Vallus polka band calls it quits

For 50 years, Eddie Vallus led a band that bore his name, but that chapter of his life has come to a close.

The 77-year-old Boardman resident ended the Eddie Vallus Band II on Oct. 26 with a last hurrah at St. Paul Church in New Middletown that included a polka Mass and dinner-dance.

But Vallus will continue to perform — he has joined the Rex Taneri Band as keyboardist.

And if the need arises, the Eddie Vallus Band II will reunite. “The band is retiring but I will call it out of retirement when called to do a polka Mass or church festival,” said Vallus.

Vallus recorded its first album “Dance, Dance, Dance” as the Eddie Vallus Polka Band in 1963, the first of 13 albums.

In his career, he wrote and recorded 50 polkas and waltzes. He also wrote “Y-Town Youngstown” in 1985, for which he was honored by then-mayor Pat Ungaro and the Mahoning County Commission.

In 1989, the Eddie Vallus Band was nominated for a Grammy Award in the polka category. Vallus received the Cleveland Polka Hall of Fame Trustee Award in 2003, and its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

The Eddie Vallus Band II was formed in 1993 when the group changed from a wedding band to a polka band. The members — John Ross, Ed Wasacz, Al Martini and Lou Tofil — performed with Vallus for 20 years, including an annual concert at Boardman Park.

Vallus and his wife of 51 years, Pat, live with their daughter Kim in Boardman. He has two other daughters, Kelly Mesaros and Chris Mollenkopf, and five grandchildren.


In the past year, Carmen Frank Roberts of Niles was cast as an extra in two major movies shot in the region: “Out of the Furnace” and “Draft Day.”

“Out of the Furnace,” shot in the Pittsburgh area, will open in theaters Dec. 6.

Roberts worked with the film’s stars, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe and Woody Harrelson, on fight scenes shot in Imperial, Pa.

For “Draft Day,” Roberts was cast as a Cleveland Browns football player. He worked on scenes at the Cleveland Brown training facility in Berea. The movie will open next year.


The rise of vinyl among music collectors has given Poobah’s long career a second wind.

Jim Gustafson, the Youngstown-born leader of the psychedelic rock band, says his band is mentioned in the current edition of Guitar World magazine.

The name-check comes in an article in which Alan Wyndor of Monster Magnet talks about bands he is digging. Wyndorf mentions the 1976 Poobah song “Space Lord” as well as songs by King Crimson and Grand Funk Railroad.

“I have no idea how he heard of me or where he bought my album, but I’m thrilled he chose me,” said Gustafson.

Poobah already had cemented its status when Rolling Stone magazine named the band to its list of top album reissues.

The band will play at Bojangle’s on state Route 14, east of Columbiana, on Dec. 13.


As work continues on the new craft beer and whiskey bar that will open soon in downtown Youngstown, the owners are asking for help in naming the nightspot.

Jeff Kurz and business partner Brad Schwartz have been tossing around names and have a front-runner, but have not made a final decision. So they are asking future patrons to send in suggestions.

The top three submissions will merit prizes, and a drink will be named after each of them — even if none ends up being the name of the bar.

Send your ideas to

The new bar will be at 124 W. Federal St., on the second floor of Imbibe Martini Bar, which Kurz and Schwartz also own.

It’s slated to open by the end of the year.

The new bar will be part of a second wave of nightspots that are about to give the downtown nightlife district a needed jolt.

Also slated to open in coming weeks are Diane’s Dogs and Draughts on North Phelps Street (the site of the former Old Precinct) and the Rust Belt Brewing Co. Taproom in the Erie Terminal Building on West Commerce Street.

Last week, Los Gallos opened a new bar and restaurant on East Boardman Street, in the building that houses Eastern Gateway Community College and a parking garage.

The new bars expand the offerings downtown, keeping things fresh and also providing some niche-type places that have proven successful in party districts in other cities.

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