(Bio taken from Pawnee Republican, written by Carol A. Sisco, September 1st, 2006)
Czech, please! Robert Stepanek of DuBois is always happy to answer the call for a bass horn player when any area polka band is in need. You might say he has Czech music in his soul.
The people at Omaha’s Sokol Polka Hall of Fame would seem to agree, as they are inducting Bob Stepanek and Bill Andle into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, September 10th, 2006, at the Omaha location at 13th and Martha streets. A celebration will be held from 4-8 p.m. with Kenny Shuda and his band playing. The induction ceremony will be at 6 p.m.
Bob was born June 13th, 1935, on the farm northeast of DuBois where he still lives today. He was the third child of Emil and Helen (Tichy) Stepanek.
He has always played the bass horn. He attended Pawnee City High School, where he was taught by highly regarded music instructor Arthur Schrepel. When he graduated from high school in 1952, Bob bought a new horn which he still plays.
After high school, Bob played with the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Marching and Symphonic Bands and also from the 43rd Army Band of the Nebraska National Guard.
But perhaps his most valuable experience came before any of those accomplishments. Bob’s father had Emil Stepanek’s Czech Brass Band which played during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.
“Bob was exposed to the business at an early age,” said Donna Svanda, Bob’s longtime friend and companion. “In those days, children slept on the stage behind the band.”
Bob started playing dance music on ocassional jobs with local bands before going on to work with the Math Sladky “KLMS” Polka Band for two years.
In 1963, Bob helped Bob Blecha start the “Bouncing Czechs” and played, recorded, and traveled with that group while also going on several tours to Canada and Texas with the Al Grebnick Band. He also toured with Moostash Joe, Math Sladky, and Allen Valish as well as playing a few jobs with the Six Fat Dutchmen from Minnesota.
Presently, Bob plays with Bob Blecha and the Bouncing Czechs and the Greg Blecha Trio.
Other bands and musicians he has played with include Hank Zahourek, Ladd Trecek, Steven Stastny, Jolly Jacks, Bobby Layne, Rudy Jay, Lincoln Pla-Mor All Star Polka Band, Ron Nadherny, Eddy Janak, Ernie Kucera, Bohemian Aces, Vernon Belik, Wendinger Brothers, Frank Kostka and the Jolly Yanks, Jim Bochnicek, Czechlanders, Dan Burha, Duane Stehlik Trio, La Von Blecha, Ed Svoboda’s Red Raven Orchestra, Dave Salmons, Mark Vyhlidal, Bun Czechs, Southeast Nebraska Happy Czechs, and Lou Hospodka’s Little Tavern Band.
Locally he is a member of ZCBJ Lodge No. 101 of DuBois, Pawnee Couny Rural Water Board, and the DuBois Rural Fire Department; chariman of the FSA committee in Pawnee County and secretary of the Bohemian National Cemetery southwest of Humboldt.