By Derek Munyon
Benson was host to 40 of Omaha’s best bands and poets on Friday, Oct. 23, as the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards show-cased their 2015 nominees. The Showcase spanned the majority of downtown Benson, with The Waiting Room, Barley Street Tavern, 402 Arts Collective, The Sydney,
Burke’s Pub, Reverb Lounge and the Pizza Shoppe Collective all being involved. The show went from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The show had a diverse cross section of genres ranging from jazz to hip-hop to hard rock. Of all the venues, The Waiting Room was the emptiest, with fewer than ten people in the audience when I was there. It was the slowest I’ve ever seen the venue. During one of the spoken word poet’s performances, even more people left.
The musician the stood out the most to be as I passed between venues and tried to catch as many acts as possible was Edem. Her soulful voice was accompanied by just one instrument, ukulele, djembe or keyboard.
As she hit soaring notes with expert precision, there were hoots and cheers from the audience. It was as passionate as a church service. Unfortunately Edem doesn’t have any recordings available yet, but she said she was working to get some done.
Another very fun band was Mari-achi Zapata, who was decked out in full Mexican folk regalia. It was lively and encouraged the audience to sing along. Unfortunately, my Spanish is at the basest level possible, so I didn’t participate.
Even though the showcase featured mainly musical acts, the OEAA spans a wide range of local artistic talent, awards excellence in comedy, theater, visual art and even technical categories like sound design. People from the community can nominate their favorites, how-ever, nominations for this year are closed.
The actual awards ceremony in on Jan. 17 at the Double Tree by Hilton located downtown.