Tag Archives: bands

The 402

February 6, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A band takes the stage, awash in colorful lighting. Below them, an audience murmurs and sips their drinks, sitting tall or standing around various corners of the room. The first few notes of an opening song are strummed on the guitar and a cheer rises from the crowd.

This may sound like your traditional Omaha bar featuring your favorite band, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, all of the drinks were made next door to the venue at Aroma’s Coffee shop. Plus, one third of the audience is under 21. “We really think that there are a lot kids out there who are under 18 who need to be exposed to amazing talent and be inspired by greatness,” says Ben Shafer, executive director of the space.

The 402 Arts Collective in Benson is an all ages venue all the time. It’s a place to not only expose your children to music and culture, but also, it’s a chance to enjoy a night on the town even when parents can’t find a sitter.

The 402 isn’t just a musical venue. They offer music lessons, too. Artist Instructors are available to teach just about every popular musical instrument and, Shafer adds, some not so popular ones as well. While most students are under 18, Shafer says they welcome adults into The 402 as well. Granted, it is nice for mom to take a break while her child learns. “People come to Benson, and drop their student off while they just relax in the coffee shop and sip on a latte,” Shafer shares. Worried your kid is too young? Shafer adds that children can begin learning an instrument as early as six years old. Additional offerings, such as “Rock Academy” can be found online at 402artscollective.org.

Registration for programs can be done easily by going to their website and clicking “lessons.” Parents can see musical and artistic offerings, as well as bios for the individual Artist Instructor. The 402 also offers scholarships to in-need families.

Shafer says The 402 strives to offer two shows every weekend—Friday night and Saturday night.

Perhaps The 402’s most noticeable asset is its location. Parents not only have the opportunity to expose their child to music, but also to a variety of people. “The culture down here is a melting pot of so many tastes and flavors,” Shafer says. “I think some of Omaha’s greatest thinkers and artists can be found just walking the street on any given day.”


Life in the Fast Lane

December 16, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Imagine, for a moment: thousands are screaming, intermittent camera flashes are flickering, and screens as tall as buildings illuminate with animation as cameras zoom in on passionate crowd members or in for close shots of band members onstage. Lights, screens, cameras, sound system—everything is calculated, and anything could go wrong.

For Marcia Kapustin, this is a day in the life, one small aspect in a career that carries her to concert halls around the world.

“You’re in full-out panic mode sometimes,” Kapustin says, referring to one of Bon Jovi’s concerts in which the power went completely out. “It’s live, you know? Everything stops.”

Kapustin, who started her company, KPX Video, in 2000, is an entrepreneur and specialist in technological and media content for bands. As such, she often finds herself hitching along on tours with various musicians to direct the screens, sounds, and lighting in concert venues so that shows run smoothly.

Although born and raised in Philadelphia, her port of landing is chiefly Omaha, where she started KPX. Her company specializes in LED screens, animations, live cameras, and image magnification, along with a wide gamut of other provisions for sound and screen content. Her impressive repertoire of clients includes Metallica, Bon Jovi, Elton John, James Taylor, U2, and Paul McCartney.

The obvious question: How can she not get star-struck rubbing elbows with the likes of Paul McCartney? “After so many years of working with [Paul], I’m used to it,” Kapustin says. “But every once in a while, when Paul will call me up or give a kiss on the cheek, I’ll have this moment of, ‘Oh my God, that’s Paul McCartney!’”

Kapustin is on the road anywhere from four to 10 months a year, a career choice for which she says she has “zero regrets.” However, finding the balance of normalcy between home life and life in some of the fastest of fast lanes poses an interesting challenge.

“I mean, imagine it this way,” Kapustin says. “Most people get off work, they go home at 5 or 6. On my day off, I can’t go home and chill out in my house. I’m living with these people that are my surrogate family, for the most part.”

Included in Kapustin’s resumé are an economic-based programming position for the U.S. Political Commerce in Washington, D.C. when she was 20 years old, and the installation of the world’s first LED big-screen in the NFL Ravens stadium later in her career.

As for some of the zanier experiences in Kapustin’s lively and ever-changing career, she recalls one hilarious and terrifying moment when McCartney forgot his place on stage and took a 6-foot tumble onto the back of a piano—only funny, she adds, because he was entirely unhurt.

And for her more difficult, theatrical clients: “Let’s put it this way,” Kapustin says with a smile. “There are some of my clients that I sign a nondisclosure agreement for.”

As for Kapustin’s near and future engagements, she’s gearing up to travel with McCartney again for his upcoming fall tour. Although she loves being home, Kapustin is already excited to be back on the road again.

“You miss little points in people’s lives,” Kapustin says. “I can’t imagine another way of life, but you do have to choose.”


Jazz: A Louisiana Kitchen

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Walk through the wrought-iron gates of Jazz: A Louisiana Kitchen, and the beads and feathers tell you you’re no longer on 15th and Farnam. You’re on Bourbon Street. “I’ve had more offers than I can count for that,” says Jordan Jackson, nodding at a huge white show cape pinned to a wall. “Shangri La” it reads, letting diners know this is the place to laissez les bon temps rouler.

Jackson has been letting the good times roll as the general manager of Omaha’s Jazz for two years. “We have a full-on Cajun menu,” he says. “Like ètouffèe, it’s just not something you find much outside Louisiana.”CrawFish copy

The original Jazz in Lubbock, Texas, (and consequently all five other Jazzes scattered across the nation’s middle) was heavily inspired by celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme. The Louisiana native popularized Cajun cooking with his restaurant, cookbooks, and TV shows. Omahans can enjoy his time-honored flavors as prepared by head chef and co-owner Justino Gomez, who’s cooked for Jazz for 20 years. “I love the Cajun food,” Gomez says. “It’s healthy, and it’s just good, you know?”

How does the food compare to what you’ll find in The Big Easy? “This is a little more Midwestern,” Jackson admits. “Cajun food is spicy, and that’s not what everyone up here is looking for.”

Those looking for authentic heat need not sweat the Midwestern standard. Each dish is made to order down to the sauce. “You want it mild? I’ll just put in the garlic and chives,” Gomez says. “You want it spicy? I’ll add more cayenne.”Untitled 2

Night owls know that finding decent food downtown can be a chore with most kitchens closing at 10 p.m. Jazz’s full menu is available until two hours before closing (which is 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and midnight the rest of the week), but Jackson swears by the late-night menu. Basically the only part of the regular menu not included is anything using the sauté station, like pastas, house specialties, and the (of course) sauté menu. “You can still get a good meal late,” Jackson says. Get the crab cakes a la mer. The best appetizer, in his opinion.

If you’re the type that insists on unique drinks to go with your unique food, Jackson makes sure local craft beer is in good supply. “Whoever’s got the better beer menu, that’s where I’m going for dinner,” he says. Usually all but two of the restaurant’s 12 taps are craft brews like Keg Creek, Chefs in Black, Blue Blood, and of course, Lucky Bucket.20121116_bs_4037 copy

What is dinner without a little music? Jazz brings in local musicians to complete the ambience every Thursday through Saturday. “It’s mostly jazz and the blues,” Jackson says, “but we do have one Dixieland band.” The Street Railway Company performs every third Friday of the month. Bands play on a stage overlooking the dining area from 7 to 11 p.m. Diners looking for a mellower evening should come on Thursdays, when the music only lasts until 10 p.m.

“Downtown’s becoming more than just the Old Market,” Jackson said. “If someone’s going to a show at the Orpheum, I want them to just know, oh yeah, Jazz’s right around the corner.”

Jazz – A Louisiana Kitchen
1421 Farnam St.