A Short History of Energy
Who knows exactly where the musical seeds that were planted came from, but there is no doubt that music was a major part of the household that Bernie and Randy Koslosky grew up in. Perhaps it was the accordion that their dad took out of the closet and played on special occasions or their mother singing as she worked around the house. Or, perhaps, hearing their grandfather singing in Polish or the polka radio stations that always seemed to be playing in the home. But from the moment when Randy got his first accordion and Bernie a saxophone, their musical destiny seemed set. From those early days when they became a hit on the “relative circuit,” performing songs that they were working of for grandparents and aunts and uncles, they were on a trajectory that would eventually lead to the formation of one of the most popular polka bands of the 1990s – Energy.
By the time they were in junior high school, Bernie and Randy had begun putting their first band together with friends at school. Their sister, Cindy, joined in for a while, and in 1976The Rhythm Aires were formed. They were fortunate to have been introduced to Polish Joe Fiedor, who took them under his wing, coaching them on the proper pronunciation of Polish lyrics and giving them opportunities to play at Fiedor’s Grove, Seven Springs, and Hardy’s Pub. The band found moderate success as a polka band but mostly performed as a musical variety band at weddings, clubs, and church picnics around the Western Pennsylvania area.
After regrouping in the early 1980s, the band continued to focus on musical variety and changed the band’s name to The Martiques. No one seems to remember exactly where the name came from or what it even means, but it seemed suited for the type of venues and events that the band was performing at. While the band kept a full schedule as a musical variety band, the brothers never lost the love they had for the music of their Polish heritage and playing polka music.
By the late 1980s, the band was at a crossroads. While it was difficult to turn away from the success they had as a musical variety band, it was also difficult to deny the direction the band was taking toward polka music. With the addition of two young aspiring polka musicians, Eddie Kaczmarczyk on drums and Chris Bogdon on concertina & accordion, and a collection of original polka songs that Randy had been writing the pieces were finally in place to take their polka music to the next level. The decision was made to go full-force in the direction of polka music, and the band began rehearsing and preparing for their first recording. The only thing missing was a suitable name for the emerging young polka band. During a meeting to discuss renaming the band, a name that Chris had been keeping up his sleeve was revealed and the rest, as they say, is history. Energy was borne. Shortly after that, Joe Baranowski came into the band on bass and fiddle, and the core of the classic Energy lineup was set. Later in 1995, Mike Marra (the band’s trumpet player for its entire journey from the Rhythm Aires through Energy) left the band and Richie Kois came onboard.
With the release of their first recording, Get Energized, Energy was presented with numerous opportunities to perform throughout the country. Dick Pillar and Bernie Goydish were among the first to expose Energy to the national polka audience at their festivals. As word spread, the band would end up performing at many of the nation’s top polka music festivals as well as dance halls and ballrooms throughout the East Coast and Upper Mid-West. The band became notorious for creating a festive atmosphere and for their interaction with audiences. Many people also associated them with the many “theme songs” they wrote, paying tribute to the likes of Charlie Tuna (one-time Energy band mascot), Pillar Polkabration, and Big Dan (Wisniowka Man), to name but a few.
The band went on to release two more recordings, the second of which (Pure Energy) received the International Polka Association award for the favorite album in 1993. The band also achieved notoriety outside traditional polka music circles with the release of a song they wrote for the Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team. “It’s A Great Day for Hockey” was played over the PA system at Penguins games and was featured on many Pittsburgh radio stations. The band was even featured in the ESPN highlight film for the 1992 Stanley Cup finals, and in the Penguins’ documentary series Pittsburgh is Home.
As family situations changed, the band disbanded at the end of 1996.
Fast-forward to 2020, and after nearly two and a half decades of ongoing discussions about reuniting, the time had finally come. Bernie, Randy, Eddie, Chris, Joe, and Richie began rehearsing and preparing for the re-launch of Energy in 2021. The band is extremely excited to return to performing and connecting with fans from a by-gone era and the prospect of connecting with a new generation of polka fans who have never had an Energy experience.