Eric Noltkamper Biography
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 21, 1972, Eric became interested in the accordion and began taking lessons from St. Louis accordionist, Larry Hallar at age 13. At age 14, Eric began teaching himself the plectrum banjo, then began playing at picnics, and dances with the founder of the St. Louis Button Box Club, Art Treppler, and his band.
At age 15, Eric played his first job with "America’s Polka
King", Frank Yankovic. Eric continued playing engagements, off and on, at
such places as the National Eagles Convention in Spokane, Washington, Polkafests
in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Los Angeles, California, Pueblo, Colorado and other
events throughout the midwest up until Frank’s passing in 1998.
At age 16, Eric began playing engagements with St. Louis’s Herb Eberle and his band. Shortly after that he went to Nashville, Tennessee with them and recorded Herb’s "Come Dance with Me" release.
After finishing high school, Eric left St. Louis, Missouri and moved to Madison, Wisconsin to go to college, and started playing second accordion with Gordon Hartmann from Madison, Wisconsin. For three years, Eric enjoyed playing Gordon’s fancy fingered "Polkaholic" music.
At age 21, Eric started performing with the Jeff Winard Band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eric met Jeff, when Eric was 14, when Eric first sat in with Frank Yankovic at the Crystal Ballroom in Staunton, Illinois. They have been friends ever since. Jeff had Eric record on his "Silver Collection-25th Anniversary" release, and shortly after that on Frank Yankovic’s "One More Time" retirement, CD and Video set.
In 1993, Eric performed with the "All Star" band in the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame, award show.
In 1994, Eric released his first CD recording entitled "Reflections of Cleveland". On this recording, he played almost all the instruments, himself, in honor of some of the greatest Slovenian Style polka bands.
In 1995, Eric was nominated for 4 awards from the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame. He was the only one nominated in that many categories, all in one year. But his love for polka music was not limited to Slovenian Style alone. That same year he joined Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones from Chicago, Illinois and began traveling the country, almost every week. Eric’s stint with the Versatones’ lasted almost 5 years, during which he recorded on Eddie’s "Better than Ever", "Music, Music, Music", "Shakin’ not Stirred", and "Smokin’ Polkas" releases.
In 1996, Eric teamed up with another long time friend, Grant Kozera from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Together they produced the CD entitled, "Yankovic Classics" for ERREM records in Holland, the Netherlands. This recording features the 1940’s style of Frank Yankovic, whom greatly influenced both Grant and Eric.
In 1997, Eric released a CD entitled, "The Sidemen-Busting Out". This recording featured a more modern sound with such great musicians as Don Hunjadi, Gary Hendrickson, Bobby Doszak Jr., Mike McIntyre, and Tom Brusky, along with Eric. As a band, the Sidemen played at polka festivals such as the Oakbrook, Illinois Polkafest, the Rocky Mountain Polkafest in Denver, Colorado, and Gemuitlikeit Days, in Jefferson, Wisconsin, and other various dances in Ohio and Wisconsin. The Sidemen won the "Best New Band Award", from the Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame, in 2000.
In 1998, Eric married Nancy Hlad. Together they run one of polka music’s largest web sites, Nancy’s Place for Polkas, www.polkas.com. Nancy also plays the button box accordion and frequently performs with Eric.
Now settled in Cleveland, Ohio, Eric started his own recording studio,
called GreenGuy. Eric has recorded several bands for demos and CDs alike.
In October of 2001, Eric and Nancy traveled to Nebraska to be a part of "Polka Passion", a PBS Special about polka music that aired nationally. They performed at the Sokol Hall in Omaha along with Eddie Blazonczyk, Karl and the Country Dutchmen, and the Polka Family. Even though the response was good, PBS decided not to use Eric and Nancy’s portion in the final airing, with the promise of use in the future.
Eric’s own recordings keep him busy as well, "A Merry Christmas
Wish" with Eric Noltkamper and Friends, features Steve Meisner, Jeff Winard,
Grant Kozera and Nancy Noltkamper, 2001.
"I Don’t Wanna Mambo!" with Grant Kozera features a song written by Jazz accordionist, Ken Kotwitz , called "Frank and the Yanks" completed in 2002. There are 20 different artists taking turns singing this wonderful tribute to the "Polka King". Also in 2002, "The Eric Noltkamper Button Box Collection" was released featuring 17 songs all played on the diatonic button box accordion.
Eric has performed in at least 27 different states, Mexico and Canada. He has performed on 3 polka cruises and toured the country with bands such as, Frank Yankovic, Herb Eberle, Gordon Hartmann, Verne and Steve Meisner, Jeff Winard, Grant Kozera, Bob Doszak, Jack Tady, The Versatones, Lynn Marie, and countless others. He has appeared on at least 20 recordings outside of his own, performing on the bass, banjo, button accordion, drums, guitar, piano accordion, chromatic accordion, and piano.
Eric continues to play 100 plus dates a year as a bandleader, soloist, and sideman. The band performs at county fairs, dances in IL, MI, OH, PA and WI, the annual Slovenefest in PA, corporate company parties and Oktoberfests.
In 2003, Eric was named "Sideman of the Year" by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame.
In 2004, Eric teamed up with musician, composer and broadcaster, Bruce Burger. Together they revived the original "Doc" Lausche style of music was the beginnings of Cleveland-Style polkas. The recording entitled "Rosy Cheeks" takes us back to when polkas were the rage and several band were recording on major record labels.
In 2006, Eric was named "Musician of the Year" by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame.
In 2007, Eric released his
“Studio to Stage” CD, which was nominated for the National Cleveland-Style
Polka Hall of Fame awards and also made Jimmy K's top selling recording list. He was also nominated for “Musician and Band of the
Year” as well as being selected to
perform at the Great Lakes Folk Festival in Lansing, Michigan.
perform at the Great Lakes Folk Festival in Lansing, Michigan.
In 2008, Eric managed to be the first living Slovenian Style Polka Band to make MP3 downloads available on sites such as iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon and more.
Eric released his “At Last” CD, which included Nancy on the button accordion. Also, in the past year, Eric was named “Musician of the Year” by the National Cleveland –Style Polka Hall of Fame.
In 2009, Mooifeessie.nl released an Eric Noltkamper vinyl 45 for distribution in the Netherlands.
Eric's Studio to Stage CD won the Best Polka Album as awarded by the Just Plain Folks Organization.
In 2010, Eric Noltkamper was ranked 16th out of 300 Local Cleveland Bands by the Fox8Hotlist Contest.
In 2011, Eric Noltkamper moved up in the ranks by ranking 16th out of 329 Local Cleveland Bands by the Fox8Hotlist Contest.
In 2013, Eric Noltkamper released the Our Pope Polka download single and video. He also released a download only album with previously unreleased songs from Don Kotnik. That year, Eric was ranked 9th out of 341 Local Cleveland Bands by the Fox8Hotlist Contest.
In 2014, Eric Noltkamper released For Ladies Only! download only release.
Eric has recorded on the following Grammy Nominated recordings:
1995 Better Than Ever