Tag Archives: CenturyLink Center

The Horses Are Back!

March 2, 2018 by
Photography by contributed

The International Omaha indoor jumping and dressage competition continues its ascent in the horse sports world, drawing the fastest horses and riders to Omaha from qualifying contests in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Denver.

The InIt2WinIt Speed Jumping Series is the brainchild of Lisa Roskens, chairman of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation. Similar to speed competitions held in California during the early ’90s, she says, it features challenging turns and offers riders more options for successfully navigating the course in the fastest possible time.

Following recent qualifying rounds in the four major cities, the InIt2WinIt series culminates with 30 riders vying in a nationally televised, $100,000 championship at the 2018 International Omaha, April 12-15 at the CenturyLink Center.

The innovative event fits perfectly with the Omaha Equestrian Foundation’s mission to expand the sport-horse industry throughout the Midwest, with Omaha anchoring international-caliber equestrian competitions that provide educational and economic development opportunities.

“Omaha is a natural location to help grow the equestrian industry. It’s in the heart of the Midwest’s agricultural infrastructure, is easy to get to and is surrounded by pastureland,” Roskens says. “As traditional agriculture becomes more mechanized, expanding the equestrian industry and the jobs it provides can help augment it.” 

InIt2WinIt is joined by another first-time event: the Dressage Team Challenge. Dressage (rhymes with “massage”) is the ballet of equine competitions, with horse and rider moving as one through intricate movements and patterns.

The unique event brings a team approach to dressage. It features eight groups of three riders who qualified at high-level U.S. horse shows, primarily in the East, to win the chance to compete in the $45,000 final. Top-level, professional riders partner with junior, young amateurs and para riders across the age spectrum.

InIt2WinIt and the Dressage Team Challenge are innovative additions that will build International Omaha’s fan base in the Midwest and beyond, says Mike West, the Omaha Equestrian Foundation’s chief executive officer. They precede the regional competition’s mainstay and finale: the $130,000 Grand Prix, a breathtaking jumping event entering its sixth year.

“We thought of these concepts, then we went out and got the interest,” West says. “We are creating a fan experience you don’t get anywhere else in the Midwest.”

When most people attend a sporting event, he explains, it’s part of a larger happening that includes tailgating or other pre- and post-game activities. West says International Omaha mirrors how the sport is presented in larger European and U.S. coastal cities. Highlights include the Boutique Shopping Village with more than 100 vendors and the Tailgate Lounge, where fans can eat and drink—while watching horses and riders warm up—then party to live music after the event.

International Omaha also is offering free daytime competitions in the CenturyLink Center’s arena for up-and-coming amateur and junior riders; a free Horse Discovery Zone with interactive and educational displays; and clinics hosted by Olympic gold medalist Hubertus Schmidt (dressage) and legendary rider, trainer, and clinician George Morris (jumping).

“These equestrian events are exciting, fun, beautiful, and easily appreciated,” West says. “We’re building something really special.”

Visit internationalomaha.com for more information. Learn more about a top international competitor with long-term ties to Omaha equestrian competitions here: http://omahamagazine.com/articles/christian-heineking/.

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

2018 January/February Family and More

December 27, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

Holiday Lights Festival NRG Ice Rink
Through Feb. 14 at 10th St. and Capitol Ave. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign, which supports the Food Bank for the Heartland. Bring the whole family and create memories while supporting the community. Admission: $8 (includes skate rental). 402-650-4813.

The Rooftop Rink
Through Feb. 25 at Midtown Crossing, between 31st-33rd streets and Farnam to Dodge streets. The elevated location is innovative—so is the rink—an all-weather “synthetic ice” surface. Hours of operation to be announced. Admission is a minimum donation of $5 benefiting The Salvation Army. 402-934-9275.

Joslyn Castle

Joslyn Castle Public Tours
Recurring at the Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St. Tour historic Joslyn Castle each Monday and the first and third Sundays of every month. Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors (60+), students and military. 402-595-2199.

Millard Branch Escape Room
Jan. 3-5 at Millard Branch Public Library, 13214 Westwood Lane. Once guests are locked in the room, they will go through a series of puzzles in order to get out. There will be an escape room for kids grades 2-4 and 4-6 every hour. Guests should register on the library website. 402-996-8037.

Music & Movement Storytime
Jan. 3 at W. Clarke Swanson Branch, 9101 Dodge St. This event allows active toddlers (up to age 5) to explore literacy through song, dance, and play with their caregivers. 402-444-4852.

Benson First Friday
Jan. 5 and Feb. 2 in Benson (Maple and 59th to 63rd streets). Art galleries, bars, music venues, and cultural institutions of Benson collaborate on the first Friday of every month with a showcase of local arts and culture.

First Friday Old Market
Jan. 5 and Feb. 2 at the Old Market. Walk the distinctive brick streets of the Old Market to live music, ride Ollie the Trolley for free between venues, and ignite your imagination with art at this free event. Recurring the first Friday of each month.

The Great Train Show
Jan 6-7 at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs. Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of miniature railroading at the train show, featuring hundreds of tables of trains, accessories, scale models, collectible toys for sale, activities for kids, and seminars. 10 a.m. Tickets: $10-$11, kids are free. 712-323-0536.

Teen Poetry Workshop
Jan. 13 and Feb. 10 at Omaha Public Library, 13214 Westwood Lane. Join Nebraska Writers Collective’s Louder Than a Bomb coaches and visiting artists to learn from the experts. Recommended ages 8-12 years old. 1:30 p.m. 402-444-4848.

Second Saturday Program at Heron Haven
Jan. 13 at Heron Haven Nature Center, 11809 Old Maple Road. Come hike in the woods and share nature stories while sipping on hot chocolate. Children are encouraged to bring a favorite stuffed animal to help make up a nature story. Admission: free. 10-11:30 a.m. 402-493-4303.

Midlands International Auto Show

Midlands International Auto Show
Jan. 18-21 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. See, touch, and experience the automotive industry’s latest and greatest. Tickets: $9 adults:. $7 seniors (65+), children (7-12), and military with ID; free to children under 7. 402-341-1500.

River City Hunting, Fishing, Boat, & RV Expo
Jan. 19-21 at Mid-America Center, One Arena Way, Council Bluffs. View more than 100 exhibitors; attend seminars on topics such as ultimate fishing in Canada, mushroom hunting, fly fishing, and dog training; and try out the indoor BB gun and archery ranges, interactive games, and turkey call-in teepee. Times vary. Tickets: $9 adults, $3 kids ages 4-15, and free to ages 3 and under. 712-326-2295.

The Price is Right Live
Feb. 7 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. Come on down! This interactive stage show gives eligible individuals the chance to play classic games from television’s longest-running game show. Favorites such as Plinko, Cliffhangers, The Big Wheel, and the Showcase will be at this event. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $49.50-$150. 800-440-3741.

Lawn, Flower, & Patio Show/Omaha Home & Garden Expo
Feb 8-11 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Gardeners who are ready for the spring planting season will enjoy this event. Over 600 exhibits for the home inside and out. Kids activities include exotic animals to view and games to play. Tickets: $9 adults, $4.50 ages 12-5, free to children 4 and under.

FIsh Fries

Lenten Fish Fries
Fridays, Feb. 9 through March 30. Feb. 14 this year not only signifies Valentine’s Day, it is also the start of Lent—the season of repentance for many Christians in which they are not allowed to eat meat on Fridays. Numerous Catholic churches in the area will hold fry-days on Fridays in February and March. The three voted for “Best Fish Fry” in “Best of Omaha” 2018 were: Holy Name, Mary Our Queen, and St. Patrick’s of Elkhorn. Visit archomaha.org for more info on Catholic fish fries. Other popular fish fries can be found at All Holy Spirit and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox churches, Disabled American Veterans, American Legions, many Protestant churches, and community organizations.

Love at the Zoo

Love at the Zoo
Feb. 9-10 at Henry Doorly Zoo, 3701 S. 10th St. Listen to a lighthearted presentation about dating and mating in the animal kingdom. The event includes a champagne welcome, dinner, and special animal encounters. Ages 21+ only. 6:30-9 p.m. Tickets: $75. 402-733-8401.

KanPai! Con
Feb 9-11 at Hotel RL, 3321 S. 72nd St. Kanpai! Con is an annual cultural appreciation convention that focuses on anime, manga, and Japanese video gaming. Come dressed as a favorite character and enjoy the family-friendly convention setting. Times vary. Admission: $30 weekend pass or $20 one-day pass.

Feb. 10 at German-American Society, 3717 S. 120th St. Start celebrating Mardi Gras the Saturday before with Germany’s version of this feast day. Eat jagerschnitzel or herbed fish while listening to music. And don’t forget the bier! 5 p.m. Reservations required by Feb. 6: $19 for members, $22 per guest, $25 for non-members, $9 for children 12 and under. 402-333-6615.

Second Saturday Program at Heron Haven
Feb. 10 at Heron Haven Nature Center, 11809 Old Maple Road. Watch an educational slide show about the animals at Heron Haven filled with photos from photographer Nanette Williams. This free event is the perfect way to teach children how animals survive in the winter. 402-493-4303.

12th Annual Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards
Feb. 18 at Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St. This is Omaha’s own version of the red carpet. Hundreds of musicians, visual artists, and performing artists have been nominated. Find out who won at the event. 6-10 p.m. Tickets: $30.

Kids Rule Fashion Show
Feb. 24 and 25 at Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St. This kids fashion show is open to both girls and boys ages 5 to 12. There will be a modeling workshop and a time for garment selection. Register online before the event. 2 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: TBA. 402-819-8792.

Omaha Fashion Week
Feb. 27-March 4 at Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St. One of the nation’s largest fashion weeks, Omaha Fashion Week holds fall and spring events. Special guest Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week, will judge during the VIP Runway Finale. Tickets: prices vary.

Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

This article appears as part of the calendar of events in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

2017 November/December Performing Arts

Photography by contributed

Stupid F@#%ING Bird, Through Nov. 12 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. This “sort-of adaptation” of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov tells a story in which an aspiring young director battles against the art created by his mother’s generation. A young actress competes with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist and everyone discovers just how complicated life, art, and success can be. Tickets: $24. 402-553-0800.

Point A to Point B, Through Nov. 12 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St. Point A to Point B is a unique nonverbal show in which two coworkers working in a lab of fun found objects have to get a ball from “point A” to “point B” without using the same path twice. With a bit of theater magic, they fill their work day exploring the excitement of the journey. Show times vary. Best for preschool- to second-grade students. Tickets: $12. 402-345-4849.

Tosca, Nov. 3 and 5 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Love, lust, religion, and politics fatally collide in Giacomo Puccini’s beloved masterpiece. The lecherous chief of police, Scarpia, will stop at nothing to possess the beautiful singer, Floria Tosca, who must give the ultimate performance in a desperate attempt to save the man she loves. Performed in Italian with English supertitles. Tickets: $19-$99. 402-345-0606.

Festival of South African Dance at the Holland

Festival of South African Dance, Nov. 5 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.The festival celebrates expressive dance styles created during the Apartheid era. Two companies featuring more than 20 dancers and musicians share their culture in high-energy performances. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15-$30. 402-345-0606.

Van Gogh & Me, Nov. 3-12 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St. This show is written by Omaha’s own Matthew Gutschick. Based on actual events, the story follows painter Vincent van Gogh (creator of such iconic works as The Starry Night and Sunflowers) as he retreats to a French town and befriends a curious girl named Adeline. Appropriate for ages: 10+. Showtimes vary. Tickets: $20. 402-345-4849.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Nov. 7-12 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Re-experience the classic Disney animated feature film as a live-action production, featuring favorite characters and songs. The show has been described by The Chicago Tribune as “the most innovative production of the season.” Showtimes vary. Tickets: $35-$110. 402-345-0606.

Carmina Burana, Nov. 12 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Hear “O Fortuna” the music that adds thrills to movie blockbusters as an epic chorus of 500 elite singers from regional high schools join with professional soloists and the Omaha Symphony to perform Carl Orff’s choral masterwork. 2 p.m. Tickets: $19-$72. 402-345-0606.

Christmas with the Crawfords, Nov. 16-Dec. 10 at SNAP! Productions, 3225 California St. The campy comedy deemed “the Christmas Carol of the 21st century” is back. This nostalgic tribute to one of America’s favorite dysfunctional families highlights beautiful, funny musical numbers. Tickets: $20 adults, and $15 students, seniors (55+), TAG members, or military personnel. 402-341-2757.

The 39 Steps, Nov. 24-Dec. 17 at The Bluebarn Theatre, 1106 S. 10th St. The original cast returns in this retro award-winning flashback. Mix a 1930s Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy film noir and a dash of Monty Python for an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure. Packed with nonstop laughs, more than 150 characters, an on-stage plane crash, and romance, The 39 Steps is a riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft that’s guaranteed to thrill. Times vary. Tickets: $30 adults, $25 students, seniors (65+), or TAG members. 402-345-1576.

A Charlie Brown Christmas, Nov. 18 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. A Charlie Brown Christmas comes to life on stage featuring beloved characters and Vince Guaraldi’s famous score. 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets: $20-$56. 402-553-0800.

“A Christmas Carol” at Omaha Community Playhouse

A Christmas Carol, Nov. 17-Dec. 23 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol. Experience one of Omaha’s favorite holiday traditions as Ebenezer Scrooge takes on a life-changing journey filled with beautiful costumes, exquisite music, perfectly crafted sets, and special effects second to none. Show- times vary. Tickets: $38 and up for adults, $25 and up for students with ID. 402-345-0606.

The Exterminating Angel, Nov. 18 and 22 at Filmstreams, 1340 Mike Fahey St. The Exterminating Angel has its Met premiere this season, conducted by the composer, Thomas Adès. Showtimes: 11:55 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets: $24 general admission, $20 members of Opera Omaha, Met Opera, and Film- streams, $10 students with ID. 402-933-0259.

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Nov. 19 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. Along with this holiday favorite, the performance includes Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 and Holloway’s “Europa and the Bull.” Tchaikovsky’s suite from The Nutcracker brings to musical life the Sugar Plum Fairy and “The Waltz of the Flowers.” 2 p.m. Tickets: $33 general admission, $27 Joslyn members. 402-342-3300.

PJ Masks Live, Nov. 20 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. Time to Be a Hero is a brand new live show, featuring the heroic trio from the cartoon series PJ Masks. Watch Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko as they try to save the day from their sneaky foes—Romeo, Night Ninja, and Luna Girl. 6-8 p.m. Tickets: $25-$45. 402-934-9966.

Yesterday and Today, Nov. 24-Dec. 31 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Billy McGuigan and his brothers are back for the 10th consecutive year. This all-request Beatles tribute show will have you dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song. Showtimes vary. Tickets: $40. 402-553-0800.

MJ Live, Nov. 25 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. This Michael Jackson tribute concert returns to Omaha. The concert features all of Jackson’s biggest hits, including “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” and “Beat It,” performed by the MJ LIVE band and dancers. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35-$150. 402-345-0606.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Nov. 25-26 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Experience the first of the eight films as The Harry Potter Film Concert Series launches in Omaha. John Williams’ score is performed live as the entire motion picture is projected on the big screen. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $19-$79. 402-345-0606.

Shopkins Live! Shop it up!, Nov. 27 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. All of Shopville is in abuzz as preparations get underway for the annual “Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair.” But no event is complete without a few hiccups. The Shopkins and Shoppies need your help—the show must go on. 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $25-$100. 402-345-0606.

Cirque Musica Holiday Presents Believe, Nov. 30 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. Cirque Musica combines music, acrobatics, and beloved holiday music. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35-$95. 402-341-1500

The Nutcracker, Dec. 2-3 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. This family favorite features a uniquely breathtaking “Waltz of the Flowers” scene and includes a cast of 130 professional and student dancers, lavish sets, and more than 250 beautiful costumes. 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $27-$87. 402-345-0606.

Joyful Noise, Dec. 3 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Omaha’s Grammy-nominated Salem Baptist Church features the soaring voices of more than 70 members. The concert includes special guest artists, theatrical performances, and choreography. 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-345-0606.

Hip Hop Nutcracker at Orpheum Theater

The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Dec. 9 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The Hip Hop Nutcrackerreimagines the classic through explosive hip hop choreography. A dozen dancers, a DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional story to life in modern-day New York City. A holiday mash-up for the entire family, this performance is a contemporary reimagination of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20-60. 402-345-0606.

Holiday at Hogwarts, Dec. 9, 14-16, and 21-23 at The Apollon, 1801 Vinton St. During this festive and immersive foray into the wizarding world attendees will be sorted into houses and then join professors Flitwick, Snape, Sprout, and McGonagall for a few final lessons. After class there will be a grand celebratory feast. 7 p.m. Tickets: $35 (includes dinner). 402-884-0135.

Symphony Christmas Celebration 2017, Dec. 9-17 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Ernest Richardson and the Omaha Symphony celebrate the magic of Christmas with Broadway singers and tap-dancing Santas performing Christmas classics and contemporary favorites. Times vary. Tickets: $19-$79. 402-345-0606.


Waitress, Dec. 12-17 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Waitress tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker, who uses her skills to try to start a new life far away from her loveless marriage and the small town where she grew up. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $35-$100. 402-345-0606.

John Waters Christmas Show, Dec. 16 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Legendary filmmaker and raconteur John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, A Dirty Shame) puts the X in Xmas with rapid-fire monologue, sharing his compulsive desire to give and receive perverted gifts, a religious fanaticism for Santa Claus, and an unhealthy love of true crime holiday horror stories. 8 p.m. Admission: $35 in advance, $40 day of show. 402-345-7569.

Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

This calendar was printed in the November/December edition of Omaha Magazine. 

2017 November/December Concerts

Photography by Contributed

Real Estate, Nov. 1 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Real Estate’s fourth album, In Mind, retains much of their mellifluous, yet melodic, indie-rock sound. Fans will note that founding guitarist Matt Mondanile has left, and the band has undergone some big lineup changes. 8 p.m. $20 in advance, $23 day of show. 402-345-7569.

The Wrecks, Nov. 1 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Heavily influenced by Weezer, The Pixies, The Strokes, and Vampire Weekend, this five-piece ensemble from Los Angeles is known for catchy choruses with bitingly honest lyrics. 8 p.m. Tickets: $13 in advance, $15 day of show. 402-884-5707.

Breaking Benjamin Unplugged, Nov. 2 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. Founded in Pennsylvania in 1999, this hard-rock band has since released five studio albums and are currently touring the United States. Tickets: sold-out. 8 p.m. 402-346-9802.

The Urge at The Waiting Room

The Urge w/ Clever and Mandown, Nov. 4 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Formed in 1987, The Urge spans multiple genres and generations with their hard-rock and metal music. Tickets: $25. 8 p.m. 402-884-5353.

The Drums, Nov. 7 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Indie-pop darling The Drums is on tour again to celebrate a fourth album, Abysmal Thoughts. This one-man band consisting of Johnny Pierce delivers a catchy sad- surfer sound. 8 p.m. $15. 402-884-5353.

Cold Specks, Nov. 10 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Toronto-based singer-songwriter Cold Specks (Ladan Hussein) is on tour for the release of her latest album, Fool’s Paradise. Her music has been described as doom-soul. 9 p.m. $10. 402-884-5707.

Hollywood Undead w/ Butcher Babies and Demrick, Nov. 10 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. On tour promoting their newest album, FIVE, this rap-rock band will be in Omaha one night only. Tickets: $35 advance, $40 day of show. 7 p.m. 402-346-9802.

New Found Glory w/ the Ataris, Nov. 15 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. On tour celebrating “20 Years of Pop-Punk,” the band founded in 1997 is promoting their newest album, Makes Me Sick. Tickets: $24 advance, $27 day of show. 7:30 p.m. 402-346-9802.

Jack Broadbent, Nov. 16 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The English singer-songwriter was deemed “the new master of the slide guitar” by the Montreux Jazz Festival. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $25. 402-345-0606.

Chris Stapleton at CenturyLink Center.

Chris Stapleton, Nov. 18 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. This Grammy-winning artist brings his “All American Road Show” to Omaha to celebrate the release of his latest album From A Room: Volume 1. 7 p.m. Tickets: $35.75-$70.75. 402-341-1500.

The Deslondes, Nov. 20 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. The Deslondes are coming to Omaha to promote their new album, Hurry Home. The band’s sophomore release departs from the country-folk sound of their first release into one of psychedelic soul, with a stronger emphasis on organ and electric guitar. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-884-5707.

Grieves, Nov. 20 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Better know by his stage name, Grieves just released his latest album, Running Wild. Tickets: $14 in advance, $16 day of show. 8 p.m. 402-884-5353.

The English Beat, Nov. 24 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Founded back in 1979 in Birmingham, England, The English Beat continues with vocalist/guitarist Dave Wakeling keeping the beat going after almost 30 years. Tickets: $25. 9 p.m. 402-884-5353.

Katy Perry, Nov. 28 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. One of the biggest stars of the twenty-tweens comes to Omaha on tour to celebrate her fifth studio album, Witness. 7 p.m. Tickets: $30.50-$135.50. 402-341-1500.

Mogwai, Nov. 30 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. This Scottish post-rock band will be in Omaha one night only. 8 p.m. Tickets: $23 in advance, $26 day of show. 402-884-5353.

Whitney, Dec. 1 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Indie-rock newbies Whitney are making waves with their debut album Light Upon The Lake. The band’s songs vary from somber love songs to get-up-and- dance jams. 9 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-884-5353.

Lindsey Stirling, Dec. 4 at Orpheum Theater, 409. S. 16th St. Lindsey Stirling dreams big. Since the release of her 2012 self-titled debut, the electronic music impresario (also a classically trained violinist, dancer, and artist) has become one of the 21st century’s most innovative stars by clinging to her groundbreaking vision of cinematic, violin-driven, electronic music. 8 p.m. Tickets: $39.50-$269. 402-345-0606.

Straight No Chaser at Orpheum Theater

Straight No Chaser, Dec. 6 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Straight No Chaser is the captivating sound of nine voices coming together to make extraordinary music. Formed while attending Indiana University, the group has emerged as a phenomenon with a massive fan base and numerous TV appearances. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $29-$74. 402-345-0606.

Aqueous, Dec. 6 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. This groove-rock band has built a name for themselves touring and performing high-profile sets at major festivals. Aqueous mixes original songs like “Kitty Chaser” with covers of songs like Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” 9 p.m. Tickets: $10 in advance. 402-884-5707.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Dec. 22-23 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas has been America’s favorite holiday tradition for the past 30 years. Grammy-award-winner Chip Davis has created a show that features the beloved Christmas music along with dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $38.25-$78.25. 402-345-0606.

String Theory: NYE 2018, Dec. 31 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. String Theory will be on hand to ring in the new year with performances from other local bands (TBA). 9 p.m. $7 in advance, $10 day of show. 402-884-5707.

Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

This calendar was printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine. 

2017 September/October Music

September 1, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

Benson First Friday Femme Fest, Sept. 1 and 2 in Benson. Up to 80 female-fronted bands will take over the Benson strip during this two-night event. The headliner Friday night is Freakabout; the Saturday night headliner is Pleiades and the Bear. Tickets: $10 per night. 402-953-8849.

Lynyrd Skynyrd at Stir Concert Cove Sept. 3

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sept. 3 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd., Council Bluffs. These iconic Southern rockers will play fan favorites from “Sweet Home Alabama” to “Saturday Night Special,” but the band also announced they will play some of their forgotten jams from the past four decades. 8 p.m. Tickets: $54-$295. 712-329-6000.

Spoon, Sept. 11 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. Longtime indie rockers Spoon embark on a world tour for the release of their ninth album, Hot Thoughts, lauded by New York Magazine as “another knockout.” 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $29.50 in advance, $35 day of show. 402-346-9802.

Ed Sheeran, Sept. 12 at the CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter comes to Omaha to promote his latest album, Divide. The setlist may include such favorites as “Photograph,” “Thinking Out Loud,” and “Castle on the Hill.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $87-$280. 402-341-1500.

Get the Led Out, Sept. 15 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., Ralston. Get the Led Out is a Philadelphia-based group deemed “The American Led Zeppelin.” The group is dedicated to recreating the music of Led Zeppelin. Fans can expect favorites and some Zeppelin songs rarely played live. 8 p.m. Tickets: $25-$35. 402-934-6291.

Thundercat, Sept. 16 at The Slowdown, 728 N. 14th St. Bassist Stephen Bruner is making waves with his third studio album, Drunk. The star-studded album features Kenny Loggins, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, and Pharrell Williams. 9 p.m. Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 day of show. 402-345-7569.

FARNAM FEST, Sept. 16 at The Blackstone District, 40th Street between Farnam and Dodge. This year’s musical lineup features Tennis, Shannon and the Clams, and White Mystery. Essentially a block party, the events’ purpose is to celebrate the Blackstone District, it’s business’s, and all of the people that make this unique neighborhood what it is. Festival also features local craft breweries and food vendors. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. Music starts at 4 p.m.

New Generation Music Festival, Sept. 16 at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St. This music festival, which began last year, features legendary rappers Rakim and Talib Kweli, along with lots of local musicians and artists. 1-11 p.m. 402-496-1616.

NEEDTOBREATHE with Gavin DeGraw, Sept. 21 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd., Council Bluffs. Christian rockers NEEDTOBREATHE  and special guest Gavin DeGraw bring their “All the Feels” tour to Omaha. The performance will include songs from their latest album, Hard Love, and other fan favorites. 7 p.m. Tickets: $34-$113. 712-329-6000.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Sept. 22 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. Country music’s famous couple is touring together for the first time since 2006. Expect to hear fan favorites, radio hits, and some new songs from their debut album as a couple. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $87.50-$117.50. 402-341-1500.

J Balvin, Sept. 24 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. This Colombian artist is one of the top Latin pop stars of today. His most recent album, Energia, was listed on Rolling Stone’s “10 Best Latin Albums of 2016.” His musical style is described as “reggaeton”—a combination of hip-hop, Latin American, and Caribbean music. 7 p.m. Tickets: $49-$99. 402-934-6291.

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at Holland Performing Arts Center Sept. 28

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Sept. 28 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Iconic trumpeter, composer, and record label executive Herb Alpert joins forces with his partner in music and life, Lani Hall, to bring 50 years of hits like “Tijuana Taxi” and “A Taste of Honey” to Omaha. Tickets: $29-$85. 402-345-0606.

Fleet Foxes, Sept. 29 at The Waiting Room Outdoors, Military Avenue and Maple Street. The Waiting Room will move outdoors for Fleet Foxes’ first performance in Omaha. After a six-year hiatus, the indie-folk band is back with the release of their new album Crack-Up. 7 p.m. Tickets: $36. 402-884-5353.

Future Islands with Explosions in the Sky, Sept. 30 at The Waiting Room Outdoors, Military Avenue and Maple Street. The Baltimore-based band is on tour to promote their latest album, The Far Field. Future Islands entertains audiences with an energetic, furious, and bare-boned performance from frontman Samuel T. Herring. 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35. 402-884-5353.

Omaha Symphony: Oh, What a Night! with the Doo Wop Project, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at Holland Performing Art Center, 1200 Douglas St. The stars of Jersey Boys and Motown: The Musical electrify audiences with their tight harmonies and dance moves singing hits from the Temptations and Four Seasons through Michael Jackson and beyond. 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $19-$79. 402-345-0606.

The Avett Brothers, Oct. 5 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd., Council Bluffs. This will be The Avett Brothers’ fourth performance at Stir Cove. The Grammy-nominated ensemble will bring their alternative folk sound that merges musical genres from bluegrass to EDM. 8 p.m. Tickets: $40-$153. 712-329-6000.

Wynonna and Big Noise Dubbed at Holland Performing Arts Center Oct. 12

Wynonna and Big Noise Dubbed, Oct. 12 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Dubbed “the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline” by Rolling Stone, Wynonna Judd, with her band The Big Noise, delivers a show that’s part nostalgia, part comedy, and all rich, soulful music. 7:30 pm. Tickets: $35 and up. 402-345-0606.

Symphony Spooktacular: Superheroes, Oct. 22 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Dress up as a superhero and enjoy an afternoon of music, spooky fun, trick-or-treating, and other surprises. 2 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-345-0606.

Deer Tick, Oct. 25 at The Slowdown, 728 N. 14th St. Deer Tick will release two albums Sept. 15. The albums, titled Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, will showcase the band’s diverging sounds. From gritty garage-punk to folky jams, their live show is sure to be an unexpected culmination of the two genres. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 in advance, $23 day of show. 402-345-7569.

Thomas Rhett at CenturyLinkCenter Oct. 28

Thomas Rhett, Oct. 28 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N 10th St. Thomas Rhett comes to Omaha for his “Home Team Tour” with World Dominion and Walker Hayes. Rhett will perform new songs along with fan favorites. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $25-$54-$75. 402-341-1500.

The British Invasion with Billy McGuigan, Oct. 28 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Relive the mania in an all-new show when Billy McGuigan and his band perform the music of the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who, and more. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$79. 402-345-0606.

**Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

2017 July/August Concerts

Free Concert series

Enjoy an eclectic array of live music, including rock, R&B, blues, jazz, and county from local and national musicians. Located in some of Omaha’s most vibrant metro areas, these summer concert series are sure to get the whole family grooving.

• Bridge Beats (The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Plaza, 705 Riverfront Dr.): 6-9:30 p.m. Fridays, July 14 and 28.

• Jazz on the Green (Turner Park in Midtown Crossing, 3110 Farnam St.): starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through July and Aug. 3, 10.

• Music in the Park (Bayliss Park, 100 Pearl St. Council Bluffs, IA): 6-8:30 p.m. Thursdays through July and Aug. 3.

• Playing with Fire Festival (Turner Park in Midtown Crossing, 3110 Farnam St.): 5:30 p.m. July 14 and 4:30 p.m. July 15.

• Rockbrook Village (2800 S. 110th Court): 7-8 p.m. Fridays, except July 7.

• Sounds of Summer (Nebraska Medicine Amphitheater, Shadow Lake Town Center, 72nd St. and Highway 370): 6:30-8:30 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 18.

• Stinson Concert Series (Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St.): 7-10 p.m. Saturdays July 8, 22, 29; and Aug. 5, 12.

• Vibes (Village Pointe, 17305 Davenport St.): 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 19.

Awolnation: July 7 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd., Council Bluffs. Alt-rock band Awolnation comes to Council Bluffs as part of Stir Cove’s summer concert series. 8 p.m. Tickets: $35-$98. 712-329-6000.

Queen + Adam Lambert: July 8 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Queen and Lambert’s collaboration began in 2009 on American Idol followed by many joint performances. Next up is this highly-anticipated 25-city summer arena tour. 8 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$137.50. 402-341-1500.

Conor Oberst (CANCELLED)July 13 at The Waiting Room Outdoors, 6212 Maple St. The Waiting Room Lounge will move outdoors for a unique concert experience in the heart of Benson. Conor Oberst has partnered with Plus1 and will donate $1 to Planned Parenthood for every ticket sold. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $30. 402-884-5353.

AJR: July 16 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Three brothers, born and raised in New York City, make up AJR–the independent band who writes, records, and produces all content in their living room. Their electro-pop single “I’m Ready,” has over 1 million YouTube views. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door. 402-345-7569.

Blondie and Garbage: July 19 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. New-wave/punk band Blondie and alt-rock band Garbage come together for their “Rage and Rapture Tour.” 7 p.m. Tickets: $50-$178. 712-329-6000.

Cody Johnson: July 20 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. A country singer from Texas, Cody Johnson has self-released six albums–the sixth, Gotta Be Me, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s country album chart. 8 p.m. Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door. 402-345-7569.

Goo Goo Dolls: July 21 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. The grunge-rock icons behind “Iris” and “Give a Little Bit” are coming in promotion of the band’s latest album, Long Way Home. 8 p.m. Tickets: $45-$178. 712-329-6000.

Nickelback: July 21 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Join the Canadian multi-platinum rock band at their “Feed the Machine” tour with special guests Daughtry and Shaman’s Harvest. 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$220. 402-341-1500.

Dashboard Confessional & The All American Rejects: July 22 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. Want to know a “Dirty Little Secret”?  The All-American Rejects will let you in on one as they tour with Dashboard Confessional this summer. 8 p.m. Tickets: $39-$118. 712-329-6000.

RiverJam 17: July 21-23 at Riverwest Park, 23301 W. Maple Road. The fifth installment of the summertime classic will bring bands and DJ performances, with  local headliners to include Linear Symmetry, Funk Trek, and Peach Truck (an Allman Brothers tribute). Friday: 2 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. Admission (includes camping): $25 weekend pass, $15 day pass. 402-953-4731.

Paul McCartney: July 23 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The “One on One” tour features dozens of classics from one of the most beloved catalogs in popular music, spanning McCartney’s entire career as a solo artist, member of Wings, and of course, as a Beatle. 8 p.m. Tickets: $97.50-$250. 402-341-1500.

Come Together: A Musical Celebration of the Beatles: July 29 at Village Pointe, 17305 Davenport St. Bring your lawn chair and arrive early to get a good seat. Come Together: A Musical Celebration of the Beatles plays non-stop to give the concertgoers as many of their favorite tunes from The Beatles as possible. Free. 6:30-8:30 p.m. 402-505-9773.

Tempo of Twilight Concert Series: Through Aug. 1 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. This outdoor concert series brings a spectacular lineup of local entertainment to the garden for a harmonious blend of music and nature. 6-8 p.m. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children (6-12), free for under 6 and members. 402-346-4002.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo: Aug 4. at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. The “Love is a Battlefield” singer teams up with longtime collaborator Neil Giraldo for a summer tour. 8 p.m. Tickets: $40-$128. 712-329-6000.

Lady Antebellum: Aug. 4 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The country music group is on the road again for their “You Look Good Tour 2017,” featuring special guests Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young. 7:30 p.m. $28.50-$119. 402-341-1500.

Shawn Mendes: Aug. 5 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. On his third concert tour, join the 18-year-old Canadian singer and songwriter in support of his second studio album, Illuminate, on his “Illuminate World Tour” with special guest Charlie Puth. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $18-$65.50. 402-341-1500.

Delta Rae: Aug. 8 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. From Durham, North Carolina, the six-piece American folk rock band has headlined more than 100 shows each year and are regulars on the festival circuit since forming in 2009. 8 p.m. Tickets: $16-$20. 402-884-5353.

Sylvan Esso: Aug. 8 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. Sylvan Esso formed in 2013. From Durham, North Carolina, the duo is made up of singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn. Their sophomore album, What Now, was released April 28. 8 p.m. Tickets: $21 in advance, $23 day of show. 402-346-9802.

Young the Giant: Aug. 8 at SumTur Amphitheater, 11691 S. 108th St. After breaking out with their 2010 self-titled debut album, the Los Angeles quintet continues to brave new terrain with their wildly eclectic arrangements. Special guests will include Cold War Kids and Joywave. 7 p.m. Tickets: $33. 402-597-2065.

Green Day: Aug. 12 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy-winning rock band will kick off its summer tour in August, featuring their latest album Revolution Radio—which included the No. 1 single, “Bang Bang.” 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$250. 402-341-1500.

Blues Cruise with Swampboy Blues Band: Aug. 13 at River City Star, 151 Freedom Park Road. Soak up the local scenery along the Missouri River at a fun, lively pace with a drink in hand and live blues music as a soundtrack. 3-5 p.m. Tickets: $20. 402-342-7827.

Coldplay: Aug. 14 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Join the seven-time Grammy-winning, British alternative rock band on their seventh concert tour, the “A Head Full of Dreams Tour.” 7 p.m. Tickets: $67.50-$223. 402-341-1500.

City and Colour: Aug. 16 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. City and Colour, aka world-renowned singer, songwriter, and performer Dallas Green, has traveled the globe on tour and has released numerous successful albums. Most recently, he released his acclaimed fifth studio record, If I Should Go Before You, which debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Tickets: $35 in advance, $40 at the door. 8 p.m. 345-7569.

Lady Gaga: Aug. 19 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Following her Super Bowl performance, the international superstar brings her world tour, “Joanne,” to Omaha. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $86-$250. 402-341-1500.

Maha Music Festival: Aug. 19 at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St. Omaha’s one-of-a-kind, annual nonprofit indie music festival is back with headliners Run The Jewels and 10 other acts, including Belle and Sebastian, The Faint, Sleigh Bells, and more. Noon-midnight. Tickets: $55 general admission. 402-554-3689.

This calendar is published as shown in the print edition.

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com

*Times and details for any event may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Heartthrobs Rekindle Teenage Frenzy from Early ’90s

June 12, 2017 by
Photography by Gerald Glaza, courtesy

I wanted to gawk at the spectacle of aging Gen Xers gone crazy for forgotten idols. Or so I told myself. Secretly, part of me also wanted to see if the boy band singers elicited the same frenzied reaction they would have during my pre-teen years.

The New Kids on the Block. Five guys. The Heartthrob, The Bad Boy, The Cute One, The Older Brother, and The Shy One, all on stage together again for the Total Package Tour.

The last time I saw them on stage, I remember the screaming. Me screaming, others screaming…just…screaming. But then I was 12, and now I’m…not 12.

So I went. I walked up to the doors of the CenturyLink Center and saw a girl wearing a hot pink bubble skirt made out of material with the Fab Five’s faces emblazoned all over it. The last time I saw a hot pink bubble skirt was about 1990…and I’d wager this woman wore flats with it that year, not five-inch heels.

The memorabilia was everywhere…some faded almost beyond sight, some probably a size too small on the torsos of fans.

Arriving to my seat, I started to pull out my notebook for the night, but noticed a gentleman trying to both help his wife to her seat and get to his seat while holding their snacks. So I held the couple’s snacks for them while they walked over the row they needed to descend. They were specifically there to see Boyz II Men.

Yes, Boyz II Men. The concert featured not only one boy band; there were two boys bands—thus the Total Package. Actually, that package was supposed to have included Paula Abdul, but she was unable to perform in Omaha.

The upside of her unfortunate absence was that a talented group of men gave local concertgoers an outstanding extra few minutes of their time. The Boyz arrived onstage wearing white pants, varying black or white tops, and black patent-leather hightop sneakers. Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman epitomized the early ’90s look that was showing itself throughout the aisles.

And there was the sound. Not just the incredibly smooth harmonies of three boys (now certainly men) doo-woping, but the other sound. At the end of the first full verse, Wayna said, “Now scream!” He need not have said it, for the cacophony of high-pitched women’s voices had already begun.

The men gave the audience a well-done edition of “Motownphilly,” then moved into their true talent with a soulful, pitch-perfect rendition of 1992’s “On Bended Knee.”

“THAT was the best harmony I’ve ever heard at a concert,” said my new friend in the row below, Dr. Greg Davis of Omaha.

They mixed in some modern songs. Lenny Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” were unexpected, but fun.

They knew how to tease, how to let women think they were singing just to them. And in one case, it happened. During “End of the Road,” Nathan laid on the ground and caressed a woman’s face through one of the last verses.

But, of course, after this, we had come to the end of the road, at least for their performance for the night. Down on the floor, a sea of hot pink began moving anxiously.

Suddenly, I heard thunder. Actually, I thought I heard thunder. What I heard was a rolling wave of screaming that became one sound. A mushroom cloud of sound rose from the mass of teenage and prepubescent passion resurrected inside of the CentryLink Center.

A large screen of NKOTB faces transitioned into the kids’ magical appearance onscreen, in a cloud of smoke, telling you to give them “One More Night.” Out came puppy-dog eyes and a slight pout from blue-eyed cutie Joe McIntyre. Out came the slightly arrogant confidence of heartthrob Jordan Knight. And bad boy Donnie Wahlberg? Well, his complement to the all-black ensembles was a black motorcycle-looking leather jacket and ball cap.

Clearly, these three ran the show, but the five worked as a synchronous group. During the third song, the jackets came off. Hints of abs were revealed, and the already deafening noise rose.

Just as the fans (one of whom stood quietly peering over the edge of fandom) are no longer 12, the group members are no longer 16. Fourty-four-year-old McIntyre’s adorable pre-adult voice is long gone, those high-pitched notes taken over by Knight’s falsetto, or the song has simply moved down an octave.

Wahlberg emceed the production, which included multiple confetti guns, pyrotechnics, and an impressive pass over the top of the crowd (carried by bodyguards).

After moving to a second stage, they donned black and white letterman-style jackets used in their 2008 single, “Summertime.” Following a medley of “Dirty Dawg” and “No More Games” from their 1994 release Face the Music, shy one Danny Wood showcased a bit of his breakdancing skills. Although he didn’t quite complete his final spin, he rose to applause and screams.

On their return trip to the main stage, I saw it. The face. The face of rapture and agony. The face of a fan whose hand McIntyre touched. That, “I won’t wash my hand again!” look.

NKOTB fans know that Wahlberg typically brings a young girl, no more than age 10, onstage for “Cover Girl.” That hasn’t changed, and the affable bad boy’s sweet interaction with the youngster melted hearts.

Yet, a lot has changed, even if the number of clothing changes has not. In the half-dozen outfits the guys wore, one involved a complete “Quick Change Cam,” in which the ladies were treated to visions of the guys’ upper bodies as they switched shirts. Wood held up, then put on, a Big Red shirt to the delight of many in the audience. (The guys also seemed to grab more at particular body parts than they would have 20 years ago.)

The classic hits drew the most screams. Audience members sang along as the group wound their way, cleverly, through the 1990s before disappearing and showing a montage of selfies texted during the show.

They came back dressed in all white for their new single “Thankful.” Their 1990 hit “Step by Step” featured Knight relishing the song that brought him to the forefront of the group. He finished his stint in that night’s limelight on a raised platform gesturing for applause.

At one point in the concert, Wahlberg said, “Some of you left us for grunge and then came back.” I can relate, although I discovered my own version of Nirvana through jam bands. My return to the boy band concert was more for the sake of nostalgia.

Although we’ve all put on a few decades (and my vote for the night’s best vocals would go to Boyz II Men), NKOTB once again proved they still have the “Right Stuff” as described in the lyrics of their 1988 single “You Got It [The Right Stuff].”

Frequent Flyers

March 29, 2017 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

When the world’s elite horses (and riders) arrive in Omaha, an entourage of police and first responders—including mounted patrol—will escort them to the location of the Longines FEI World Cup. The international championship for show jumping and dressage begins March 29 and continues through April 2 at the CenturyLink Center.

European competitors depart from Amsterdam, Netherlands, aboard a chartered Boeing 777 cargo plane that takes more than nine hours to reach Omaha.

The flight requires horses to be loaded into specialized containers called “jet stalls,” which resemble an enclosed stable stall. Jet stalls can hold up to three horses. The charter flight includes a “pro groom,” nine shipper grooms, and a veterinarian—all provided by the company overseeing the transportation, the Dutta Corporation.

Horses at this elite level are well-seasoned air travelers, making the journey seem almost routine, says J. Tim Dutta, the founder and owner of the international horse logistics company.

“Horses are just like human beings,” Dutta says. “Some get jittery, some read the rosary, some like some gin and tonic, some go to sleep before the plane leaves the gate, and the rest are worried about life two days afterward. Everybody’s an individual, and we are ready for each and every situation.”

Any concerns or worries, he says, are the things that can’t be entirely controlled or predicted—such as poor weather conditions or a horse getting sick during transportation.

“You’ve got a couple hundred million dollars worth of horses on the plane, so that’s serious business,” he says. “You want everything to go smooth, and there’s always challenges. But for a guy like me who’s been at it for 28 years, and has done quite a few of them, it’s just another day at the office.”

Once the horses arrive in Omaha, they will be quarantined at the CenturyLink Center for up to three days while the USDA checks for diseases and other potential health concerns.

Veterinarian Mike Black—based out of his Nebraska Equine Veterinary Clinic just outside of Blair—says any adverse effects of a long journey would be the same for horses whether they traveled by trailer or airplane. It’s not unusual for humans and animals to struggle through temporarily weakened immune systems due to stress and long periods of confinement with other travelers.

“Whenever the animal is put under stress, it will compromise some of their ability to respond to infections,” Black says. “And a lot of horses are carriers of viruses and things. So, as they’re around other horses that they’re not normally around, then things can be spread.”

When the competition opens March 29, folks without a ticket will have an opportunity to get a closer look at all the horse-and-rider teams. The practice area will be free and open to all.

Mike West, CEO of Omaha Equestrian Foundation, hopes to create a fan-friendly and carnival-like atmosphere.

The World Cup is the first international championship of its kind to be hosted in Omaha, he says. Sure, there have been championship boxing bouts in the city. And the NCAA crowns the champions of college baseball in Omaha. But never before will so many world champions prove themselves on local grounds.

Back in 1950, when the College World Series first came to Omaha, nobody could have expected how the “Gateway to the West” would become a Midwestern sports mecca.

“They didn’t know about swim trials; they didn’t know about NCAA basketball or wrestling or volleyball and all the great events that we have now,” says West, a veteran Omaha sports-marketing professional. He previously held management positions with the Lancers, Cox Classic Golf Tournament, and Creighton’s athletics department.

The Omaha Equestrian Foundation is not only dedicated to putting on a good show. West and his colleagues are committed to continuing the city’s relationship with the FEI, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (aka, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports), the governing body for the sports of show jumping and dressage.

“We have an opportunity, but we also have an obligation as an organizer to do a good job. Because if we do a good job, we don’t know what it will lead to, but we know it will lead to something [positive],” he says.

A successful 2017 World Cup in Omaha could improve chances of the World Cup returning, along with its estimated economic impact of $50 million.

“We have to be better than anybody—by far—at listening and delivering on our promise to the fans of this sport,” West says. “And if we do, I think we’ll develop a reputation that if you want to be treated like a fan [of sports], go to Omaha, Nebraska.”

Visit omahaworldcup2017.com for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

A Grass-Roots Effort

March 24, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

This article appears in the program book for the FEI World Cup Finals, produced by Omaha Magazine in March 2017.

The FEI World Cup’sTM international, star-studded cast of horses and riders match the talents of Olympic competitors. In fact, they are often Olympic winners. As these globe-trotters gather for the first time in America’s heartland, Omaha aims to honor the sport while spotlighting the city on the world’s stage.

Mike West, CEO
Omaha Equestrian Foundation

“This is a great opportunity. Omaha has a reputation for hosting high-quality sports events, including national championships, but this is the first time we’ve held an international final,” says Mike West, chief executive officer, Omaha Equestrian Foundation (OEF). “Up to 70 percent of the attendees are from outside the city, representing 20 different countries and all 50 states.”

Omaha prevailed over bids from London, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands with a winning combination of vision and facilities, he says. Since 2012, the OEF annually has hosted the “International Omaha” show jumping event—a regional competition with some international involvement—at the CenturyLink Center. Organizers are building on this foundation of expertise to make the 2017 FEI World CupTM a truly unique event, combining elements of the European equestrian fan experience with mainstream American sports.

“It’s striking how beautiful this event is, and it’s a blast to watch. It has three sports components: precision, athleticism, and teamwork. In basketball, for example, you have precise, 3-point shooters; passing and rebounding athleticism, and skilled players united to win,” West says. “In equestrian events, the horse is the athlete and the rider brings the teamwork in a very precise sport, and they don’t even speak the same language.”

The CenturyLink Center’s layout is a perfect venue. “If you could make a building for the World Cup, the one in this town is that building,” he says. With the dressage and show jumping competitions unfolding in the arena, the adjoining convention center boasts a unique tailgating experience, with dining, shopping, exhibits and—of course—horses, all rolled into one.

The Baird Holm Tailgate Lounge and Restaurant borders the warm-up ring, so as attendees drink and dine, they get a birds-eye view of the equine athletes preparing for competition. The Boutique Shopping Village offers something for everyone, from tack and equestrian products to jewelry, clothes, and luxury gift items from companies such as Longines, a Swiss watch manufacturer and FEI World CupTM sponsor.

Jackie Vinci, Education Coordinator
Omaha Equestrian Foundation

The family-friendly Triple Crown Horse Discovery Zone also includes numerous free exhibits, a staple of the educational outreach of previous International Omaha events, says Jackie Vinci, OEF education coordinator.

“Horses are foreign to city dwellers; you can’t easily interact with them unless it’s a mounted patrolman or carriage ride downtown. Some people are even afraid because they’re such large animals,” she says. “We want to provide hands-on education and greater opportunities to meet horses on a personal level.”

The displays include:

  • Runza Gallery of Breeds—features a variety of horses, from a pony to a Percheron (draft horse).
  • Blacksmith Shop of Omaha—Elmo Diaz uses an anvil and bellows to show how horseshoes were made.
  • “Wheel Wright”—Art Push demonstrates equipment that makes carriage wheels.
  • Durham Museum—offers a variety of exhibits, including Omaha’s founders and Plains Indians history. The World Cup’s international visitors, many from Europe, are very interested in the Wild West’s heritage.
  • Henry Doorly Zoo—traces the ancestry of zebras as predecessors of horses.
  • U.S. Pony Club—provides hands-on exhibits, including braiding a tail or sitting on a saddle, as well as a display showing the sizes of horse shoes, and games. In the demo area, horses and riders offer live presentations of the pas de deux and quadrille, long-lining and show grooming.
  • Equimania! sponsored by Kiewit—from Guelph, Ontario, is a large, comprehensive exhibit covering all aspects of horse physiology, including the digestive system and dental, as well as the evolution, nutrition, and behaviors of the horse.
  • Western, English, and Dressage exhibits and Tack Room—includes riding styles, clothing, and stable gear.
  • 160-Seat Mutual of Omaha Theater—shows a variety of videos, including the evolution of horses, their use in the cavalry,  military, farming, and fire-fighting, and their use today. The theater also features short and award-winning films from the Equus Film Festival in NYC.

OEF is offering schools in Nebraska and Iowa free field trips and transportation to CenturyLink, complete with exhibit tour guides and activity books.

“Watching the growth and seeing the popularity and interest is exciting. We’ve gone from four schools with 200 students attending the first International Omaha event, to nearly 40 schools this year with thousands of students,” Vinci says. “We hope to continue the World Cup’s momentum and bring some of these educational elements to schools, clubs or other events throughout the year.”

West also hopes to build on the success of the FEI World CupTM.

“We want to educate the nation and the world about our city. Big events are always relevant here—they don’t get lost like they can in larger cities. We want the Omaha community to wrap around this, celebrate, be part of the success and have fun,” he says. “The World Cup will show that Omaha knows how to throw a party!” 

Neighborhoods, USA

February 20, 2017 by
Photography by Provided

Chris Foster quickly developed a deep appreciation for his Gifford Park neighborhood after arriving in 1986. He joined its neighborhood association when it was launched a couple of years later and served as its president for a two-year stint that ended in 2001.

But it took a trip to Pittsburgh that year to trigger an epiphany. He realized what his midtown neighborhood could become.

On the trip, members of Omaha’s Planning Department and folks from various Omaha neighborhood associations traveled to the Steel City to attend that year’s “Neighborhoods, USA” national conference.

At the NUSA conference, hundreds of attendees passionate about improving neighborhoods and building stronger communities gather to swap ideas, participate in educational workshops, tour neighborhoods, and honor the innovative and life-changing work of neighborhood betterment projects.

And 2017 will see an exciting culmination of the efforts of city planners and Omaha neighborhood advocates like Foster—the 42nd annual NUSA conference is coming to Nebraska for the first time. The conference will be held at the Omaha Hilton Hotel and CenturyLink Center from May 24-27.

“NUSA coming to Omaha is a great training, educational resource, and networking opportunity for Omaha neighborhood leaders to learn about what’s going on in neighborhoods all around the country,” says Julie Smith, a conference organizer and neighborhood alliance specialist with ONE Omaha. “We will learn about programs other cities have and know that they face a lot of similar challenges, as well.”

A Fourth of July parade attracts residents in the Maple Village neighborhood.

Years in the Making

Discussions to bring NUSA to Omaha started six years ago, according to Norita Matt, a city planner who attended that 2001 conference with Foster. Years of planning led to Omaha’s presentation to NUSA leaders at the 2015 conference in Houston that landed the bid to host this year’s event.

“There is a lot that goes along with it; you have to have the mayor’s support and plenty of city support,” Matt says.

The Omaha conference will include local keynote speakers; dozens of local, national, and global workshops; awards for exceptional neighborhood betterment programs; local and national exhibitors; and a mayor’s reception.

The highlight of each conference, Matt says, are the Neighborhood Pride Tours during which attendees learn how neighborhoods use innovation and elbow grease to better their communities. More than 20 tours, including two in Council Bluffs, will focus on the rich history, unique designs, and revitalization of neighborhoods, she says. Tours are capped with receptions, local entertainment, and demonstrations of different cultures through music and dance.

“Going into the neighborhoods gives us a chance to hear about challenges and what people are doing to bring back the neighborhoods,” she says.

Gifford Park is one of many neighborhoods to participate in the city’s annual Spring Clean Up.

Two Omaha keynote speakers will highlight a key crucial neighborhood betterment effort. Jose Garcia and Terri Sanders will present their groups’ efforts to revitalize the 24th Street corridor, Omaha’s original “Street of Dreams,” connecting North and South Omaha, including the Fair Deal Village MarketPlace near 24th and Burdette streets.

Fostering a Better Community Life

For Foster of the Gifford Park association, NUSA coming to Omaha holds special significance because of his profound experience in Pittsburgh more than 15 years ago.  >

“I described it as a life-changing experience because I saw a presentation on inclusiveness involving community gardens,” Foster recalls, describing how he was “blown away” by a Seattle speaker who described the city’s network of community gardens.

Foster and others spent hours with the speaker at a local coffeehouse, and he then found himself doodling ideas about a vacant piece of land behind the Gifford Park home he shares with his wife, Sally.

Soon after, they were cleaning up the double-wide lot and purchasing the parcel for $4,000. Others joined in to transform the lot at 3416 Cass St. into the Gifford Park Community Garden. A youth gardening program soon followed.

A mural on North 30th Street emphasizes the history of the Florence neighborhood. Photo by Mele Mason.

A couple of years later, the garden expanded and an “adventure playground,” complete with a double-decker treehouse, was built as a way to build community ties among Gifford Park families and children.

Since then, a host of neighborhood activities and services have been developed, including a community bike shop and a free youth tennis program held each August at 33rd and Cass streets.

The conceptual seeds that revitalized Gifford Park’s community were planted at that NUSA conference years ago.

“NUSA provides me with some leadership development,” Foster says. “It gets people excited, invigorated, and motivated to want to take on projects in neighborhoods or work with the city and take on leadership roles. As volunteers, we have more effect on our neighborhoods than almost anything else. We’re the owners and stakeholders who can actually get it done.”

Visit nusa.org for more information.

The 42nd annual NUSA conference is coming to Nebraska for the first time. The conference will be held at the Omaha Hilton Hotel and CenturyLink Center from May 24-27.

A mural in Prospect Village celebrates the North Omaha neighborhood.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.