2016 Good Living Tour: Your Guide

For those that have ever wondered, “What is there to do in Nebraska?” The Good Living Tour provides a compelling answer for young and old, through live music and community storytelling.

Hear Nebraska hops back in the van this Thursday, kicking off the Good Living Tour concert series’ second year in Ord. Throughout the next three weekends, 40-plus musical acts ranging from indie rock to hip-hop to folk will perform free, all-ages concerts in 12 Greater Nebraska cities, exposing a young audience to new, innovative music and performance through homegrown Nebraska musicians while celebrating the unique livelihood the state has to offer.

The 2015 Good Living Tour launched an unprecedented, statewide storytelling and concert series project, aimed at cultivating an increasingly vibrant, original, contemporary music culture and industry in Greater Nebraska by connecting and growing the state’s urban and rural communities. The inaugural route included nine towns, 18 music-related feature stories (two apiece), nine “Experience Nebraska” videos promoting the positives of living in each and a boatload of awesome memories.

This year, the tour has grown to 12 stops, including return trips to Imperial, Kearney and Grand Island and along with nine new participants: Ord, Red Cloud, Hastings, Norfolk, Lyons, Sidney, O’Neill, McCook and Grant.

HN’s editorial team traveled to each town last month as part of its storytelling project, the second component of the Good Living Tour which highlights the state’s influential music figures, venues, businesses and events. Each story publishes the day of its town’s corresponding concert date. Read an example of last year’s stories here.

To help you prepare, we’ve assembled a guide with everything you need to know about the Good Living Tour concerts, from schedules to what to bring to the musical acts themselves. Get to know the artists with our free downloadable playlist by RSVP-ing here, and learn more about each below.

The Route

The Sponsors:

The 2016 Good Living Tour is presented by Nebraska Department of Economic Development, and made possible by Peter Kiewit Foundation, Center for Rural Affairs, Pinnacle Bank, Nebraska Loves Public Schools,Union Pacific Railroad and dozens of community sponsors. The tour’s carbon footprint is being 100% offset by NE Renewable Energy Credits donated by Sandhills Energy.

What to bring:

  • Blankets
  • Umbrellas
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Picnic (though some stops may have food vendors on hand)
  • Photo ID (if choosing to purchase alcohol)
  • Dancing shoes!

July 21 | Ord | The Golden Husk | 4 p.m.

[Note: Music starts at 4 p.m. with the local Ord stage, outside The Golden Husk. The Good Living Tour lineup starts at 6:30 p.m.]

The Good Life (rock – Omaha)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

Once a solo project to catch the extraneous songwriting of Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, The Good Life’s five studio albums since 2000 have solidified a nationally known indie band. The once-Omaha quartet, now spread across the country, reconvened to release “Everybody’s Coming Down” in 2015. The Good Life toured that wild, off-kilter rock record across the United States and Europe, with more dates on the books for 2016.


CJ Mills (soul – Omaha)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

Omaha’s CJ Mills grabbed the Nebraska music community’s attention in just a handful of public performances and an EP last year. Her bluesy guitar and classically soulful voice ignited an excitement that has yet to let up. Whether she’s performing with some of Nebraska’s best funk and soul musicians or playing the raw acoustic renditions of her songs, she delivers barn-burning melodies with clarity and urgency.


Vegetable Deluxe (rock – Omaha)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

The few demos available from the fledgling Omaha rock band Vegetable Deluxe present a tasteful sound, a mixture of The La’s with Robyn Hitchcock, The Byrds, and The Velvet Underground. Comprising members from the city’s basement scene favorites like Stomach, Dads and Brimstone Howl, the duo of Vince Franco and Nick Waggoner has a timeless penchant for guitar melodies, with songwriter Jillian Waggoner helping shape the band’s sound.

DJ: Tyrone Storm (Omaha)

photo by James Dean

Roger Lewis, a.k.a. Tyrone Storm, is among the most familiar figures in Omaha music. Lewis has drummed in The Good Life for more than a decade and in Oquoa for the last few years. As Tyrone Storm, Lewis spins through a massive collection of funk, soul and hip-hop vinyl. With regular appearances at Benson Soul Society events, Tyrone Storm knows how to pack the dance floor.

[Community sponsors include: Nebraska Community Foundation, Matt Woodward – Shelter Insurance, Complete Family Dentistry, Bruce and Marian Lammers, Piskorski Dental, Scratchtown Brewing, Sikyta Law Office, Kokes Repair, Cornerstone Bank, The Golden Husk, Valley County Community Foundation Fund and Ord Area Chamber of Commerce]

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July 22 | Kearney | Museum of Nebraska Art | 6 p.m.

The Good Life (rock – Omaha)

AZP (rock/soul – Lincoln)

Since its 2011 inception AZP’s staple feature has been the collaboration between composer/singer Zachary Watkins and rapping lyricist Ishma Valenti. In its last two EPs, “Red Moon” (2015) and “Triangles” (2016), AZP has established its band identity, doubling down on bluesy guitars and Watkins’ rock music tastes. As a live act, AZP routinely asks the crowd (in Lincoln or elsewhere) for peace signs, highlighting the social and political messages of Valenti’s verses.


Minor Movements (instrumental rock – Kearney)

photo courtesy of Minor Movements

Hailing from Elm Creek, Minor Movements is the ambient duo of Nic Brant and Kent Lutt. In the vein of Explosions In The Sky, Minor Movements presents two full-length albums of highly emotive instrumentals. Circling electric guitars build into triumphant mountains of sound on the band’s 2015 record The Quick Passing of Days.

DJ: Kethro (Omaha)

photo by Marco Meyer

One of Omaha’s leading turntablists and a primary figure in Omaha’s Make Believe label and studio endeavors, Keith Rodger, a.k.a. Kethro, has shown himself to be a prime experimentalist and collaborator in Nebraska music. He’s a prodcuing fixture in the discographies of several Omaha emcees, a founder of the Midtown Marauders hip-hop group, and Kethro’s audio capture methods find him creating solo works of beautiful and challenging ambiance.

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July 23 | Grand Island | E Pine St. & N South Front St. | 6:30 p.m.

photo by Nickolai Hammar

The Good Life (rock – Omaha)

The Mezcal Brothers (rockabilly – Lincoln)

photo by Lauren Farris

Nebraska’s premier rockabilly act, Lincoln’s Mezcal Brothers have released four records and toured the United States and Europe in the name of keeping the tradition alive. Playing shows with the likes of Wanda Jackson and Charlie Grace in their two-decade history, The Mezcal Brothers have earned a contemporary’s place among swinging, old-school rock ‘n’ roll acts.

Conny Franko (hip-hop – Lincoln)

photo by Nickolai Hammar

Conchance, a.k.a. Conny Franko, has spent much of the past half-decade as the standard-bearer in Omaha’s tight-knit and industrious hip-hop scene. Between solo albums, guest spots and a record with his group M34n Str33t, the emcee has made a name for himself as deeply thoughtful, intensely passionate and alluringly enigmatic in both his delivery and his live performances.

DJ: Brent Crampton (Omaha)

To many, Brent Crampton is known as the owner and operator of Omaha’s premier electronic music club House of Loom. But Crampton has been a constant artistic presence around the club as well, DJing for a decade and cultivating a diversity of electronic styles in his own work and in House of Loom’s calendar of sub-genre theme nights.

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July 24 | Red Cloud | Starke Round Barn | 4 p.m.

Lloyd McCarter & The Honky Tonk Revival (honky-tonk – Lincoln)

photo by Nickolai Hammar

In 2012, Lloyd McCarter and the Honky Tonk Revival made a statment on its album “Tired of Being Me.” In his deep drawl, McCarter sings “real country music means more to me.” And the band’s romping, gritty, classic country rock is there to prove his point. Songs cruise along like a ’57 Bel-Air on infectious basslines and noodling guitars tailormade for foot-tapping and swing-dancing.

The Hottman Sisters (indie rock – Omaha)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

The Hottman Sisters’ journey in the Nebraska music scene is just beginning, even if siblings Heather and Jessica’s musical relationship dates back to their childhood. You can hear that connection clearest in their strikingly natural vocal harmonies, flying over pop-ready chord work. The duo is just a year into being a musical act, and the state awaits its first official release.

Lester Junction (rock – Red Cloud)

Named for a railroad junction east of their native Red Cloud, Lester Junction is homegrown small-town Nebraska. The band has made its name on the southern and alternative rock tunes that soundtrack gravel-road drives and long days out at the lake. With seven members, the band promises a dynamic live show and a decades-spanning style for audiences of all tastes.

DJ: Spence Love (Harrison)

photo by James Dean

DJ Spencelove has been elevating dance parties in Lincoln for nearly a decade now. Armed with an eclectic mix of electronic, hip-hop and R&B music that spans decades, Spencelove has built a reputation on kicking out infectiously danceable jams. In that time, the man behind the music, Spencer Munson, has become a community leader in the Lincoln music scene. 

[Community sponsors include: Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund, Willa Cather Foundation, Gary Thompson Agency, South Central State Bank, Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Red Cloud, Cooperative Producers Inc., Casey’s General Stores, Fat Foxes, The Red Cloud B&B at the Kaley House, Republican Valley Arts Council and Red Cloud Heritage Tourism and Economic Development.]

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July 28 | Hastings | W 1st & N St. Joseph | 5 p.m.

See Through Dresses (folk/rock – Omaha)

photo by Bridget McQuillan

Two records have found Omaha’s See Through Dresses digging deep into their distorted, hazy brand of garage rock. Through tours all over the United States and Europe with the likes of Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars, the quartet has honed its live show into an exuberant and frantic release of the kinetic energy wound tightly in its composition. Among Nebraska’s most storied live bands, See Through Dresses has cemented itself as a must-see.

Jack Hotel (folk – Lincoln)

photo by Shannon Claire

As a bluegrass and folk band that undulates between precise and rip-roaring on the live stage, Jack Hotel will always find its heart in the songwriting of frontman Günter Voelker. Voelker pens folk yarns capable of literary depth, some that feel like Western ballads and others that bloom in quiet images. Jack Hotel released its second album, Voices From the Moon on Sower Records in May 2016, the follow-up to its locally beloved 2014 debut Good Sons and Daughters.


For the Birds (rock – Barrie)

photo by Nathan Richardson

For the Birds, a post-rock outift from Hastings, is something of an anomaly in central Nebraska, where most bands lean heavily toward hardcore or country. Their 2015 EP Ghost Stories finds the band working out sing-along choruses, classic guitar solos and song structures reminiscent ’90s emo acts like American Football. In that tradition, For the Birds promises the same energetic and high-veloctiy live performances of their older counterparts.


Star Belle (folk – Utica)

Hearing the harmony-driven Hastings folk outfit Star Belle on an album, you want to hear them in a room. The three ukuleles and three voices of Hope Dunbar, Emily Dunbar and Jessica Luebbe mingle, combine and create an acoustic experience worthy of a listening room or perhaps a sunny park bench. Star Belle released its debut album, Make Some Room For Love, in 2013.

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July 29 | Norfolk | Downtown – Johnny Carson Mural | 4 p.m.

[Note: Music starts at 4 p.m. with the Midwest Music Stage featuring local Norfolk artists. The Good Living Tour lineup starts at  7 p.m.]

Twinsmith (pop/rock – Omaha)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

Before releasing its second album on Saddle Creek Records in 2015, Twinsmith showed itself to be one of Omaha’s most popular indie bands. In the year that followed, the quartet toured the combination guitar-and-synth pop on Alligator Years to both coasts and throughout the Midwest. All told, Twinsmith is one of Nebraska’s leading composers of brain-lodging hooks. The band features Norfolk native Jordan Smith.


Rothsteen (rock – Omaha)

photo by James Dean

Last year, Rothsteen released the Moments Before EP, the first solo taste of what many R&B and soul fans in Omaha had known for years: Since his time fronting the spirited Voodoo Method, Rothsteen is one of the state’s most eclectic, soulful and entertaining musicians. Rothsteen tracks are apt to swing from anthemic club choruses to intimate and experimental moments of personal insight. With a full-length album on the way, expect to hear Rothsteen’s name many times this year.

Baker Explosion (indie – Norfolk)

Norfolk’s Baker Explosion released its debut album, Down in the Cornroots, in 2014. The album casts the brothers as an easy-going folk-pop group with influences as far-flung as Sublime and Mumford & Sons. With a rotating backing band, Jason and Ben Baker write songs that, while fun, don’t sacrifice the raw emotions that drive them forward.

DJ: Really Real

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July 30 | Lyons | Storefront Theater | 6 p.m.

Satchel Grande (funk – Omaha)

photo by James Dean

For most of the last decade, Satchel Grande has been smoothing and shaping the hook-heavy sounds of its ’70s-inspired funk. Now five albums in and always pushing a dozen members, the sunglasses-sporting Omaha standby has all but mastered throwing a dance party by way of its synths, brass grooves and club-chic falsettos.


Evan Bartels & the Stoney Lonesomes (folk/country – Tobias)

photo by Will Stott

In the past few years, Evan Bartels has deftly found the middle ground between the roots genres proliferating through Lincoln. Bartels’ deep and soulful voice is buoyed by his country-rock band. On one song, the group will belt a thunderous romp suited to a night out dancing. On another, they’re a stripped-down blues group, plumbing for bare emotions. Bartels connects it all with his ear for stirring melody and stinging lyrics.


Better Friend (punk rock – Lincoln)

photo by Peter Barnes

With 2015’s Safehouse EP, Better Friend solidified itself as one of the most exciting bands in Lincoln’s bourgeoning hardcore scene. With a late-era emo flair, the band is all high-sailing harmonies and dueling guitars led by ferocious lead vocalist Meghan Munyon. Known for invigorating performances, Better Friend is not-to-miss among Nebraska bands.

DJ Lay-C (Omaha)

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July 31 | O’Neill | Ford Park | 4:30 p.m.

Rachel Price (acoustic pop – O’Neill)

photo by Matthew R. Shaw

Originally from O’Neill, Nebraska, singer-songwriter Rachel Price caught viral attention for her song and video “Little Nebraska Town” in late 2014. She’s since moved to Nashville and has sharpened into a versatile pop artist without losing sight of her stripped-down acoustic roots.

Mesonjixx (Lincoln)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

It took a matter of months in 2015 for Mesonjixx to become one of the Lincoln music scene’s most consistent and beloved live acts. Fronted by Mary Lawson’s unimpeachable voice and subtle jazz piano, the soul quartet hangs its hat on both singer-songwriter intimacy and the jam-prone instrumentalists Kekeli Dawes (drums), Myles Jasnowski (guitar) and Josh Barger (bass). Mesonjixx released its first official song in February 2016 and promised more to come.


Laughing Falcon (rock – Lincoln)

Having earned its reputation as one of Nebraska’s loudest live bands, Laughing Falcon has been busy lately, releasing the appropriately titled LP Sonic Possession last fall and traveling to South by Southwest in 2016. As aggressive and dark as Nebraka punk veteran Kevin Chasek’s songs are, there’s always and underlying groove keeping rock ‘n’ roll in the mix.

DJ: Relic (Lincoln)

DJ Relic is one of Lincoln’s most consistent electronic presences. The former holder of a weekly dance party night at Zoo Bar and a regular at Lincoln’s Old Pub Soul Club gatherings, Relic is known for a deep, dance-inducing vinyl collection.

Community sponsors include: Holt County Visitor’s Committee and O’Neill Community Foundation Fund

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August 4 | Grant | Grant City Park Band Shelter | 6 p.m.

A photo posted by Hear Nebraska (@hearnebraska) on


Matt Whipkey (rock – Omaha)

photo by Andy Lachance

Few Omaha musicians have a resumé as full as Matt Whipkey. Winner of two Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards in 2014 and frequent Dwight Yoakam tourmate, Whipkey plays an arena-made kind of classic rock, blending decades of predecessors’ bombastic guitar work into something both familiar and exciting. While he’s released several locally acclaimed albums in the last few years, Whipkey has made his name on the stage in earnest and rousing live performances.


Karen Choi (americana – Lincoln)

Lincoln singer-songwriter Karen Choi released her second album, “Through Our Veins,” in early 2016 after recording the full band outing in Minneapolis. Choi’s sophomore effort purifies her full-bodied Americana sound and takes on Southern vocal lilts and subject matter rooted in romance and rural, classical storytelling.

Matt Chandler-Smith (rock – Lincoln)

In his band’s near-decade of existence in Grant, Nebraska, Matthew Chandler-Smith’s music has taken on a darkened, lyric-oriented feel with influences ranging from Willie Nelson to The Strokes. Melodic basslines and Chandler-Smith’s deep, yet hushed, voice give the songs a contemplative feel even as the band is ripping toward a rock destination.

DJ: Pink Bunny

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August 5 | Sidney | Hickory St. Square | 6 p.m.

Sam Ayer and the Love Affair (soul – Omaha)

photo by Chris Dinan

Singer and bandleader Sam Ayer burst into Omaha’s R&B circles in 2015 with several large shows and the debut an electric neo-soul band. With saxophone grooves and Ayer’s historically fitting soul voice, the band earns its slickness, its calls to the crowd to dance and its sunglasses.

Belles and Whistles (country – Omaha)

photo by James Dean

The mother-daughter country duo Belles & Whistles has aimed high in its less than three years of existence. With blood-born harmonies and sugary melodies, Kelli and Jaymie Jones have played a slew of country and state fairs, opened for Kenny Rogers and seen their rock-tinged country receive airplay on radio stations across the United States. The Joneses cut a handful of demos in Nashville this past winter.


Matthew Scott (country/blues/folk – Sidney)

Matthew Scott’s contemporary country has its roots in familiar themes: hometown pride, country roads and perseverance. The Nebraska panhandle artist’s music fits comfortably alongside the likes of Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert.

Aspen County (Folk/Bluegrass – Sidney)

Sidney’s own Aspen County has spent the last year or so making its name in the western part of Nebraska on soaring harmonies, at times powerful and at others touchingly delicate, and a contemporary interpretation of classic bluegrass. As an all-strings six-piece ensemble, the group acheives the rare blend of familiar intimacy and thrilling fervor.

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August 6 | Imperial | 7th & Broadway | 7 p.m.

Kris Lager Band (rock – Lincoln)

photo by Nickolai Hammar

In the past decade, Kris Lager Band has established itself among the state’s most road-tested acts. Nearly every year, the Omaha-based blues rock group spends as much time on the road as at home. That hard touring and infectious tunes have earned Kris Lager Band a grassroots network of dedicated fans all over the country. From small town dives to major funk festivals, Kris Lager and crew play energetic host to an enthusiastic rock ‘n’ roll revival.

Clarence Tilton (country rock – Omaha)

An alternative-country quintet, Clarence Tilton released its debut self-titled album in February 2015. Equal parts John Denver and The Jayhawks, the band finds its strength in the stories of the hard-luck and down-and-out. Whether they’re chugging through a highway-born romp or meandering along on the heels of a winding steel guitar, Clarence Tilton has a tune for any soul who’s ever been lonely.

WAS (indie rock – Lincoln)

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

Aaron Parker, with familial roots in Imperial, made his mark as the heavy-voiced and charismatic frontman of power-punk outfit Gordon. With Was, a relatively new project, Parker and crew explore their more delicate, and sometimes more experimental, sensibilities.

DJ: Sharkweek (Lincoln)

photo by Nickolai Hammar

Erin McMorrow, a.k.a. SharkWeek, has been fixture in Lincoln electronic circles of late. Peddling mixes of dubstep and hip-hop, SharkWeek can regularly be found swaying weekend crowds and opening for touring electronic artists when they come through Lincoln. Her mixtapes invoke the sounds of night clubs just as much as they fit such spaces.

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August 7 | McCook | Barnett Park | 5:30 p.m.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal (R&B – Lincoln)

photo by Chris Dinan

The brainchild of an established Lincoln bluesman in 2013, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal has been eyeing big stages since its inception. Once a nine-piece funk group called The Shadowboxers, Hoyer has since toured widely and assembled a smaller lineup of players from Nebraska and beyond. Hoyer’s latest album, Running From Love, arrived in April 2016 via Ashland, Neb.’s Silver Street Records, and doubles down on the band’s commitment to exploring a variety of soul music textures.

Matt Cox (americana – Omaha)

photo by Lauren Farris

Matt Cox is a six-time Omaha Entertainment Awards winner for Best Country/Americana and Best Blues. With his fifth album set to release July 17 on Sower Records, Cox continues to play shows with his rotating cast of local talent, each show delivering a raw energy derived from passion and experience. From the guitar-driven jams of the Allman Brothers, the storytelling of Bob Dylan to the country charm of Willie Nelson, Cox deftly runs the gamut of classic Americana styles.

Homemade Crazy (indie pop – McCook)

Homemade Crazy has played and recorded ambitiously since its southwest Nebraska inception in 2012 and released its debut album, Synergy, in 2014. Now a trio, the band is driven by influences from contemporary pop to the intriguing lo-fi imbalances of ’90s alternative music. Singer Breezy Ortega’s voice always takes on a longing that can suit either context.

DJ: Nick Fitch (Lincoln)

Nick Fitch, a.k.a. Nick the Quick, is one of Lincoln’s most prolific DJs. He’s frequently packing some of Lincoln’s hottest dance spots with exciting mixes on the cutting edge of today’s best pop music. Fitch has made a name for himself as one of Nebraska’s hardest working DJs and it shows in his eagerness to connect with each audience member.

Community sponsors include: McCook Community Foundation Fund, McCook Community Hospital, McCook National Bank, Graff Family Foundation, McCook Chamber of Commerce, Red Willow County Tourism and McCook Arts Council.