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Saturday afternoon polka dance in Mayville set

4:35 PM, Feb. 10, 2014  |  Comments
The Downtowners, from left: Greg Kilmer, Annie (Shirek) Wisner, Dan Seidl, Jane Shirek, Bob Shirek.
The Downtowners, from left: Greg Kilmer, Annie (Shirek) Wisner, Dan Seidl, Jane Shirek, Bob Shirek.
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The Veteran's Memorial of Mayville, Inc is sponsoring a Valentine's Dance from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15. The five-piece band "The Downtowners" of Fond du Lac, will entertain, specializing in a wide variety of music, including polkas, waltzes and foxtrots.

The Downtowners is led by Bob Shirek. His career in music began at age 13 when his parents signed him up for accordion lessons. He played saxophone in his high school band, studied clarinet in college, and took his first job as a high school band director in Fond du Lac. But Shirek's love for music extends way beyond just teaching.

During his years in high school, he organized his first polka band "The Band-its," who played regularly in other bands, including Ray Konkel, Syl Groeschl and later with Don Peachey. Then in 1980, he formed "The Downtowners," a house band that performed every weekend for six years, at a downtown supper club in Fond du Lac.

"This was a new music route for me." said Shirek. "I had grown up in the polka music world and now I was writing another new library of Big Band, Country, Latin, Rock-n-Roll, Jazz and Pop."

Over the years, the band has kept the variety in their music, while keeping the dancers on the floor. "We always read the crowd and try to play the tunes that fill the dance floor," Shirek said.

Performing as "The Downtowners" is definitely a team effort, since Bob's wife Janie is the lead singer and trumpet player in the band.

Janie grew up in Burnett, the "little" sister of famed polka band leader Don Peachey. At age 13, she was drumming in Don's Band and later played trumpet and sang with the Peachey Band for over 20 years. Janie also has a bachelor's and master's degree in music and had been a choral music director in Fond du Lac and Campbellsport schools.

The Shireks daughter Annie plays bass keyboard in the band whenever she can break away from her other responsibilities including her husband, two boys, church music, and her work as an orchestra director in the Brookfield School System. She has performed with the band since her college days and continues the family tradition of music educator and weekend musician.

Another music director in the band is Dan Seidl, a master at the keyboard. Dan is director of choirs at Campbellsport High School, and has played with the band since the early 1990s. He is an accomplished pianist and organist at his church, directs and performs in musical theatre.

Greg Kilmer completes the rhythm section of the band. Greg joined the band about 25 years ago and "hasn't missed a beat" ever since. "We think Greg is the best," Shirek said. "He puts down a drum beat for every style of music that is perfect for dancing and listening."

Greg also lives in Fond du Lac and operates his own home repair company.

All five musicians are also vocalists, so the band has a great deal of variety in its vocals, as well as in its instrumental sound. This is very evident in their recordings which are available at their performances and on their website at www.thedowntowners. com, which includes their schedules and recordings.

The Mayville Park Pavilion is handicap-accessible, with a dance floor made of hardwood maple. It overlooks the Rock River.

Food will be available.

The Veteran's Memorial of Mayville, Inc. and the Mayville Lions Club are event sponsors. Contact Donna Gudex-Kamrath at 960-5318 for more information on the Mayville event.

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