Lou Trebar authored one of the Cleveland-Style Polka’s most impressive careers. A true dean of Cleveland-Style music, Lou’s credits included over sixty quality years of professional performances beginning at age 13; over forty years as a composer/arranger and adapter of Cleveland-Style music; leading his own orchestras from 1936-1950; co-owning the Metropole Cafe, Cleveland’s first significant Polka establishment; twenty-five years as the co-leader, featured accordionist, and business manager of the Johnny Pecon-Lou Trebar Orchestra; six years with the Mis-Tre Orchestra led by Joey Miskulin; leading Polka tours; and teaching music. More recently, Lou continued to perform with the Jeff Pecon Orchestra.
More than any Cleveland-Style musician, Lou took the initiative and played a leading role in developing the waltz companion to Cleveland-Style Polkas. Lou adapted and arranged Cleveland-Style waltzes drawing from the portfolios of Strauss, famous American composers such as Victor Herbert and Vincent Youmans, and Dr. William J. “Doc” Lausche, thus earning the title of Waltz King during the late 1930s. As the business manager and promoter of the Pecon-Trebar Orchestra, Lou’s talents were never more evident than in conceiving the famous Janez and Lojze duo. After persuading Johnny to record some button box tunes on Capitol, the skit became standard fare in the orchestra’s TV and personal appearances. This gem of creative genius rekindled an interest in button boxes that grew through the ’50s and ’60s and virtually exploded thereafter.
In a local talent show they came out winners, which gave them the opportunity to perform with Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scout TV Show in New York. They were “regulars” on Perme’s, Al Wisch and other local TV shows. Their recordings were heard countless times over the air and there was hardly a civic program in the Greater Cleveland area that did not include Johnny Pecon and Lou Trebar.
Among Lou’s original compositions are the “Question and Answer Polka,” “Jeffrey’s Polka,” “Blue Eagle Polka” and “Snappy Fingers Polka,” as well as “City Hall Polka,” “Number One Polka” and “Pleasant Valley Waltz,” done in collaboration with Johnny Pecon.
In addition, Lou and Johnny jointly composed, arranged and adapted literally hundreds of famous tunes based on the work of Doc Lausche and Matt Hoyer, commercial “pop” tunes, traditional Slovenian melodies and modern European composers.
Lou Trebar passed away in September, 2008.