Benson First Friday Femme Fest starts tonight; New Omaha DIY label emerges, releases debut Junkyard Dan cassette; Mesonjixx announces new record ‘In The Middle’

Benson First Friday Femme Fest starts tonight

by Andrew Stellmon

Nebraska contains a wealth of talented female and non-male musicians, and one now-annual event continues to elevate their voices and promote their visibility.

Benson First Friday Femme Fest will celebrate women in music this weekend, highlighting more than 75 local (and a handful of out-of-state) acts on six stages Friday and Saturday throughout Omaha’s Benson neighborhood. Headliners Freakabout and Pleiades & the Bear top a robust list of bands which all feature at least one woman member.

The festival’s expansion into two nights isn’t the only indicator of its growth. A corresponding event in Lincoln this past June — its first — drew hundreds of people to 1867 Bar, while all August long, Barley Street Tavern has hosted a Thursday-night residency leading up to this weekend. More of the community is getting involved, too, as Femme Fest brings back venue hosts like Omaha Girls Rock and Planned Parenthood.

Now that year three is finally here, dive into the performance schedule and venue host listing below to plan your two-day attack. Single night passes are $10, weekend passes for $20. Get them in advance here.


The Waiting Room Lounge — hosted by Hello Holiday
6 – 6:45 DJ P2K
7 – 7:45 Edem Soul Music
8 – 8:45 Dominique Morgan & the Experience
10 – 10:45 Enjoli
11 – 11:45 Briner
12 – 12:45 The Boner Killerz

Reverb Lounge — hosted by Planned Parenthood of the Heatland
7:15 – 8 Electricradbolt
8:15 – 9 Clark & Company
9:15 – 10 Audrey Edris
10:15 – 11 Virginia Kathryn
11:15 – 12 Molly & the Dustbunnies
12:15 – 1 Yoniverse

The Barley Street Tavern
7 – 7:45 Soul Tree
8 – 8:45 Edge of Arbor
9 – 9:45 Tragic Martha
10 – 10:45 Daisy Distraction
11 – 11:45 Verse and the Vices
12 – 12:45 Schwervon! (KS)

Petshop — hosted by Omaha Under the Radar
9 – 9:45 Hasco Duo
10 – 10:45 Alexa Dexa
11 – 11:45 Stacy Barelos
12 – 12:45 Screaming Plastic

Burke’s Pub
7:15 – 8 Pony Creek
8:15 – 9 The Midnight Wanderers
9:15 – 10 Megan Siebe & Sean Pratt
10:15 – 11 Kat Ludwick & Kate Williams
11:15 – 12 Artichoke Hearts
12:15 – 1 The Wildwoods

The Sydney — hosted by Hear Nebraska
8:15 – 9 Plastic Garbage
9:15 – 10 The Way Out
10:15 – 11 TBD
11:15 – 12 Death Cow
12:15 – 1 Muscle Cousins


The Waiting Room Lounge — hosted by Omaha Girls Rock
5 – 5:45 Omaha Girls Rock Panel Discussion
6 – 6:45 All Young Girls Are Machine Guns // Petals & Thorns
7 – 7:45 Embi
8 – 8:45 Badland Girls
9 – 9:45 The Electroliners
10 – 10:45 Belles & Whistles
11 – 11:45 Kait Berreckman
12 – 12:45 Dirt House
1 – 1:45 Pleiades & the Bear

Reverb Lounge — hosted by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
7:15 – 8 Mary Ruth
8:15 – 9 Falt Lines
9:15 – 10 Ashley Buck
10:15 – 11 Emily Ward
11:15 – 12 Nat Budz

Barley Street Tavern
7 – 7:45 Joya
8 – 8:45 Naive Filter
9 – 9:45 Elizabeth Ghandour (MN)
10 – 10:45 Hartford/Focht
11 – 11:45 Bell Mine
12 – 12:45 Aviatrix

Petshop — hosted by Benson First Friday
8 – 8:45 Aly Peeler
9 – 9:45 Keiria Marshae
10 – 10:45 The Hottman Sisters
11 – 11:45 Ria Gold
12 – 12:45 DJ P2K

Burke’s Pub
7:15 – 8 The Shineys
8:15 – 9 Beauty School (IL)
9:15 – 10 Bathtub Maria
10:15 – 11 Blue Bird
11:15 – 12 Powerful Science
12:15 – 1 The SuperBytes

The Sydney — hosted by Hear Nebraska
8:15 – 9 Domestica
9:15 – 10 The Morbs
10:15 – 11 Shit Flowers
11:15 – 12 The Clocks
12:15 – 1 Universe Contest


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New Omaha DIY label emerges, releases debut Junkyard Dan cassette

by Andrew Stellmon

A new DIY label has emerged out of Omaha and today it releases the debut album for both itself and one of its runners’ new projects.

Musicians Martin and Danny Maxwell have launched Max Trax Records, marking the occasion with its first release, Danny’s project Junkyard Dan and its self-titled tape. It’s out today via the label’s bandcamp page.

The brothers started Max Trax as a tribute to their late brother Frank Maxwell, who passed away last July. Martin and Frank played together in Omaha band Fifth Of May during the late ’80s and early ’90s, and for years talked of starting their own independent label.

Martin and Danny have realized that vision, announcing via statement both the new Junkyard Dan project (Danny’s own) and Max Trax as the home of future releases by Little Brazil, Leafblower, Wrong Pets and New Lungs. Martin says the label — technically housed at his Plano, Texas residence — will also focus adding Omaha area acts to its roster, keeping an eye out for bands nationwide and constructing a tracking studio.

Junkyard Dan the project is named for Danny’s brothers’ nickname for him, a play on his favorite wrestler, Junkyard Dog. These songs are scraps from the cutting board of what was to be a project with Frank. Listen in below.

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Mesonjixx announces new record ‘In The Middle’

by Andrew Stellmon

Lincoln soul/R&B project Mesonjixx has announced it will release its long-awaited debut EP In The Middle on Friday, Sept. 22 at a corresponding show at Zoo Bar. It was recorded last summer at Make Believe Studios.

If it feels like Nebraska has been waiting for this one for years, it’s because Mesonjixx has teased it for since its inception. Emerging as a four piece in early 2015, centered around the uplifting voice and poetic lyricism of Mary Lawson, it quickly gained traction across the scene for its musicianship and Lawson’s ethereal stage presence.

While Mesonjixx has since endured a handful of lineup changes and live-stage iterations since 2015, the players from its most solidified stage appear on In The Middle. That would be guitarist Myles Jasnowski, drummer Kekeli Dawes and bassist Josh Barger, along with recent collaborator and Both producer Nate Asad aka INFNTLP

In The Middle will be available for sale at the Sept. 22 release show. Both opens the show. View Mesonjixx’s upcoming schedule and new record track listing below.


1. Motion
2. My Body
3. On Repeat
4. In The Middle

Upcoming shows

Sept 1 — Jake’s Block Party, Omaha
Sept 22 — Album release show w/ Both at Zoo Bar, Lincoln
Sept 30 — Lincoln Calling Music Festival, Lincoln


* * *

Photo coverage: Toki Wright at Duffy’s Tavern

HN contributor and hip-hop afficionado Alex Durrant went to Duffy’s Tavern Wednesday night to catch Minneapolis emcee Toki Wright on his tour through Lincoln with DJ Miss Brit. The Rhymesayers collaborator and educator tours in support of his 2017 EP At the Speed of Life 3. Locals CJ Mills, Kamakauzzy and Sleep Sinatra also performed. See Durrant’s photos below:

CJ Mills


Sleep Sinatra


Toki Wright & DJ Miss Brit

Photos by Alex Durrant

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Concert Round-Up: Weekend Edition

While Benson shakes with the sights and sounds of first Friday, there’s still plenty to do elsewhere during this holiday weekend. Check out a few picks below and leave what we missed in the comments. Head over to our statewide calendar here for a fuller view. And don’t forget to follow along with us on Twitter and Instagram (@hearnebraska).

Final quick note: news is off Monday for Labor Day. We’ll return with the latest on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Until then, email us your tips, story ideas and new music to


Phipp Phippa, M Shah at Hear Lincoln – Hear Lincoln returns to Tower Square this week for a pair of local emcees in Phipp Phippa and M Shah. We chatted with Phippa earlier this week about his locally-viral “Crank That Dial” dance; read the interview here. As always, the show free, family-friendly and starts at 5 p.m. RSVP here (and follow Hear Lincoln on Twitter for updates).

Jake’s Block Party on Military Ave – Jake’s Omaha is closing down Military Avenue for its annual blowout. Just $5 gets you Thick Paint, Those Far Out Arrows, Mesonjixx and High Up. One suspects there will be plenty to eat and drink. RSVP here.

KZUM’s Blues Blowout at Zoo Bar – Lincoln’s community nonprofit radio station kicks off its annual Labor Day weekend Blues Blowout and ensuing end-of-summer fund drive with a big show at the Capital City’s blues haven. Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, Kansas City’s Heather Newman Band and Lincoln’s Levi William Band perform. Tickets to the KZUM benefit are $15. RSVP here.


Nebraska Hardcore Showcase 8 at Milk Run – Omaha’s eighth-annual punk and hardcore showcase goes down at Milk Run this year and features 17 hard-hitting local acts both established and up-and-coming. Music starts at 2 p.m. and runs in 20 minute-sets until 10:30. Read our preview for details here and RSVP here.


Bent Life, Astral Menace, Blindside USA at Reverb Lounge – In case you weren’t punished enough at Saturday night’s hardcore fest, Reverb Lounge has it for you again Sunday night as Nebraska’s own Bent Life performs with Astral Menace and Kansas City’s Blindside USA. A couple of historical markers: it’s the first local show for Bent Life in a year, and it is the final Omaha show for Blindside USA. 8:30 p.m. doors, $7, RSVP here.


Simon Joyner at Pageturners Lounge – Legendary Omaha singer/songwriter Simon Joyner plays an intimate set at Pageturners Lounge to cap the long weekend. It marks his return from an east-coast-tour with fellow Omaha resident musician David Nance. Joyner will release new double album Step Into The Earthquake Sept 8 on Ba Da Bing Records. 7 p.m. show, RSVP here.