The Smilin Scandinavians
The Smilin' Scandinavians, widely regarded as Seattle's #1 polka band, have been around since May 17, 1995, when bandleader Toby Hanson got a group of his friends at Cornish College of the Arts to form a polka band. Since that time they've built a reputation as one of the Northwest's most fun and entertaining polka bands. They have completed two tours which took them back to the Midwest, released three albums on the Lutefisk Records Label and traveled widely around the Pacific Northwest spreading their own irreverent brand of polka fun.
The band is well known for their mix of Midwestern polka, Scandinavian folk, traditional country western, Dixieland and big band swing. Besides being a highly-regarded dance band, the Smilin' Scandinavians are also a top-notch show band, mixing in humor and unpredictable antics to keep even the grumpiest crowd smiling. Whether playing at one of the nation's top polka festivals or taking the stage at a county fair, the Smilin' Scandinavians are always happy to entertain with some good, toe-tappin' music.
The name "Smilin' Scandinavians" was inspired by both The Happy Norwegian Myron Floren (of Lawrence Welk Show fame) and pioneer polka performers The Six Fat Dutchmen. Many people find the notion of smiling Scandinavians odd since Scandinavians have a well-deserved reputation of dour stoicism. The band does all it can to show just how much fun Scandinavians are capable of.
Toby Hanson, bandleader, accordion, vocals
Toby Hanson was born in 1975 in rural Graham, Washington where he grew up with an appreciation of traditional music. He moved to Seattle in 1994 to attend Cornish College of the Arts from which he graduated Magna cum laude in 1998 with a Bachelor of Music degree. Besides his activities with the Smilin' Scandinavians he also plays with country gospel band Mended Heart and surreal cabaret band Opera Jupiter. Toby also freelances with a variety of other groups. Active in the theater, he has performed with Terry Palasz in her one-woman show Polish Diva from Milwaukee, played for productions of Cabaret and Fiddler On The Roof and acted in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors and Kirkland Performance Center's The Holiday Big Broadcast.
Listen To The Scandinavians Do More Vocal Music