Michael Costa was born on July 5, 1961 to William and Phyllis Costa of Irvington, NJ. He is the first born of two children. His parents met in the mid 50’s at the Irvington Polish Home where weekly polka dancing was extremely popular. As their children grew, they were exposed to Chicago-style polkas at the Dover Polanka in Dover, NJ. Michael’s Dad, played bass and guitar with local bands. Growing up in a home filled with polka music and musical instruments, it was the trumpet Michael gravitated to. Lessons began at the age of 7.
In 1973 at the age of 12, Michael joined his first polka band, Matty Rock from NJ. Matty playing Eastern Style polkas along with standards exposed Michael to a nice variety of music.
In 1975 at the age of 14, Michael joined Jolly Rich and the Polka Stars and recorded On the Go with JRO. This was Michaels first experience with a two-horn section.
In 1976, IPA Hall of Famer Jan Cyman, formally of The Dynatones and New Brass moved to NJ to form the Musicalaires. The big change from all previous bands for Michael, was to play without sheet music. As Michael was clearly panicked by the thought of having to play essentially blind, Jan slowly played the riff and said, “see the music in your mind”. This was a pivotal moment in Michael’s trumpet playing as the thought of using memorization and imagination to play. This opened a whole new world of focusing on putting your heart into the music versus reading the notes. During this time Michael recorded two more LPs – Coming Your Way and Oh Yeah.
By 1979 Michael moved on to join IPA Hall of Famer Freddy “Kay” Kiendzierski. Freddy’s group was very popular playing many dances up and down the east coast. In 1980, Michael moved to Pennsylvania and played the summer and fall season with Zip Lubovinsky’s Polish All Stars which featured IPA Hall of Famer Bruno Mikos on vocals.
That same year at the age of 19, Michael joined The New Brass. With a new LP in the works this was Michael’s first opportunity to contribute a song. He converted, arranged, and sang lead vocal on the Beatles’ You Like Me Too Much on the Brass Magic LP. This song which was a big hit for The New Brass and was one of the first Beatles tunes to become a polka. This opened the door for bands to consider converting pop/rock tunes into polkas.
In 1983, Michael joined The Magitones, an aspiring group of young musicians and Michael heavily influenced the song choices. The year 1984 brought the release of Face The Music. This 12-song album contained 5 songs written by Michael including Tell Me Why and Dover’s Last Goodbye which was a tribute to the famous polka venue - Polanka in Dover, NJ.
In 1987, as the The Magitones retired from music, Michael decided to form a new band – Limelite. In 1988, Michael Costa and Limelite released Let There Be Lite. This LP contained another four original compositions. Also, on the recording was the oberek Tu Lu Lu. Michael added a big rock guitar part to the arrangement putting a modern spin on a classic tune, demonstrating Michael’s creative ability to continue to introduce pop/rock influences in order to have polkas appeal to a broader, younger listening audience. Michael continued writing polka music giving five originals to Toledo Polka Motion (TPM) to record on their 1991 Blackjack LP.
After a few years off, in 1996 The Beat was born. They recorded a six-song demo called “Jammin in the Basement”, then in 1998 recorded a full CD “Meet The Beat” which included seven Mike Costa originals. In 1999, The Beat recorded “When I Saw You” CD which contained another six Costa originals. The Beat became one of the top musical and fan favorite bands in the country. They would eventually go on hiatus in 2000. Michael continued to write songs for other artists including Polka Family, Ted Lange’s Power Station and TPM. These groups recorded five Mike Costa originals.
In 2011, unfortunately The Beat’s original bass player Joe Dzuiba died. In his honor The Beat played several cancer benefits. In 2013, the USPA requested a Beat Reunion. This represented the start of The Beat 2.0.
2017 brought in the first new Beat CD in 18 years – The Question, which included 2 more Costa originals – The Question and Another You. Then in 2019, The Beat released – The Answer which included 4 more Costa originals including Dance the Night Away and the hit – She’s My Perfect.
By the start of 2020, three members decided to leave The Beat. Michael realized that, just like he had been given a playing opportunity at an early age, he should do the same as he searched for replacements. Doing so, would give the next generation of polka musicians a chance to hone their skills while appearing with The Beat. Three talented musicians, ages 15, 15 and 18, joined The Beat, potentially saving it from having to disband again and have stepped in flawlessly under Michael’s mentoring.
In summary, Michael and his family have been deeply and significantly involved in polka music for over 46 years. He has been on 9 recordings from six different musical groups, many of which were top albums in their day, and several in which he assumed leadership or creative responsibilities. A significant and lasting musical contribution from Michael is his unique style which blends complex chord structures and along with thought provoking lyrics and exciting vocals producing many hits, as previously mentioned. Michael has written over 38 originals. Michael has also converted 15 alternative genre songs into polkas.
The thought of Michael Costa even being considered for the IPA Hall of Fame is an honor beyond compare. This recognition would serve as a tribute to all those IPA Hall of Famers who mentored and contributed to Michael’s musical career as well an inspiration to a younger generation who are learning to respect the past, embrace the present and create the future of our Polka industry.