Allen Valish was born on May 5th, 1946, in Columbus, Nebraska, to the parents of Emil and Alice Valish. Allen is the youngest of five children.
Allen spent his childhood in Schuyler, Nebraska. At the age of two, his parents moved from a rental property in rural Schuyler to the city. His father sold his Anton Hlavacek accordion to earn extra money to purchase cement blocks for the building of a basement home for the family. One convenience in the home that Allen was in was the Wooden Cabinet Kennedy table radio that provided the daily musical enjoyment of Ernie Kucera from KJSK, and who could pass an evening of WNAX radio from Yankton, South Dakota, with the music of the Six Fat Dutchmen: Whoope John, Joe Lukish and the Yankton WNAX Band.
Schuyler was rich with music and musicians. With eleven taverns and the beautiful Oak Ballroom, always lifted a persons spirit after a week of hard work. The rewardable thing was that everyone enjoyed a full crowd. Music was always a fascination to Allen. After becoming separated from his parents at a large dancing crowd, Allen could always be located in front of the orchestra. “The way that the musicians could play was awesome.”
As Allen listened to musical programs on the family radio, he always had the strong desire to learn and play the trumpet. At the age of eleven, the chance arrived when Allen’s brother, Vernon, whom at the time was involved in brass horn lessons, took Allen to the high school band room to meet the band director. The year was 1957 and Allen was in fifth grade at the North Ward elementary school in Schuyler. As it turned out the band director had a full section of trumpet players, but was short of trombone players in the beginner band. Allen did state his argument, but it wasn’t convincing. It was trombone or nothing. That band director, named Willian Wirty, was tough!
Now another task faced Allen: He had to return home and inform his parents that he was in need to become a trombone player. The family was in the finishing process of building a new home above the basement home, so money was tight. With convincing his mother that this wasn’t just a childhood phase he was going through, and the promise to practice or his life was in danger, Allen’s parents borrowed $125.00 from the bank of Schuyler to purchase a new student line King trombone. Despite his promise to practice, his parents and neighbors may’ve have regretted it at first.
Time passed with signs of improvement. In 1959, Allen’s time had come, when he was in the eighth grade, he joined the Schuyler High marching band and concert band. Little did he know of two individuals in that first day of band practice, but they were in their senior year and very rehearsed musicians. They would later, after graduation, join the Al Grebnick Band. These people were Kenny Grebnick on trumpet and Frank Sobota on bass.
After graduating from Schuyler High School in 1964, Allen’s only activity with music was during summer concerts by the high school band in the Schuyler Community Park, which alumni and dance band members were all invited to join.
Then it was off the South East Community College and then duty with the U.S. Army. After Allen’s military duty, he returned to Schuyler and in his spare time would occasionally pick up the trombone and play along with the radio and records that Ernie Kucera and Al Grebnick recorded.
It wasn’t until the summer of 1967 that Allen and his uncle Leonard Kment stopped at the First and Ten tavern in Schuyler to listen to the music of Emil Brdicko. Allen’s uncle kept bugging the band leader, asking if Allen could sit in. Allen really didn’t want any part of it. With only an hour left to play, Emil came up and asked if Allen wanted to sit in for a number. Allen still was reluctant to do so, and had to return home at midnight to retrieve his trombone.
One of the guys that came into the tavern was Adolf Kucera. Adolf approached Allen about wanting to get a band together for his brother Frank and wanted Allen to be at his tavern at 8 PM.
The following Wednesday was the first meeting of Frank Kucera. Until their first recording, Frank’s band worked weekends in taverns with Frank on accordion, Mike Palensky on drums, Ray Kubik on bass, and Allen on trombone. Frank’s band expanded when the band was working at a show when a gentleman approached Frank and asked if he could sit in on tenor sax. That person was Bob Polending. The crowd liked the music and that evening Frank expanded the band.
Frank’s band became very popular, and recorded four records. Allen traveled through the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Working with Frank gave Allen his interest in the button accordion, and in 1968, Allen bought his button accordion from Frank Studnicke and still played that same accordion. The accordion wasn’t easy to learn, but with the help of Frank Kucera, it made the progress easier to learn.
Allen worked six good years with the Frank Kucera Orchestra, from 1967-1973. While working with Frank’s band, Allen worked as a sub on Frank Hazribas’ band and formed a small combo.
With the younger musicians, as well as Bob Palensky, Allen Morovec, and Allen Valish, they had formed a new group called the Allen Valish Orchestra, with Bob taking care of the musical arrangements. The band got its start in August of 1973, working more combo jobs than full orchestra shows. The Valish band recorded a album in the late fall of 1973. The band toured around Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma.