Nebraska Pop Festival redefines pop music

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By Amanda Meyers, Contributor

The last time I checked, ukuleles were not a common ingredient in today’s pop music culture. Several musicians made a strong case for the tiny stringed instrument during the Nebraska Pop Music Festival show last Friday night.

The Nebraska Pop Music Festival is a multinational music festival showcasing independent pop bands from around the world. The festival ran from August 9 through 14, showcasing over 30 local, national and international bands. The music was unique, refreshing and inspired. There was as much variety in the instruments used as there was musicians that played them. Quite frankly, referring to the music at this festival as “pop” simply sells it short.

Pop music today seems to be defined by mainstream lyrics, uniform sound and diluted inspiration. The music at this event did not fit that mold.

Paper City, a group from Long Beach, Calif., took the stage Friday night. The band featured drums, multiple guitars as well as a ukulele. Lead singer Marisa Predisik’s playful vocals were reminiscent of 1960s garage rock feel.

“I would definitely say my biggest musical influence is Elvis Costello. But, I can still listen to the Top 40 and enjoy it—even though my musical preference is more indie,” Predisik said.

Local band All Young Girls Are Machine Guns utilized ukuleles as well, incorporating two into their feel-good sound. If their unique choice of string instruments wasn’t enough to impress, they integrated other unconventional rhythmic methods into their performance as well, including whistling and snapping their fingers.

Although pop music generally consists of songs approximately three to four minutes long, these performances varied anywhere from a minute and a half to four minutes long. Song titles such as All Young Girls Are Machine Guns’ “Love Song to Smokey the Bear” and Paper City’s

“Motown Grooves” reflected the individuality of the bands and strengthened the case that these groups are less “pop” and more indie.

All profits from the 2011 Nebraska Pop Music Festival are being donated to Arts For All, Inc., a nonprofit arts education organization dedicated to making the arts available and affordable to all. Arts For All has five locations in the Omaha area and offers a variety of art classes, ranging from ballet or guitar lessons to creative writing and much more. The program has become a huge success, reaching around 2,000 children annually. To support Arts For All, or to make a donation, visit their website at www.artsforallinc.com.

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