Column 92 — Lincoln Calling (starts tonight); Live Review: Black Squirrels…

Category: Blog — @ 12:35 pm September 14, 2006

Not mentioned in the Lincoln Calling schedule (at the end of the column) are the movies scheduled at Mary Riepma Ross as part of the event. Tonight it’s I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (Wilco documentary), Friday it’s Fearless Freaks (Flaming Lips documentary) and Saturday it’s Disc 2 of Pink Floyd’s Pulse, the full Dark Side of the Moon concert. All screenings are at 11 p.m. and are free.

Column 92: Growing Pains
Lincoln Calling struggles through third year
My one question for Jeremy Buckley, the UNL student, music lover and organizer of the annual Lincoln Calling Music Festival, slated for this Thursday-Saturday at venues throughout the Capitol City:

Is it getting easier or harder?

“I don’t know. Maybe both,” Buckley said. “Each year I add a couple more bands, which adds logistical problems.”

And there certainly have been a few of those over the years, but what did Buckley expect? No one else is trying to do anything on this scale in Omaha or Lincoln: Three full nights of music featuring 36 bands/performers at five different venues, plus a film series. Just the thought of pulling all that together gives me a migraine.

But imagine having the whole thing booked and, one-by-one, you started losing bands. And not just any bands — top-drawer acts that you’re depending on to draw large crowds. Such was the case when three bands — Saddle Creek Records’ newcomer Ladyfinger, Lincoln break-out ensemble Eagle*Seagull, and white-knuckle punkers Axes to the Sky — all told Buckley they couldn’t perform just 10 days before the event.

“You get frantic to figure out how to fix the leak,” said a nervous Buckley. “There’s only so much you can do.”

The biggest rupture was Friday night’s Duffy’s line-up, which lost both Ladyfinger and Axes to the Sky. Remaining on the bill was area favorite Ideal Cleaners and Omaha power-punk band Virgasound — an act that’s just getting its feet wet in Lincoln. Buckley said the folks at Duffy’s almost pulled the plug. “Friday night is important business-wise for them,” he said. “People come in to buy their fishbowls. If they have a cover and the show isn’t strong, they’ll just walk on by.” Which is easy to do, considering Lincoln venues are all walking distance from one another.

But Duffy’s said they’d gladly keep the show going if Buckley could line up Domestica, a new band featuring Jon Taylor and Heidi Ore of Mercy Rule and Boz Hicks of Her Flyaway Manner. “Heidi said Boz was available, so let’s do it,” Buckley said. “That’s what you want to see — a band that’s willing to throw down.”

Crisis averted. Nothing, however, could be done about Eagle*Seagull, but the rest of that Saturday night line-up at Knickerbockers — Neva Dinova, Little Brazil and The Golden Age — is more than enough to hold its own, Buckley said. E*S frontman Eli Mardock also was scheduled to perform a solo gig at The Zoo Bar Thursday afternoon with Rob Hawkins of The Golden Age. Buckley said a “very special guest” could fill in for Mardock (but he couldn’t confirm it).

Why put up with these headaches? Because the festival, now in its third year, is finally catching on. “It’s easier now that bands, for the most part, know what Lincoln Calling is,” Buckley said. Last year’s event drew about 1,800, despite sagging Sunday attendance (Sunday’s been nixed this year) and problems at Duggan’s, a venue that cancelled a show after one band — The Architects — failed to show up, Buckley said.

“Only 20 people were there for the opening band, The Gov’t. So Duggan’s just closed the bar.” Leaving Omaha band Anonymous American out in the cold. “Matt (Whipkey, AA’s frontman) was extremely frustrated — they wasted an entire night — but the band was understanding.” Scheduling issues prevent AA from performing this year, but Whipkey is doing a solo opening set for The Mezcal Brothers Saturday night at The Zoo Bar.

“You remember who was easy and who was hard to deal with,” Buckley said, adding that Duggan’s wasn’t approached to participate this year.

His goal for ’06 is to exceed 2,000 in attendance. Considering the line-up, it should be a shoe-in. The 28-year-old Husker junior plans on graduating next summer with a degree in English. Teaching or writing is in his future, and so is Lincoln Calling, which he hopes to grow into something akin to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival — an event that involves more than just bands and venues, it involves the entire city.

“I suppose (I’m) interested in knowing how big this can get,” he said. “It’s important not to create limits to what can be achieved, so it’s an interesting question to consider what something like a little music festival in the middle of Nebraska can become.”

Here’s this year’s Lincoln Calling schedule:

Thursday, Sept. 14
Tie These Hands
9 p.m., $8, 18+

Zoo Bar
Early (5-7 p.m.)
Rob Hawkins of The Golden Age
5-7 p.m., 21+

The Jazzwholes
Tijuana Gigolos
9:30 p.m., $6, 21+

Christo’s Pub
56 Hope Road
9 p.m., $5

Duffy’s Tavern
The Prids
Her Flyaway Manner
Spring Gun
9 p.m., $6, 21+

Friday, Sept. 15
Zoo Bar
Son of ’76
5 p.m., $3, 21+

Forty Twenty
The Killigans
9:30 p.m., $6, 21+

Duffy’s Tavern
Ideal Cleaners
Domestica (Former Mercy Rule)
9 p.m., $5, 21+

The Show is the Rainbow
9 p.m., $9, 18+

Early (6 p.m.)
Bloody Stump
This is We
The Speech Impediments
6 p.m., $5, all ages

Late (9 p.m.)
Jaeger Fight
The Hooligans
9 p.m., $5, 18+

Saturday, Sept. 16
Zoo Bar
McCarthy Trenching
Jake Bellows of Neva Dinova
5 p.m., $3, 21+

The Mezcal Brothers
Matt Whipkey of Anonymous American
10 p.m., $6, 21+

Neva Dinova
Little Brazil
The Golden Age
9 p.m., $8, 18+

Early (6 p.m.)
Once a Pawn
The Deformities
6 p.m., $5, all ages

Late (9 p.m.)
The Goddamn Rights
Brimstone Howl
9 p.m., $5, 18+

Big crowd last night at The Dubliner for the debut of Black Squirrels. Right from the start, the band’s Darktown House Band heritage was obvious and appreciated. The four-piece played a nice, laid-back set of bluegrass-flavored torch songs that were as relaxing as your favorite blankie and a glass of hot Irish coffee. If you ever went to a Darktown show, you’ll recognize Kat Smith’s coffeehouse vocals, singing lyrics that were timely, local and pretty funny (in the right way). And then there was that spot-on cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On the Run,” ratcheted down as only the Squirrels can. Drummer Doug Kabourek sat in on the last four songs, and his addition helped pep things up (even though he only played with brushes). Yes, this is a mellow crew, and quite a contrast to Gael Sli, the neo-traditional band from Dublin, who played afterward. I’ve seen my share of Irish folk bands (Hey, I went to Ireland last year, remember?) and these guys are right up there with the best of them, giving the usual fiddle-and-accordian traditionals a modern spice, thanks to a chopped-and-slurred acoustic guitar that recalled Luka Bloom.

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