Lincoln Exposed’s ‘Best year yet’ and is it really that hard to pay bands? Bad Speler does Whitney…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 2:03 pm February 14, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Lincoln Exposed poster

No doubt you’ve been hearing the buzz about last week’s Lincoln Exposed festival. The shockwaves are still being felt throughout the Unicameral. Lincoln Exposed major domo Jeremy Buckley gave me the post-mortem on this year’s event. He organized the event with Dub Wardlaw from Duffy’s and Josh Hoyer from the Zoo bar.

“For the four-day weekend we had about 1,700 people (or 425 a day) paid, not including about 280 band members that got all-access passes, and about 50 other guests (media, volunteers, etc.),” Buckley said. “Venues were easily more crowded than they ever are for any given local show from 6 p.m. until the last note of the night. Best year yet, we even got the mayor out to check out Kill County and The Betties.”

He said most of the venues (Bourbon Theater front room, Duffy’s,  Zoo Bar) were close to capacity Friday and Saturday nights. The weekend’s biggest draw: Universe Contest, a band that Buckley said gets compared to Modest Mouse. “(They) used to be Gooses, couple different members,” he added. Eli Mardock was the biggest draw Wednesday night.

What’s the coolest thing about Lincoln Exposed other than the music and the booze? Like every other Jeremy Buckley production, every one of the 60+ bands and performers got paid. I know the idea of actually paying bands seems alien and strange to most of the organizers of local “festivals” held in Benson and other clubs around town, but Buckley somehow manages to get it done.

In fact, Buckley said more than $7,000 was paid out to performers and $1,500 was paid to sound personnel. Let’s review: The bars get paid, the support folks (soundmen, etc.) get paid, and the bands get paid. Everybody gets paid, including Buckley and his team. Is paying bands to play really that difficult to do? Next time you pay your $10-$20-$30 for a wrist band at local festival that doesn’t pay the bands, ask yourself where at that money went…

Fact is, paying the bands is one of the reasons Buckley is able to attract the best local bands to participate at his festivals.

So what’s the next Jeremy Buckley production? The 9th Annual Lincoln Calling Festival, coming to the streets of Lincoln in mid-October.

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Finally, it was impossible to ignore the passing of Ms. Whitney Houston this past weekend. Her career touched many lives, not the least of which includes our very own Bad Speler a.k.a. Darren Keen, who in the depths of his grief created an amazing  remix of “How Will I Know?” It was a fitting tribute… until Darren decided to attach his remix to this Vimeo video featuring Brent Star of Whitney lovers may want to skip it and instead check out the remix on Soundcloud, below:

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


  • Buckley is putting on a festival with no benefactor other than the bands. The OEAA’s and Benson Day is put on to raise money for organizations. That changes the whole dynamic. When 1% or Jakes put on a festival or something of that nature-the bands are paid.

    Comment by MarQ — February 14, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  • In all fairness- Lincoln Exposed is not a Jeremy Buckley production…it is a small team of people. Also- he was paid…and so was I. That said- it was an awesome week.

    Comment by Josh Hoyer — February 14, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  • MarQ-
    That’s true, but you are still not thinking about it from the bands point of view. Does it matter to a band WHAT the show is about? They are putting their time in, practicing, getting off work, etc, and it sucks to know that a bar owner, or promoter made a good chunk of change, while all they offer you is some shit like “hey man, at least it was good exposure!”…

    Comment by Darren Keen — February 14, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

  • Thanks Josh. The story has been updated. Fantastic work. Maybe I’ll be able to go next year!

    Comment by tim-mcmahan — February 14, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  • HEY!
    I also want to add that I would like to thank the crew who put on that Dundee Day festival I played last August. They paid me fair and square, and it was really fun!

    Comment by Darren Keen — February 14, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  • Darren-I am not sure what Dundee is raising money for or if businesses are donating money or what. For Benson day that does not happen-it is to raise money for the Benson Business Association and events that are put on here mainly for kids and what-not. I help them out-it is not my organization nor am I on their board. I usually only ask Benson-centric bands to play that and they know what they are playing for and why. It’s not like bands get spanked for saying no. They are asked-they either say yes or they say no.

    As far as the venues making money-we are renting out these rooms-what I am doing works in Benson and Benson only at this time. There is not another strip of clubs that musicians can play in town. If I go in and demand that they pay the musicians-we will not be having festivals here.

    I spell out in a letter that I send out for the OEAA’s what the bands are playing for and that them playing or not playing has not impact on being nominated or winning an award. Again they can either say yes-or they can say no. If a bunch of bands say no-then the whole thing ends and I can stop spending hundreds of hours on this every year and get into theater or something that we are supposed to get into when we turn 40.

    Comment by MarQ — February 14, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  • “I help them out-it is not my organization nor am I on their board”

    Why do you defend them left and right?

    “As far as the venues making money-we are renting out these rooms…”

    So if venues have to be “rented out”, then shouldn’t bands as well? Or if bands play for free, why can’t venues not “rent” for a night? There will still be alcohol sales.

    These “business” benefits sound like a gimmick.

    Comment by Common Sense — February 14, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  • “I help them out-it is not my organization nor am I on their board”

    To clarify-I am talking about the Benson Day organization when I say I am not on the board. I am on the board for the OEAA’s.

    “Why do you defend them left and right?”

    Neither of them are doing anything wrong-there is nothing to defend. I just put out the actual information when it has not been fully portrayed correctly.

    “So if venues have to be “rented out”, then shouldn’t bands as well? Or if bands play for free, why can’t venues not “rent” for a night? There will still be alcohol sales.”

    “These “business” benefits sound like a gimmick.”

    That is up the venue what they charge. Some discount, some only charge for sound, some charge for the whole thing. Both organizations I am speaking of are non-profits and filed as such. They are all volunteer run (including myself). No one in either organization are making any money off these events. If someone out there wants to donate a strip of five venues and part of the bars profits to these bands while allowing our organizations to continue to fund events for the community-I am super willing to check those out. The bars we currently use are not.

    Again-the bands know they are playing for non-profit organizations. The ones that see the benefit and get it (and there are a lot of bands) can say yes or they can say no. If we can’t raise money for our organizations-then they die and honestly while I see value in these organizations-it is no skin off my teeth. I personally am not going to put the hours into these things if there is no interest in them or the organizations. To date there is a lot of interest and so I keep moving forward with the help of a lot of other people passionate about the arts in Omaha.

    Comment by MarQ — February 14, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  • If Tim is going to make a comment, why is he so afraid to specify which festivals aren’t paying bands?

    Is he afraid someone might have a productive conversation about music?

    Comment by Lack of transparency — February 14, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

  • How cum lincoln has a bigger and bigger music festival then u?

    Comment by Question MarQ? — February 14, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  • In the past, the Nebraska Songwriters Festival, the OEA showcases and the mighty Big Al Free Fest were among the local festivals/showcases that didn’t pay the bands that participated. I’m sure there’s more. As others (including myself) have pointed out, no one is forcing these bands to play for free. The decision is entirely theirs and theres alone.

    Comment by tim-mcmahan — February 14, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  • Here’s a band’s point of view…

    We (The Big Deep) played for free four times this past year: Both OEAA showcases, Benson SummerFest After Dark and MAHA Music Festival. Each time it was a calculated decision trading exposure for our performance. Plus, we believe in and support the non-profit organizations which benefited.

    I can understand bands not wanting to play for free; so just don’t do it. Seems pretty simple.

    Rather than crying about it on message boards and attacking people that dedicate their time to promoting local musicians, I’d like to see them start the festival they want to exist.

    Comment by Jared Bakewell — February 14, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  • Give me a few free drinks and I’ll play anywhere.

    Comment by t-bone — February 15, 2012 @ 12:13 am

  • I guess $25 is technically being paid ($7,000/280 band members), but I don’t think anybody is playing “Lincoln Exposed” for the $25.

    Comment by Terry OHalloran — February 20, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  • I doubt that it was an even split, considering some of the bands that played were quite new. But even if it was, just the idea that someone was willing to pay them something based on the cut of the overall take is better than the usual BS that promoters give bands about “providing them with much needed exposure.” Offering some sort of compensation is the difference between attracting good local bands to your festival vs. the same group of amateur acts that will play anywhere for free.

    Comment by Boris — February 20, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  • “…and the mighty Big Al Free Fest”

    My festival is FREE, and it is mighty.
    You are correct.

    -Big AL

    Comment by Big AL — April 6, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  • One of the bands that played the Big AL Free Fest 2011 sold over $200 in merch, likely more than bands got in Lincoln.

    – Big AL

    Comment by Big AL — April 6, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

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