A Brief History of Kovanda's Czech Band
Czech native Vlastimil Kovanda first organized the band in April 1984. They made their first appearance performing with a Czech play on April 15, 1984. Kovanda wrote most of the arrangements in our band book, all true to the Czech brass band idiom. His vision was to re-create the style of music known in the Czech Republic as dechovka. Texans would recognize this as the style of the original Baca Brass Band of Fayetteville. Years ago, this style of band music was very popular in Texas, but today only small groups can afford to make a living playing live music and most larger groups have vanished.
When founder Vlastimil Kovanda returned to the Czech Republic in 1989, Leland Miller of Fayetteville, Texas, took over management of the band. He also produced several audio recordings of the band, and sponsored the band's trip to Omaha, Nebraska for a video recording session. Although Leland retired from band management in early 2000, he continues his interest in production and distribution of the band's recordings. To fill a small part of the void left by his retirement, the band has organized a non-profit organization, Friends of Old World Music, as the new home of the band. For those in the USA wishing to support this musical heritage, donations to Friends of Old World Music are tax-deductible under sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(2) of the tax code.
The early seven-piece version of the Kovanda's Czech Band can be heard in a recently released recording taken from a live radio broadcast in December 1984 (The Original Kovanda's Czech Band, KCB 100). As time passed, the band grew increasingly devoted to the Czech brass band style. That devotion inspired the band to grow in size. Today's band features flugelhorns, trumpets, trombone, euphoniums, Eb and Bb clarinets, tuba and percussion.
The band has recorded six cassette tapes and three videos. A few highlights from the original studio sessions have been digitally re-mastered and are available as CD compilations. CD and cassette versions of the video sessions are also available. The band can also be seen on the Big Joe Polka Show.
Long-time lead trumpet and founding member George Krejci retired to the Czech Republic in late November 2000. With that move, the band has lost both of their native-born Czechs, but several Czech-Americans continue to perform, along with some "adopted" Czechs. Regardless of where the band members come from, they all share a deep love for and enjoyment of Czech music.