Born James Brian Pekol on May 4, 1961, Jim Pekol is musician originally from Wausau, Wisconsin.
Jim graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point with a degree in Bachelor of Music Education with an emphasis in saxophone. He then taught Grade 5-8 instrumental music for 19 years in the Wisconsin public schools. He started playing in the Wausau Concert Band in 1979, and has been the conductor since 2005. Jim is also conductor of the Lakeland Community Concert Band and part-time conductor of the Rhinelander Community Band. Jim also performs vocally and instrumentally in numerous professional and community groups.
A published composer and arranger, Jim has written for many different types of groups, including band and orchestra, as well as arrangements for Jazz, Dixieland and dance bands.
While growing up in Wausau, Jim was educated in the Wausau School system and began his performing career as a piano player with the "Swingin' Scots", a middle school Dixieland band under the direction of John Muir Middle School band director Raymond "Bud" Rozelle. While in high school he began playing clarinet, sax, trumpet, accordion and piano in some of the local polka/dance bands, including the "Greiner Brothers Orchestra" (1976-1984), the "Jerry Goetsch Orchestra" (1985-1992).
In 1979 Jim, formed his own Slovenian-style polka band with Jim on accordion, John Greiner on piano and later Denis Burgess on drums and Marilyn Baer on banjo. This band was known for its smooth Slovenian beat, variety of music and well-blended vocal harmonies. The band appeared in a Trucktoberfest TV commercial for Brickner Motors of Wausau, performed as the house band at the Telemark Ski Lodge in Cable, WI, and performed with "America's Polka King" Frank Yankovic from 1986-1996. Jim, who is of Slovenian/German descent (Pekol was shortened from the Slovenian Pekolj) is affectionately known as "The Northwoods Polka King."
Jim and his wife Marilyn have 2 sons, Brian and Bob. Brian is also a professional musician in Minneapolis, MN.