Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything that is going on in the local music scene. Omaha is a wonderful town bursting with artistic creativity and driven musicians that make the scene dynamic and growing.
For the past thirteen years, Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards (OEAA), a non-profit organization, has been focused on bringing the spotlight to some of the best, hard-working Omaha artists. Throughout the year, the OEAA highlights artists and runs events for visual arts, performing arts, and live music.
On Jan. 27, 2019, the OEAA will award the newest round of winners for various categories in the best of Omaha. Some of the music categories include album of the year, artist of the year, best new artist, and best live sound engineer, in addition to the sixteen categories for various genres.
Fans get to nominate their favorite artists in the Omaha area and then the top artists in each category are voted upon by over 175 different local artists, professionals, and journalists. The winners will then be revealed on the night of the awards ceremony.
Last Friday, the OEAA held a nominee showcase in Benson to give Omaha community members a little taste of eighteen of the artists up for awards this year. There was something for everyone to enjoy at one of the three host locations: Burke’s Pub, B-Side of Benson Theatre, and Barley Street Tavern.
Acts ranged all over the spectrum from the vivacious salsa music of Escencia Latina, to the dynamic folk-rock of Virginia Kathryn to the hard-hitting rock of The Endless Night. Local indie pop-rockers Win/Win brought energy and fun to a tight-sounding set of infectious jams at the Barley Street Tavern.
The four-piece did very well at filling the sound by incorporating techniques like vocal screams and harmonies, and swelling cymbal rolls. Win/Win’s music made listeners want to sing along to catchy hooks, even if they did not know the music from before. Ultimately, Win/Win helped to kick off a night full of enjoyment.
Around the same time, Country/Rock band Pony Creek was bringing a stripped-down version of their live set to listeners at Burke’s Pub. The set up featured a three-piece including Ryan Osbahr on acoustic guitar and vocals, Billie Frost on guitar and vocals, and Travis Goddard on mandolin.The delicacy of the acoustic guitar and mandolin sound was perfectly juxtaposed by the raw, belted voices of Osbahr and Frost. Pony Creek played many of their original tunes in an intimate set that made for a great breath of fresh air between louder full bands.
The Rex Granite Band put on a show that blew the roof off Burke’s Pub with loud, squealing, passionate blues-rock sound. Sarah Benck’s bluesy powerhouse voice carried perfectly on top of the crashing drums, bouncing bass and screaming guitar of the rest of the Rex Granite Band.
The Rex Granite band is no stranger to the OEAA, having won Best Blues Band of 2016. They proved that they were comfortable being on the stage and being themselves.
Overall, the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Nominee Showcase was a great way to get acclimated with some new local acts, as well as see some artists who have been around a while. Be sure to check out the artists featured this year and keep updated on the winners at the OEAA Awards Ceremony. You can check out their website here: https://oea-awards.org/