It was the beginning of a distinguished career which has led him into two diverse directions. Like many musicians, he has had a second career: From 1970 to 1996, he was a Minnesota State Senator. Along the way he has established and/or consulted on several polka fests, performed many ecumenical polka masses and toured the U.S. and many foreign countries. The Chmielewski Funtime Band won nine out of 11 polka awards in the 1988 and 1989 Minnesota Music Academy Awards (Minnies). They have performed in the Bahamas for a cultural exchange mission, and at the Minnesota State Fair and the Hostfest in Minot, N.D., which is America’s largest Scandinavian Festival.
Florian developed his musical talents further from 1952 to 1954. While stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Shreveport, La., he had a regular radio show, sharing the mike with Hank Williams and other established performers.
This year marks his 70th anniversary in the music business. A celebration is planned for May 29-31 at Grand Casino in Hinckley.
Polka music has always been known as happy music, and nobody exemplifies that better than Florian.
“If you love what you’re doing, it isn’t even work,” he said.