GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – At 85 years old, Del Sinchak is the oldest musician still performing on a regular basis around the Valley… and he is nowhere close to retiring.
If you interview Sinchak, he’s the type of musician who is bound to get interrupted by fans.
With his accordion strapped on his shoulders, Sinchak and his namesake band celebrated Fat Tuesday with the sound of polka, what he’s most famous for, at Rolling Mills Bar in Girard.
“In the eighth grade, Joe Fedorchak and Eddie Vallus, a couple of us guys, we got together, we started our first polka band,” Sinchak said.
It began in 1949, when Sinchak was 14 years old.
In the 1950s, the band briefly switched to rock and roll.
“Somebody said, ‘Well, why don’t you wear a turban? We’ll call it Del Saint and the Devils,'” he said.
So, Sinchak wore turbans to every rock and roll show.
“When I was only 16 years old, I started going dancing and he was playing already because he’s the same age as I am,” said Mary Jean Yohman, a fan of The Del Sinchak Band.
But most of Sinchak’s career has been with polka. Two of his polka albums were nominated for Grammys and he’s in two polka halls of fame.
Sinchak has recorded 12 CDs — the cover of one being with his wife of 62 years, Helen.
Alan Koss has been with the band for 17 years.
“He’s well known. He’s a good guy and the music is great. It’s always a lot of fun,” Koss, a bass player, said.
“We played for four years. We played seven nights in a row,” Sinchak said.
But that’s not the case anymore, there simply aren’t enough venues.
“Right now we do maybe five, six jobs a month. I’m happy with that, don’t get me wrong,” Sinchak said.
As far as retiring, Sinchak said it’s not going to happen as long as he’s healthy — and right now, he looks and feels great.
“I love it really. Even at my age I really look forward to going out and playing a job. I meet wonderful people like I just met here and it’s fun,” he said.
Sinchak has also been a part of the local music scene in other ways. For 25 years, he was involved with Dusi Music on Market Street in Youngstown. Also, for the past 35 years, he’s been president of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 86-242.