Tag Archives: Beatles

Paul McCartney Live in Omaha

July 24, 2017 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

Beatlemania is alive and well in Omaha. Former Beatle Paul McCartney proved as much on Sunday night. His iconic songs brought the CenturyLink Center’s sold-out crowd to their feet.

Longtime fans (myself included) came to experience musical history. We were not disappointed during a three-hour concert featuring 39 songs.

The stage featured two rotating cylinders showing black-and-white images of Paul and the Beatles in the 1960s, which transitioned to blue-red with pictures from the British Invasion, which changed to modern-looking graphics, which turned to an image of McCartney’s left-handed violin-shaped bass guitar.

And there was the guitar in real life, with McCartney in front of it, performing “A Hard’s Day’s Night.” The Beatles first visited the Midwest in 1964. They played the song at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City during their first U.S. tour; however, neither the Beatles nor McCartney would play in Omaha until the new millennium.

The first (and last) time McCartney played in Omaha itself was on Oct. 30, 2005, following fellow Beatle Ringo Starr’s performance by less than a month. Previous to 2005, fans traveled to major cities and college towns to see this member of the world’s top-grossing band. His 1990 “The Paul McCartney World Tour” made stops in Chicago and Ames, Iowa. His 1993 “The New World Tour” made stops in Kansas City and Boulder, Colorado.

Omaha received the “flyover country” treatment…until recently. Many residents now fondly recall local news coverage of McCartney and friend Warren Buffet stopping for ice cream at eCreamery on July 13, 2014 (the day before he played at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln).

On his latest Omaha performance, McCartney brought it all—songs from the Quarrymen (his band before the Beatles), songs from the Beatles, songs from Wings (his band after the Beatles), and his solo work. The show itself was something of a lesson in rock ’n’ roll history that spanned the days preceding Beatlemania to last year’s hit “FourFiveSeconds,” which McCartney co-wrote with Kanye West and Rhianna.

McCartney’s band (which has been with him since 2002) appeared to have fun onstage. Particularly animated was Abe Laboriel Jr. on vocals and percussion, who plays with intensity while bopping along to the music. Another standout was Paul “Wix” Wickens on keyboards, synthesizers, and other electronic instruments. Wickens produced a compellingly corny late-1970s sound for “Temporary Secretary” along with a mock orchestra for a version of “Eleanor Rigby” that nearly brought me to tears.

The show’s visual effects included a rising stage, projected images, and fireworks. An expert showman and musician, the 75-year-old McCartney played the bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, a Yamaha grand piano, a psychedellic-looking upright piano, and a Gibson ukulele that he told the audience George Harrison had given him.

McCartney knows he didn’t make it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on his own, and he gave props to—and told stories of—his bandmates throughout the night. The aforementioned story about the ukulele was followed by “Let’s hear it for Georgie!” along with applause for former bandmate John Lennon and the song “Here Today.”

He also played the guitar rift from “Foxy Lady,” in a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. McCartney told the audience that Hendrix opened a show of his own with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band two days after the song’s release 50 years ago.

And, of course, he gave fans plenty of chances to sing along. Part of the way through “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” the band stopped singing the chorus for audience participation. Approximately 15,000 voices created music that resonated throughout the arena.

After going through everything from “Back in the USSR” to his James Bond theme “Live and Let Die,” he ended with the longest song released as a single in 1968, the seven-plus-minute long “Hey, Jude.”

McCartney wasn’t done. Following lengthy applause, the band came back on waving large flags that included those of the United States, the United Kingdom, and gay pride for an encore that acted more as a mini-set with seven career-spanning songs that ranged from “Yesterday” to “The End.”

Suddenly, the man and legend was gone. McCartney disappeared in a magical poof that brought down a shower of red, white, and blue confetti and streamers.

This article is a web exclusive for Omaha Publications.

The Kohlls Midcentury Wonder

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Montreal native Brigitte Mimran spent hours in front of students, teaching them about spatial arrangement, points, lines, and angles. As a busy math teacher, grading papers took precedence over interior decorating.

That all changed in 2007. She married Total Wellness owner Alan Kohll, changed her name to Mimran-Kohll, and time-warped into a house with 1970s flair.

Kohlls5Mimran-Kohll knew she wanted to leave a mark on the home, but didn’t quite know how. No longer teaching, she enrolled in online interior design classes. Following a year of thinking and learning, she discovered what she wanted to do with her home.

Mimran-Kohll took the 1950s house back to its roots, with a modern twist. She wanted light and color in the house that once featured lots of wood. To do this, she planned the main room without the wall separating it from the kitchen.

“It was nice, it was Prairie Style,” Mimran-Kohll says of the structure. “I just couldn’t stand being in a kitchen where I couldn’t see outside.”

The wall spoke of years past. The couple found within it a Zeta Beta Tau fraternity paddle and toys. They removed layers of plaster and orange wallpaper.

Once the wall came down to open up the space, Mimran-Kohll looked at the rest of the room and realized the built-in wood cabinets now looked too formal for her whimsical, retro redo. Out they came.
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Removing the wood cabinets made room for a brighter, airier kitchen with multiple stainless-steel appliances and large countertops. The space’s clever design provides a variety of stations. The main portion of the kitchen contains a prep station for dinners, with a two-drawer dishwasher, a fridge hidden behind cabinetry, and a cooktop built right into the white quartz countertops.

“Quartz is non-porous,” Mimran-Kohll says. “I would have loved marble, but I couldn’t keep up with it.”

Marble, a porous material, stains easily and requires lots of maintenance.

On the other end of the kitchen is a breakfast nook. A separate refrigerator contains juice, milk, and other dairy products. A freezer in that area holds several varieties of ice cream. Nearby is Mimran-Kohll’s baking station, with drawers for spices and flours.

The expansive dining room contains a curio cabinet and two cabinets that curiously resemble each other.

“They sent mismatched legs,” Mimran-Kohll says of the purchase from Design Within Reach. Because of the mix-up, the company sent a second, perfect cabinet, which now resides where it was meant to go, near the fireplace.

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The outdoors shine into the great room. The back wall was replaced with large glass panels, and beyond the glass is a patio and a large turquoise pool, used daily during nice weather.

Alan Kohll competes in triathlons and, in fact, is president of Race Omaha, which organized the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. The pool measures 60 feet across so Kohll can train in his own backyard.

“When we put in a pool, I knew we weren’t going to sell,” Mimran-Kohll says.

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Grasses and flowers of all types bloom, and the inviting patio features a bar for guests who want a drink before swimming.

In the lower level is a bathroom with lots of room. “I specifically made it this size so when people come to swim they have somewhere to change,” Mimran-Kohll says.

Weight-training equipment can also be seen in the corner of the basement. In place of Kohll’s former “man-cave,” Mimran-Kohll wiggled in a kitchen and a living space, mostly used for entertaining, and the weight-training equipment was scooted towards the back corner.

The downstairs fireplace is one of Mimran-Kohll’s favorite features, especially the tile surrounding the hearth. The handmade, period-appropriate tile came from Heath Ceramics in California, and once Mimran-Kohll saw it, she fell in love with the product…but not the price.

“I wanted it for the upstairs, but it was too costly,” she says.

Back upstairs, stepdaughter Abby’s room features bright colors and lots of musical instruments.

“She is really talented,” Mimran-Kohll says. “She loves the Beatles.”

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A white midcentury-looking chair and ottoman hold special memories.  “This was my parents’,” Mimran-Kohll says. “They were upholstered in orange.”

Kohlls6Everywhere in the house, light and lighting fixtures prevail. Mimran-Kohll claims lighting is like jewelry to her, and she shops at Design Within Reach for her fixtures.

While still working with spatial relations and geometry, Mimran-Kohll has slowly gained an appreciation for the artistic side of her brain.

She could have finished the project in less time, but she didn’t want to.

“If you pick anything too quickly, it’s over!”  OmahaHome

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Meet the Maloleys

June 6, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A variety of sounds greet one at the front door of the Maloleys’ home. The sounds of a piano, at least one violin, and a cello come from different areas of their 1950s home. Something else sounds like a complete symphony.

l-r, Caroline, Jacob, Meredith, Zachary, Clara, and Sam Maloley

l-r, Caroline, Jacob, Meredith, Zachary, Clara, and Sam Maloley

“Oh, that’s a CD,” Julie Maloley says with a slight wave of her hand like it’s no big deal.

It’s a bit of a cacophony…but only a little bit. It is, however, everyday life for Maloley and her children. They all play the violin and the piano.  Sons Sam, 14, and Jacob, 8, play the cello.

Caroline, 13, practices the piano daily for approximately 30 minutes after breakfast, then moves to her violin. Sam practices cello after breakfast, then moves to the piano. Meredith, 17, practices the violin after she attends a math class at Millard North first thing in the morning.

For now, she’s the only one attending class in a traditional school building. Sam wants to play baseball in high school, so along with violin, piano, and cello, he plays on a select baseball team. And yes, he also studies.

Julie home-schools her kids using a curriculum called Mother of Divine Grace. The Catholic-based curriculum emphasizes liberal arts. Youngest daughter Clara comes in from the main room to the library, with its built-in bookcases packed with tomes on subjects ranging from literature to music theory to biblical studies, and plunks down at the table with a handwriting book and a pencil.

“It’s distracting out there,” she announces, proceeding to perfectly copy pages of cursive letters—mimicking skills learned in earlier decades.

Indeed. Youngest son Zachary, who turns 7 on June 2, practices piano with Caroline’s aid. Jacob stands around anxiously waiting with his cello.

“Jacob! Just wait!” Julie calls out as she hears a low note from the string instrument combined with the sounds of the piano. “Sam will be done soon.”

As Sam comes up from the basement, Zachary heads down.

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The chaos actually benefits the kids. They study under the Suzuki method, a theory of musical study started in the 20th Cenutry by Shin’ichi Suzuki. Central in this philosophy is that all people can (and will) learn from their environment.

The family’s affair with music began when oldest Madeline, 20, was 3. Julie’s nieces and nephews played instruments, so Julie and husband

Skip began violin lessons for their daughter.  The next year Madeline began playing piano.

“It kind of snowballed one right after the other,” Julie claims.

Madeline now studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on a violin scholarship.

They aren’t always this anxious to practice. Today (April 13) is Clara’s 11th birthday, and they are all practicing willingly, because they are going to the zoo for her special day. Mom told them they need to finish practicing and schoolwork before they can leave.

Besides, a big event is about to happen. The beautiful, yet disjointed sounds of cello and violin heard in the Maloleys’ home are brought together along with violas and a stand-up bass that Friday night at the Omaha Conservatory of Music’s opening night gala. Guests sit in the new concert hall that once housed the sanctuary of Temple Israel, listening to the sounds of the Beatles performed by 30 young strings players. Five of those players hold the last name Maloley.

The group performing such well-known pop tunes as “Let it Be” is Frontier Strings, an ensemble at the Omaha Conservatory of Music.

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Aside from performing with the strings group, Meredith takes violin lessons from executive director Ruth Meints. She plays at Hospice House on Wednesday nights, (per mom’s orders) and teaches music to 16 students, who troop through the house one right after another each weekend. Her ultimate goal is to become a music teacher.

Sitting in the audience, often, is their father. Skip is the lead database administrator for Green Plains and owns Pacific Solutions Inc.

“Dad enjoys watching the kids. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Julie says of both homeschooling and allowing the kids to participate in multiple music lessons.

Julie herself doesn’t claim to be a musician, but is able to play piano and violin. She often practices with the kids, and sits in on lessons. One of the cores of the Suzuki method is that the parent be able to supervise instrument practice, and take notes at lessons in order to coach the children effectively.

She has coached them well. The perfect sounds of Bach’s Gavat come from Clara and Caroline’s violins, along with several other youngsters, as guests stroll through the executive suite at the conservatory’s gala. The Maloleys, along with all the children, are poised, eager, and happy to perform.

“It’s not that I think they will be Juilliard musicians, but it’s something they can do for the rest of their lives.”

Mark Erikson

October 8, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Don’t bother trying to contact Mark Erikson on a Monday night.

From now until, well—forever—he’s booked.

On Monday nights, you’ll find Erikson and more than 100 other Nebraska men singing their hearts out at a Presbyterian church in Fremont. They travel in from all over. Erikson drives from Papillion, an 80-mile round trip. Other members make the trek from South Sioux City, Beatrice, and Columbus. Erikson’s work life may take him to another state, but he’ll fly in just for practice, then back. He moves mountains to make sure he’s in his spot on the riser.

“Just a solid fact of life,” he explains.

There’s always a quorum for rehearsal of the Pathfinder Chorus.

“Every Monday at practice, we put all of life’s challenges aside. It’s like a three-hour break in the week. I’m with my buddies. And we’re singing really well,” says Erikson. “I guess it’s kind of a guy thing.”

That “guy thing” is an award-winning, nationally-recognized barbershop chorus. Erikson’s modesty masks the uniqueness of this ensemble. Widely diverse, both in age and professions, the 43-year-old group first qualified to perform at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Competition in 2010. They’ve continued to qualify and place every year since, a rare feat for a group made up of non-music professionals.

Barbershop harmonizing and a cappella singing in general have enjoyed resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks to movies like Pitch Perfect and Jimmy Fallon’s “Ragtime Gals” skits.

“It really has made a difference,” says Erikson. “It’s bringing barbershop to the forefront of a new generation, introducing a music style that can fit them too. They don’t have to stop singing after high school. They can keep singing their whole lives.”

The youngest member of Pathfinder Chorus is 13, the oldest, 85, with all ages in between represented. Professions range from student to dairy farmer to military veteran. There are even a couple of pilots on stage. One flies B-52s, the other flies commercial jets. All have one thing in common: a love for music, harmony, and fellowship.

Erikson discovered his passion for barbershop singing while he was in the military, almost by accident. He was stationed at Norfolk Navy Base. An elderly lady who sat near him in church kept urging him to join the choir. So he did. Later, he downloaded a four-part men’s arrangement of “The Irish Blessing,” encouraged friends to sing with him, and never looked back. That was 11 years ago.

At 63, Erikson now serves as district president. He really wants to leave the chorus—and his community—better than he found it. He also umpires baseball. And many of the Pathfinder concerts are fundraisers. In 2014, they donated over $10,000 to the Salvation Army and Goodfellows charities.

“Mark has been crucial to the success of the group,” says retiring music director Pete “P.D.” Stibor. “Mark has the passion.”

The passion and the practice pay off—and not just at competition. On a sunny Saturday this summer, the Pathfinders performed at Burke High School. Despite beautiful weather, the auditorium was full of fans and groupies eager to spend the next 90 minutes enjoying perfect harmony. It was delivered with only voices as instruments, exploring great pop tunes, ballads, and the Beatles, complete with choreography—even “jazz hands.”

“I want to do this as long as I can,” says Erikson. “Then have the good sense to step down when the time is right. We give ourselves goose bumps on the risers. We look at each other and say…We just did that…It’s such a personal thing. Such an emotional thing to be able to share that with your friends.”

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