Omaha has, once again, been named one of the best music cities.
Tell us something we don’t know, guys. Omaha was once called “the next Seattle” by multiple big music publications, it was featured in a book about the country’s best music scenes called “Wish You Were Here” and numerous accolades have been given to Slowdown by Esquire magazine (rock club of the year) and NPR (“The Indie-Rock Club Behind Omaha’s $100 Million Creative Boom”).
This time, it’s Livability.com throwing out the honors. The website, which ranks the best cities to live in, named Omaha No. 5 on its list of top music cities.
The list eliminated New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, Tenn., off the bat. Athens, Ga., is at the top of the list.
Among the considerations were number and quality of music venues, independent record stores and local musicians. The site mentions Slowdown, the Waiting Room Lounge, Orpheum Theater and others, but no mention of the CenturyLink Center. It mentions Homers’ Music and Antiquarium Records, but not Drastic Plastic.
It looks like the researchers did some Google searches and came upon a bunch of wikipedia articles and old World-Herald stories.
The website goes on at length about Omaha’s jazz and blues musical tradition and artists such as Wynonie Harris, but there’s little about the current music scene outside of Bright Eyes. Omaha’s known for being home to Bright Eyes, of course, but there’s also Cursive, The Faint, The Mynabirds, The So-So Sailors, Simon Joyner, SPEED! Nebraska, Slumber Party Records or hundreds of other bands or labels.
One of the most ridiculous errors is that Conor Oberst’s brother, Justin Oberst, manages Saddle Creek Records with Robb Nansel, which is incorrect. Nansel manages the label with Jason Kulbel and several other employees. (To be fair, no one ever seems to get this right. Articles frequently say one or the other Oberst owns or runs the label. Unless someone does proper research, no one seems to check the facts to see it’s Nansel and Kulbel.)
The site does name Maha Music Festival, Red Sky Music Festival, Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival and Hullabaloo Music and Camping Festival.
And this may not be important to you, but Livability also fails to mention that Mannheim Steamroller, probably the top-selling band of all time from here, calls Omaha its home.
Cities also had to be on Livability’s 500 best places to live and feature a vibrant nightlife and higher education opportunities for music.
Livability also ranks Omaha as one of the top 10 cities for keeping new year’s resolutions.
I see Athens, Minneapolis and Portland being ranked above Omaha. I know Chapel Hill is/was home to Superchunk and Merge Records (I think they’re down the road in Durham now). Do those other cities really have big music scenes? I guess I don’t know much about any of those on the bottom half of the list.
Where is Lawrence, Kan.? How about Seattle? What about Washington, D.C.?
What else do you think the list glossed over, missed or (gasp!) got right?
Top 10 Cities With the Best Music Scenes Outside of Nashville NYC and LA
- Athens, GA
- Minneapolis, MN
- Portland, OR
- Chapel Hill, NC
- Omaha, NE
- Cambridge, MA
- Fort Worth, TX
- Madison, WI
- Tulsa, OK
- Concord, CA
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