Concert coverage: KZUM’s 39th Birthday Bash; Omaha Under The Radar reveals 2017 lineup; Evan Bartels announces full-length album ‘The Devil, God & Me,’ drops two acoustic videos

Concert coverage: KZUM’s 39th Birthday Bash

There is something about a KZUM event that feels very rooted within the Lincoln community, and walking into one of their productions gives the distinct feeling that it could happen any night but that it was curated for you personally.

That is, of course, very intentional: it’s programmers are all volunteer staff and mostly Lincoln based; its support comes directly from local businesses and organizations; it has a heavy local-music bent (take our Hear Nebraska FM as one of the many examples); and at an event geared toward its own benefit, the focus is always on community.

KZUM threw its 39th Birthday Bash at Duffy’s Tavern on Saturday night, the benefit concert precursor to its first pledge drive of 2017. A couple hundred supporters filled the balloon-adorned O Street bar throughout the night for a buffet of local acts in Verse and the Vices, Levi William Band, Kait Berreckman Band, Mad Dog & the 20/20s and Hakim.

The home of “drive-time blues” played up its genre centerpiece with the billing’s front half. Verse and the Vices blended indie rock elements with a relaxed, jam-oriented vibe, often leaning on a two-chord progression before disrupting it with bluesy chords or soloing. Levi William Band stuck more closely to the classic genre sound, with William himself seemingly born of the blues. On every song, he cut ; I made it a point to look around and, no exaggeration, saw people’s mouths hanging agape. The trio capped their set with a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Purple Rain.”

Kait Berreckman anchored the middle, taking a night that had thus far been constructed around turning its musicians loose and injecting a more structured approach. Berreckman’s smartly crafted pop songs were intentional and moving as ever, and when guitarist Luke Pruitt wailed away during “Flaming Red,” it felt like the band matching the acts it followed blow for blow.

In a way, the evening previewed this week’s Lincoln Exposed, with three-fifths of the bill performing for the festival this week. The last two acts, Mad Dog & the 20/20s and Hakim, will even play on same bill Thursday night at the Bourbon, in reverse order. I’ll save some thoughts for then, but quickly, seeing Mad Dog own a full set (admittedly my first time) was an absolute riot. If some band has to carry the Nebraska ska mantle, they may as well be the ones charged with it. There’s swagger and attitude and even with predecessors like The Heat Machine written all over them, the band makes it their own.

Speaking of swagger, Hakim’s set was nothing short of professional. Even the lead-up was a production, his DJ laying the foundation as hype men walked the stage. When he started in, every rhyme and every beat were smooth as silk and sharp as porcelain. It had all the trappings of a headlining, major-city-ready hip-hop set, right down to the audience command; the rapper induced call-response on “Crazy” like he was pulling strings, drawing a packed crowd in as tightly as possible.

Concert like these happen all the time in Lincoln and Omaha, with varying acts on the same stage, concert attendees not out for one genre or another but for skill and craft (like I said, we’ll see that this week). But there was a distinctly warm, friendly KZUM-ness on Saturday — like one might find at its Stransky Park or Soup & Songs series — that feels natural. It is undoubtedly how, even in the face of adversity, the station has made it to this point.

View more photos from Saturday night below:

Verse & the Vices

Levi William Band

Kait Berreckman Band

Mad Dog & the 20/20s




Photos by Lauren Farris

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Omaha Under The Radar reveals 2017 lineup

Omaha’s boundary-pushing experimental music festival has set the table for its sixth year.

Under The Radar has announced its 2017 artist lineup, which features a mix of artists from Omaha and around the country. The roster, revealed at a party at Omaha’s Hi-Fi House on Saturday, features boundary-pushing performances in electronic and classical music as well as dance and performing arts.

At the top of the billing is Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King,” sung by baritone John J Pearse. The 30-minute monodrama portrays the madness of King George III as he attempts to teach his pet to sing.

Several in-state acts will perform throughout the festival, including tbd. Dance Collective, Ridgelines, Karma Lilola, Nebraska Modern Dance Project, Colloquy and more. They join artists from 10 cities nationwide including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, Kansas City, Boston and more.

While the schedule and participating venues are on their way, view the full artist line-ups here.

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Evan Bartels announces full-length album ‘The Devil, God & Me,’ drops two acoustic videos

Lincoln folk songwriter Evan Bartels has announced a forthcoming full-length album The Devil, God and Me and shared two acoustic music videos, both via a newly-launched website.

The videos find Bartels in a frozen cabin with snow-covered landscape through the windows, his raspy-throated breath visible against the microphone. “Grass Fires” and “Ready Now” are as mournful as any Bartels track, their subjects aching to find their voices, an antidote for pain and, perhaps, salvation.

Though the album has no official release date, both solo videos are up now. Check them out here and watch “Grass Fires” below:

Evan Bartels and the Stoney Lonesomes play 1867 Bar this Thursday for Lincoln Exposed. RSVP here.

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Nebraska Arts Council Offers Day of Arts Advocacy

By Zach Visconti

In a modern world where many things are fighting for our attention, it is ever more important to speak out about the importance of the arts. For this reason, Nebraskans For The Arts and the Nebraska Arts Council are seeking to give people the opportunity and the tools to share about art’s importance by hosting Arts Advocacy Day this Thursday, February 9th.

The day is meant to encourage patrons to be vocal about supporting art and art education, specifically for leaders attempting to create awareness for their organizations. The morning will begin with a breakfast over which to talk to Nebraska legislators about the significance of art to the community, followed by a handful of workshops. The morning workshops are conducted by Nebraskans for the Art and include the arts advocacy breakfast, how to use data to make a case for art and tools for supporting arts and creative industries. The Nebraska Arts Council is then facilitating two afternoon sessions, the first about basic grant writing, and the second on tips for current grant applicants.

More information about Arts Advocacy Day can be found below.

Nebraskans for the Arts Events

Arts Advocacy Breakfast // 8:15-9:45am // Nebraska State Capitol // 1445 K St. Room 1023

Meet your state senator over coffee and a pastry and share why the arts are important to you and your community.

Using Data to Make Your Case for the Arts // 10:00-11:15am // Nebraska State Office Building  // 301 Centennial Mall S

Our panel will share creative ways to find data and use it in ways that help tell your story to policymakers, donors and patrons.

Tools for Supporting Arts & Creative Industries // Noon-1:00pm // Nonprofit Hub // 14th and P

Learn about technology to help your organization manage public art projects, residencies, exhibitions and more.

Nebraska Arts Council Events

Grant Basics & Program Information w/ Humanities Nebraska // 1:30-2:15pm // Nonprofit Hub // 14th and P streets

Introduce yourself to the Nebraska Arts Council and Humanities Nebraska and learn about these organizations’ grants and opportunities.

Beyond the Basics: Grant Writing Tips & Techniques // 2:30-3:30pm // Nonprofit Hub // 14th and P streets

This workshop is for current NAC grant applicants looking to avoid common grant writing mistakes and fine-tune their grant writing skills.

Registration for morning sessions is $15 and can be found here, and registration for the grant workshops is free and can be found here.

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Concert coverage: The Grand Poobah, Leaves Brown, Herbert’s Rainbow at Vega

HN multimedia intern Connor Lepert went to Vega on Friday night to catch Lincoln acts The Grand Poobah, Leaves Brown and Herbert’s Rainbow. The Grand Poobah performed, as they often do, behind two sheets hung side-by-side, their shadows cast against the illustrations on each. Both them and Herbert’s Rainbow play Lincoln Exposed this weekend.

See Lepert’s photos below:

Herbert’s Rainbow

Leaves Brown

The Grand Poobah

Photos by Connor Lepert

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Jacob James Wilton on Hear Nebraska FM

Tonight, Super Ghost frontman Jake Newbold joins Hear Nebraska FM live on the KZUM airwaves, performing under his new solo moniker Jacob James Wilton. The project finds Newbold utilizing softer, folkier songwriting elements and exploring the weight of the past. Next week, he heads out on short Midwest that includes Chicago, Kansas City and Lincoln (Thursday, Feb 16 at Yia Yia’s).

Tune in at 8 p.m. to 89.3 FM in Lincoln or stream live at

Plan your week in shows with our statewide calendar here. Email with story ideas, new music submissions and upcoming concerts.