Hall of Fame – 2020
Raymond (Ed) Chesney (1905-1997) and The Chesney Orchestra had its beginning as a father-son duo with Alex and Ed. Later on the second son, Bill, joined to make it a family trio with violin, concertina and string bass.
The father’s talent with Polish-style dance music gave the group a unique quality which the Northeast Minnesota Community found to its liking. Through the 1930s, the band was in demand for various social functions such as weddings, dances, picnics, and private parties.
After the father’s passing, two other musicians on violin and guitar were added and the band’s popularity grew in the Upper Midwest.
During World War II, the four-piece orchestra began a weekly Sunday afternoon engagement at a popular Northeast Minneapolis suburb dance pavilion. It turned out to be a ten-year engagement. The orchestra recorded ten of its most popular dance tunes at this time.
78 rpm shellac discs were released on three record labels including Frontier, Old Time Music, and the prestigious and highly collectible Soma record label. That same year, the Chesney Brothers had the honor of presenting its Polish-style music at the Polish National Convention held in downtown Minneapolis.
Chesney’s influence and style of concertina playing become very recognizable in the upper Midwest with numerous concertina players. Songs like The Rollercoaster Polka, Gardenville Waltz, Adeline Polka, Happy Times Polka, and Let’s Dance Again have become standards for many playlists.