located at www.247polkaheaven.com. On weekends when he's not traveling, Mike plays with the praise and worship band at his church. Mike and his wife Ann Marie have been married for 20 years and have three children; Amanda (18), Matthew (15), and Amy (10). He also has two older children; Mike Jr. (27) and Melissa (24). Mike works at the corporate headquarters of the U.S. Postal Service in Washington DC as a team leader in Stamps Services. His hobbies include watching his kids play sports, routing for the Orioles and the Ravens, cooking, channel surfing, and entertaining friends at his home.
Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick DiSebastiano (Accordion, Keyboards, & Vocals)
Nick is a veteran Baltimore musician with over thirty-two years of experience playing with top ethnic groups. He has written, sung and recorded songs with The Hylites and Charm City Sound including the hit song "Marina" that won the USPA's Favorite Song Award for 2001. He likes to inject some of his European culture into his compositions and arrangements. A few examples are Marina, Cheating Maria, and Quando, Quando, Quando.. For recreation, Nick enjoys horseback riding, hunting, archery, and cruising in his Corvette. He also loves to cook and drink fine wines. Nick spends much of his free time at his country home with his wife Amanda and their new baby, Marcus.. Nick has three older children: Angela (27) Rosanna (24) Nick (22)..
Contact "Nicky" at email@example.com
Dave Burnatowski (Drums)
Dave has been playing the drums since 1995. Since that time, he has had the opportunity to travel extensively and perform all over the country; even playing for our troops at the Osan Air Force Base in South Korea. Dave has performed with many bands featuring different styles. Most recently he has been working with Jolly Rich and the Polka Stars. In addition to his love of music, Dave enjoys classic and antique vehicles and is currently in the process of restoring a 1978 Ford F-150 custom truck that he takes to shows during the summer months. Flying is another of Dave’s passions. He is a pilot and is working toward his commercial and flight instructor ratings. Dave’s future plans hopefully will include flying freight after completing college. Dave and his new bride Linda live in Allentown, PA.
Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Ziemski (Trumpet, Fluegel Horn, & Vocals)
Mike is the former leader of the Fullswing Band and over the years has also played with TKO, The Brass Works, and the Johnny Haas Orchestra. When available, he also performs with The Rheinlanders, the "house" band at Blob's Park in Jessup, MD. Along with Mike Matousek, Mike hosts "Polkamotion by the Ocean", an annual four-day polka fest held at Rehoboth Beach, DE every September the week after Labor Day. During the week, Mike is employed by Carefirst as a Training Speciliast.
Contact Mike at email@example.com
Stephen Kaminski (Sax, Clarinet, Keyboards, & Vocals)
Stephen joined Charm City Sound after releasing his own project CD “Back To Polkas” with the “Dream Team” that featured 20 polka musicians from across the country.. He has played with the Magitones, Jimmy Sturr, The Polish Gentlemen, TKO, and was the music director and arranger for the Jan Lewan Orchestra for 14 years earning Jan a Grammy nomination in 1995. Stephen graduated from Berklee College of Music in ’87 and now composes and produces music for TV and films. He is one of the composers who writes the music for the animated series “The Shaman King” on FOX Saturday mornings. Stephen is a resident of South Brunswick NJ and has three children. His wife Lynn was the USPA Queen of 1998-99.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
John Miconi (Trumpet, Fluegel Horn)
John has played trumpet professionally since the age of 15 playing in many local variety bands throughout the Baltimore area, notably the Royal Cavaliers, TKO, Full Swing, Rich and the Roadrunners, and the Majestics. John is a member of the 229th Maryland Army National Guard Band which has played for the 50th Anniversary of "D" Day in France, The President of the United States, the Maryland Governor's inauguration, and many other state and local local activities. John remains grateful to his friend, mentor, and teacher, Thomas Mayernik, who brought music into his life. He also credits two very special friends, Gary Zawodny and his late Dad Chester Zawodny, with giving him his first opportunity to play professionally.
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Christmas Lights is truly a unique collection of works that manages to capture the wide range of emotions stirred by the holiday season. The true meaning of Christmas is definitely proclaimed as well. Half of the selections are original CCS compositions and the rest include classics like: "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", "Dzisiaj Betlejem", and "Little Drummer Boy", all executed with refreshingly rich arrangements in a commercial-quality production. From the traditional flavor of Little Wally's "Zebym Mi Santa Claus" to the contemporary feel of the original rock/oberek, "Tell The World", this CD covers the musical spectrum for the holiday season. Even IPA Polka Hall of Famer Jimmy Weber croons a couple tunes on the album! Other guest artists and surprises are featured as well.
Charmed And Dangerous
As with CCS' past recordings, this new CD is loaded with new material that’s influenced by a variety of musical genres. The seventeen selections featured on the disk are comprised of eight original compositions, three traditional songs, and six exciting arrangements of popular hits. This is definitely Charm City Sound’s most ambitious and creative recording effort to date. “Charmed and Dangerous” is unique in that it was specifically developed to entertain current fans while appealing to new listeners who may never have been exposed to CCS’s music before.
The CD takes the listener on an emotional, musical journey as Polish, Latin, Pop, Country, and Rock influences emerge from song to song. “Gdzie Ty Idziesz” and “Na Wawel” will particularly connect with those who enjoy a lively, traditional sound with Polish lyrics. “Sweet Lullaby”, a sentimental original waltz based on a Polish prayer, should warm those same hearts as well. The signature Charm City Sound style is evident in original songs like “Everything Is Fine”, “Do You Believe”, “Someone Special”, and “I’ll Get By”, while “Dance With Me” and “Quando Quando Quando” rekindle that Mediterranean sizzle that made CCS’s “Marina” a number one hit. Covers like “If You Only Knew”, “I Think I’m Going To Like Loving You”, and “Coloring Book” fit perfectly in the musical mix. Adding an extra dimension to the recording, the rock-infused originals “Got To Go” and “The Game”, as well as the moving ballad/oberek “In Her Room”, project that commercial, contemporary feel that modern listeners expect. For pure extra fun, dynamic arrangements of “Mr. Paul” and “Dance like A Musician” (clever parodies of “Charlie Brown” and “Dance Like An Egyptian”) were included to complete the diverse musical experience.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
During the five years prior to the release of this recording, Charm City Sound built a reputation as one of the most original contemporary push bands in the country. Their previous three recordings, loaded with clever, novel, original compositions, helped develop the band’s distinctive identity.
Well, CD number four carries on the tradition and even takes it up to a new level! “Too Much of a Good Thing?” is packed with sixteen songs demonstrating Charm City Sound’s infamous diversity of styles. The exciting original polkas include “Too Much of a Good Thing?”, “My Sunshine”, and “Here We Go Again” written and sung by accordionist Nicky DiSebastiano. He also wrote and sings “Drink ‘til I’m Sober” oberek, and is featured on Amanda Oleyar’s original “A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime”. Leader and bassist Mike Matousek is featured on the vocals of his powerful original contributions, “Livin’ On Polka Time” and “Falling Again”. Trumpeter Mike Ziemski croons his own tunes that include, “From Me to You”, and “Hearts are Breakin’ Again” co-written with Jerry Adamski. Even concertina player Ted Borzymowski sings a tune co-written by Mike Matousek called, “No I Never”. That’s nine, new, dynamic tunes!
Are there any traditional favorites on the disk? You bet! Drummer Johnny Pilch Jr. sings his renditions of “Cium, Cium” and The Boys’ classic, “I Can’t Help But Wonder” . And trumpeter Randy Cusick gets into the act with his vocals on “My Heart Skips a Beat” . Even the old New Brass hit, “You Turn Me On” is featured with Mike Ziemski on the Polish vocal. Throw in the beautiful waltz, “Walk Through This World” and the fantastic Slovenian-style, “Newberry Polka” and all the bases are covered!
You’ve got it all; ten contemporary originals, five traditional classics and a “button box” favorite. Without a doubt, “Too Much of a Good Thing?” reiterates Charm City Sound’s unique polka power and charm. Remember, there’s no such thing as “too much of a good thing”!
Third Time's A Charm
"Third Time’s A Charm", Charm City Sound's third release, again features the talents of Mike Matousek, Nick DiSebastiano, Al Puwalski, Dave Jankiewicz, Mike Charney, and Ted Borzymowski. Much like their award-winning "Charmed" CD, this disk "pushes" all the right bottons.
"Third Time's A Charm" is packed with 16 selections representing a variety of styles including Polish, Honky, and Slovenian. Seven original songs, four new contemporary arrangements, three Polish classics, and two "button box tunes" are all featured on this entertaining recording. The voices of Nicky D, Al, Mike and Ted are again cleverly utilized throughout the disk. Even the young and talented female vocalist, Randi Bradley, performs a couple cuts including her exciting rendition of "These Boots Were Made For Walking". Nick's "Those Bitter Sweet Memories", and Mike's "In My Heart You'll Stay" are two of the original hits.
All in all, "Third Time’s A Charm" is a collection of 16 tunes carefully orchestrated to provide something for everyone who loves push music. The diversity of song selection and styles guarantees this CD to entertain the most discriminating listener.
Charmed - 2001
Charm City Sound's second release "Charmed" is the perfect sequel to "Turn On The Charm." Once again the talents of leader, Mike Matousek (bass, banjo, vocals), Mazurka Al Puwalski (trumpet, clarinet, vocals), T, Nicky DiSebastiano (accordion, keyboards, vocals), Dave Jankiewicz (trumpet, accordion), Mike Charney (drums) and Ted Borzymowski (concertina, button box, vocals) combined to give the fans what they asked for; an innovative and diverse "push" CD.
This recording is packed with sixteen cuts that represent Polish, Slovenian, Eastern, Italian, Country and even Cajun musical styles. Al’s arrangements and vocals on "On The Far Side Of The Lake", "Polish Highlander", and "My Confessor Warned Me", epitomize the classic "push" and "honky" sounds. Nick’s renditions of "Marina" and "Cupid" reveal his unique Italian flare and popular style. He also contributes a charming original waltz called Momma’s Song. Mike M. adds his own dynamic yet thoughtful tune, "What Kind Of Love" and croons his brother Stephen's original waltz, "Picture On The Wall."
Making her polka debut, the young and exciting female vocalist Randi Bradley, is featured on "Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad" and sings a duet with Al on "I Wanna Be Yours Forever." Special guest Ryan Ogrodny can be heard fiddling’ around on this Cajun cut, as well as the country-flavored, "Flowers On The Wall" sung by Al and Mike. Even the one and only IPA Hall of Famer, Lenny Gomulka, makes a cameo appearance on sax playing the Slovenian instrumental, "Windy City". Add in those legendary piano parts played by Randy Koslosky, and you have a mix that made "Charmed" on of the most entertaining CDs of its time. In fact, Nicky's "Marina" was voted the Favorite Song Of 2001 by the United States Polka Association.
Turn On The Charm - 1999
The CD that started it all. Released in 1999, Charm City Sound's first recording, "Turn on the Charm" instantly established the group as a major force among the contemporary "Push" bands. By mixing new original material like "Turn On The Charm", "Cheating Maria", "There Goes My Baby", and "Schizophrenic Diatribes", with some classics like "Blonde Bombshell", "High Bounce", and "Leaving For The Front", CCS put together a recording that celebrated both the legacy and progression of the musical genre. "Under The Influence", a high-powered rendition of a Blue Grass tune, really shows what "Push" is all about. All the original CCS members: Mike Matousek, Al Puwalski, Nicky DiSebastiano, Dave Jankiewicz, Mike Charney, and Ted Borzymowski are featured on this disk along with special guests : IPA Hall of famer, Frankie Liszka, Ryan Ogrodny, Randy Koslosky and Tom Puwalski.
1973.... Mike Matousek joins The Royal Cavaliers and meets Ted Borzymowski. Band records "Capture Polka World" in 1976.
1976.... Mike and Steve Matousek, Dave Jankiewicz, Fred Bulinski and Dave Korch form The Brass Works. Band records "On The Road" in 1977, "Coming At You with Vibrant Polkas" in 1978, and "25 of the Greatest Polkas" in 1979.
1980.... Mike Matousek and Steve Matousek and Ted and Frank Borzymowski form The Boys from Baltimore. Bob Kuhn and Don Miller join on trumpets. Band records “Boys are Back” album.
1981.... Bobby Brzozowski replaces Steve Matousek on drums.
1982.... Band receives the International Polka Federation's "Favorite New Group" Award. Band is voted #1 Polka Band by the Polka Carousel Show, WADS Radio, in Connecticut. John Jozwiak replaces Mike Matousek on bass. Band records "Polka Menagerie" album.
1983.... Group disbands.
1984.... The Boys from Baltimore reform with Mike Matousek on bass, Al Puwalski and Ted Borzymowski on accordions, Ron Lesniewski on drums, and Bob Kuhn and Don Miller on trumpets. Band records “Boys Just Want To Have Fun” album.
1987.... Frank Liszka replaces Don Miller on trumpet. Band wins the "Battle of the Bands Bronze Award" at the National Polka Festival in Hunter Mt., NY.
1988.... Band records “Boys Nite Out” album. Band wins the "Battle of the Bands Silver Award" at the National Polka Festival in Hunter Mt., NY.
1989.... Band records “Boys Will Be Boys” album. Band wins USPA Awards for Favorite Album & Favorite Band. Jeff Yash replaces Ron on drums. Band is selected to appear in Paramount Studios major motion picture, "He Said, She Said," starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins. Band is voted "Polka Band of the Year" by WESO/WQVR Radio, Massachusetts
1990.... Band is again voted "Polka Band of the Year" by WESO/WQVR Radio, Massachusetts. The Boys disband. Frank moves to Cleveland, gets married and starts TBC. Ted joins The Chicago Push, and Mike & Al join The Hylites in 1992.
1997.... Mike Matousek, Al Puwalski and Ted Borzymowski reunite to form Charm City Sound with Dave Jankiewicz on horn, Nick DiSebastiano on accordion and Mike Charney on drums.
2000.... CCS records “Turn On The Charm.”
2001.... CCS records “Charmed.”
2002.... CCS records “Third Time’s A Charm.” Band is chosen "Best Polka Band" by Baltimore City Paper. Band wins USPA’s "Favorite Song Award" (Marina) for 2001
2003.... Mike Ziemski and Randy Cusick replace Al & Dave on horns. John Pilch replaces Mike Charney on drums. CCS is voted "Favorite Band" by Polka Jamboree on the Hills of Ohio. Band records "Too Much of a Good Thing." CD is voted "Favorite Polka Recording" by WTMD radio's "Sunday Polka Hop" show.
2004.... Dave Burnatowski replaces John Pilch on drums. CCS is voted USPA's "Favorite Polka Band" for 2003. Steve Kaminski joins the band on sax, clarinet and vocals.
2005.... Randy replaces Ted on concertina. John Miconi joins on trumpet. Nick Tiberi and Matt Rozinski "platoon" on concertina to replace Randy. CCS records "Charmed and Dangerous."
2007.... CCS records "Christmas Lights."
2008.... Full Circle, starring Polka Hall of Famers Lenny Gomulka, Jimmy Weber, Al Piatkowski, and Mike Matousek with polka legends Mike Stapinski and Roger Malinowski, forms to host "Polka Cruise with the Stars" and begins to perform at select venues. Mike Matousek is inducted into the Polka Music Hall of Fame. The Boys, starring Frankie Liszka, Ted Borzymowski, Mike Matousek, Al Puwalski, Jeff Yash and Mike Evan reunite and begin performing at select venues.