Tag Archives: Stinson Park

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.

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.

Louder Together

August 17, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Lauren Martin was a small-town farm girl from McCook, Nebraska. She loved country music and never expected she would one day lead Maha—Nebraska’s pre-eminent annual music festival.

On Aug. 19, Martin oversees one of Maha’s boldest lineups ever. Headlined by the controversial hip-hop group Run The Jewels, Maha 2017 is poised to be one huge spectacle that promises to bring together a diverse group of concert-goers.

That kind of unity through music drives Martin, who got her first taste of it when she was a college student working on the campus program council at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “All of the sudden, I realized my favorite thing was to bring people together around experiences,” says Martin, who was named Maha’s first executive director in 2015.

While attending UNL, Martin helped bring such performers as singer-songwriter Jason Mraz and comedian Kathy Griffin to the university. After graduating, she wanted to continue exploring a career of booking musical talent.  Martin interned at Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records in 2007. The following summer, she found herself working at Live Nation, a global entertainment company in St. Louis. However, the Great Recession of 2008 cut her career plans short, forcing her to move back home and assess her future in the music industry.

“I came back to Omaha and felt like a dog with my tail between my legs because I failed—or because I couldn’t hack it—whatever it was” Martin says.

In 2009, Maha was born, and Martin took interest. Over the next few years, she wore many hats, including working as a house manager at Omaha Performing Arts and as programming director at Hear Nebraska. In 2012, she was given the reins to Maha’s social media accounts. She was also named to Maha’s board of directors that same year, eventually serving as vice president.

As she continued to work with Maha, Martin’s view of music changed, especially how it can affect people and bring them together. This feeling and sense of community is something she continues to incorporate into Maha.

“Now I realize music is something we all share, and it has a power to connect. It’s everything from a release, to a way to express yourself,” she says. “And while I myself am not a musician, I find that music helps me process things. It helps me connect with other people. It’s a passion in a way that music is an avenue for my fulfillment.”

Martin also worked in communications at the Omaha Community Foundation, where she helped implement Omaha Gives!, a 24-hour charity event aimed at raising money
for nonprofits.

Then, in 2015, something big happened—Maha sold out for the first time, thanks in large part to a phenomenal lineup that included Modest Mouse and Purity Ring.

“It caused everyone involved with Maha to realize that, if we want the event to continue and really be sustainable and see what even further impact we could have on the community, we needed someone full-time. That’s when I became the executive director,” Martin says.

She also emphasized that the popular festival, currently held at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, is much more than music. The event serves as a medium for other nonprofits to receive attention.

“It’s about raising awareness,” she says, “not forcing anyone to learn about something or expose them to potential trigger topics.”

For example, this year the festival will have information about suicide, the second-leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34 in the U.S. Martin says the majority of Maha’s demographic falls in this age range.

“Maha is more than a music festival. It’s a platform for engagement,” she says. “We realized not only can we be a platform for other organizations, but we can help spread education.”

Martin adds that while information is available to event-goers, the staff aren’t trying to make attendees uncomfortable. “Because that isn’t the intent of anyone,” she says. “We’re not impacting the experience by throwing mental health in your face,” Martin says. “We’re not scared to talk about this. We want to be an organization that is listening to what is going on in our community.”

In addition to providing mental health information, other nonprofits team up with Maha as part of its community to culture and social activities.

This year Maha has again partnered with Louder Than a Bomb, an annual youth poetry slam with roots in Chicago that focuses on bringing teens together across all divides. The group was recently the subject of an award-winning documentary of the same name.

Another repeat partner is Omaha Girls Rock, a nonprofit that typically draws plenty of attention. The group empowers young women to voice creativity through music education and performance. In general, to “rock.”

“Maha is an event that connects and reflects the community,” Martin says. “In that kind of structure, you get to walk away saying ‘Omaha’s got some really cool stuff going on.’”

As Maha continues to grow, Martin says people are getting even more out of the music festival. To this date, the event has drawn music fans from 46 states, according to its website.

“While the music is seemingly the main event, you come to Maha and get so much more than that,” Martin says. “I thought I was getting involved with Maha for the music, but what kept me involved with Maha was all the people I’ve gotten to meet.”

Visit mahamusicfestival.com for more information.

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


Lauren Martin

Playing it Safe

June 10, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article originally published in June 2015 Her Family.

If you come from early Omaha stock, it’s likely your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and maybe even your great-great-grandparents grew up frolicking on the City of Omaha’s playground equipment.

“The movement for playgrounds really came about in the late 1890s,” says Tracy Stratman, recreation manager for the City of Omaha Parks & Recreation Department. “It all started in the inner cities to create locations for kids to actually get out and have constructive play. That way they could deter negative activities and youth crime.”

Gone, though, are many of the early playground standards. You won’t see the sheet-metal slides that sizzled in the sunshine and featured steep, narrow steps. It’s nearly impossible to find tall teeter-totters (Anyone else remember crashing to the ground when the child on the other end suddenly scooted off?) or high, slick, monkey bars positioned over a shallow layer of sand on hard ground. Oh yes—don’t forget those flat merry-go-rounds that sent children skidding off the perimeter.

As children, we wanted playground toys that were faster, higher, and more intense, but from an adult perspective, it’s safety first. Or as Stratman puts it, “Your perception of what you see on a playground drastically changes when you become a parent.”

Contemporary playgrounds still deliver the thrill, but rein in the risk for kids of all ages and abilities, says owner of Crouch Recreation Eric Crouch. As a Heisman Trophy winner for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he knows about the unpleasantness of hitting the ground hard.

The company’s installations can be seen all over the metro area in public locations such as Benson Park, Vogel Park, and Stinson Park, as well as other sites such as SIDs, commercial daycares, and schools throughout Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

“Accessibility is huge and safety is one of the top factors. Quality of equipment, and sometimes design, factors into it as well,” Crouch says. “We want things to be safe, to look nice, and to stand the test of time.”

Industry standards are guided by the American Society for Testing and Materials, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Crouch says. But manufacturers have found ways to keep the old standbys (“You really miss the mark if you don’t include slides or swings”) only with safer—and sometimes more fun—options from saucer seats and wide platform slide entrances to spring supports for see saws and pliable surfacing.

“We are so safety-conscious today and we’re making improvements, but we’re seeing the throwback to what we did as kids,” Stratman says.

Larger playground structures are typically modular so clients can create one-of-a-kind arrangements with more features than ever available, Crouch says.

“Now kids will get to a park and they see something that will interest them: How do I use this? It takes a little bit of their mind and their body strength to look at a piece of equipment and interact with it,” Crouch says. “New designs stimulate creative thinking.”

Other innovative elements seen on today’s playgrounds include the use of environmentally-friendly materials, custom designs that integrate into the surroundings, shade structures, seating for parents or caregivers, stroller- and wheelchair-accessible paths, and even sports and fitness features to make parks appealing to all ages.

But one thing never changes, Stratman says. “The confidence building as well as the social skills you learn on the playground are limitless.”