Tag Archives: Brother’s Lounge

Alpaca Lunch

September 26, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Saturday, Sept. 29: Banned Books Week (Sept. 23-29) is an annual celebration of our freedom to read what we like. Celebrate that freedom by attending the Banned Books Week Party at Brothers Lounge from 6-9 p.m. this Saturday evening. Play some trivia and win some things. Grab a drink and engage in a conversation about free speech. Find the banned book for you, with help from Dundee Book Company and Solid Jackson Books. Do it because you can. Learn more here.

Thursday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 30: Cirque Italia is back for another thrilling show. This traveling circus is a creative mix of both entertainment and technology. You’ll see tricks done in midair, the human body twisted in unexpected ways, and the Wheel of Death. And maybe dinosaurs? There are seven showings available so no excuses will be accepted. Swing over here for tickets to this Vegas-style extravaganza.

Saturday, Sept. 29: Tired of the same old brunch places? Skip the patios and take favorite meal to the great outdoors. Pancakes in the Park is just the place for some quality nature time before it gets too cold to venture out. There will also be raffles and proceeds will go toward recreation equipment for the City of Omaha Parks Department. Get that sweet-tooth craving out of the way while supporting the city’s parks and saying goodbye to the old rock-climbing wall at Hanscom Park. Catch up on this and other upcoming Omaha Parks Foundation events here.

Saturday, Sept. 29: Be sure to check out the inaugural African Fashion Week Omaha main event at Hot Shops this Saturday. This occasion is an opportunity for local African designers to showcase their talents and experience. They will use rich, vibrant Ankara fabric to create both traditional and modern pieces. There will be a pre-show gathering and cocktail hour from 5-7 p.m. Show starts at 7.  Music from special performing artists Manny Joe and Joeezy will be the soundtrack to this phenomenal addition to the Omaha fashion scene. Get your tickets here.

Saturday, Sept. 29 to Sunday, Sept. 30: Did you know about National Alpaca Farm Days? If you said yes, well why didn’t you tell us sooner?! If you didn’t, we’re telling you now. Fortunately, there’s an alpaca farm just a short drive from Omaha—and they’re having a free open house event for the occasion. Alpacas of the Heartland in Ft. Calhoun is inviting you to come out and roam the hills with these charming, quirky creatures. You can even get alpaca swag. Find out more here.

 

 

Kids, Cats, and Country Music—It’s a Playful Weekend

April 26, 2018 by

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Pick of the (next) Week—Monday, April 30: Keep the weekend going by attending the May/June Magazine Launch Party for Omaha/Encounter magazines at the Joslyn Art Museum from 5-7 p.m. next Monday evening. This free event includes admission to Ed Ruscha’s exhibition Word/Play: Prints, Photographs, and Paintings (normally $10) and brief performances by Edem Soul Music and Miwi La Lupa, both featured in the magazines. Pick up free copies of the latest issues and grab some tasty hot dog and sausage samples provided by featured restaurants. Please RSVP here so we can make sure we have enough to go around!

Thursday, April 26:  Why not start and end your weekend at Joslyn Art Museum? The Kent Bellows Mentoring Program is having a free showcase tonight at the museum’s Witherspoon Concert Hall. The KBMP Teen Salon features original music, fashion, and animations by local teens. This is a great opportunity for them to connect with a live audience, so help them enjoy this experience by checking out this free, open-to-the-public event. Get more information on the program here.

Friday, April 27: If you’d like to have a great time while supporting a great cause, the CockTAILS & Cats fundraiser for Felius cat café should be a part of your weekend plans. There will be drinks, snacks, music, and giveaways, all to help raise money for their opening. Felius’ aim is to bring people and cats together through interaction and adoption, hopefully drastically reducing euthanasia rates for the animals here in Omaha. Find out more about the organization and get your tickets for this event here.

Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29: Ready for an adventure? PretzCon Pieces of Eight! is a tabletop game convention happening at Ralston Arena this weekend. Whether you’re into D&D or Apples to Apples, there’s bound to be a level of play for you. With vendors, tournaments, and a prize raffle, there’s plenty to get amped up about at this convention. To learn more and decide on your campaign strategy, get in on the action here.

Saturday, April 28: Think country music can’t have a punk attitude? Think again. Lavender Country was the first-known gay-themed album in country music history. While it proved too much for the music world of the 1970s to handle, Lavender Country has had a resurgence of interest since its self-titled album was reissued in 2014. Don’t miss Patrick Haggerty singing his songs of life this Saturday at Brothers Lounge. Learn more here.

It’s a slammin’ Easter weekend

March 29, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Easter Weekend! Friday, March 10-Sunday, April 1: It’s heeeeere! The resurrection of brightly colored eggs and ridiculously cute bunnies is happening now. And there are too many goings-on to list, so we’ve picked just a few highlights. Let us know where your favorite Easter celebrations go down!

  • Get your kids ready for the big day with Easter Bunny Storytime at the Shadow Lake Towne Center, happening both Friday and Saturday. Once the stories are told, get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny (making a special pre-Easter appearance). But you’ll have to bring your own camera, just like the paparazzi do when they want to snap a pic of the fluffy one. Read all about it here.
  • The Lauritzen Gardens Easter Extravaganza is happening on Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. until noon. Do some crafting, find some eggs, and snap a selfie with the bunny. If candy-filled eggs just won’t cut it, the cafe will open at 9 so you can get that kick of caffeine you need to spring into action. Find out more here.
  • The Easter at Baxter Arena event is hosted by Something’s Happening and King of Kings Church and it promises to be a large, high-energy service. The worship and celebration of life begins at 10 a.m. There’s plenty of room inside and free parking, so bring your friends, family, and anyone you think might be interested. Learn more here.
  • Easter brunch is kind of a big deal, which means there really are just too many yummy things going on to even begin listing them here. Just remember to make your reservations asap as most places tend to fill up quick, like a bunny! Enjoy this (hopefully!) beautiful weekend.

Thursday, March 29: Have you always wanted to grow your own garden but don’t have the space or the knowledge? Then check out the Spring Kick-Off Meeting at InCOMMON tonight at 7 p.m. Held at InCOMMON and put together by the Park Avenue Neighborhood Association, Hands to Harvest Community Garden, and The Big Garden, this is a chance to learn more about the application process and the free summer youth program. To contact them or find out more, dig it here.

Friday, March 30: What’s more spring-like than punk music? If you need a nice clean break from all the pastels and chocolate, a trip to the bar where black reigns supreme and the only chocolate you’ll find is in your stout may be in order. Plus, A March On The Crown/Just Tonight singalong with No Thanks and Mad Dog & the 20/20’s sounds like a great way to do a little spring cleaning of the soul. So don’t be a buzzkill. Lurch on over to Brothers and check out punk’s future. You’ll be in good company. Show starts at 9 p.m. Get more information here.

Saturday, March 31: Were you not quite the prom type back in the day? Or maybe you were but you always wondered what it would be like on the darker, punker side? Well, good news. The punk rolls on this weekend with Punk Rock Prom A Go-Go at The Waiting Room on Saturday night, and this ain’t your momma’s prom scene. Grab your Docs and your safety pins, get in the van, and head to Benson. Who knows? You might even win the prom king or queen crown you never knew you wanted. Elbow your way on over here to find out more.

Sunday, April 1: Forget Frozen. If you want to see an authentic, heartfelt kids movie, you must see My Neighbor Totoro, playing at the Alamo Drafthouse at 4:15 p.m this Sunday. The critically-acclaimed film will show you a world you’ll wish you lived in. So after all the colored eggs and chocolate bunnies have been found (and largely consumed) get to the Alamo and entertain the little ones (and yourself) with one of the best family films of all time. Just try to leave without a smile. Roger Ebert dares you. Click here for more information.

Punk You

August 15, 2017 by
Photography by Keith Binder

You can call Brothers Lounge a “punk bar” and not get too much grief from so-called “punk purists.” However, calling Brothers a “punk bar” is like calling The Clash a “punk band.” Technically, it may be true, but both are so much more than that definition.

But to truly understand Brothers (located at 3821 Farnam St.), you must go back to its beginnings.

More than a decade before 1977 (or “The Year That Punk Broke”), three brothers—Joseph Jr., Ernest, and Robert “Bobby” Firmature—opened The Brothers Firmature. The Firmature brothers had already established themselves in the Omaha dining and bar community with establishments like the Gas Lamp and the Ticker Tape Lounge. For the first 20 years, The Brothers Firmature—located next to the Colonial Hotel at 38th and Farnam streets—was a cozy bar, complete with drapes on the windows and a tiny dance floor (where two dartboards reside today).

The Brothers Firmature’s patrons included insurance reps from nearby Mutual of Omaha, reporters for the Omaha World-Herald, and the occasional long-stay occupant of the Colonial. It also became a respite for a young Omaha couple—Trey and Lallaya Lalley.

Not yet married, the Lalleys operated the Capitol Bar, which was located downtown near 10th and Capitol streets. In its heyday under the Lalleys, the Capitol helped jumpstart Omaha’s burgeoning indie-rock scene by booking lots of local and national acts. The Lalleys would frequent The Brothers Firmature on Sundays, their only day off. The bar offered an escape from the demands of club management and music promotion.

“It was our secret spot for us and a few friends,” Lallaya recalls.

“It felt like your weird uncle’s cool basement,” Trey adds.

In the mid-’90s, after the Capitol Bar closed, Trey worked at the now-shuttered Theodore’s Bar located at Saddle Creek and Leavenworth streets. Lallaya ran the front of house at McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe, which was located across the street from The Brothers Firmature on Farnam. The beloved organic restaurant shut down last year. Around 1997, Trey and Lallaya were approached by Robert Firmature about working at The Brothers Firmature in hopes that the two would eventually take over ownership. In the meantime, Bobby offered to mentor both Trey and Lallaya on the ins and outs of operating such an establishment.

“I knew how to smile and sell a beer, but I didn’t know how to do the books,” Trey says.

Trey and Lallaya took over Brothers in 1998. Some of the original decor remains (the original The Brothers Firmature sign, old movie posters like The Plainsman, starring Gary Cooper, and Riders in the Sky, starring Gene Autry), but the attitude of the place took on a new edge. In 2003, they were operating as owners. In 2012, they owned the building outright.

Edward Huddell has been coming to Brothers for almost 40 years. Sitting at the bar on a Friday night, sipping a lemonade, Huddell said he knew Robert Firmature, but connected more with Trey and Lallaya. During Huddell’s heyday, he would go to Brothers three or four times a week. His drink of choice: Rolling Rock or tequila shots.

“When I first came here, there was mostly Mutual of Omaha people. Then, after a while, it became more working-class people,” Huddell says. “When Trey and Lallaya took over, the average age of the patrons went down quite considerably.”

Trey and Lallaya’s personal touches are all over the bar. Brothers has become home to one of the most revered music jukeboxes in the Heartland, hosted a secret show by The Faint, and now serves as a sort of bridge between old neighborhood regulars and new patrons who are drawn to the renovated Blackstone District.

Visually, there are subtle indicators of Brothers’ punk aesthetic: the obligatory bathroom graffiti, black-and-white portraits of Joey Ramone, Nick Cave, and The Clash. But the obvious indicator is in its fabled jukebox. It’s one of the few in the city that contains actual physical CDs, chosen by the bar owners. Along with established icons including Bad Brains, X, and Dead Kennedys, it also plays beloved hardcore and punk staples like the Pornhuskers, Agent Orange, and the Circle Jerks.

Trey and Lallaya have a simple system regarding what goes into the jukebox: Both must agree on the CD. Having a bar where you can determine what is played has its advantages, but also some obvious drawbacks. The primary one being the risk of burning out on some of your favorite bands.

“It’s ruined some of my favorite records of all time for me,” Trey says. “What can’t I listen to anymore? Minor Threat. Black Flag, Slayer, and any Ramones song. Bands I cherished and love, I just wore into the dirt.”

Many of the institutions near Brothers have either went away (McFoster’s), or have dramatically revamped themselves (Sullivan’s). The rest of the businesses are part of the newer bars and eateries in the Blackstone District. The new businesses have given Brothers some new patrons, who mainly stop by more out of curiosity while bar-hopping than to hang out, Lallaya says.

“I call them ‘weekend tourists.’ They stop by once or twice, and they never come back,” she says.

Trey expressed some annoyance with the development around the bar. For months, it looked like Brothers was under construction as the high-end bar and kitchen eatery Stirnella, located next door, was being built. Parking has also become a problem, Trey says.

“I’m all for progress. I just really liked it the way it was before. People came here for a reason. It wasn’t just like ‘Oh, what’s this place. Let’s walk in and check it out.’ It was ‘Let’s go to Brothers.’”

One notable blogger of historic Omaha falls into the “Let’s go to Brothers”-style of patrons. She was so taken by the bar’s history that she penned an exhaustively researched piece about its history for her blog, My Omaha Obsession. Because of the sensitive nature of her job, she chose to remain anonymous, opting to use her pen name, “Miss Cassette.”

Miss Cassette spent months researching the history of the Brothers building. In a post titled “Brothers Lounge and the Case of the Vanishing Mom and Pop,” Miss Cassette used old articles from the Omaha World-Herald and The Omaha Daily Bee, as well as the Omaha city directory to trace the building’s history. Some key facts she discovered was that the spot where Brothers now resides used to be home to two separate businesses. Before the Firmature brothers bought the building, it was a grocery store and a self-service laundromat.

Miss Cassette began her research the same way she does most of her stories: by tracking down the city directory. “It starts with the address, then I see what shakes out,” she says. “It gets really rabbit hole-ish.”

In 2016, Brothers celebrated its 50th anniversary. Trey and Lallaya plan to keep Brothers operating long enough to justify another research piece by Miss Cassette. Don’t expect many changes to the bar, with the exception of more live shows. Lallaya says the number of live shows has grown from six to about 25 each year.

Trey says he can imagine running the bar for another 20 years, minus a week or two off a year for vacations.

“We don’t have an exit plan. This is it…We were in business to have a good time with our friends, not to make millions of dollars and sell out. Obviously, we did that,” Trey says with a laugh.

Visit facebook.com/brothersloungeomaha for more information.

This article appears in the July/August 2017 edition of Encounter.

From left: Trey and Lallaya Lalley

 

The Godfather of Tractor Punk

February 10, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Thank Gary Dean Davis for creating a genre of music original to Nebraska: tractor punk.

The progenitor of tractor punk has been performing and recording music for 20 years on the independent label—SPEED! Nebraska Records—that he established and jointly operates with fellow Omaha punk rocker Mike Tulis.

Although they have released music in various formats (and in various genres of punk rock), SPEED! Nebraska specializes in 7-inch, 45 rpm vinyl records. “The first record I ever listened to was a 45, and it’ll be the last record I ever listen to,” Davis says of his favored medium.

Davis and Tulis are no strangers to the local indie-punk scene. Davis, who grew up in Bennington, was in (what he refers to as) the tractor punk band Frontier Trust in the early-1990s.

Davis says when he was writing his punk rock songs, he tried to write about what he knew growing up in rural Nebraska. He followed the examples of then-elder statesmen of punk: “The Replacements are singing about Minneapolis, Television is singing about living in New York.”

Tulis grew up in a military family and moved around a lot. When Davis was touring with Frontier Trust, he was often surprised to find Tulis living in a different city.

“Mike would come to all of our out-of-town shows, and I’d be like, ‘you live in Chicago now?’” Davis recalls. Thus began a friendship that would lead to their collaborative management of SPEED! Nebraska from the third record onward (after Tulis moved back to Omaha).

Gary Dean Davis

Gary Dean Davis

In 1996, Davis had independently released the first SPEED! Nebraska recording. It was a 7-inch featuring two songs from the Omaha indie rock band Solid Jackson. Acclaimed Omaha singer-songwriter Connor Oberst liked the band so much he wrote a song about them (the track, “Solid Jackson,” is featured on Bright Eyes’ A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997 from Saddle Creek Records).

SPEED! Nebraska started with Solid Jackson because, as Davis says emphatically, “They had recorded this song called ‘Fell’ that was my favorite song, but they weren’t going to do anything with it.”

The label’s first 7-inch from Solid Jackson, however, was more low-fi punk release than Davis’ personal brand of tractor punk. Likewise, Tulis does not classify his own music under the tractor punk genre, but he enjoys Davis’ regional stylings. “It’s a very good fit, because it’s a major industry at this point,” he says with a sarcastic grin, alluding to SPEED! Nebraska’s 20 years in business.

As the Solid Jackson record sold, Davis was able to produce more music. SPEED! Nebraska’s second release came from Davis. His band at the time was called D is for Dragster, and it was true-to-form tractor punk.

Tulis’ band at the time was named Fullblown. Fullblown was responsible for the label’s third 7-inch release.

Once Tulis moved back to Omaha, he quickly became more involved in the record label. They recorded a variety of groups, including Davis and Tulis’ band The Monroes, the post-punk group Ideal Cleaners out of Lincoln, and Domestica (with former members of Lincoln’s Mercy Rule, who are longtime friends of Davis and Tulis).

Along with desire to promote local punk music, Davis also wanted to work with his friends. “The unifying thing all the bands on SPEED! have is I like them and they’re nice people,” he says.

Davis’ current band, the Wagon Blasters, released its most recent record in 2011. The Wagon Blasters often play shows with Tulis’ current band, the Lupines. On Oct. 22, they performed together at the label’s 20th anniversary show at Brother’s Lounge.

“In Nebraska, as a musician, you had to leave town [to be considered successful],” says Tulis of the unfortunate perspective held by many local bands. “We thought, ‘Let’s promote Nebraska!’” When a new band joins the label, Davis says, “Now you’re on the team.”

Visit facebook.com/Speed-Nebraska-Records-215079805178952 for more information.

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