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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 24, 1998)
Lincoln native M. JL
returns for album release celebration
By Erin Gibson
On Halloween night, folk singer Laurie
McClain drove toward home on a winding country
road outside Nashville. Term.
Her 6-year-old daughter, Sarah, sat next to her,
buckled into the same yellow 1985 Toyota Tercel
that took the iongtime Lincoln resident and family
to the country music capital two years ago.
A street lamp had burned out. so the night
before them looked as black as the asphalt.
Then the road turned.
McClain never saw the 6-foot ditch before her
until her wheels hit the roadside gravel, and her car
launched into a senes of flips.
“1 grabbed (Sarah's) head and pulled it into my
chest. We were rolling in a ditch. I was calling out
When the car stopped, McClain fumbled
around her daughter s body, feeling her all over to
make sure she wasn't hurt. Neither was injured,
and a man who witnessed the accident called to
them in the car.
McC lain clung to her daughter.
"We re the luckiest people in the world "
That same sense of gratefulness, hope and
escape pervades McClain's music and her new
album, which she will celebrate w ith a concert and
release parrs Tuesday at Duggan s Pub. 440 i 1th Sc
The genuine, upbeat nature of her original folk
music will surprise listeners who know the
moment alter the car accident 'wasn't the only time
the singer-songwriter felt '"just happy to be alive.”
She felt grateful for hei life at the end of two
abusive marriages, during which she was not
allowed to play guitar or sing She felt grateful for
her health when mounting the death of her brother,
three other family members and two friends w ithin
a few years.
When the memories of her life in Lincoln
haunted her. she telt grateful she could pack up and
move her life to Nashville with her three daughters.
Sarah, i 8-year-old Rachel and Anna. 14.
A blizzard held Nashville in a cloud of white
the day they rolled in, Jan. 10, 1997. Like her
music, she wasn’t discouraged.
She went to Nashville for a new start she said,
and to learn from great musicians. She didn’t go to
find the love, joy and sentimentality that inspired
her new recording. She just wanted to make an
Almost two years later, she's done it.
McClain, who looked upon her first Lincoln
audience as a seventh grader on stage at liv ing
Junior High School, is back in town tonight for a
concert and CD-release party for her country
tinged folk album, “The Child Behind My Eyes.”
“I really feel good about this record,” McClain
said. “It’s the first tune in my life I heard my songs
without just my guitar and my voice”
After 8 p.m. at Duggan’s Pub, McClain and her
guitar will take the stage and perform her music,
along with boyfriend and producer Charlie
Chadwick on bass, and Lincoln musicians Steve
Hanson on banjo, guitar and mandolin w'hile
Reynold Peterson mans the drums
Like her album. McClain’s concert will
resound with feel-good tunes that reflect a child
like love of living, each song with simple, heartfelt
lyrics and instrumentation true to tire folk tradition.
McClain said the upbeat songs on tins album
reflect a promise she made at the end of her third
marriage in Lincoln live years ago.
! sasu a prayer, ana i just wisnea l could do
music for a living."
rhough she's not there, vet, she promised to
write and sing uplifting songs in return for that
grained w ish.
One such tunc is the often-misunderstood "Let
It Go," McClain said. “It's about realizing die peo
ple that hurt you are just people that are scared and
if you let go, it will realK free up your life.”
Though McClain keeps a box full of more than
200 shreds of songs she’s wmiten in her lifetime
some w ith lyrics scratched on napkins and the tom
corners of pages - she wrote most songs on her
new recording while in Nash\ die. They’re more
cheerful than most of her music, and a few show a
Photo Courtesy of Rachel McClain
FOLK SINGER LAURIE McGLAiN has gone through a lot to finally celebrate a CD-release party, includ
ing bad marriages and a last-ditch move to Nashville, Tenn. Now she has returned to her hometown
to share her first album, “The Child Behind My Eyes,” with her old friends.
Southern country influence appropriate to
One track titled "Lightening Bugs” has a
strong banjo twang indicative of bluegrass roots.
Two North Carolina musicians (McClain calls
them “real hillbillies’") played back-up for the tune
Please see McCLAIN on 10
Fire code restrictions may end Zoo Bar’s tradition
By Sarah Baker
Senior staff writer
It’s more than just a glowing neon-lit beacon of
a bar with a few blues singers wailing away inside
The Zoo Bar. 136 N. 14* St., has become a his
torical and cultural mainstay of the Lincoln music
wene after more than 35 years of dedication to the
artists of the blues.
But now. because oi a recent crackdown on fire
codes, the bar has not only lost money in the past
two months, it has iost many of the renowned acts
it used to regularly advertise with pride and singu
But the most visible loss is that of the once
boisterous crowds that have now become some
times hesitant and. more often than not. invisible.
Lam Boehmer. ow ner of the Zoo Bar. said the
“crackdown” began Sept 18 at a Baby Jason and
the Spanker^ show.
Boehmer said the bar received two write-ups
tor not complying with the code and since then has
stuck to the strict rules.
The code calls for a maximum occupancy level
in the Zoo of 86 people, allowing for each person
to have 15 square feet of space. Before the crack
down, the Zoo regularly packed in crowds of at
least 150 people without complaint or police inter
“We are contracted with national acts, and we
couldn’t get rid of those contracts, even though we
aren't meeting costs,” Boehmer said. “We have lost
a sizable amount of money in the past tw'o months.”
Boehmer said the bar is still regularly receiving
calls from national acts that wunt to perform at the
venue, but because of the money loss, the bar can't
afford to pay the bands to play.
As a result. Boehmer said the bar's schedule
will experience a shift toward almost all local acts,
and it will be most noticeable in the January' lineup.
If worse comes to worse. Boehmer may have to
consider closing the Zoo Bar's doors.
“1 don't know what is going to happen.” he
said. “Right now, it’s all up in the air."
Boehmer said although he wasn't sure what
triggered the recent interest in the bar’s occupancy,
rumors are circulating as to what may have tipped
oft'the fire marshal.
don’t know who it was. and it doesn't matter It's
still a horrible thing to do.”
He added that competition, no matter how stiff’,
should never come to this level.
“(The Zoo Bar) is not competition to anyone
except itself. It’s an institution.” he said. "It's not
something you should tamper w ith; you just enjoy
He added that the loss of the venue would be
detrimental to the city as a w hole.
"If Larry' hadn't done what he did at the Zoo,
(The Zoo Bar) is not competition to anyone except itself.
Its an institution It's not something you should tamper
with; you just enjoy it."
Duffy’s Tavern employee
“We are being told that complaints from cus
tomers, from other bar owners and from bar
employees that our bar was too crowded are what
triggered the interest," he said. "We have also heard
that a competitive bar sent the police over, not for
safety, just as part of mean-spirited business.”
Boehmer didn't name any one bar specifically
but did say that it was “one of the O Street bars.”
“I don't know the motive, and I don’t even want
to hazard a guess,” he said.
Andy Fairbairn, music director at Duffy’s
Tavern, 1412 0 St., said he had also heard the
rumors of battling bars becoming vindictive.
“It doesn't surprise me,” Fairbairn said. “We
we wouldn’t be able to do what we do now,” he
said. “If the city lets (the bar close), it's going to be
an incredible loss. They should ne\ er lot give them
selves for it if it goes."
But not all bars in downtown Lincoln hold the
Zoo. or its situation, m such high esteem.
Shawn Tyrrell, an employee at Knickerbockers.
901 O St., said his bar faced the same situation and
turned to expansion as a solution.
He added that he didn’t think the loss of the
Zoo, which may face closing, would be missed as
a musical contribution to the city.
“It’s been around for so long, it might be
missed historically,” he said. “For his size.
1 Boehmer) does what he can do, but he is limited as
to what he can bring in.
■'Blues music is hard to get a crowd for." he
continued. "He is just known for that and has a
bui it-m crowd.”
Tyrrell said he believes the Zoo Bar promotes
itself as the only bar in Lincoln that brings m
national acts. 11c added that he disagrees with the
statement, calling it “ridiculous."
"Lora road house blues club, thev do what thev
do." he said.
He said he had heard about the rumors as well,
but said most of the talk is surrounding the "14th
Street bars ."
"They are battling each other and since we are
a long way away, we aren’t involved w ith it.” he
said. 'It just makes it bad for everv body."
Boehmer said as of now. no decisions concern
ing the future of the bar have been made.
'll we can get the numbers up. people will
come." he said.
Boehmer said the officials were being cooper
ative when working with the Zoo, and are going to
re-measure the bar and re-figure the occupancy
Representatives from the Lincoln Fire
Prev ention Bureau did not return calls to the Daily
Nebraskan on Monday.
Boehmer said expansion is not an option, as
the bar is landlocked, and he does not want to move
after all the history behind the current location.
But the only things Boehmer really cares about
is keeping the blues in Lincoln, and keeping his
“I just don’t want to offend the powers that be.
I’m not trying to tick anyone off or point fingers,”
he said. "All we know is the end result: that we have
lost a lot of money.”
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