A passion for music over four decades resulted in the Kovar Brothers’ induction into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame in late November. Tim and Mick Kovar performed at the River’s Edge Music Festival in Columbus during the induction event.
The Kovars' induction included this story: The brothers were young when they spent hours listening to and singing along with records in their David City home on First Street.
At the ages of 8 and 5, little Timmy and Micky were thrilled when they received their first guitars and began entering talent contests. strumming and singing along with the yellow, plastic 78 record, “Theme from Flipper,” their big hit. Their first paying job was singing at a wedding shower in Brainard, Nebraska, where they literally worked for peanuts; two jars, in fact. Though these budding musicians started out by singing to records and strumming their prop guitars, the two brothers were soon on their way to a lifetime of playing music.
Mick was the first one to pursue making “real” music when he started playing around and pushing the keys of a little Magnus organ. He quickly discovered that he could play songs without looking at the songbook, which really sparked his enthusiasm. Sometime later, while on a shopping trip to Columbus, Mick was intrigued by an accordion that was on display in the window of the Columbus Music store. So the family walked in to look around, and before you knew it, the salesman had strapped the instrument onto the young 6-year old, and he began playing the keyboard side and working on the in and out motion of the bellows. Even though Mick couldn’t yet play the bass side of the accordion, the sale was made.
Before long, Tim wanted to get into making music and decided that the act needed a drummer. So the group’s equipment list increased, with the purchase of a Whitehall drum set, complete with two toms and cymbals. And that is when things began to change. The boys put in countless hours of practice, learning their repertoire of polkas and waltzes. Finally, they were ready for their first public performance, playing for the Annual Feeders & Breeders Banquet, at the David City Auditorium. Bud Comte, who hired the boys to play, lent a helping hand by setting up a microphone and sound system, and a reel to reel recording machine to capture this momentous occasion. From that first job, the Kovar Boys began filling their weekends playing for many wedding dances in David City and surrounding areas. It was during this time that the boys were featured in a national publication as “Polka Teens of The Week”.
As Tim and Mick continued to grow as musicians, now adding keyboards to the mix, they began to include the popular country music songs into their playlist. Their dad, Jerome, and mom, Geraldine, supported their musical interests adding equipment as it was needed, and going along on every dance job to help set up and take down the set. Jerome began an interest in learning how to play the guitar, so after the family surprised him with an acoustic guitar for Christmas, Jerome began taking lessons. Mick listened and learned alongside his dad, and before long, decided he needed an electric guitar to add to the collection of instruments. Again, the boys began to practice for hours, increasing their song list with Top 40 Country hits as well as a few original songs.
In 1977, realizing they wanted a bigger sound than what just two could provide, the Kovar boys decided to ask their parents to join the band. After some convincing, the idea went into action. Jerome picked up the bass guitar, and Geraldine learned how to chord on the keyboard. Little sister, Cindy, even joined in on the vocals by adding a few country female hits to the song mix. Her big hit with the crowds was I’m Not Lisa. Eventually, cousin Cliff Kovar joined the group, adding some vocals and playing rhythm guitar. The Kovar Family band was well known throughout eastern Nebraska, staying busy with playing for wedding dances, parties, and dance clubs including the Moose Lodge, Eagles Club, VFW Club, Starlight, Flying V, and Johnny’s, to name a few. Mick began broadening his experience in the music field working for a single company in Lincoln. During this time, he wrote the song American Farmer, a regional radio hit that was broadcast on radio stations across the Midwest. He and Tim also worked for Renee Sound Studio as studio musicians on countless albums.
Around 1989, Tim and Mick became interested in taking the band in a new direction. The technology of midi systems and playing live along with tracks Mick created gave them a wider variety of sounds and music styles. So Jerome and Geraldine retired from the roles of band members but continued their roles in promoting and supporting the new sound of their boys’ music. Joni Kerns, a Grammy-nominated singer, who worked with Mick at the jingle company, joined Tim and Mick on stage. With the addition of Joni’s unmatched vocals and stage presence, the new group, Kovar & Kerns captivated audiences wherever they went.
Years later when Joni moved to Florida to pursue a solo career, the female vocals position was taken over by Darci Hatfield-Fuller, a long-time friend, and fellow musician, and the band became known as Bordertown. Bordertown continued to play together, entertaining crowds well into the millennium. As the first decade of 2000 was drawing nearer, Tim and Mick decided to slow things down to spend more time with family and continue just playing themselves for a few more years, until their last gig at the Lincoln Eagles Club in 2013. After 47 years of sharing music together, the Kovar Brothers closed the door on the duo. Tim continued sitting in with bands for years and Mick turned his music interests to his recording studio and d.j. services.
Both continue to support the music of others and feel very humbled by the honor of being inducted into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. They would like to thank the many musician friends they have made along the way, as well as all the people who kept them in the business for so many years by coming out to support their music. And, thank you to their parents Jerome and Geraldine, for starting them on this path, their wives, Joan and Renee, and children, Nicole, Michaela, Megan, and Adam, who sacrificed so many nights without them so they could follow their passion of music.