May 23, 2008: Henry Doktorski played a brief solo at the National Button Accordion Festival held at the Croatian Club in Bessemer, Pennsylvania. He played his Theme and Variation on Richard Rodgers' Edelweiss on the main stage, and then performed a few pieces by Guido Deiro offstage for friends.
Doktorski explained: "I wasn't expecting to play anything at the festival. I was there just to listen to some good music and have a good time. My student and friend, David Masterpietro of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, is a member of the Croatian Club in Bessemer. When he heard about the button-accordion festival, he invited me to dinner at the club with his wife and then to listen to the musicians and bands. I thought it would be great fun, and it was. We didn't dress up for a formal occasion since it was a casual affair, and I hoped to just sit back and enjoy some fine music."
"Imagine my surprise when several people recognized me and came up to our table; people from Texas and Florida and California who had heard me perform in Dallas and Orlando and San Francisco. But when Ron Pivovar—a retired Professor of Ceramics at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania, and one of the organizers of the festival and a fine musician himself—came over and exclaimed, 'Henry! Good to see you! Remember me? I picked you up at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport when you came to perform for the March 2004 Texas Accordion Association Convention! Would you like to play a tune or two? We could fit you in between two of the scheduled performers!'"
"How could I say no! I didn't bring my accordion, but I borrowed a piano-accordion from William R. Hayes from Ringgold, Virginia—who had performed earlier during the festival—and played Edelweiss on his beautiful Zupan accordion. Several people came up afterwards and said, 'Henry, the last time I heard you perform you were wearing dress shoes and a black tuxedo with tails. Now you are wearing jeans and work boots!' I had to humbly explain that I didn't intend to play anything, but I was glad I had the opportunity. I heard some great music, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and got to catch up again with some friends from Orlando, Dallas, and San Francisco, and also Joe Smiell from San Francisco, an extraordinary musician and colleague—a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory (Johns Hopkins University) and a recognized virtuoso on the Austrian button-box accordion—who I hadn't seen since my last California tour!"
Doktorski returned Sunday afternoon, March 25, for the final formal concert and performed Clarinet Polka and Theme and Variation on "Edelweiss" to an appreciative audience. He explained, "I had just finished playing two church services that morning at my regular Sunday gig in Rochester, Pennsylvania, and only had a few hours before I was scheduled to appear at a recital in Pittsburgh later that afternoon. But I had so much fun on Friday, that I had to return to Bessemer on Sunday, even if only for an hour or two."
Ron Pivovar thanked Henry for adding some "class" to the festival:
Doktorski concluded: "And the dancing was great! So many couples on the dance floor. It was really a fun event. My congratulations to Ron Pivovar, Paul Mirkovich, and Joe Godina for organizing such a great festival!"
Phantom Henry: Thank you for coming to the NBAF event and returning to play in the Concert on Sunday. Your high level of playing added considerably to the Concert. It was a pleasure seeing you again and to have you join us in this unique Festival which is entirely new to this area. You evaporated from the scene all too soon!