Steve Steager

Steven J. Steager was born on September 9, 1963 in David City, Nebraska. His parents are Richard and Cecelia Steager. Steve is married to Deborah M. Nemec Steager. They have three children: Son Joshua and his wife Janet with grandson Ryder, son Jeremiah, daughter Michaela and Fiance Weston.

Steve attended grade school and Holy Trinity in Brainard, Nebraska through 5th grade, then 6th grade at St. Mary’s in David City. He continued in 7th through 12th grade at East Butler Public Schools where he graduated in 1981. Steve started his college days at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska for one year. In 1986, he graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education, and in 1994 graduated from VanderCook College of Music with a Masters Degree in Music Education.

Steve began playing his dad’s cornet at age 10 while in the Holy Trinity school 5th grade band, and also 6th grade band at St. Marys. While in 7th grade, Steve began plyaing tuba and then in 8th grade added the euphonium. He also sang in the choir, Barbershop Quartet and swing choir while in high school at East Butler. The Barbershop Quartet performed at the State FFA Convention in Pershing Auditorium in 1979. After high school, while at Hastings College, Steve majored in music education, performed in the choir, band, wind ensemble as well as many small ensembles including the Brass Quintet. Steve transferred to UNO in 1982 and was first chair tuba in the wind ensemble for four years in a row; section leader in the Marching Band and continued his music education degree. He was also first chair tuba in the Intercollegiate Band for three years in a row. In 1991, he started his Masters program at the prestigious VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois, receiving his degree in 1994.

Steve began playing professionally in 1979 at the age of 15 at the Blue River Lodge in Crete, Nebraska with the Czechlanders. After a few jobs with the Czechlanders he played numerous jobs with the Michael Brecka Orchestra from Linwood, Nebraska. Both Dean Hansen and Al Grebenick asked Steve to play in their bands while he was still in high school, but he turned them down. He remembers Al saying “It’s a Business” and he didn’t think he could swing it while being in high school. In the summer of 1982, Ernie Kucera called and asked him to play one job with them in Marysville, Kansas. That one job turned into 15 years with Ernie and then another 5 years with Mike Brecka when he took over Ernie’s band after Ernie’s retirement. Steve took over leadership of The Prague Czech Brass Band after Adolph Nemec (His Father-in-law) decided to retire from the polka business. The Prague Czech Brass Band performs for the annual Czech Heritage Day, in Prague as well as other opportunities that arise. Steve currently plays with the Bohemian Alps Boys and helps out other bands whenever his schedule allows. He has played on several recordings with:

  • Ernie Kucera
  • Mike Brecka
  • Mark Vyhlidal
  • Plymouth Brass
  • Omaha Brass Ensemble

The list of bands, orchestras, or groups Steve worked for…

Polka:

  • Ernie Kucera
  • Mike Brecka (twice, his band before Ernie and after Ernie)
  • Bill Andel
  • Vern Belik
  • Jim Bochnicek
  • Barry Boyce
  • Czech and Then Some
  • Czechlanders
  • Dean Hansen
  • Happy Players
  • Leonard Havranek
  • Brad Husak
  • Jolly Coppersmiths
  • Karl and The Country Dutchmen
  • Dan Kouma
  • Angie Kriz
  • Jim Kucera
  • Johnny Kucera
  • Leo Lonnie
  • Moostache Joe
  • Moonlighters
  • Ron Nadherny
  • Adolph Nemec
  • Red Raven
  • Allen Rerucha
  • Kenny Shuda
  • Russ Skalak
  • Tom Sladek
  • Math Sladky
  • David Slovak
  • Studio Trio
  • Texas Dutchmen
  • Sue Underwood
  • Mark Vyhlidal
  • Jacob Vyhlidal
  • Young Czechs
  • Addie Hejl
  • Bohemian Alps Boys
  • American Czech Brass Band
  • Nebraska Czech Brass Band
  • Prague Czech Brass Band

Big Band/Ballroom:

  • Jimmy B
  • Duffy Belahrad
  • Lonny Lynn
  • Pat Mitchell
  • Orville Von Seggern

Speciality Groups:

  • Chicago Brass Band
  • Plymouth Brass
  • Palladium Brass
  • Nebraska Brass
  • Satin Brass
  • Arcadion Brass
  • A Touch of Brass
  • San Diego Brass Quintet
  • Lincoln Symphony
  • Omaha Symphony

Steve has received many awards and honors since high school starting with All State Band in 1979 & 1980, second chair tuba in 1980. Several honor bands Steve was involved included Nebraska Wesleyan, Hastings College, and ECNC Conference. He received scholarships to attend both Hastings College and Universtiy of Nebraska at Omaha. First chair in the Intercollegiate Honor Band for three years. He received the College Scholarship for future Band Directors from the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association.

He won the James Peterson Concerto Competition at UNO in 1986, and was tuba soloist with the Bellevue East Wind Ensemble in 1986 at the Nebraska State Bandmasters Convention in Lincoln. Steve received the Schuyler Teacher of the Year Award in 1989. The Schuyler Band competed at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg, Canada and earned 1st place trophies in Field Marching, Parade Marching, and Concert Band Competition. He received the Jack R. Snider Outstanding Young Band Director Award from the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association in 1991. He has had three groups perform at state level conventions: The Fremont Jr. High Tiger Band performed at the 1996 Nebraska State Bandmasters Convention, Fremont Middle School Jazz Band performed at the 2003 Nebraska Music Educators Convention and the Fremont Middle School Tiger Band performed at the 2010 Nebraska State Bandmasters Convention.

He has served as Executive Officer in the Nebraska State Bandmasters for three years, serving as President in 2012-2013, Steve received the Rotary Club of Fremont Teacher of the Year in 2015, and was nominated to run for office of Nebraska Music Educators Association three times. Steve is the current Vice-President of the Nebraska Czechs.

Interesting Facts: Steve began teaching band at Schuyler from 1986 to 1989; he has been in Fremont for 30 years. He followed Bob Olsen who was there for 33 years who followed his father Walt Olsen who taught for 35 years. Fremont Middle School has been in existence for 98 years with only three band directors over that time.

Steve is the only tuba player to have won the James B. Peterson Concerto Competition held at UNO.

Career highlights include trip to the Czech Republic with Ernie Kucera in 1992. Underwear on the Moose Head at Zapletals house in Ennis, Texas while playing with Jim Bochnicek, and the infamous falling off the back of the outside stage at Cotillion in Wichita, Kansas in 1985. Getting home from dance jobs just in time to go teach at school or march in a parade. Playing gigs with his family.

Steve’s wife Debbie is the daughter of Gladys at the late Adolph Nemec who was a 1985 inductee to The Sokol Omaha Polka Hall of Fame.