Richie Zebrowski was born into a family deeply immersed in Polish tradition and polka music. His father, IPA Hall Of Fame inductee A.W. Zebrowski, a nationally known polka promoter, musician, and disc jockey in Cleveland, Ohio, ensured that the entire family was raised knowing their heritage.
Like his seven brothers and sisters, Richie began his polka career on the radio. To be accurate, Richie and most of his siblings began at such young ages; they were doing holiday specials and advertising commercials from the time they spoke.
As might be expected, he eventually started to play and sing the music he loved and had been surrounded by. At age six, he began playing the accordion and drums. As a young child, he had the fortune of sitting in with local Cleveland area bands and national polka legends such as Frank Wojnarowski, Joe Oberaitis, and Wanda & Stephanie.
On New Year’s Eve 1976, he played his first polka job as a full-time member of Cleveland’s The Grand Masters. During the next few years, he played with other local Cleveland bands as well as Bruno Mikos & The Harmony Stars, and Jimmy Weber & The Sounds.
In 1983, Richie resigned from The Sounds and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Upon discharge from active duty, he and Vicki were married. They went on to have two sons, Brandon and Travis, and a daughter, Randi. He also picked up right where he left off musically and began playing polka music again. It was then that he joined The Brass Connection. Since that time with TBC, he has also been a full-time member of The Trel-Tones, Henny & The Versa J’s, The NuTones, and Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push.
During his music career, he has performed with some of polka music’s other greatest individuals and bands, including The Ray Budzilek Orchestra, Eddie Blazonczyk and The Versatones, Scrubby and The Dynatones, The Knewz, The Boys, Jan Cyman, Stas Golanka and His Chicago Masters, Fred Bulinski, Ray Jay and The Carousels, Alvin Styczynski, Buffalo Concertina All Stars, The Burgh Boys, Lil John’s ATM Band, Polka Country Musicians, Bud Hundenski, John Gora and Gorale, Marion Lush, and Lil Wally. He also appeared and performed in a live theatre production of “Evelyn And The Polka King” with polka music by Bob Lucas and Carl Finch of Brave Combo.
Richie’s recordings and original compositions include studio and live sessions with The Dynasounds, Bruno Mikos, The Sounds, The Brass Connection, The Trel-Tones, energy, Ray Jay, The Versa J’s, Party Time, The NuTones, “Honky Heaven,” and again most recently Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push.
Richie also revisited the radio airwaves with a polka program on 540am WWCS radio in western Pennsylvania. That program was eventually turned over to Matt Wasielewski.
In addition to radio and live event disc jockeying and parade appearances, Richie is currently performing with The NuTones and touring with Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push. He continues to promote and contribute to preserving polka music as an IPA Director, entertainer, sound man, emcee, and promoter hosting polka dances and festivals. The holidays are also times when he volunteers at various locations performing songs of the season. He has donated his time and use of his pa sound equipment, helping to mentor and support young polka musicians in new youth polka bands and the ProAm Jam at various polka conventions.