Today’s news starts with a word from our managing editor. For end-of-year show picks, scroll down to the second item.
Farewell to HN news, and a few thank-yous
I’ll always remember the first day I wrote for this news column — April 21, 2015 — as both objectively pretty typical and monumentally meaningful to me. Digital Leather had announced a new full-length on FDH Records and, under the guidance of my former editor Chance Solem-Pfeifer and former staff writer Jacob Zlomke, I wrote about the band’s new single “Face To The Wall” from my living room couch. The column was robust that day (mostly by Jacob’s doing), also featuring a first-hand account of an I-80 pileup forced by a Wyoming blizzard, courtesy of Lord Green’s Mick Ridgeway, as well as a handful of singles and Nebraskans in national festival news. As my colleagues (and cherished friends) moved on to other endeavors, I’ve tried every day to shape the space into something as informative, comprehensive, intriguing and (hopefully) valuable to readers and the people it covers as it felt to me that day.
Indeed, news has always been at its best when it showcases the most unique, engaging and nationally-visible elements of Nebraska music, an effort which launched under Zlomke’s care and which I have been proud to write since that April day. Over the past few years, dozens of people have contributed writing, photos and video to the column as we attempted to cover everything that came across the news desk. Our goal, echoing that of the organization, has been to support and promote Nebraska’s music scene and help make the state’s culture internationally known. If it wasn’t always the most glamorous piece of the job, to me, it has certainly been one of the most rewarding
As you may have heard, Hear Nebraska has merged with The Bay (effective Jan. 1), which means the way we continue to highlight the state’s creative community will change going forward. Today, I am bittersweetly saying farewell to this column.
What I’ll miss most about it is the variety, reflecting the depth and breadth of Nebraska music. I spent a significant amount of time preparing for this essay (written very close to deadline) by considering all the many album announcements and photos and commentary and interviews and whacky, tangentially-related Nebraska music tidbits. Because it had to cover such a vast body of work, it had to evolve constantly. But just like with everything HN, it was given the space it needed to develop, fail, revise and forge ahead. Hopefully, anybody who read it saw what I saw: a wide, detailed view of a flourishing statewide scene.
Under Rabble Mill, we will still work to highlight and build-up Nebraska’s culture, and that most certainly includes music as well as art, skateboarding and other creative endeavors (literally nothing is off-limits). This time, everything will focus on youth, from those executing coverage and learning valuable skills to the stories they tell. I am currently developing a physical publication — something I’ve dreamed of since the Grantland days — and while we’re in the early stages, we do know it will be produced by and for high school students, showing them the unique and exciting cultural elements of Nebraska and giving them a look into what is possible in the creative world. I’m eager to continue learning and sharing that knowledge with young people.
What does that mean for Hear Nebraska dot org? Aside from a couple more pieces this week and two Good Living Tour stories early next year, the site will stop publishing for a time. We’re still working on a plan for the digital versions of magazine stories, and most likely that means housing them here. Eventually, I imagine resuming some sort of news round-up with a wider scope. It is my hope that we resume Nebraska-focused storying telling in the space again.
And in the meantime, readers will still be able to access the vast ocean of videos, stories and photos dating all the way back to Hear Nebraska’s launch. Tomorrow, we’ll publish a handful of our favorite HN stories from throughout our seven-year period.
Please continue to keep us informed on what’s going on in your worlds. Send us new music, tour plans or any other big news you find noteworthy. We will continue to operate firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond from my email, email@example.com. In fact, I’ll still be on 89.3 KZUM FM every Monday night at 8 p.m. for Hear Nebraska FM, playing two hours of Nebraska music. I need to hear all of it. And you can bet on seeing us at shows; stop and say hello.
If you’re worried about daily Nebraska music coverage, dismay not! The resources still exist. In Omaha, hit up Lazy-i’s Tim McMahan, The Reader and the Omaha World Herald’s Kevin Coffey. In Lincoln, both L. Kent Wolgamott and Cory Matteson are on the beat for the Lincoln Journal Star; the Daily Nebraskan continues to cover local and national music; and we are happy to see KZUM’s wading into the editorial waters, and you should contact them here.
I have learned quite a bit writing this column everyday (and later, three days a week) while serving as HN’s managing editor. Writing and reporting skills, to be sure, but also how to problem solve, how to be patient (with myself, staff and sources), how to be diplomatic, how to put out fires and roll with the punches. All of that stuff comes with working for HN, as many of its alumni will tell you, but I’m supremely grateful for the training ground news has provided for me and so many who have written for it.
If you’ve read this far, first of all thank you, but also I have some personal items to address and I hope you’ll entertain me. Because this is it for awhile, and my job will change a bunch with the move to Rabble Mill, there are a few specific thank-yous to hand out.
First of all, thanks to Andrew and Angie Norman, who if you didn’t know created this beloved and ever-changing machine. Their energy and drive continue to amaze and inspire me. The phrase “company culture” is loaded and sometimes the thing itself is contrived, but the Normans’ ability to unite people with common and complimentary passions, motivate them to produce cool shit — like a statewide concert tour, an online music publication and an entire effing music festival — and make it all challenging and fun is utterly mind-blowing. I still often find myself in disbelief that they ever asked me to be part of it and forever grateful for how much like family they have treated me. I’m thrilled to jump into the next phase with them.
Thanks to Jacob Zlomke, my pal, who asked me to write for HN three and a half years ago, who blazed the daily news trail ahead of me and who has offered invaluable encouragement as one of my closest friends (and HN contributors) since. I’ve always admired the care and compassion in his writing, especially in his treatment of Nebraska. Something he once said about local art will always stick with me (paraphrased): the most important thing one can do for it is take it seriously. It will continue to be guiding principle for me.
I can say similar things about Chance Solem-Pfeifer, who was editor during my Fall 2014 internship and brief staff writer employment before taking over for him July 2015. In less than a year, he taught me more about writing, reporting and grinding it out than I could have possibly known to ask for (and somehow had endless patience with me along the way). He’s also been a superb podcast partner while continually impressing upon me what it means to be an art critic. I’m grateful to have shared in some great discussion, that first Good Living Tour storytelling trip (HERE COMES ANOTHER DAY) and a boatload of laughs. I’m glad to call him a friend.
I could not have possibly made it through the first months of my tenure as editor without Nickolai Hammar and Chris Dinan, who came on as visuals editors as I took the reins. The first damn thing we did was hop in a van and produce the first Good Living Tour — documenting it, building and tearing down its stages — a trip that to this day gave me some the best memories of my life. They led the charge while HN made a concerted effort to produce more engaging video, leaving legacies in the Sonata Sessions, Kibler’s Corner (both Hammar), Artist Profile and Crossfade series (Dinan).
Thanks to both Lindsey Yoneda and Lauren Farris for serving as multimedia interns and, essentially, staff members over the past two years. Lindsey filled in for Hammar and Dinan upon their leaving and Lauren took over that position in Fall 2016. Both have produced spectacular photos and video, each fitting the HN spirit and voice while maintaining their own unique personal styles. Lauren and Lindsey have worked tirelessly contributing to this column, maintaining this publication’s standards, guiding multimedia interns after them and being fantastic co-workers. They also both nailed coverage of the past two Good Living Tours and Lincoln Calling festivals, feats that merit their own set of recognition. Finally, thanks specifically to Lindsey for fostering my favorite intern chide (YOU’RE LATE); and thanks specifically to Lauren for being a rock as we move onto the next frontier.
My great appreciation goes out to anyone who ever contributed writing, photos, video, news tips, story ideas, music, positive and/or negative feedback or anything else to the news. That includes musicians, without whom, it bears repeating, this column would not exist. I also wast to specifically thank the people who at one behest or another helped produce it over the years: Jacob Zlomke, Sam Crisler, Gabriella Parsons, Patrick Nolan, Michael Huber, Zach Visconti, Chance Solem-Pfeifer — all who hit the publish button — and countless other writers and photographers.
Finally, and not least of all, thank you for reading. I’ll be back soon.
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Concert Round-Up: Final Addition
Now that I’ve mopped the tear-filled puddle up from my desk, let’s do one more concert round-up together, shall we? The local show menu is vast near the end of 2017 and our picks are here, with a broader look at our statewide events calendar here.
Prairie Cats at Reverb Lounge – Formed in Omaha in 1998, Prairie Cats play a mix of swing, jazz and jump-blues known around the world. 8 p.m., all-ages show, $7 advance, $9 day of show. RSVP here.
See Through Dresses, Twinsmith, Oquoa at The Waiting Room – This is one of those mix-n-match Omaha holiday lineups we’ve never seen before but feels like such a “duh” move, so kudos to these three for getting together. See Through Dresses and Twinsmith both released new full-length albums we enjoyed this year; listen to our On The Record podcast team, explain why they liked Horse of the Other World here and Stay Cool here. 9 p.m. all-ages show, $8, RSVP here.
Staffers, Apoptosis, Sean Pratt & the Sweats at Almost Music – Staffers’ Ryan McKeever returns from D.C. to Omaha to play some Staffers songs old and new (most certainly from this year’s full-length Torn Between Two Loves) with a special band. Apoptosis is Anna McClellan and Razors’ Alek Erickson; one of their songs, “I Swear,” appeared on McClellan’s recent split with Thick Paint. Sean Pratt plays country with the full band. 8 p.m. show, RSVP here.
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal at The Bourbon – The Lincoln soul band celebrates its five-year-anniversary in a place in The Bourbon that it has filled on numerous over the years — including its Living By The Minute release show in late 2014. During that time, the band formerly known as Shadowboxers has released three studio albums, two live albums and played hundreds of shows across the globe. Soul Colossal had another big year; even without a release for the first time since it formed, the five-piece toured the U.S. and Europe and its bandleader enjoyed a cup of coffee in the early 2017 season of NBC’s The Voice. They will be joined by special guests and plan to whip out a few new tunes as well. 8 p.m. show, all-ages, $5 in advance, $10 day-of-show. RSVP here.
Criteria, Little Brazil, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship at The Waiting Room – Omaha indie rock band Criteria gets it back together for its pretty-much annual show. In case you don’t know, frontman, ex-Cursive founding member and HN board member Steve Pedersen formed Criteria in 2003 after returning to Nebraska from law school and released a pair of records on Saddle Creek. Little Brazil and Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship round out another no-brainer billing. 9 p.m., all-ages, $8, RSVP here.
New Years Eve
gOo Years Eve at Slowdown – One of the biggest New Years danse parties around celebrates its 11th-annual shindig Sunday at its de-facto Slowdown home. Omaha indie soul band High Up performs and there will be sets by DJs Kethro, W.E.R.D. and Todd Fink and VJ Aaron Gum. Doors at 8 p.m., $20 in advance/$25 day-of, or $75 for VIP, which includes various goodies. RSVP here.
Universe Contest, Bogusman, Cupcake, Darren Keen at Duffy’s Tavern – Some of Lincoln’s biggest concert-party hybrids have been at Universe Contest New Years Eve shows, so it feels right to have them on the stage to ring in 2018. They even have that new album, Get Cot Livin, of which you’re likely to hear plenty. Bogusman, St. Joseph, Mo. band Cupcake and Lincoln ex-pat Darren Keen pile on top. 9 p.m., 21-plus, $5, RSVP here.
Cult Play, No Thanks, Houma at O’Leaver’s – A sneaky-good all-Omaha show goes down at O’Leaver’s Sunday night. Electronic dance act Cult Play will get you moving and No Thanks (on the cusp of releasing debut LP The Trial) and Houma will help you shout and scream away a maddening, exhausting, horrifying 2017. 10 p.m., $5, 21-plus, complimentary champagne toast at midnight. RSVP here.
AZP, Funk Trek, Both at Vega – It’s gonna get groovy at Vega for NYE, as Lincoln hip-hop/rock band AZP, Omaha jam band Funk Trek and Omaha hip-hop duo BOTH close out the year. AZP recently signed with Kansas City independent label The Record Machine and plans to release new EP Strawberry Lemonade (recorded at Silver Street Studios) this coming February. Doors at 8 p.m., 21-plus, $10 admission gets free champagne toast at midnight. RSVP here.
That’s it. Thank you to everyone who has ever read, shared, contributed to, sent email to or otherwise supported the news column. I’ll always love it.