Mildred (Concertina Millie) Kaminski
Hall of Fame – 1982
Mildred (Concertina Millie) Kaminski (1923-2017) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her squeezebox nicknamed “Baby” entertained polka crowds for many years.
Concertina Millie played on TV and radio, and at taverns and dance halls too numerous to count, at birthday parties and funerals and wherever anyone wanted to listen to a waltz or polka.
Millie was 12 years old when her mother died and she dropped out of school to take care of her father and siblings. Her father played the bandoneon, a type of concertina popular in South America, and Millie taught herself to play it. She began playing concertina professionally at the age of 16.
She played at the Wisconsin State Fair and with Joe Szot and the Hot Shots on a Gordon Hinkley-hosted television show in Milwaukee. Millie met her husband Edmund while playing her concertina in a Milwaukee tavern right after World War II. She was taking requests and Edmund Kaminski asked her to play ‘Till the End of Time. They were married 42 years.
Millie was a member of the Milwaukee Accordion Club for many years, regularly going to gatherings but she didn’t play the accordion, only the concertina.
Millie was a proud member of both the Wisconsin Polka and World Concertina Congress halls of fame, she was quoted as saying: “All I can say is, I’m glad God let me learn to play the concertina, ’cause otherwise it would have been a dull life.”
Millie passed away, September 16, 2017.