Jodie Mikula, a Texas-Czech orchestra leader, was born Josef Matej Mikula, on November 9, 1918, in Telico, Ellis County, Texas. He was the son of Joseph F. and Mary B. (Babek) Mikula and was raised on the family farm in Telico with three sisters. The younger Mikula learned to play the accordion from his Uncle Frank and was an auto mechanic by trade. Typical of many Texas-Czech families who have preserved and cultivated a love of Czech music, the Mikulas attended Czech dances and played Czech music in their home. Jodie Mikula played accordion with different informal bands before he entered the United States Army during World War II.
In 1967 Mikula organized the Jodie Mikula Orchestra. The original band members included Jodie on accordion and his three sons. Ken sang and played cornet, tenor saxophone, baritone horn, and trombone. Nick also sang and played cornet, alto saxophone, lead guitar, and alto horn. Andy was the percussionist. Drummer Rose B. Horak, Jodie’s wife, and Jodie’s Uncle Frank, who played accordion, were also part of the group. For more than twenty years the band played weekend dances, polka festivals and similar venues. In 1989 they performed on their first cruise, just six months before Jodie Mikula died. He died in Ennis, Texas, on December 19, 1989, and is buried in the mausoleum at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Ennis.
The band has produced thirteen recordings to date, including eight with Jodie: The Mikula Orchestra Plays Ennis Style Music (1970), Jodie Mikula and His Orchestra Presents ‘My Darlin’ Polka’ (1971), Jodie Mikula and His Orchestra Presents Music From the Good Old Days (1973), Jodie Mikula and His Orchestra Presents Czech Sounds From Texas (1974), Jodie and His Orchestra Presents ‘Bandmasters Polka’ and ‘Flying Martin Waltz’ (1975), Jodie Mikula’s Orchestra Just Like Old Times Again (1980), Jodie Mikula’s Orchestra Presents a Toast to Czech Music (1985), Twentieth Anniversary Album: Dance Tonight Featuring Jodie Mikula and His Orchestra (1987). Following Jodie Mikula’s death, the band released a tribute record entitled Tribute to Jodie by the Jodie Mikula Orchestra (1990) which featured songs he already had selected for an album. The band has since made more recordings, including Hot Favorites (1990), Jodie Mikula Orchestra Presents the Klobase Polka (1993), Musically Yours, The Jodie Mikula Orchestra (1997), and Shades of the Jodie Mikula Orchestra (2002).
In 1991 Mikula received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Polka Music Association (TPMA) for his work as a pioneering bandleader who devoted his life to polka music. Since his passing his sons have kept the Jodie Mikula Orchestra going, and they continue to perform at numerous events, such as the National Polka Festival at Ennis, the Six Flags Texas Heritage Festival in Arlington, and the New Braunfels Wurstfest. In 1991 the TPMA honored the group as Band of the Year, Best Vocal Duo and Trio (Ken and Nick), and Album of the Year (Hot Favorites), as well as Writer and Arranger of the Year (Frank Kubena). In 1993 the band’s song “The Klobase Polka” was named song of the year. In June 1996 the orchestra competed at the inaugural Lawrence Welk Polka Festival in Branson, Missouri, for such judges as Myron Floren, Jo Ann Castle, and Lawrence Welk, Jr., and tied for first place. This earned them the opportunity to perform with Myron Floren in the Lawrence Welk Show that same evening. The Jodie Mikula Orchestra continued to be a popular draw at various venues and festivals in the 2000s.