Lincoln’s music community creates a variety of styles

The Lincoln music scene is a lot like a buffet — you can sample a bit of everything.

Lincoln boasts a big range of musical genres. Residents can listen to a variety of styles without having to walk more than a block.

“There’s no one single sound in Lincoln,” said Zach Chrastil, bass guitarist for Salt Creek. “Nobody’s really worried about fitting into a certain scene or model.”

Case in point: For it’s album release Salt Creek, a local indie rock band, chose heavy rock and hip-hop as their openers. 

Salt Creek’s stage set-up sits, waiting for the performers to get on and perform. The band is just one of many that Lincoln has to offer.

This independence fostered in the Lincoln scene allows for much more experimental music. It provides musicians of all sorts the opportunity to flourish in a safe environment.

Safety and acceptance are important for success in music, said Andrew Norman, executive director of Hear Nebraska. It reassures artists that their art is appreciated. 

“You have punks hanging out with country musicians,” he  said. “I think that Lincoln music has always been a really positive, collaborative community of talented musicians who operate in a climate of freedom to experiment.”

Expanding this community is part of the inspiration behind Norman’s organization. He said Hear Nebraska originally started as a way to tell the stories of music in the state. Its goal, he said, was to provide residents with a favorite Nebraskan band. Now, after joining forces with The Bay to create Rabble Mill, it is concentrating on sculpting the future of local music.

Growing the music

Rabble Mill, a Lincoln program that focuses on reaching out to and strengthening youth, works to further creative fields. It focuses on skateboarding, art and music. As such, The Bay is a hotspot for local musicians to share their work.

Other Lincoln venues range from bars to theaters. While the concentration seems to be centered around 14th and O streets, Norman noted that there are plenty of opportunities all around the city, including festivals such as Lincoln Calling and the Skate, Art, Music Festival.

But beyond the venues and festivals, the Lincoln music scene offers important intangibles.  

“It’s just, like, a huge level of support,” said Salt Creek’s drummer Nate Skinner. “It feels like home to us.”

Lincoln is big enough to make an impact but small enough to have an extremely close community, Skinner said. At a recent show, Salt Creek decided on a whim to play only new music. The band was shocked at the level of support they got from their audience.

Another attribute of Lincoln’s music scene is its transience.

“It’s sort of a transient city,” Norman said. Musicians come and go throughout the years, he said, and they also frequently mix and mingle, creating new bands and reinforcing the collaborative scene.

But the brevity of locals bands shouldn’t scare anyone away, Norman said. The scene is constantly changing, and musicians are constantly getting younger. Transience allows for Lincoln to experience an even larger array of sounds.

There are many ways people can get involved in the music scene without playing instruments. Volunteering at festivals, befriending artists and looking at music blogs are all ways to immerse oneself in the community.

The most important way to get a taste of the music scene is to go to shows, Norman said. 

“Just sink your teeth into it.”

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