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Jimmy Penko

Supplying the beat behind the JTO is longtime member drummer, Jim Penko. Our "man on the drums" was born in Euclid, Ohio into a musical family, the oldest of three brothers and two sisters. Some of Jim's earliest childhood recollections include memories of his father, Stan, always entertaining on the accordion at family parties. Yearning to perform with his dad, Jim's parents bought his first "toy" drum set at age five! Soon little Jimmy was tapping, crashing and banging away to his favorite songs of 1960!

At age eleven Jim began three years of lessons on the accordion. But, there were always reminders of his first love - the drums! In fact, Jim attributes his desire to play drums to the rise in popularity of the group, The Monkees. Every week on TV, he would study drummer Mickey Dolenz and his playing style. Jim's parents decided their fifteen year old was ready for a "real" drum kit. Perhaps it was the fact that Mickey and Jim, shared the same ethnic heritage, both of Slovenian descent!

Within a few years, Jim was asked to join his first band with musician Billy Sobe, and actually played his first "professional" gig - on his eighteenth birthday! After a few other groups, Jim joined up with the "Just For You" band that took him on his first television appearances including the Cleveland programs "Polka Varieties" and "Wally's Polka Chips".

In the late '70's, he became acquainted with "Missing Persons", a Cleveland rock band featuring Joey Tomsick's brothers. It was through this acquaintance that Joey would eventually ask Jim to join the JTO. In 1985, the band traveled to California and Colorado for a series of appearances, and began to develop a loyal friendship, which remains to this day.

In 1991, Jim married his lovely wife Cathy, and today they reside in Mentor, Ohio with stepdaughter Elizabeth.

Jim says his proudest moments came with the Joey Tomsick Orchestra's 1997 appearance at Blossom Music Center and February, 2000 appearance at Cleveland's Music Hall - what an achievement!

Jim Penko Awards

1989: Best New / Young Band
1999: Recording of the Year "Smile"
2009: Band of the Year, The Joey Tomsick Orchestra, ASPF
2009: Recording of the Year, "Polka Funhouse", ASPF

Jimmy at the Polka Funhouse Jim on Drums with Steve Seidel Jim on Drums Jim on Drums