On Wednesday we went to St. Mary’s Church in the Collinwood area for a performance of Navihanke, Slovenia’s much acclaimed all-girl polka band.
While we were waiting for the show to start, we asked a gentleman who was sitting at the table with us if he was here because he liked polka and he replied that he wasn’t a big polka fan–but he loved the women of Navihanke because they were cute, talented and fun to watch. That description is dead-on because, according to the program notes, “navihanke” can be defined as “effervescent, bubbly, naughty-but-nice, free-spirited, and inquisitive” all of which certainly can be applied to the 5 young entertainers we watched on stage as they sang, danced, played multiple musical instruments, and kidded around with a most appreciative audience.
Several prominent people turned out for Wednesday’s performance including polka radio’s Tony Petkovsek, Bobby Yankovic (the son of the late Frankie Yankovic known as America’s Polka King), and Richie Vadnal whose polka music is lionized in Slovenia.
Before the concert started, we got to visit for a few minutes with Joe Valencic, President of the Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid and Rex Inglis, the key organizer of the the U.S. Navihanke tour, who told us that tonight’s event almost wasn’t. U.S. Homeland Security required that Navihanke show that it was “culturally unique” so the music and merchandise had to be reviewed and all of the performers had to be interviewed before approval was granted, only an hour before all of the government offices in Slovenia closed last week for the Easter holiday which meant a last-minute hustle for everyone.
Also attending the concert tonight was our very good friend August Pust who was asked what he thought of the performance. August said that he enjoyed it because it was a “good” combination of good music, good young people, and charmingly good women. We agree with with August on all counts and we think that everyone else there at St. Mary’s would have too.