Gerardo Meza at 50: Brother, Godfather and “Perverted Uncle” | Feature Story

photo by Clay Lomneth

intro by Jon Dell

Over the years, Gerardo Meza has played a number of parts: songwriter, painter, teacher and father. Many young musicians in this area consider him to be a mentor of sorts because he has a way of keeping your attention.

Despite his impressive list of accomplishments, though, he never seems to let it go to his head and always treats other musicians and artists like equals. I’ve heard him called “The Godfather,” a nickname he loves, but I’ve always considered him more like my perverted uncle, the one who gives you your first beer, takes you to your first show and won’t tell your mom that he caught you smoking pot.

Gerardo Meza's House of Instruments | The Muse from Hear Nebraska on Vimeo.

Over the last couple years, we’ve become good friends. He’s always been there to give me wise advice on music and terrible advice on women (just kidding). He turns 50 this weekend, and plays two concerts on Friday with his band The Mezcal Brothers to celebrate: one at The Zoo Bar starting at 5 p.m., and another at The Bourbon starting at 9 p.m. The Bottle Tops, Jack Hotel and Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers will also play the concert at The Bourbon.

To gather more thoughts on Gerardo, I caught up with a few local musicians for testimonials and found out what they had to say about the man:

by Josh Hoyer, Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers

For me, Gerardo has always been willing to take time to talk in depth about music and whatever might be on my mind. You don't find that around every corner in this town, someone that takes time to really talk. As a fellow musician, I have seen him inspire multiple local artists to find their unique voice and encourage their growth.

But most importantly, he plays and sings with heart, and when you see that on a regular basis, it sets the bar higher for our little corner of the music world. G is family to me, and I'm lucky to be able to call him a brother. And for 50, the man can cut up the dance floor like he was still 18!

Hover over Gerardo Meza's guitar case and click on stickers to hear him explain its stories:

I've known of Gerardo since he lived in the greenhouse on 16th and Washington, about 1993? He was already an excellent painter, doing that spooky dream world thing he does. I got to know him better about 10 years later, but during that first 10 years I would run into him at shows or parties, and he always had a very positive and insightful disposition. He has always carried himself in a way that he expects goodness to come from his relationships by establishing a deeper meaning, even if that only means sharing a really good joke.

I recently had the pleasure of recording his forthcoming solo album. We spent five hours together, the first two of which were only talking. In conversation, Gerardo is the kind of guy who you will get more from by paying attention to detail. In the last three hours of our session, he nailed out 15 songs.

When I asked him what sort of sound he was going for, he said, "I just want it to sound like I do when I'm playing live." Then he invited me back to his house, barbecued a mean carne asada and fed me beers while we listened to his work.

"More Time to Kill" by Gerardo Meza | HNFM Performance from Hear Nebraska on Vimeo.

What does Gerardo mean to me? Lesbian appeal. He's the most handsome lesbian I've ever had the privilege of fisting. Appealing to lesbians isn't easy. Believe me. But seriously, he did make my stupid song sound beautiful when he covered it at the Zoo Bar. Versatility in a person who plays live music is hard to come by these days. Most music is dumb. Gerardo isn't.

Many artists choose musical genres that allow them to babble on at length about every thought, emotion or insight. Gerardo has chosen to work in a genre that requires a great eye for economy in writing. This keen eye is reflected in his music, as well as his art.

What I notice about Gerardo, again and again, is how supportive he is. Not just of the general idea of a "scene" — although he is indispensable to that, too — but of individuals and their talent. He knows people, sees what makes them special, encourages them and looks for opportunities for them.

The Mezcal Brothers are one of the best live acts in town, with some of the best players, national recognition, etc., and as a solo performer Gerardo has quietly been writing beautiful, understated, poetic songs for years. But for all the respect he has earned, he never seems to put himself above anyone else, even a total blinking neophyte, which I absolutely was when he and I met and became friends. He's a veteran, but it's his ability to keep an amateur's heart that makes him an artist.

Jon Dell is a Hear Nebraska contributor. He's been every wereman, and his country/Americana act Bonehart Flannigan is recording a new album. Reach him at