Bob Sestili
Inducted - Pittsburgh 2008

Hall of Fame PhotoBob Sestili has been involved with tamburitzan music since the age of 8, marking his 50th anniversary in 2008.  He began his tambura-playing career with the St. George Junior Tamburitzans from Cokeburg, Pennsylvania, under the direction of Joseph Grcevich.  With St. George, he was able to learn all the tambura instruments, but specialized on the bass.  Through the Junior Tamburitzans, he was able to make special friendships that have lasted till today from many parts of the United States and Canada, such as the Kosovec and Jurkovic families.  He graduated from high school and St. George in 1968.  During his college period, Bob continued to play bass, except he moved more to the electric bass instrument.  There he played with a mixture of rock, country, and polka bands.
 
Somewhere in the mid-1970s, Bob was asked to join the St. George Alumni group, who were forming to play a few concerts.  He played with them continuously until, in the early 80s, his lifelong friend, Jerry Grcevich, asked him to play with the Mirko Roknich Orchestra from Akron, Ohio.  Bob spent eight or nine years with this band playing at festivals, golf tournaments, and clubs across the country, and continues with many friendships made from the Akron/Canton area.  Bob wanted to acknowledge the late Rudy Kolich and Artie Kropaj, who were fellow musicians with the band and past Hall of Fame inductees.
 
He also took on the responsibility of being an Assistant Director with the Mladi Hrvati Junior Tamburitzans from Millvale, Pennsylvania, and later with the St. George Tamburitzans from Cokeburg, Pennsylvania, which lasted for 13 years and toured Croatia four times.  During this period, Bob and Jerry were asked on many different occasions to accompany singers and musicians from Croatia and Yugoslavia.  Bob performed with Cune, Vera Svoboda, Hoki, Slavonski Bećari, Kićo Slabinac, Bata Kanda, and many others.  In 1990, the Mirko Roknich Orchestra divided up with Jerry and Bob forming the Jerry Grcevich Orchestra with Vjeko Dimter and Prsti Wagner.  This band still plays today, along with the addition of other musicians.
 
The Jerry Grcevich Orchestra took Bob to new playing levels, such as performing at regional and national folk festivals culminating with performances at the Lincoln Center, Library of Congress, and at the National Heritage awards concert in Washington DC.  Jerry's band also played at various dance camps and festivals across the United States with Željko Jergan.  With this orchestra, Bob was honored to have accompanied even more singers and musicians from Croatia such as two American tours with Zvonko Bogdan, one American tour with Miro Škoro, and numerous jam sessions with the likes of Berde Band, Patria, and others.  Bob also made several guest appearances with other bands in the US and Canada such as Slanina, Kontraband, Yeseta Brothers Orchestra, Sanjari, Otrov, and many, many others.  One of Bob's highlights was to play with his son Robi's band, Orchestra 8601, which performed at two Extravaganzas and recorded two CDs.  Bob was particularly pleased to have played with his son onstage along with Joe Grlica, Marko Dreher, Vjeko Dimter, Kruno Špišić, John Huckle, and other guests.  Currently, Bob also belongs to a Pittsburgh adult group called Kumovi, under the direction of Željko Jergan.  This group performs and dances songs and music from different regions of Croatia.  Bob was also pleased to have been on stage with his son Angelo and wife Debbie with Kumovi.  Bob is still active and serves as a board member with Kumovi.
 
Seeing a need for more communication between musicians and tambura music lovers, Bob helped Vjeko organize a web site several years ago devoted to tamburitza music and people, named Tamburaland.com.  Bob and his wife Debbie usually organize the Pittsburgh picnics.  Tamburaland still serves as a communication network between music lovers from the US, Canada, Australia, and Croatia.
 
About three years ago, a new restaurant opened up on Pittsburgh's Southside called the Gypsy Café.  Bob, along with Jerry Grcevich and Gypsy violinist, George Batyi, began playing on Thursday nights.  During this three-year period, the group has added Peter Kosovec, David Kosovec, and Prsti Wagner, and is known as The Gypsy Strings Orchestra.  Bob considers this to be another honor to play each week with this phenomenal group of musicians.  The Gypsy Strings play every Thursday at The Gypsy Café to audiences that book reservations over a week in advance.  This lively and versatile band has played for a wide variety of audiences of many nationalities including Croatian, Serbian, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Romanian, Slovakian, etc.  A highlight of The Gypsy Strings was performing at the Pittsburgh Opera Theater.  Last year, The Gypsy Strings recorded their first CD called 'Live at the Gypsy Café'.
 
Bob would like to thank first his parents, Jim and Rose Sestili, for starting him on this lifelong endeavor with tamburitza music.  He would also like to thank Marlene Kochis for persuading him to come back after college, all the bands and musicians he performs with currently and all those he has performed with in the past, to his lifelong friend Jerry Grcevich, to his sons Robi and Angelo, and especially his wife Debbie, who has put up with the tamburaši lifestyle and the weekend gigs for 36 years.  Bob wants to also congratulate the other Hall of Fame inductees, most of whom have been friends for a long time.

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