Adam Barthalt – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2006

Portfolio Categories: 2006 and B.

Adam Barthalt

 

Adam Barthalt was born in Ridgewood, Queens, NY on June 11, 1935. Adams’s deep-rooted interest in music began unpretentiously at the age of three with a toy accordion he received from his grandparents while on a visit with his mother to Europe.

 

By the time Adam was seven, he had graduated to the “real thing” and began his formal musical education. At the age of twelve he earned his first pay, which was $5, when he performed with a local band. At the age of ten he heard a recording by Frankie Yankovic which inspired him to go into the polka field. At the age of 16, he formed his own polka band, which had a series of constant engagements at leading resorts in the Catskill area.

 

In 1957, newly married, Adam and his wife Margie moved back to Ridgewood, Queens, NY in 1957. He then started appearing at the local clubs and catering halls and in 1961, Adam was engaged as the house band at the Gottscheer Clubhouse in Ridgewood every weekend for the next six and a half years.

 

From 1967 to 1980 Adam became the house band director for four different wedding catering halls. This meant that he hired musicians under his name to perform at dances and weddings for these catering halls. He had at times seven bands working under the Adam Barthalt name.

 

Through the years, Adam’s reputation in the polka field steadily grew. His bookings started taking him from local New York engagements to such places as far north as Michigan, south to Florida, west to California, and all points in between.

 

In 1975, Adam was contacted by an organization, planning on running an Oktoberfest in the Catskills, to hire the bands for the event. Adam hired such bands as Frankie Yankovic, Walter Ostanek, Andy Bluemeyer from Canada along with local bands including his own. From that point on, Adam formed his own production company and started booking talent for civic and corporate activities both locally and nationally. Adam was not only commandeered as Master of Ceremonies, as well as one of the performing bands, but The Adam Barthalt Musical Productions booked the talent for such events as Puling, N.Y., Festival, Victory Field, two polka weekends per year, Oktoberfest Festival at Holy Trinity in Hicksville, N.Y., Labor Day weekend events at the Port Jefferson Elks and the Port Jefferson Lions Oktoberfest weekend, which included a live radio broadcast, in Port Jefferson, N.Y., co-produced the 23-day long Six Flags Great Adventure Oktoberfest in New Jersey, Suffolk County Fair in Riverhead, N.Y., three-day Kiwanis weekend in Patchogue, N.Y., the three-day Quassy Oktoberfest in Middlebury, Conn., and two weekends at the Wildwood in Largo, Md.

 

1975 was also the year Adam started his own radio show, “Adam’s Polka Party”, which ultimately aired on four different radio stations heard in N.Y., N.J., Conn. and Pa. until 2002.

 

Adam also produced his own dances every Thanksgiving Saturday from 1977 to 1986 and then again in 1997 and not only featured the Adam Barthalt band, but also other bands along with various dance groups and specialty acts. Adam also produced and promoted Great South Bay Twilight Cruises from 1988 through 1991 and again in 1995.

 

1977 was the year Commodore Cruise Lines recognized Adam’s talents and authorized him as the booking agent for Polkafest Cruises. Adam was booking polka bands and dancers to perform main shows for the cruise line from 1977 to 1988. His reputation also brought him to the attention of other cruise companies which hired him to perform main shows on the Bahamas, Bermuda, Norwegian, Costa, Mississippi, Carnival, Odessa and Princess (the original “Love Boat”) cruise lines. During that time period, Adam hired bands and dancers for 147 cruises and personally performed on 58 of those cruises.

 

In 1978 Adam was asked to do a European tour to Austria. As a result of his appearance in Kitzbuhel that September, Adam has promoted, to date, 23 tours of Europe, including tours to Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia), France, Hungary, Lichtenstein and Czechoslovakia as well as promoting polka tours to Hawaii, Mexico, Tasco and Acapulco, Branson, MO, California, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach and Canada.

 

In 1980 Adam co-produced a polka weekend at the Playboy Resort in New Jersey. And in 1981, Adam started producing Polka-Fest Weekends through the Adam Barthalt Musical Productions. Last year he produced his 60th Polka-Fest Weekend.

 

Adam’s love of music is also shared by his family, his wife Margie, his children Debby, Adam, John, Suzy and Marcie. They have provided Adam with their constant loving support. In fact, their sons Adam and Johnny and two of their daughters, Suzy and Marcie, were involved in the polka field. The boys are musicians, Adam on drums and John on accordion. The two girls were part of the dance team that occasionally performed with their father on the main shows on some of the cruises.

 

The support of Adam’s wife and family was definitely put to the test in 1981. Before that time Adam, even with his busy music schedule, was a full time agent for a life insurance company, had his own real estate and general insurance office. He came home one day and said he is going full time into the music business. It was quite a shock–with children not far from college age and not too far in the distance were their weddings. Somehow, it all worked out.

 

With all of this going on, Adam had time to record nine albums. So through his recordings, concert dates, radio shows, travel tours, and polka weekends, Adam has, and still is, trying to bring the happy sounds of polka music to the hearts of polka lovers everywhere.