First off, this list could be much longer.
We’re not sure we could make it exhaustive if we tried. It would have to include every band, every blog, every alternative radio show, every venue and, indeed, every person working to make Nebraska’s arts community more vibrant, more enjoyable to those who already know and more attractive to those who have yet to find out.
As it stands, we’ve compiled this list of resources to show another localized scene what the Nebraska music community at large is all about.
Hear Nebraska’s managing editor Chance Solem-Pfeifer and staff writer Jacob Zlomke are headed to Des Moines on Saturday to be a part of the Des Moines Music Coalition’s annual Music University at Drake University.
The DMMC and Hear Nebraska are kindred spirits. Through programs like Music University and 80/35 Music Festival, the coalition aims to strengthen and expand the city’s rich music community. The conference — which Hear Nebraska attended last year — brings speakers and panelists from all walks of the music industry to speak with musicians at every stage in their career on the ins-and-outs of things like recording on the cheap, booking a tour, sending out press releases, hiring managers and much more. This year’s conference features Bob Mould, Matisyahu and members of the Dum Dum Girls. If you’d like to attend, we’d recommend it. Register here.
We wanted to offer a primer to Iowans, and anyone else, on a sampling of the great programs Nebraska has to offer to musicians and music fans alike.
So, no, this list isn’t exhaustive. But we should count ourselves lucky that even the idea of an exhaustive list it too large of an undertaking for our small staff. Nebraskans, you’re doing great things.
If you would have liked to see a resource, series or organization included here, please add it in the comments and tell us a little about it.
402 Arts Collective
Located in Omaha, the nonprofit 402 Arts Collective aims to cultivate artists and musicians in the community. Their programming includes The 402, a performance space at Aroma’s Coffeehouse, The 402 Rock Academy, 402 Recording Studio, music lessons and Arts Education Connection, a program placing artists in schools for creative education.
photo by Molly Misek
Club No Quiet
An Omaha not-for-profit record label, Club No Quiet aims to promote, encourage and release music by groups underrepresented in the music industry. Club No Quiet releases music by artists who promote across-the-board equality and empowerment — including a split 7-inch by Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Anna McClellan — and offers mentorship to young women beginning their craft.
Festivals in Nebraska
Nebraska hosts several festivals every year, including Maha, Lincoln Calling, Lincoln Exposed, ZooFest, the Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival, the Stransky Park concert series, Jazz In June, Omaha Under The Radar and more.
This year, the nonprofit, volunteer Maha Music Festival featured headliners Death Cab For Cutie, Local Natives and The Head and the Heart as well as a full lineup of local and regional acts, including The Envy Corps. For the last four of its six years, Maha takes place at Stinson Park in Omaha’s Aksarben Village.
The annual urban music festivals Lincoln Calling and Lincoln Exposed take place across multiple stages, including parks, bars and backlots. The October and February events last around six nights and boast a wealth of local acts, as well as regional and national acts at Lincoln Calling. Lincoln Calling will celebrate its 11th year this fall.
Each year, Hear Nebraska, the Cooper Foundation and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce host Hear Lincoln in the heart of downtown on Friday afternoons. The free, weekly concert series aims to connect the music community with Lincoln’s business community. Hear Lincoln just wrapped its third year.
Live at O’Leaver’s
O’Leaver’s, a small rock club on Omaha’s Saddle Creek Road, recently began releasing live recordings of their shows through their Live at O’Leaver’s series. Notable releases so far have included Nebraska acts like See Through Dresses and McCarthy Trenching and national acts like David Dondero. Sound engineer Ian Aeillo says several bands have approached him about releasing the recordings as live albums.
Live at Turner Park
Hear Nebraska hosts this concert series at Turner Park in Omaha’s revitalized Midtown Crossing. The series just wrapped its inaugural four-week run, each week featuring two acts paired based on genre. Like Hear Lincoln, Live at Turner Park aims to connect musicians with audiences who may otherwise be unfamiliar with the local music scene.
photo by JP Davis
Love Drunk Studio
Love Drunk shot its first video four years ago with Nick Jaina. Since then, the live music video production team has released more than 120 videos, each one shot in a different location. The only stipulations for the videos are that they be one-take, live performances by the artists shot anywhere other than a traditional stage. Love Drunk has worked with The Menzingers, Deleted Scenes, The Kickback, Tim Kasher, Cursive, Orenda Fink and more.
Founded in 2010, Omahype is a resource in Omaha for all things entertainment, including shows, music, film, comedy, game, tech and more. The site features a nearly exhaustive events calendar for the city and critical essays, reviews and photos.
Omaha Girls Rock
Omaha Girls Rock, part of the International Girls Rock Camp Alliance, is an annual week-long day camp that empowers young women with self-confidence, self-reliance and creativity through music education. At the camp, girls form bands and write original songs together. Each camp is capped-off by a showcase at a local venue where bands perform their songs to audiences numbering in the hundreds.
photo by Shelby Wolfe
Founded earlier late last year, Sower Records is a Lincoln-based Americana and roots record label, boasting vinyl releases for local acts like The Bottle Tops, Jack Hotel and Bonehart Flannigan. Sower Records has centralized the growing Americana trend in Lincoln and been involved in coordinating events such as Harvest the Hope, a concert against the Keystone XL pipeline featuring Willie Nelson and Neil Young.
Based in Lincoln, Omaha and Sioux Falls, Unfound Sounds is a vinyl record treasure hunt. Each month, founder Michael Todd hides a record at a local business in each city. Every day he posts online clues as to the record’s location until someone finds it. Unfound Sounds means free vinyl for participants and exposure for small businesses.
X-Rated: Women in Music
Hosted on Nebraska’s only full-power community radio station, KZUM, X-Rated: Women in Music, plays music by women every Thursday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on 89.3 FM and worldwide at kzum.org. Hosts Shannon Claire and Rachel West emphasize local and regional music and have frequent guests for interviews and in-studio performances. X-Rated has been on the air continuously since 2008. X-Rated is also hosting its own showcase this month at Lincoln Calling. RSVP here.