A very well-known and well-loved, Wisconsin multi-award-winning musician, Steve Meisner, has passed away following a very brief illness. Steve was 62 years old. Even though Steve last performed on stage on May 21, he received a stage IV cancer diagnosis in various spots the following week. Steve and his family were utterly stunned. The announcement of Steve’s passing was made known on his official Facebook account on Thursday, June 1.
Steve passed away quietly on June 1st in the afternoon at Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, before any meaningful treatment could be considered. His daughters Whitney and Lindsey, son Austin, and Barb, his devoted wife of 38 years, were by his side.
Steve Meisner was a multi-talented musician and composer-arranger. He began playing the accordion at the age of 5 and has been earning a living in the music business since the age of 16. Steve’s family has a rich musical heritage and he is a second-generation full-time working musician. His father, the late Verne Meisner, had a successful music career for over 50 years. Meisner’s brand of music is extremely versatile and appealing to a wide audience. He has made a name for himself by taking the music he grew up with from his father and adding his own imagination and feeling. He has brought his brand of traditional American polka into the 21st century with a fresh spark swing while retaining the roots of this music.
Mr. Meisner has been working to promote good music that people of all ages may enjoy since he was a small child. His main objective has been to change people’s perceptions of polka music from the stereotypical ones they have. “In my opinion, excellent music is just good music, and listeners can tell the difference. They sense it even if they don’t always grasp how it works. And it’s in people that I’ve always put my trust. They concur that great music is just great and helps people feel wonderful. Throughout his 36-year musical career, Mr. Meisner has shared the stage alongside polka legends Myron Floren, Frank Yankovic, Joey Miskulin, and Verne Meisner.
He has amassed 19 LP/CD, 6 Single, and 7 Video releases with full production credits. He has since performed nationally coast to coast and internationally averaging 200 performances annually including performances at the Lawrence Welk Theater in Branson, MO and a two week engagement at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
He and his music have filtered into television broadcasts and motion pictures including TNN’s Crook Chaseemshow and more recently the ABC Network 4th of July broadcast of “In Search of America, a 4th of July Celebration” hosted by the late Peter Jennings and folklorist Nick Spitzer. He and his music are featured in a full-length motion picture “Chump Change” released by Miramax.
He has been heard and seen on the film festival circuit in a short film called “The Pick Up Polka” and has an original composition in an independent film called “Red Betsy”. Mr. Meisner has received numerous awards and nominations including “Musician and Band of the Year”, “Favorite Polka Artist”, and “Lifetime achievement award” by the Maryland Accordion Club, resides as the 29th inductee to the Ironworld Polka Hall of Fame, and in 2005 an “Honor Roll” induction in the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame.
Funeral and other arrangements have not yet been made but will be provided as soon as they become available. Steve was known and loved by so many and we know you will all be in disbelief. For now, the family asks for privacy as they work though this shocking and sudden loss.
His original songs have even been nominated for Grammys and are featured on a number of the best-selling polka albums. He has features from newspapers, magazines, and textbooks, and he is available in both the music and textbook sections of many Wisconsin state libraries. His recordings are utilized in kindergarten and preschool classrooms to instruct the young, and in nursing homes to help the elderly remember their carefree youth and the good life.
Everyone can agree that Steve would want the show to continue. The remaining months of 2023 are filled with numerous appearances by The Meisner Band. The core members of the Meisner Band have agreed to cooperate with the numerous occasions and locations to carry out these engagements as requested.
The final performances of Steve’s Band will be filled by guest musicians, even though there is no one as talented as Steve who can take his place. Since Steve has made entertaining audiences his life’s work since he was a youngster, we are certain that this is exactly what he would have wanted.
As additional information becomes available, it will be provided on Steve’s website, www.SteveMeisner.com, on social media, and in Steve’s newsletter. An epic celebration of Steve’s life, a party he would be proud of, will be held in the near future.
Please keep Steve’s family in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve this loss along with all of you.