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Nebraska musicians look forward to return of live performances

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 8:06 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Between limits on gatherings, businesses closing and event cancellations, the pandemic has taken a heavy hit on Nebraska musicians.

“We’ve been very fortunate to play some big crowds and big stages, and we’re kind of looking forward to getting back in front of real humans again,” said Tim Zach, lead singer of Whiskey Bent Band.

During a normal year, Whiskey Bent plays anywhere from 90 to 100 shows. About half are cancelled this year, including the band’s 10-year anniversary concert.

Whiskey Bent was also scheduled to play the last day of the Nebraska State Fair and four county fairs, all of which are cancelled or postponed.

“Most bands make a living off of playing,” Zach said.

With no live shows, the band had to rethink the way they reached audiences.

They performed on Facebook lives, and relied on virtual tips as a source of band income.

That didn’t quite cover expenses for the band’s traveling vehicles and self-produced shows. Zach said they had extra money in reserves to make payments for four months.

“You know that’s a stinger when that’s kind of what you’re banking on for your income for that summer. There are other artists across the state that this is their only income,” Zach said.

Rascal Martinez is a full-time musician.

He plays upwards of 200 shows every year from coast to coast. Martinez said he plays anywhere from senior homes, to weddings, to large venues.

But this year around 40 performances cancelled for good, and many more are rescheduled.

“To me, yeah, it was like a big loss in everything, because we just lost a majority of all my shows,” Martinez said.

Martinez said his last big performance was at the end of February for his latest album release. March is when things started shutting down.

He was set to perform at the Seward County Fair this year and open for Joe Nichols in August, but that got cancelled too.

Knowing he had to find a new way to temporarily bring in money, Martinez picked up an old business he started called “Rascal’s Handyman,” fixing different things around people’s homes.

He’s also been performing on other organization’s live streams.

But Martinez said he looks forward to getting back on stage in front of his fans.

“A big part of my show is that crowd involvement too. A livestream I can definitely throw it at them, but I can’t get anything back with that. So my shows are very interactive like that. I look forward to doing shows in front of people again.”

Martinez rescheduled many of his shows for next year. He also has some upcoming small concerts and private events. His next big concert is August 21 at The Lark in Hastings.

Whiskey Bent Band has performances lined up at the end of July and in August, including one August 22 at the 2nd Street Slammer in Hastings.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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