Portraits From A Scene | Photo Essay

Often, we identify a scene by what’s going on inside of its clubs. We use metrics both objective (show frequency, festivals, diversity, etc) and subjective (collective sound, quality) to come up with some characterization of the physical and geographical spaces that music inhabits.

It’s not to say we forget that the performers on any given stage have personalities and lives otherwise — we as musicians and fans and journalists all live and work in the same communities. It’s that coverage is often dark photo after dark photo of bands playing songs. The camaraderie, the revelry, the friendship all exist outside of the concert venue, too.

All year long, HN contributor and Lincolnite James Dean has worked to capture this feeling in portraits. If you frequent Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern or Knickerbockers, you’ve seen him out and about, and occasionally, he’ll shoot up to Omaha for a night in Benson or at O’Leaver’s. Here’s what he had to say about his work:

“A lot of times, photos of bands are from within the crowd. These photos are expressive of their live performances and stage presence but not who they are as people and/or individuals.

Photographing these bands outside, away from their instruments illuminates their off-stage personality and relationships with each other, as well as showing others that follow these bands how warm and welcoming the Nebraska scene is.

These photos also serve the utilitarian purpose of showing every member of a larger band, something that’s not easy to do when they’re all up on stage performing.”
A scene is the composition of all of its individual parts, whether Nebraska artist or regular out-of-state visitor (re: Sidewalk Chalk, Ghost Foot, Gloom Balloon). Below are a selection of Dean’s photos, depicting a slice of the scene’s personal side.

A Ferocious Jungle Cat | Zoo Bar | Oct 16, 2015

A Ferocious Jungle Cat

Buffalo Rodeo | Duffy’s Tavern | April 29, 2015

Buffalo Rodeo

Chicago Afrobeat Project | Zoo Bar | Oct 15, 2015

Chicago Afrobeat Project

Cody Heinke | Knickerbockers | Oct 2, 2015

Cody Heinke

Darren Keen | The Bourbon | Sept 10, 2015

Darren Keen

Ghost Foot | Zoo Bar | Oct 3, 2015


Miwi La Lupa, CJ Mills, Luke Polipnick | Zoo Bar | Nov 12, 2015

Miwi La Lupa, CJ Mills and Luke Polipnick

Gloom Balloon | Zoo Bar | May 19, 2015

Gloom Balloon

Honey Honey, Will Hutchinson | Reverb Lounge | July 16, 2015

Honey Honey & Will Hutchison

Hyborian | Knickerbockers | Oct 2, 2015


Gayle Skidmore, Minor Birds | Meadowlark Coffee | April 5, 2015

Gayle Skidmore / Minor Birds

Phoebe Dro, Marshall Fisher (This Machine Kills Vibes), Kamakauzzy | Knickerbockers | June 24, 2015

Phoebe Dro, Marshal Fisher, Kamakauzzy

Prom Date | Duffy’s Tavern | April 28, 2015

Prom Date

Screens | Duffy’s Tavern | July 1, 2015


Sidewalk Chalk | Zoo Bar | Oct 29, 2015

Sidewalk Chalk

State Disco | Duffy’s Tavern | Oct 4, 2015

State Disco

The Claudettes | Zoo Bar | Sept 2, 2015

The Claudettes

Evolfo, A Ferocious Jungle Cat | 14th St, Lincoln | June 4, 2015


Songwriter Sunday | Meadowlark Coffee | Jan 11, 2015

Songwriter Sunday