Hall of Fame – 1995
Alvin Czerniak (1923-1996) of Hot Springs, Arkansas played the concertina professionally for over 20 years. His family band included his wife on the keyboard and two sons, on guitar and drums.
He appeared on radio and TV and many polka festivals in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Al and his wife purchased the El Rancho Night Club in Hurley, Wisconsin, and ran it for six years. They played almost every weekend but when they didn’t, he hired other concertina bands.
Growing up in the 1930s, Al listened to Whoopee John on an old phonograph and started loving the sound of the concertina. He bought his first concertina in 1941 on payments and tried learning by ear on his own. He practiced whenever he could. He purchased some sheet music and he was on from there.
After getting married, he mastered about 15 songs and started playing in the Westboro area for $5.00 a night.
Al retired to Hot Springs, Arkansas and continued playing at a German Restaurant, the Edelweiss Keller, three nights a week. He is best remembered for playing one of the first Union Michigan Polka Festivals.