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Around the start of the millennium, Nebraska made a huge impact in the national music landscape with artists like Bright Eyes and labels like Saddle Creek Records producing good sounds. Nebraska has the foundation for a music community to build itself: low unemployment rates, low cost of living, and opportunities for full-time musicians. In the middle of a conservative Midwestern state, cities like Omaha and Lincoln are home to artists and artists who form their own counterculture. That tension marks the local art scene. Since fading out of its spotlight moment in the early 2000s, Nebraska has continued to develop its musical perspective. Keep reading to learn what has been brewing in Nebraska's music in recent years.

Omaha has been pegged as one of the top U.S. cities on the rise, partly because of its trending music scene.

This year, National Geographic named a Nebraskan city one of the best up and coming small cities in the United States. Alongside cities like Honolulu, Bounder, Charleston, Portland (Maine), and Madison, Omaha made the list. The cities were measured and selected in a variety of criteria, such as greenness, grooming, literacy, social media activity, and hipster friendliness. Omaha made the list for being one of the “musically grooviest” places in terms of its venues, live music, and instrument stores. Those who are always on the lookout for a concert experience will find a thriving scene for that in Omaha, as well as some other Nebraskan cities.

Nebraska has forward-thinking artists.

Each year, Hear Nebraska interviews contributors to the music scene about their experience and their predictions for the future of music. This annual piece emphasizes that Nebraska’s artistry looks ahead to the future of music, creation, and performance. Whether or not their predications are always accurate, those featured in the article think critically and engage with the sound of the state. In 2017, social media worker Ben Buchnat and Shannon Claire of KZUM predicted that the music scene will skew younger, with more younger people starting bands, holding shows, and making music. To him, a youth movement is what the scene needs. Maya Khasin of The Morbs, Plastic Garbage, and Artichoke Hearts craves a proliferation of creative echange. Live arts, such as music and poetry, have been inspiring one another to create a vibrancy to the desert state. More performances like Tiny Giant and Good Gospel that unify the arts are expected to come if people continue to support the collaborations. Zach Schmeider of The Sydney is looking to find ways to book shows that better the community by invigorating projects like charity efforts or fundraising for historic venues. He has tons of ideas about making a city that “truly cares.” For listeners who want to support the goals and efforts of local artists or who are intrigued by their projections, Nebraska’s concert scene has an appeal.

New and local talent is hot in Nebraska.

Bright Eyes, The Faint, Cursive, and Elliott Smith are a handful of well-known and loved groups and artists who have called Nebraska home. That foundation of good artistry has not died out in recent years. Formed in 2011, The Decatures are a young rock and blues band influenced by The Beatles, Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, and Jack White. Eli Mardock—the lyricist for what was once Eagle Seagull—has begun a solo career making quirky, emotive, and whimsical sounds somewhere in the universe of indie/alternative. The Icky Blossoms are a local staple, a trio of friends who formed a band during a blizzard and have been performing electropop ever since. The Kris Lager Band bring a hybrid of jazz, blues, and rock; album names like Swagadocious (2012) tell you everything you need to know about their sound. Like the Stonebellys, the Midland Band performs anthem-like 80s rock tunes, but their energetic shows shift sound frequently. These artists prove that Nebraska’s airwaves are still alive and well, ready to shepherd in listeners with solid performances.

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