2024 Leon Kozicki Trustees Award Winner: Nicky DiSebastiano

2024 Leon Kozicki Trustees Award Winner: Nicky DiSebastiano

Nicola “Nicky D” DiSebastiano, born in Abruzzi, Italy, immigrated to the United States of America in 1958, settling in Baltimore along with three sisters: Francesca, Maria, Carmela, Mother Consolina, and Father Angelo. At 4 ½ years of age, he still vividly remembers seeing the Statue of Liberty as the ship sailed into the New York City harbor. He is also a proud Father of four children: Angela, Rosanna, Nicola, and Marcus.

Nick was influenced by his Godfather, an accordionist, and at the age of 10 began taking lessons from him. At age 13, he performed in public for the first time at the Polish Veterans Club during Albert Matousek’s (Mike Matousek’s father) break. By the age of 15, he was asked to perform there every Saturday and Sunday after Mr. Matousek moved on to another venue. Playing a variety of Polish, Slovenian, Italian, and current Pop music for live audiences provided a great foundation for future enterprises.  From age 13 to 19, Nick attended a formal classical accordion studio, Frederick Tedesco Studios, and earned a teaching certificate from the Pietro Deiro Conservatory of Music.  He also earned a degree in Microprocessor Technology Engineering from George Washington University.

By the time he was 18, Nick had formed his own orchestra called The Originals, primarily specializing in Italian but also including Latin and Pop music, for a period of 12 years. During this time, he also performed with a local polka band called Bay City Brass.  In 1985, he joined forces with Steven Matousek on drums and, as a duo, formed The Hylites of Baltimore. They played at local venues and a cruise or two until the addition of Frank Borzymowski, making it a trio and enabling expansion to larger venues to include Dick Pillars’ Polkabration, Polka Spree by the Sea, Sunnybrook, etc. A few years later, The Hylites expanded again with the addition of Mike Matousek, Allen Puwalski, Dave Jankiewicz, Mike Charney, and Ted Borzymowski. Soon after, the decision was made to take the band on the road, thus changing the name to Charm City Sound, which in total had a 14-year run. In 2001 his arrangement and performance of “Marina”, with Charm City Sound was voted favorite song by the USPA, and his arrangements and original compositions can be heard on all of Charm City Sound CD’s, six in total.

In 2009 Nick joined The Polka Family Band and currently performs with them on a regular basis. He appeared on 4 PFB recordings, including their latest release, “Polka Road”.  He was a member of The Boys from 2017 until their final appearance in February of 2024.  On their recording “Boys Stories,” Nick’s arrangement of “Don’t Think Twice” was voted top 3 for the USPA Song of the Year award. He is currently a member of Frankie Liszka and Blue Magic and appears on their future music release.

In 2021 Nick recorded a solo performance of Italian accordion songs that included a few original compositions. His rendition of Fizarmonica Impazzita’s “Crazy Accordion Polka” won the IPA’s International Song of the Year award.  He has served as an Elector for the IPA since 2018.  Nick is always willing to mentor younger accordion players and currently produces mini-performance seminars for the Maryland Accordion Club. He also keeps busy by performing as a soloist for various venues. Nick is also quite active in performing repairs, tuning, and installing microphone and midi systems on accordions and concertinas. 

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