Laack’s (in the) Hall

Johnsonville band leader named to state Polka Hall of Fame
by Verla Peichl
Review Correspondent

CARL LAACK of Johnsonville has been recognized by the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame as a recent recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award. — Falls News photo by Verla Peichl CARL LAACK of Johnsonville has been recognized by the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame as a recent recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award. — Falls News photo by Verla Peichl Johnsonville’s Carl Laack is well known throughout the state of Wisconsin as a talented musician, band and orchestra leader and promoter of the preservation of polka music at the highest level.

Laack’s name has been synonymous with music and his passion has not gone unnoticed.

His dedication to polka music has now been recognized by the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame, which recently presented him with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I was extremely surprised by this award,” said Laack. “I was also surprised to be nominated because there are a lot of influential people who were nominated.

“Music has been in my blood since I was 8 or 9 years old,” he said. “Listening to all the musicians that came to the hall inspired me.”

Laack’s name has been added to the list of musicians that he not only heard about as a young boy, but had the honor to meet.

These names include such luminaries as Dick Rodgers, Romy Gosz, Gene Heier and Frankie Yankovic.

Laack grew up at Laack’s Ballroom in Johnsonville, which has been owned by the Laack family since 1912.

As a result, he was surrounded with music, dancing, and vocalists that took great pride in singing the songs and music to the best of their ability.

He remembers sitting on the stage listening to the music played at public wedding dances.

By the time he was 15 years old, Laack began playing with the Arwin Herzog Band, which was later taken over by John Roehl and became known as the John Roehl Band.

Laack continued to play with the John Roehl Band and it was then that he and his dad, William, purchased the library of music from the Ron Harvey Orchestra. Shortly after, Laack formed the 11-piece Carl Laack Orchestra, which played music for the next 30 years.

After John Roehl passed away in 2013, Laack took over the band, which is now known as the Carl Laack Band.

Laack plays the drums and is a vocalist with the Carl Laack Band. His love of music is not only heard and seen when he is playing, but he also helps students to continue their dreams and ambitions in music.

“I like to help young kids to experience music, so I loan out instruments,” said Laack. “I’ve loaned out a trombone, trumpet and clarinet because it’s enjoyable to see kids have fun with music.”

If you’ve ever seen Laack, on stage, playing the drums and singing, it’s obvious that he enjoys what he’s doing.

His energy and talent is projected to the listeners and dancers, which typically gets the entire area filled full with fun and entertainment.

Laack was awarded the Orchestra Leader of the Year Award in 1999 by the Wisconsin Orchestra Leaders Association and has served on the organizations’ board and as president for a number of years.

Laack is also a member of the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame and the National Association of Ballroom Operators and Entertainers.

This past December, Laack organized and presented the first annual Country Music Christmas event, which was well received by the public.

“It’s just something I thought of and found that the people really liked it, so we will probably have one again next year,” said Laack.

The Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame is a Wisconsin corporation formed in Milwaukee in 1995.

It was established to recognize and honor individuals who have excelled in the performance, preservation and premonition of polka music throughout the state of Wisconsin. The organization aims to maintain the various ethnic backgrounds of polka music for generations to come.

For those interested in becoming members of the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame organization, the membership fee is $25 for three years and a lifetime membership is $100.

To learn more about the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame, visit

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