Local polka music icon James Bochnicek, known as Jimmy B in the music field, is being inducted into this year’s class of the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame.
Bochnicek, a Papillion resident, said that being included with this year’s inductees, whom he labeled as icons in the music industry themselves, is an honor.
After driving his mother “nuts” by beating on pots and pans constantly, his uncle gave him his first drum set and Bochnicek started playing music with his dad, who played the button accordion.
When he started high school, he played drums in the school band.
Bochnicek’s first professional experience happened by circumstance.
“I went to the Sarpy County Fair to listen to the band that was playing and their drummer failed to show up,” Bochnicek said.
He was asked to join the group for that performance and ended up getting hired. Bochnicek said the band, known as the Thunderbirds, was a country rock band and he played with them from 1963 and continued on until early 1965.
Shortly after getting married, Bochnicek received a call from The Polka Knights, a teenage polka band, who were looking for a drummer. Bochnicek said he took the job for the New Year’s Eve performance and played with the band for 4 to 5 years. After that experience, he went on to work with the Eddie Janak Orchestra where Bochnicek said he learned how to be a band leader.
“In 1976, I started my own band called the Jim Bochnicek Orchestra and traveled all over,” Bochnicek said.
The Jim Bochnicek Orchestra traveled to Canada and Midwestern states to perform at polka festivals. They recorded five vinyl LP’s and in 2001 produced a CD titled “The Best of 25 Years” taking tunes from the previous four LP’s.
After purchasing the music library of Skippy Anderson, Bochnicek started booking ballroom dances and events and formed the new Jimmy B Orchestra.
In 2001, they produced a CD titled “The Big Band Sounds of the Jimmy B Orchestra.” In 2003, his band was selected to play at the Glen Miller Festival in Clarinda, Iowa.
He was involved with the music business for 53 years and retired in 2016. Bochnicek’s music groups played a total of 2,193 events and 326 different musicians played in his bands.
The induction ceremony will be held on June 30 at the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center, 3321 S. 72nd St. Advance tickets can be purchased on eventbrite.com for $15 and tickets at the door can be purchased for $20.