In two years with Hear Nebraska, I was (mercifully) never the person in charge of marketing or explaining, as our executive director is so articulate at doing, “what makes Nebraska great.”
I’m 24 and haven’t ever lived outside the state. What do I know, really? And people give me the willies when they talk sharply about the good and the bad attached to the places of the world. Snap judgments, generalities and stereotypes flourish into opinions. I’m glad so many Nebraskans are nobly out to discredit ours.
At Hear Nebraska, I tried to be in it — coming to an amicable end this Friday — for the artists.
That’s to say, I don’t actually know if there’s something in the water here. But I know you’re all here.
I’ve said time and again that Hear Nebraska would never exist with you, the musicians. You’re out in the open, treating our music culture(s) like idealists, skilled laborers, social justice advocates and event maestros. I admire your many hats. Thank you for letting me dig into your work. It was my job, but it was something in which you let me take part, trying to find the currents and cores of what gives your music legs, a heart and a brain.
And I really do feel foolish trying to sum up what Hear Nebraska has meant to me. I started working for HN a week out of college in 2013. In most ways, it’s defined what you’d call my adult life, and what I plan to call in my as-yet unwritten and as-ever unheralded memoirs: “The Early Laptop Years.”
I’ll keep the “thank you’s” as quick as I can, but it’s moments of departure when the cumulative weight of generosity sets in around you. That’s every time someone helped you out on a contact, opened up in an interview when they didn’t have to, or patiently explained how a pedal board works.
Thank you to the organizers and the show bookers who are in it to see their friends have a good time and make their cities liveable. You ask for little in return.
Thank you to KZUM for their generosity and resources. Two of my regular joys, HNFM and On The Record wouldn’t be possible without you.
Thank you to the people who have the scenes’ best interests at heart by fighting for experimentation, inclusivity, progressiveness, and performance spaces that are safe, storied and adventurous.
Thank you for the beers. Wait, was that too many beers?
Thank you to (HN founders) Andy and Angie Norman. Here’s the only way I can think to put this quickly: I’d wager most of us go through our lives hoping to get better at things. If we hack away a little more at a trade, our skills will increase incrementally over time. I can’t imagine that’s true for the passion, inspiration and reassurance we see from both of you at every turn. Those qualities in you seem inherent and ceaseless.
Thank you to (former managing editor) Michael Todd. You are, and I’ve actually just thought about this to make sure the superlative is right, the kindest person I know.
Thank you to (former staff writer) Jacob Zlomke, who always talked with me about art as artistically as it deserves. And for all the laughs. My god.
Thank you to (current staff writer) Andrew Stellmon. Tell me everything that’s in your heart, but never — and I do mean, ever — tell me the odds.
Thank you to all the contributors and interns these last two years. This is the criminalist understatement of the bunch, but you were under no obligation to do any of that. HN is continually flattered by the good will and the drive. There are too many of you to name. I’m so happy to call so many of you friends. You’re gifted people: technically and personally.
feature photo by Randy Edwards
Thank you to our cities that, by and large, appreciate and foster art. I’d call that a watershed signal of their health. It means we boast communities willing to listen to people expressing their ideas in a way beyond a pulpit, a memo or an advertisement.
We remember what you said, how and who you were, because you put it in a form the vast majority of people would never muster.
I love you all, and I hope you knew that before just now.