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Meet Ron Smolen of The Ron Smolen Orchestra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ron Smolen.

Ron Smolen started performing professionally during his high school years.

His accordion playing soon found him performing with many prestigious Polka Band Leaders including Little Wally, Joe Walega and…. performing for over 30 years with The Joe Pat Orchestras.

Simultaneously since 1971, the Ron Smolen Big Band/Orchestra has performed throughout Chicago and the Midwest for thousands of engagements including weddings, concerts, dinner dances, corporate events and more.

Local event highlights at special events, neighborhood carnivals and festivals include:

Dancing at The Aragon
Embassy, Milford and Willowbrook Ballroooms
The Twilight Ballroom Pavilion at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield Illinois
Pierogi Fest Whiting, Indiana
Taste of Polonia, Chicago, Ill
Chicago Winter Dance at the Pritzker Pavilion and
Chicago Summer Dance at Grant Park

National highlights include :

Big Band Weekends, Dances at Historic Ballrooms,
Bear Creek Farms Resort – Bryant, Indiana;
The Club – Birmingham, Alabama;
Hollywood Casino – Tunica, Mississippi;
Peabody Hotel -Memphis, Tennessee
The French Lick Springs Hotel and Casino – French Lick, Indiana

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have been many obstacles and challenges, but they are probably not so different from any musician out there. They include receiving “NO” responses to demos and promos, and the constant turnover of booking contacts at clubs.

Banquet halls and the general public have misconceptions about big bands.

We are a TEN Piece Orchestra. One of our smallest parties was for 10 people in a room about the size of a McDonalds, and “not one person” complained about volume.

Yet, I know of several bookings that were lost because the Banquet Hall told clients they cannot hire us because we are too BIG and LOUD for their facilities.

Another obstacle might be considered more of an insult.

Most clients who want to hire us, already “KNOW” who we are, and they know how we perform and sound. But they will still ask “Will the band sound the same if you use less musicians for Cost Cutting?”… an issue that I am sure “Glenn Miller” and “The Beatles” never had to face.

Challenges, I was born too late for the style of music I have chosen to perform. Most radio stations have all but given up on good music. And while many carnivals and festivals announce “FAMILY” entertainment… little or none is offered for the seniors who also attend the events.

Today… My marketing includes not only selling the band, but also creating my own audience.

I will continue to promote and perform as long as there are people calling to hire us and as long as I am able to do so.

Why? Because, while many of the ballrooms and clubs I promoted to for 40 plus years have closed, others are “JUST” discovering and hiring us.

Please tell us about The Ron Smolen Orchestra.
“Every Night is New Year’s Eve” as “The Ron Smolen Orchestra” creates a party atmosphere with a nostalgic “Touch of Elegance” as they perform music for dancing and listening for “ALL” ages.

“The Ron Smolen Orchestra” is primarily a Dance Band and can play a dance one night and a concert the next…

The Ron Smolen Orchestra performed “MONTHLY” from 1992 – 2016 at… The Willowbrook Ballroom, located in Willow Springs, Illinois, until the Ballroom was destroyed by fire October 28, 2016.

“The Ron Smolen Orchestra” presents a “Unique Inimitable Big Band Style” as we combine “NEW” Specialized Arrangements with the Classic Big Band Arrangements that were once originally performed by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo and others.

We also add a special “Chicago Touch” with “Authentic Dance Band Arrangements” that were once performed at Chicago’s Historic Aragon, Trianon, and Willowbrook Ballrooms.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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