Tag Archives: New Generation Music Festival

Spirit Lives Here

June 12, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Daisies may blow with the wind, but that doesn’t mean they are fragile.

The young members of Daisy Distraction have seen a lot of dilemmas. Dilemma was, in fact, the name of the band that several of the members first played in together. Vocalist Erin Mitchell, guitarist John Staples, bassist and keyboardist Neil Osborn, and vocalist Anna Abbott were members of BluesEd, a youth development program. Staples, Osborn, and Abbott were placed in Dilemma with Mitchell, drummer Eric Shouse, and guitarist Logan Hawkins.

The most ethereal member of the group is also the biggest influence. Abbott, along with Staples and Osborn, joined BluesEd in early 2016. Sweet and shy, she performed live starting in April that year. The band was proud to be part of Omaha Entertainment & Arts Summer Showcase on June 10, and at Bridge Beats on June 24. 

The show on June 24 was the quad’s final performance together. Abbott suffered an asthma attack the next day that sent her into cardiac arrest, and she died on July 2. The band’s next performance was one week later. 

BluesEd gave the heartbroken singers the opportunity to sit out their performance, but the group members knew the ever-positive Abbott wouldn’t want them to miss a performance because of her.

“One time, Anna could see that I was having a bad day,” Mitchell recalls. “I was being negative, but she took the time to show me a photo of a fox because she loves foxes, and it just brightened my day. To this day, when I see a fox it reminds me of that experience and of her.”

The cover band decided to throw caution (and petals) to the wind. Abbott had wanted to perform original music to push herself as an artist, and throughout the summer Dilemma began to perform original songs at their sets, including at a benefit for Anna held at 21st Saloon on July 24, 2016, and as the opening act for the New Generation Music Festival. Dilemma ended their season (and their group) on Aug. 13 with the In the Market for Blues festival.

Aside from the loss of Anna, the group members faced other dilemmas in fall of 2016, one of which was distance. Mitchell stayed in Omaha for classes, but Osborn traveled nearly 170 miles away to college.  

Then there was the dilemma of the music. With the change in their musical style, Mitchell, Osborn, and Staples needed a new identity. Mitchell thought of the name one day while driving past a field of daisies and thinking of Anna. “Man, I need a distraction,” she thought.

It may not have been pure coincidence.

“We talked about [how] she was one with the earth,” Mitchell recalls of Abbott. “She just kind of emulated that.”

The group transitioned to Daisy Distraction in late 2016. They performed as often as possible and began to think about recording an album.
The individual members (including original drummer Alex Holliger, a close friend of Staples) began to write songs and bring them to
practice sessions. 

Osborn took the role of producer and, in between gigs and engineering classes at Iowa State University, the album came together bit by bit, using each member’s basement throughout the ensuing year. Abbott remained a guiding force for the group.

“The theme of the album is her energy and her essence,” Mitchell says. “It started out with us trying to get through stuff for Anna.”

Even while recording and attending school, the group found time to perform. In April 2017 they performed at ISU’s Battle of the Bands and brought back a trophy.  

Record, perform, study, repeat. By late summer, the group had finished the album, titled For Anna, and they released it during a party on Aug. 31, 2017, at Lucy’s Pub. 

The favorite song off the album for many of the members is, naturally, “Sweet Anna Jane.”

“We used a sample of her singing on the last song of the track,” Osborn says. “We thought that was a nice send-off.”

The day after the release party they performed the new music at Femme Fest in Benson. In mid-September they played in Lincoln at the Do-It-Ourselves Fest.

They were nominated for an OEAA in the best alternative/indie and best new artist categories, but did not take home an award.  

The next distraction came in the percussion section. Holliger left in early 2018 when he discovered the rigors of the chemical engineering degree he is obtaining from UNL was keeping him too busy to perform. The group announced the addition of drummer Mark Winkelbauer one week after the OEAAs.

“Before I joined, these guys were one of my favorite bands in Omaha,” Winkelbauer says. 

Through the spring, the group performed about once a month locally. “We make it work,” Staples says. “We all practice on our own time.”

Now, the group has a new dilemma. “John is moving to Mesa, Arizona,” Mitchell wrote in an email in mid-May. “Neil is most likely taking an internship in Maryland. We hope to have some interim members soon until we figure out something more permanent. They will both be playing in Daisy at some point in the future and hopefully contributing from afar as well.”

And like the free-spirited wildflowers they are, these musicians will persevere no matter the directions in which they scatter.  


Visit daisydistraction.com to learn more about the band. 

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Encounter. 

Have Marcey

September 14, 2017 by
Photography by Scott Drickey

When North Omaha native Marcey Yates talks about music, his face lights up and it’s as if everything makes sense in his world. From conversations swirling around hip-hop to his wild tales of past encounters with various artists, the 31-year-old lives and breathes his passion for music—and it all started at church.

Yates grew up on 49th and Fort streets, just north of Ames Avenue, where religion played an integral role in his community. The young Yates would often spend time with grandparents, who lived on 19th and Sprague streets, not too far from the home he shared with his mother and father. His grandfather was a pastor at the Church of God and Christ, and would routinely take him to service, where Yates started singing.

“I would say religion was big in my family and the black community,” Yates says. “It was definitely passed on through generations. Church got me into music on both sides of family, and it kept me in church until I was in high school. I sang in the choir.”

After graduating from Benson High School in 2003, he went on to take a few classes at the University of Nebraska-Omaha before leaving for Arizona, where he enrolled at the Conservatory School of Recording Arts and Sciences. By this time, his older brother Jeff had already introduced him to underground hip-hop and artists like Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, Slum Village, Jay-Z, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. He felt it was time to learn how to make his own signature style of music and establish himself as a credible MC/producer.

“I wanted to focus more on the tech side of music and the other side of the industry,” he explains. “I learned how to make this a business and not just be a rapper. I was able to get a lot practice working on my skill and style doing shows. I got turned down in Arizona, but I had some great experiences. I met Canibus [rapper], who told me about his beef with LL Cool J, and once I was with Method Man passing around a joint in the VIP section.”

Shortly after, the self-proclaimed hip-hop head relocated back to Omaha in 2012. Since then has put much of his energy into the hip-hop collective Raleigh Science Project, which he founded in 2009.

“I established the Raleigh Science Project after my last son [Raleigh] was born,” he explains. “It started as my imprint for my music, but I expanded into a collective after bringing artists on board who shared my vision on hard work and good music. [We had] a focus on building up the hip-hop scene in a positive light, so I wanted to strip the negative vibe associated with hip-hop in my community. That means consistency, quality, showmanship, and being professional.”

The father of three is currently working on the annual New Generation Music Festival—now in its second year—an all-inclusive concert that promotes community awareness, drives traffic and support to other local nonprofits, and provides a platform to retain local talent.

“Our mission is to provide a world-class music festival that promotes inclusion and provides economic opportunities for local businesses, organizations and artists,” he says. “We want to cultivate local talent and artistry as a means to a more secure and sustainable economy in the urban core communities. There are so many resources out here that the people don’t know about because information isn’t made readily available
to everyone.”

Aside from the festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Aksarben’s Stinson Park, the busy creative is working on a documentary about the life and times of Marcey Yates, a solo EP, a mixtape series titled Chicken Soup, and the Flamboyant Gods II project with local rapper Mars Black.

“I’m constantly working on a new project,” he says. “I want to be one of the hardest-working guys in
the industry.

“Music is the only freedom that is really free,” he continues. “There are no rules to making music. It’s total creativity and a space you can go to anytime. Music is your life soundtrack for every genre in your life—from comedy to drama to suspense. When I get depressed or really bugged out, I create music to pull myself out of the sunken place. Everyone should have a creative hobby or passion because what is important to you, you will cherish and be passionate about.”

Visit op2mus.bandcamp.com to hear Yates’ work.