Musical Heritage Alive and Well in Milligan, NE

Musical Heritage Alive and Well in Milligan, NE

Jan 24, 2018

The Milligan Czech Brass Band is formed by members from a variety of Western lodges in the area: Milligan, Wilber, Dorchester, Saline Center, and Comstock.

The big band sound of 21 trumpets, baritones, trombones, saxophones, clarinets, tubas, tenor horns, brass drums, and snare drums has been entertaining crowds around Milligan, NE for generations, courtesy of the Milligan Czech Brass Band.

The band originated in 1947 with the American Legion Post 240 Band. It disbanded in 1964, but then was reformed under the direction of Leonard Kassik two years later. Over the long duration, the band continued and has been the work of volunteers that share a love for Czech music and friendship. Current bandleader Mike Kassik commented that their one goal is to keep Czech music alive.

"Nothing beats the toe-tapping, happy music of a polka that takes us back to our roots."
Dave Vavra

 milligan czech band.jpg
Milligan Czech Brass Band.

Most of their performances occur in the Milligan Auditorium, a focal point of the community where both lodge and other events take place. Some highlights have included the Tuba Christmas, Beers of Nebraska, and the Veteran's Day Program. "It is wonderful to perform in the auditorium because the acoustics are very good and we have a very appreciative local following," band member Dave Vavra reflected.

The band plays polkas, waltzes, and marches. Glenn Koca, a retired music teacher, has arranged and composed music specifically for them. The band's personal favorite numbers include Muziky, Flama Polka, and Hundred Time Waltz. "We all believe this is about our heritage," commented Vavra, "We all grew up listening and dancing to the music. We may have gone through our teen years listening to popular music, but nothing beats the toe-tapping, happy music of a polka that takes us back to our roots." Several of the members are second-generation Czech, so this is one way to keep their heritage alive.

Milligan Czech Brass Band's large membership is partly due to its popular reception. "Once people hear us, they actually ask us if they can play with us. We also invite anyone that we feel has a love of the music, young or old," Mike Kassik said. Due to its size, the biggest challenge for the group is finding dates for practices and performances that can fit everyone's schedule.

Despite that burden, the public is welcome to join the fun at their upcoming concerts. Join them at the Starlite Ballroom in Wahoo, NE on February 11, 2018, and April 14, 2018 for the Beers of Nebraska at Milligan Auditorium, in Milligan, NE. The June Jubilee is in Milligan on June 9, 2018, and Wilber Czech Days are August 4 and 5, 2018. The band has travelled quite a bit, in state and to neighboring states, with current plans to perform at one of the 100-year Czech anniversary events in Chicago. Those interested in having the Milligan Czech Brass Band perform in their area should contact Mike Kassik at

Special thanks to Mike Kassik and Dave Vavra (both of No. 76, Milligan, NE) for the information provided in this article.

Click here to listen to "Flama Polka" from the Milligan Czech Brass Band.

Category: Czech Connection

Cindy Motsinger

Communications Coordinator

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