The Story

In the basement of Danny Benic's house, winter 2000, Croate began with 3 members: Danny Benic (drums), Ivan Katkic (keyboard/accordion), and Marko Skrtic (lead vocals). There was no bassist or guitarist. Croate's top priority was to find a full time bass player.

During the first few months, Steve Siljevinac filled in for a good portion of the gigs on bass. Later that year, Katkic recorded Divne Boje's CD entitled "Idu Dani, Lete Godine" when their guitarist, Stipe Milardovic, recommended his brother. Stipe brought Mate in to do a few tracks on the album, and Croate found their bassist. With the addition of a full time bassist, the search for a guitarist began. For the time being, Stipe filled in with the band.

In the summer of 2003, Mate brought along Ivan Muncic, a friend from the tambura days, to band practice. His first gig with Croate was a picnic in Hamilton, followed by long-time running event ‘Luda Noc’ in Windsor. After Luda Noc, Muncic became a full time member. With the five-piece now complete, Croate went full steam ahead in the coming years, entertaining guests at many weddings, banquets, parties and other events across Canada and the US.

2006 was an exciting year for Croate. Aside from the steady stream of weddings, beach bashes and banquets, it had the pleasure of being the opening band to Prljavo Kazaliste, one of the most popular Croatian rock bands, while on their "Moj Dom Je Hrvatska" tour in Canada and the United States. Later in the year, Croate enjoyed being accompanied on stage by popular Croatian singer Nenad Vetma at a wedding in Oakville. The party continued as the band headed out to Edmonton, Alberta for a fundraising event hosted by folk dance group ‘Domagoj’. Celebrating with friends in Los Angeles, California by ringing in the New Year capped the year off with a big bang.

The excitement continued the following years, where many crowds danced the nights away. Croate also made a return to Alberta 2007, this time sharing the stage with Duka Caic at a wedding in Calgary.

In the fall of 2007, Marko began his studies at the University of Toronto and decided he was no longer able to continue with Croate. The search began for a new lead vocalist. For several years, Stipe had been a reliable fill-in for Marko and was an obvious choice. He accepted the lead role and added 12 (not 15) years of experience to the band.

With a new lead vocalist, Croate carried on performing throughout Canada and the US. Memorable events included Chicago folk dance group ‘Kardinal Stepinac’ annual concerts, weddings, various folk dance festivals and soccer tournaments.

In September 2009, Croate once more had the pleasure of opening for another popular Croatian band - Marko Perkovic, Thompson. The outdoor fundraising concert drew a crowd of over 8,500 fans at the Queen of Peace Franciscan Centre in Norval, Ontario. The following year, Croate again returned Los Angeles to perform at a 100th anniversary celebration and Hercegovacki picnic.

2010 marked a year of change, when Ivan Katkic, one of the founding members of the band, parted ways with Croate. The search was on to find a keyboard/accordion player, which is when Hrvoje Novacic joined. Hrvoje came with an impressive resume that included performing with Cadillac band, Veseli Sokci and singer Zeljko Loncaric Zec.

With the departure of Croate's lead vocalist Stipe in 2012, John Percevic filled the void by accepting the role. His previous experience in several bands over the years, most recently Milenia and Velebit, made him a solid addition to the band. Later that year, Croate called on Tommy Peretic to join as the 6th member: accordion. Tommy has been providing his musical stylings at many weddings and parties over the years and has proven to be a solid addition to the band.

The story continues...

Band Facts

Formed: January 2000
Members: 6
Total musical experience: 279835 years combined
Professionally trained: does Joe Loncaric count?
Instruments: elec. guitar / acc. guitar / bass / drums / keyboard / accordion
Musical styles: Narodne, Rock, Zabavne, Pop
Hometowns: Hamilton, Kitchener and London
Play tambura: yes

Questions asked that we thought were odd:

:: Why do you call the big black box, "the coffin"?
:: Why do you guys have so many cables?
:: Are you really a jazz band from Windsor, and is your singer really a race-car driver?
:: I know you guys don't know this tune, but could you try playing it for me?
:: Why are you guys making Marko carry everything?
:: Borderguard - "Are those really poems in that songbook?"
:: Borderguard - "Did you know you were only allowed to bring one bottle per person across, not three!?"
:: Where do you guys fit all that beer?
:: Two seats in the van, where do the rest of you sit?
:: Hogan? That doesn't sound like a Croatian lastname!
:: Why do you guys have a swimming pool in your room?
:: Do you know that Steve guy? Is he with you guys?
:: Oh man... Driving does suck! Anyone else wanna drive?
:: Are those sideburns real?
:: Sto ste me utrpali tamo sa starcima?