If you lived in Storm Lake or Buena Vista County, or anywhere else in the quad-state region of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, or South Dakota, during the 1940s to the 1990s, chances are that you danced or tapped your toes to the great sounds of the live music of popular bands in the Cobblestone Ballroom in Storm Lake.
And if you did, chances are good that you became a fan of the Eddie Skeets orchestra. The personable band leader, and his music, garnered numerous regular and ardent fans who followed his gigs from ballroom to ballroom throughout the region.
Eddies’ band, based out of Sioux City, played not only the Cobblestone, but also most all of the dance halls within extensive driving distances of BV County – and far beyond.
Many of his fans followed him to dance halls that were familiar, like Shore Acres in Sioux City, the Surf in Clear Lake, the Starline in Carroll, Arkota in Sioux Falls, Peony Park in Omaha, and most all in between, especially in Northwest Iowa.
One of his regular fans from Battle Creek is on record as having followed the band from Storm Lake to Lake View, Worthington, MN, Sioux City, and even once to Germany.
The Skeets band was booked over a year in advance, and was reportedly booked for 360 days most years.
The Eddie Skeets Band played everything from polka to ballroom music.
The Eddie Skeets Band was the recipient of numerous honors, being inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Hall of Fame, the Omaha Polka Hall of Fame, and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
Billboard Magazine recognized his recordings on the Mercury Records label, and Downbeat Magazine named the Skeets Orchestra as “the fifth most popular polka band in the USA”.
Eddie Skeets was not only a bandleader and musician, he was also a promoter. He managed a ballroom in Sioux City and in Spencer, and booked talent like The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers, Gary Lewis, Herman’s Hermits, and other big names for shows in Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Lincoln, NE.
The “Eddie Skeets Band” recordings are presently available on EBay, Amazon, and other sites; and can be listened to on others.
Eddie Skeets (1921-1995) was born Edward Stanley Washinowski in Philadelphia.
He started playing accordion professionally at the age of 14, playing polkas in three-piece combos in the 1930s.
After a stint in the Navy during World War II, he eventually moved to Sioux City.
He came a long way from three-piece combo polkas to his 10-piece ballroom orchestra, playing all of the popular music of the times – from the 1940s to the 1990s. He was proud to claim that in all those years – in spite of suffering a stroke – he never missed a single New Year’s Eve of being the “Guy Lombardo” ushering in the New Year for his fans, somewhere, in some ballroom.