Jake Kouwe unknowingly steered his life in a new direction when at age fourteen, he saw Weird Al Yankovic on VH1 and announced to his parents that he wanted to obtain an accordion. In response, Jake’s parents bought him his first accordion at a local thrift shop. Shortly after taking up lessons on the instrument, Jake was introduced to polka: a genre that currently defines his musical career.
Jake’s first band, which he played in during middle school, was not a polka group by any stretch of the imagination. The poor-sounding but ambitious punk band was called Alan’s Ugly Girlfriend. Though the band did not play polka, or perhaps even anything with a melody, it launched Jake’s ongoing passion for the performing arts and band work.
Jake’s skills were honed and practiced at great lengths while performing with his father, Phil Kouwe. Phil’s own musical endeavors helped inspire Jake to pursue performing as career. From providing the polka band with their first sound system to performing onstage wherever needed, Phil continues to be an active part of the band.
Though Jake has played with and been a part of many bands over the years, The Chardon Polka Band remains his primary musical outlet. Jake founded the group in 2003 with the help of a four other Chardon High School teens and has been leading the group ever since. As the story goes, “There was no room for an accordion in the marching band…. so he started a polka band.”
With long hair usually held in check with a bandana or signature CPB trucker hat, Jake Kouwe is not your average polka front man. His energetic playing and quirky sense of humor helped to define The Chardon Polka Band early on. Jake’s eccentric style, kinetic playing, and love of polka continue to be trademarks of The Chardon Polka Band.
Location: Burton, Ohio
Birthday: July 17
Hobbies: Kayaking, Action Figures, Biking