Column: New venue, Vega, to be opened by veteran Lincoln scenesters

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More music is a good thing. And another music venue in Lincoln is a good thing for Nebraska, according to the owners of new Lincoln club called Vega.

Personally, I’m already planning on some future trips to Lincoln to see Pink, The Eagles and others at the new Pinnacle Bank Arena in addition to shows at Pershing, the Pinewood Bowl, the Bourbon Theatre and Duffy’s, among other spots.

Vega, the brand new venue run by Lincoln music scene veterans, means I’m going to be gassing up the car a lot more often. The new club will open up sometime in the coming months. (Because of ongoing construction, there’s no firm date, the owners told me.)

Already under construction, Vega is owned by Jeremy Buckley, Jeremy Wardlaw and Eli and Carrie Mardock, all of whom are familiar faces amid Lincoln’s music scecne. Buckley is a concert promoter and Wardlaw (known to many as “Dub”) worked the last eight years at Duffy’s Tavern. Eli and Carrie Mardock are former members of Eagle Seagull and both perform as part of Eli’s solo music project.

“Man, it’s really exciting,” Mardock told me. “It’s this huge thing with the new arena. Suddenly, there’s this huge influx of people and energy” to downtown Lincoln.

Vega will be a smack dab in the middle of Lincoln’s new Railyard District, an entertainment district south of the new arena at R and North Seventh Streets that will include 10 to 12 restaurants and bars as well as a hotel and retail space. Sort of like the Power and Light District in Kansas City, they share a common courtyard space and you’ll be able to walk around with your adult beverage.

Right in the middle will be Vega, the sort of indie rock venue with which patrons of Slowdown and The Waiting Room in Omaha and the Bourbon Theatre and Duffy’s in Lincoln with are familiar. In short: It’s a 500-capacity space that will host a solid mix of both national and local acts.

Though Vega won’t open for months, the quartet behind the venue have been at work for more than a year to turn their vision into a real building. Buckley and Wardlaw long thought about opening their own venue and the Mardocks did, too. Eventually, they combined forces.

Since, it’s meant courting investors, weekly meetings with architects, talks about branding and designing a menu. The interior will be modern, but not fancy, Mardock said.

Each has skills that will help out the venue in various ways. Eli Mardock grew up working in his family baking business, so the kitchen will be no trouble. Carrie will handle financial aspects, Wardlaw has experience as the bar manager at Duffy’s and Buckley has extensive experience creating the Lincoln Calling festival and working at the Bourbon.

The four are equal owners and managers in the project, though they have other investors, which they declined to name.

Drinks and food (yeah, Vega is a restaurant, too) at the venue is expected to be locally and regionally sourced. That includes area microbrews and gourmet hot dogs (Mardock likes to joke that they’re “haute” dogs) such as the Amores Perros, a Mexican style dog.

Vega also looks to be more than a music venue. You could stop there on your way to a Husker football game, check out the art on first Friday events or watch a soccer match from their patio on “the Cube” (a giant set of screens in the Railyard).

“We want to be the kind of place that accomodates everyone,” Mardock said. “We want to be a music venue and be a cool bar. It’s the kind of place you can bring your grandpa after watching the Huskers play at the arena and be totally comfortable.”

My biggest question: Are they concerned that the market (or markets, as Omaha and Lincoln are separate markets for touring bands) is a little too saturated with venues?

“We fill a need. The Bourbon is doing an awesome job of bringing in big acts to their big room. Duffy’s, on the opposite side, is small. In the 350 to 500 range (like Vega), there’s nothign in Lincoln,” Mardock said. “We’re super-friendly with all of those businesses and we made it clear we’re not trying to step on their toees. We want to work with them and we know we’re something that’s good for the scene.”

Good luck, guys. I can’t wait to check it out.



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