Another Year of Y & T In the Books

Since we started attending Yesterday and Today, an interactive Beatles show, there have been familiar things and new things. The McGuigan Brothers (and now Billy’s son Ciaran), have been entertaining the Omaha area audiences for quite a few years now. The pandemic changed some dates, and now, they are at a great facility downtown called the Slowdown. It’s perfect for them. Hard to believe it’s been nine years since we started going to see them. Sure, we’ve attended nine years in a row, but the show is totally different every time. If the audience doesn’t have fun, it’s on them. Kevin Klimowski attended over 40 times over the years. I believe him, too. Always nice to run into him at a show, but I missed him last night.

The addition of the saxophones and strings was beautiful. Billy adds that touch every chance he gets. Most of the music from that era has a full orchestra recorded. I remember the sounds we took for granted with our music back then. To hear it again live is the best. Many memories are in that room with the band every night. I think if we could thank the person responsible for this treasure of Omaha, it may sound something like this:

Dear Bill,

The folks of Omaha want to thank you for being such a force behind your sons that helped fuel their love of the Beatles, which resulted in the unbelievable show running several weeks. As you know, they perform every year in Omaha and also take it on the road. They’re international stars! And you started that! You also taught them what family is and how the members support one another. You taught them to come in for a group hug, and remind them they can get through anything Together. They showed that when they lost you, (way too soon). They’ve had many life events where they’ve helped each other, and get through it, Together.

We know you have the best seat in the house for every concert wherever they are in the world. We’ve had the pleasure of not only your sons performing, but now grandson Ciaran is becoming a force with his dad and uncles. His guitar playing is quite respectable, so much so he’s playing Clapton’s part of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He is incredible. And we can’t believe he’s only 14. He’s the product of hard work, talent, and great teaching. It all shows. I cannot wait to see how he continues his growth musically, and as a person. Those crazy uncles, Dad, Jay, and Max will help him learn to navigate the world with more McGuigan wisdom. Several of your other grandchildren are becoming well acquainted with acting, music, singing, and art. Collectively (and individually), their talents are huge. See what you started? It’s a great thing.

I’ll share videos below. We’ve attended so many years in a row. And we’ll keep attending as long as we’re physically able. We’ll most likely see your great-grandchildren perform in the arts. Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

A Grateful Omaha

Younger Ciaran & Dad, Billy
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Matthew McGuigan and Jay Hanson
Here Comes The Sun
Yellow Submarine Ciaran w/Uncle Ryan

Folks, sorry I can’t recall this song. I still included it because of the guitar playing. He is only 14. What a bright future! Most kids that age wouldn’t want to put in that much hard work to achieve this. Good job, Ciaran!

If you’re in the SlowDown’s area in Downtown Omaha, tonight and tomorrow night are the last two performances, if there are tickets left. Getcha some!

In another ten years, maybe it will be called, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Rave On Productions. McGuigan Arts Academy. A treasure for Omaha. Lucky us. Thanks, guys! See you next year, and at all the productions in between.

To Whomever Is In Charge

of the universe:

Where there is any pain, hurt, upset, bad things happening, broken hearts, loss, grief, and all the other terrible stuff humans must endure, let there be music. Specifically, let there be people who play music for their audiences who love what they do, who understand how important their job is. All the hope, healing, and positivity I needed were served up family style last night at Sumter Theater. It was a very hard week with a perfect ending.

Mark Irwin, you were wonderful. The folks around us were talkers, so we couldn’t hear all of your stories, but did glean your story about your last son being born, and that you are going to the studio and record again. I have yet to introduce myself to you, but plan to some day. Our fathers were best of friends when they both worked at the Omaha World Herald for a lifetime each. My dad’s been gone for 34 years, and yours for ten. As you stood talking to someone before you were set up to perform, I had a sort of flashback. You stood with your hands on your hips, talking. In that instant, I saw your dad standing there. No, I’m not a weirdo. Your posture reminded me of him the very few times I ever saw him as a child. I thought you’d like to know that. My dad had so much respect for him.

Let these people gather to teach children their skills and their joy with music, let the children learn and be confident to be onstage at a young age, say 14 1/2, and have the knowledge they can play a Clapton song, and do it darned well. Great job, Ciaran McGuigan. Your skills amaze me, and I cannot wait to see how you progress. Max Meyer, well done! Not only your playing onstage, but you are imparting your knowledge to kids who act as sponges to absorb it all. How awesome!

Evelyn Hill not only belts out a song with a gigantic voice, she dances across the stage to show you she means business! I love to see you perform with the group, wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. Go see her, folks. She’ll knock your socks off.

The sax section was even choreographed a little, good job, guys. The strings! Oh my, both of these sections are what these songs need to be heard as their creators intended. All the sounds help draw out all the feelings the musicians have and can play; and the audience feels it.

Ryan McGuigan, you are always a presence onstage, and last night was no exception. Your performance had not only your usual, but you have a bounce to your step, and an extra happy smile these days. Life must be treating you well. You deserve that.

Matthew McGuigan, your arranging and composition of a new intro for Billy’s song about Cartney was on fire. It had quite a kick to it, and you made all of those songs sound like they should. I love your singing, you should do more!

Billy announced they had an all girl stage crew! Girl Power! Those ladies knew what they were about, and they did it all in fine fashion. Cartney McGuigan managing backstage, Kate, Carly, and the other young lady (so sorry, I didn’t retain your name), you were always right on, in addition to taking care of merch ahead of the show. They all were having a blast, too.

The drummer (another name I didn’t catch) is top-shelf. He rocks it out like no one I’ve seen before. Look forward to seeing you perform again.

Kathy Kersey, Kate, it was good to talk briefly with you, too. You both add a lot to all that goes on there. Thanks for all you do.

And Billy. Once again, you delivered in a huge way. Your music made life brighter and more positive last night. Keep on doing what you’re doing. You keep getting better at it, and I don’t know how. It’s a gift. It’s also a lot of hard work. No one gave this all to you. You, Ryan, and Matthew have worked harder than anyone realizes to be where you are today. And you’re going to keep soaring. And thanks for all you do. Until the next time. Rock On!

Pure Imagination

Last night, we had the experience of a lifetime. We attended Rave On Productions “Willy Wonka.” It was so much fun. All of the children were students at the McGuigan Arts Academy. This is one talented group of kids. Some of the parts were played by children of the McGuigan brothers. How proud their Grandpa Bill would be! Who could have thought all those years ago, when those three boys learned to play instruments, sing along to the great music of the Beatles, and eventually have an internationally traveling group of performers, that so much good would come from all of it?

Jay Hanson was perfect as Willie Wonka. He has such a mischevious look in his eye. It was displayed often and well during the performance. There were adults in the ensemble, but most of it was on the kids. And the five gold ticket winners were played so well. Lessons abound in the play.

My apologies for not knowing the names of all the kids. What I learned about each of them while watching the performance is they are learning not just how to sing, act, dance, play with each other. They are learning teamwork, cooperation, respect of their fellow performers, and that everyone does something well. And it’s not just the kids; the adults respect each other, too.

We like to sit close, and from the second row, we could tell how the encouragement they offered each other shows in their eyes. All of the actors showed absolute respect for each other and their personal space. This is key in today’s world. On the way home, I told the Babe how nice it was to see dancers (Oompa Loompas) have actual clothes on. Being Dance Grandparents, we’ve seen the skimpy costumes and over sexualization of little girls for years. This does not happen at the Arts Academy, and I applaud that. Pure respect for everyone. Something you don’t see a lot anymore. Kudos to the culture, leadership, and people of McGuigan Arts Academy.

I borrowed a Facebook photo posted by Kate Whitecotton earlier today of the cast on closing afternoon. Speaking of Kate, I have to say, you don’t often see a CEO who works as hard as she does. Kate helps set the stages, tune guitars, place water for hydration near all the musicians, takes photos, herds the cast and musicians around so everyone is where they need to be, and is shoulder to shoulder with the newest on the crew. No job is below her. Kate, you are such an asset to Rave On Productions. Omaha is lucky to have you here. Thank you!

The whole premise of Willy Wonka’s story is using your imagination and actually seeing what exists around you. Learning lessons, telling the truth, apologizing when you’re wrong, it’s all part of becoming a good citizen. I believe these things are taught at McGuigan Arts Academy. If we had grandchildren those ages, I’d love to have them involved. Ours are into competition dance, school dance team, and elite sports. We’ll always be in the Academy’s audiences, though, cheering for other people’s grandkids. It’s just so much fun.

Keep your eyes out for the next endeavor of the Rave On/McGuigan Arts groups. August 11, 12, and 13, Billy and his band play at Sumter Ampitheater. Get your tickets now for a great night of entertainment. You’ll be glad you did.

The theater is beautiful, as were the 50s era backdrops. They were a perfect mix. We all need more imagination and creativity in our lives. Let’s practice that this week. And making the best of things. Being positive. Have a beautiful week. See you tomorrow.

Sunny Sunday

What a beautiful weekend this has been!

It’s too bad, our car show wasn’t successful today. Word went out directly to car clubs and members, yet we still didn’t have a good turnout. Last year we had several very successful shows, and we just need to follow that formula for the future. Hopefully, they will be better the rest of the summer.

Last night was another wonderful concert in Glenwood, Iowa with Billy McGuigan and his incredible band. We’re amazed at the talent Billy continues to assemble. We are familiar with him, his brothers Ryan and Matthew, who are incredible musicians (and Ryan also an actor), Lead Guitarist Max Meyer (who teaches guitar at McGuigan Arts Academy), and apprentice Lead Guitarist Ciaran McGuigan (a student of Mad Max’s); and they have added Jesse White (a great vocalist) as a drummer (who knew he played?). Wow, Billy. What other surprises can you spring on us? I’ll have to drink a few Red Bull’s before your next performance to keep up with your energy. Sometimes people my age say energy is wasted on the young. Someday, Billy will say that but no time soon.

Having been an audience member at many of Billy’s concerts, I can tell you it’s a pleasure to sit near people who have never heard him perform before. They are blown away! I saw a permanent smile on the lady behind us, who ooh’d and aah’d all through the concert. She’s a new fan, guys, I’m guaranteeing you!

Billy, I loved your stories about Lady Di, your neighbor with the garden. Your interpretation of your over-the-fence conversations was lovely. You’d be quite the neighbor for an elderly lady with a garden to have. Respectful, kind, and in the music business. What a story she must be able to tell about your conversations! That’s what life is about; all of us living great stories, and telling those great stories to each other. It makes God happy!

All I can say, is go see Billy McGuigan’s Rock Orchestra. It’s at Sumtur Amphitheater in Papillion, NE, on August 11, 12, and 13th. You can obtain tickets through raveonworldwide.com. Pop Rock Orchestra.

Have a beautiful evening and start to your week. See you tomorrow!

What a Show!

If we could harness the energy in The Waiting Room last night, none of us would have to worry about fuel for our vehicles the rest of our lives. Billy McGuigan closed his 5 show run of “Rock of Ages” last night. It was full of great choices for every role. Billy has a gift for surrounding himself with people who shine and exceed every expectation. He handpicks people and encourages them to drop all inhibitions, quiet their naysayers, and let their creativity, training, and unique gifts take over.

That encouragement and faith in his selections has come to fruition over and over since Rave On Productions forged ahead with their production company. The result is nothing short of McGuigan Magic. Every time, I think they cannot outdo what they did last time. And every time, they do. And I’m amazed even more than the time before.

We first met Jesse White in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” before he brought the house down. Each time we see him perform, he adds another facet to the gem that is Jesse. His voice is full of depth and soul. I hope to see him for years to come. He was a wannabe rock star in this story and played it so well. Innocence blundered his love for Sherrie, and he rued his screw-up throughout the show. Of course, love and good win over excess and wanton desire.

Ryan McGuigan was nearly unrecognizable as the narrator Lonny. I finally figured out it was indeed Ryan when a scene took place near our seats. Prior to Saturday, I saw a promo picture of Ryan wearing leopard print boots. I spent part of the first act focused on footwear, thinking I’d surely spot those boots. Guess again! I never knew how blue his eyes were until I saw them closer-up under the bright lights. Ryan has a certain presence in everything he does. Pokes fun at life and himself, all while loving what he does. Thank Ryan, for hitting the marks and then some again.

Billy McGuigan’s character made a brief appearance, and nailed it as Stacee Jaxx, a self-indulgent jack-ass of a rock star (I thought David Lee Roth myself). It was great! You really rocked that Choir robe, BTW.

Ciaran McGuigan, featured as a guitar player used a cool Eddie Van Halen guitar. Ciaran, you will become a guitar god yourself. Your stage presence and guitar playing multiply exponentially with each performance. And you have such influential teachers! Not only in your dad and uncles, but Max Meyer, whom audiences love for his playing and his fun approach to performing. We love you Max, you add such an element we never knew was missing before you arrived. We’re so happy to see you playing guitar. You have a blast doing it, and it shows.

Matthew McGuigan, Music Director, you never leave one on the shelf for later. You are one with whatever kind of music you are directing and playing. While I was a mom to a teenager in the later 1980s, I still loved the music. (I was 35 to his 16, and we grew up together.) And I know most of the words, having shouted upstairs or downstairs more than once, “Please, turn the music down!” Thank you for making us always want to turn up the music!

For Kimberly Faith Hickman, you always look like you love what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter, teaching at the academy, helping the little kids, costuming, and performing, you are at home with it all. Carly Frolio, you rock! And Courtney Cairncross, your Sherrie is heartfelt as every small-town girl was in the 80s. We never stopped believing. We still haven’t. Brittney Thompson, I love your voice; Eric Perlstein, your Hertz was such a blustery guy. And Aaron Slagle, your Franz was so . . . the word escapes me. You were fantastic. Kathy Kersey kept telling me, “Just wait, just wait!” Evelyn Hill, I loved Regina. Jonathan Berger, you were great as an old hippie type guy. The romantic twist really got me! Brandon Bakke on drums, you kept the beat going on. Hope to see more of all of you. And it was unbelievable. I hope it’s offered during next year’s Omaha series from Rave On. I’ll bring my son next time!

I’m grateful to know there will always be a great time when we go out to see something Rave On Productions does. It’s a guaranteed great time. When things keep getting better and better when you think they’ve already hit the peak of possibilities, you know they entertained you like the professionals they are. With Billy, there is always one more challenge, one more, “I’ve never done this before.” Thanks for not only showing this, but for teaching me that very thing. I appreciate your words of wisdom to me about my writing. Thanks for believing! You taught me that. And I won’t stop! Until the next time.

(More photos later on my FB page, Kathy Raabe, Author.)

Yesterday . . . and Today

It was a good day yesterday. And it was a fantastic night at Yesterday and Today. The Babe and I have seen this interactive Beatles experience every year since I think 2014. No two shows have ever been the same, since the requests submitted by the audience drive the set list. What a very creative and clever idea. And every year, it seems as if the McGuigan brothers cannot top what they’ve just done. You even get a lovely parting gift with this show.

That challenge is always accepted by Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. Their talent and performance pays tribute to their departed Dad, who died when they were pretty young. In fact, he was pretty young; 42. They learned Beatles songs as toddlers and now make a living performing those songs. Not impersonation, but real guys singing music their Dad loved. It’s a tender tribute that now follows into the next generation. Billy’s son Ciaran is an already accomplished guitarist while not even in high school yet. Watch out, Omaha! There’s some upcoming talent here. Think Clapton. Seriously.

Other band changes include adding horns and strings; most recordings from that fantastic era included these instruments. Why not on stage with the guys who do the Beatles justice, each and every time they pick up their instruments and sing? These guys are the Kings of “Why Not?”

Last year, Ryan made quite the theatrical entrance while performing, “I Am the Walrus,” complete with a gas mask. This year, he has a cool hooded crocheted sweater he wore over his John Lennon style “New York City” t-shirt. Ryan, did someone make it for you? It was pretty cool. Only you could carry it off, too. You can tell he’s an actor at heart. He’s a blast to watch and wonder what he’ll do next. It’s a gift.

Billy’s gift, in my opinion, is the adaptability to get through anything that challenges him, and I believe that true onstage and off. His humor is off the wall and off the cuff. Or is it? It sure appears that way. I think he’s a pretty funny guy. Speaking of funny guys, Max Meyer plays a mean cowbell. He get the crowd revved for sure. I do believe he’s pretty proud of that. You’ll find out why. Go see the show. He has another surprise for you, too. Go see the show. Dying to tell you what it is, but won’t join this special surprise.

Matthew is such a professional, always steady and just enjoying the musical moments. I believe he is a very talented arranger, and can arrange things in such a manner you wonder why the original song didn’t go that way in the first place. The knowledge he has must be unparalleled. It’s his gift. There is always a seemingly “quiet one” of the groups. The Beatles had George, and The McGuigan’s have Matthew. And that’s a very good thing.

Your Christmas gift to any music lover should be going to this show. Even if you’re not a Beatles fan, you will be a McGuigan Brothers fan. Go see the show. You’ll love it. The first Christmas, the Baby Jesus had three wise men, bearing gifts. This Christmas, Omaha has three wise men named McGuigan, bearing their gifts. The Celestial Star they follow is their Dad, who shines upon them. Go see the show. The Slowdown is an awesome venue for them to call home.

Summer Sunday

Last night. What a soul healing experience for the Babe and me. We attended Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra concert at Sumter Ampitheater in Papillion, Nebraska. It was cancelled last Saturday due to impending bad weather (thank you, Kate Whitecotton!), and could redeem our tickets last night. Of course, that’s what we did.

The music, of course, was stellar. We’ve seen this show every summer since its inception. It has experienced some changes and probably attracts a larger audience being more pop and rock from the 50s through the 80s. Once again, my life flashed before my eyes! Many of these songs were recorded with full blown orchestras. They were meant to include brass (saxaphones are my favorite) and strings. I didn’t catch the names of these very talented musicians, but they were wonderful. The ladies on strings strutted on stage barefoot and took their places. It just spoke summer, outdoors under the stars!

Jesse White joined the ensemble and he is exceptional. We saw him in Hegwid and the Angry Inch earlier this year; he is one to be watched. With the musicians assembled last night, he will do very well. He did a Buddy Holly duet with Billy, and it was mind blowing. I’m so sorry we missed his debut as Buddy Holly in the Buddy Holly Story, produced by Billy and Kate. Next year, the Omaha Series must include it! (Please)!

Although Billy and the orchestra played some of his original music (not nearly enough, IMHO), the rock and roll of our youth really shone. Two of my favorite songs of all time were out of this world. “Good Lovin,'” by the Young Rascals (later the Rascals), was spot on. My heart felt as young as when I first heard in in 1966. I was just out of eighth grade, on my way to high school. It brought back the innocence of youth. After a hard week (another friend lost their husband), we needed this night. We needed the music to heal our hearts. And it did.

The other favorite? “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Steve Winwood with The Spencer Davis Group never disappoints. Neither does Billy. Ever. Whatever he does, you leave thinking, “That was so perfect, it just can’t get any better.” And somehow, with McGuigan Magic, it does. Every. Single. Time. I want to write that way. I want to be as good an author as he is with his music. It’s inspiring, besides healing.

The thing that struck me this time out? The intense sense of family. We saw Ryan and his lady friend as audience members. It was fun to watch his reaction to the performance. All he an Billy have to do is look at each other, and you see the love. It was good to see him having fun and living life. It has to be way different watching v participating. He mimiced some fancy footwork and percussion work while dancing in his seat. And Matthew, he keeps playing, whether guitar or keyboard, he keeps going. I love his playing. His beautiful rendition of “My Girl,” reflects his love for his wife. It’s another favorite and I love how he does it. You just can’t beat MOTOWN.

Young Ciaran, Billy’s son, is a rock star in the eighth grade! His guitar lessons from Max are worth millions. (Sorry, Billy). He’s not only getting the tunes down well, he’s developing his showmanship at the same time. What a kick for him, to perform live AND rock out his spotlight solos. He even turned around and played his guitar behind his back and up on his shoulders. I hope I’m around when he’s about 30 years old and he’s still in music, he’s just going to improve. The girls are going to swoon, (or do a Tik-Tok video). As his selection of a song last night he chose an Eric Clapton song. I told you he’s unbelievable! It was “After Midnight.” Enough said. Wow.

I had to laugh, Max’s Mom, Roxann Rodgers Meyer, posted the perfect rebuttal to all those folks crowded into Memorial Stadium to see Garth Brooks (Garth who?). She shared she was not at Memorial Stadium, but she was at SumTur Theater rocking out to Billy McGuigan and Max Meyer. With family. No better place for families to be, friends. I saw Cartney from afar with family members, too. Generations with appreciation for our local musicians. And none of us were disappointed. They’re worth far more than the price of admission, in my mind.

Although the McGuigan family hugs helped these men grow up through many bad things in life, they still do the hugs they thought corny. Bill, their dad, had them group and hug while telling them, “These people, these are the ones that love you and will always be there for you.” I’m going to do one of those hugs with my girlfriends who are now widows. And with our kids. And my brothers. And I’m going to thank God for this example. It’s a keeper for sure. Just like their music is. And them, too.

If you’re in the area, you can attend the last of this series at SumTur Ampitheater, at 118th and Hwy 370. Just past Papillion South High School. It’ll be another beautiful night. It was our first visit for a concert, and we’re sure to be back. Tickets still available. Your week will be better for it.

A Sunday to Celebrate!

I’ve shared with you about the great day I had yesterday. If you didn’t see it, here it is. The day got even better! We got to see these guys with the Omaha Symphony. If you know me at all, you know I love these guys, and the lovely Tara Vaughn. Since it’s been awhile, let me re-introduce you. From the left, Matthew McGuigan, Tara Vaughn, Larell Ware, Ciaran McGuigan, Ryan McGuigan, Darren Pettit, Max Meyer, and Billy McGuigan. A couple guys are new, but they fit with the band like a glove. It’s like they all have McGuigan lessons before they join, yet they all are great on their own. All these musicians are multi-talented. They are all huge personalities. Ciaran is in training, taking guitar lessons from Max at the McGuigan Arts Academy in Omaha. He is indeed learning from the best.

Most of the country is open after COVID-19. Omaha has let it’s Mask Mandate expire. Yes, we’ve heard conflicting information, but the Babe and I had both vaccinations, and consider ourselves safe. I believe all these maskless marauders below had the shots, too. Tara Vaughn hasn’t performed with her boys since pre-pandemic, I believe. It was so good to see her back, and hear her strong, beautiful, resonant voice again. These guys are great alone, but now, the band is indeed back together! It became time to unleash this energy on Omaha again.

And it was epic! The sign on the door of the beautiful Holland Center said masks were suggested. We took note of that, and once inside, saw the majority of folks maskless. I’ve never been in jail to be let out of it (except in Monopoly), but it felt like getting out of jail. We were free for the first time in a very long, time.

The conductor for the Symphony had a spring in his step all evening, too. To hear the hits of the era we grew up in was so cool. They sounded so good with a live symphony to back them. One violin player had a constant smile on her face. She enjoyed it, too! The other members kept their stoic faces. Lots of toe-tapping going on, just not smiling. The music filled the heavens of downtown Omaha. I’m sure their Dad Bill McGuigan, had a front row seat from heaven. I wonder what that is like? If I get there someday, I’ll have to ask him. Remind me of that, ok?

I think I’m speaking the God’s honest truth when I tell you it was so apparant these musicians all enoyed performing with each other for the first time in a long time. Their faces were extra-jubiliant. Their execution was right on! Their knowing looks cast at each other and smiles told you you were seeing them at their best. And with these people, you can be sure of that.

We plan on seeing every show they have planned, whether in Omaha, Glenwood, or Papillion. Go to their website and get tickets for the summer series. You will never go away disappointed. If you disagree, we cannot be friends. Go see them. The sooner the better. You’ll be set free, too.

Thanks for reading. Take care out there. Enjoy the fresh air. See you tomorrow!

About Last Night . . .

A night the Babe and I were waiting for since early December 2020 finally happened. To hear TOGETHER, Billy McGuigan’s live performance of his COVID album released a few months ago. The music is reviewed here. The live performance? It was fabulous. Although I’d listened a hundred or more times (yes, I do that with music I love), seeing Billy McGuigan live is always a top-notch experience. Kevin Klimowski, a fan from Des Moines, and I sat near each other and and commented on how good they sound recorded and in person as well. Boys and girls, that’s the sign of a group of REAL musicians. Billy doesn’t mess around. They will never let the music die.

Although I’ve been a Billy and brothers’ fan for a long time, we are still seeing new and exciting things at any function these guys play. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carly Frolio’s beautiful voice. She sings like an angel and accompanies Billy well. Unfortunately, we missed the Parking Lot Concerts last summer at the Omaha Community Playhouse. If Carly sang there, we missed it. Sorry! Much like her fellow band mates, she has many creative skills, including photography.

In addition to the band, something else new was students from McGuigan Arts Academy as ushers, a wealth of information, and front row fans. Our little girl usher informed us we “could take all the pictures we wanted of Billy McGuigan.” Thank you, honey. She told Kimberly Faith Hickman, “Now, I’m an usher,” before this bespectacled, braided, confident little girl bounced down the aisle, intent on mission completion.” She found our seats with the precision of a soldier on a mission. She waved us over, pointed, and said, “Enjoy the show.” Mission completed, young lady!

All of the children sat in the first row after helping introduce Billy. They all looked thrilled to death. Much like the adults who frequent his shows, they jumped to their feet and danced their hearts out. A new generation of McGuigan’s Minions. Who knew? The Arts Academy is doing great things. Some kids were backstage hands. What a great thing! Hands on learning. Lucky, lucky kids.

Billy’s son, Ciaran McGuigan keeps coming more into his own more and more as a guitar player. Max Meyer, is a lead guitar player, and Ciaran’s teacher. Max does great things with a guitar you have only heard about with the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. Love listening to you, Max! We even heard him singing, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” I loved the Beach Boys when I was a kid! You evoked some great memories!

Matthew McGuigan is a favorite, too. He is always consistent, steady, and a great vocal back up. He was mentioned as turning 40 yesterday, and with his second COVID vaccine, he took it all in stride. Go Matthew! This is a banner year for you, too! He and brother Ryan McGuigan stayed pretty much in the background Saturday night. It was Billy’s night. And he rocked it. The love of family really stands out with this group. They are their own family! And the fans, we complete that family. Kate Whitecotton organizes the whole lot, and it comes off without a hitch every time. She’s magical!

I keep wondering what else these guys can do that’s not been done before? A whole bunch, all the talents considered. We will be there, Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. We have heard the life story, and we’re glad you’ve used your experiences for good. Not just your good, but for ours, too. Billy started out playing Buddy Holly at the Omaha Community Playhouse. And the rest is history. He is nowhere near done. At 46, he has at least 30 more years of performing ahead of him. He already knows he can do a Sinatra-Buble-Connick, Jr., type of show. And he killed it! When you can’t jump anymore, when you may have trouble reaching for the strings on your guitar anymore, you can croon. Until then, though, feel free to share your life, thoughts and feelings with your family from Bellevue, Omaha, Gretna, Elkhorn, and the surrounding areas. You guys are home with us, and we couldn’t be prouder. You will tend the music and keep it alive as long as we need it. And you. The Best is Yet to Come!

Hedwig and The Angry Inch

See this! It doesn’t matter your age, your beliefs, or your taste in music, there is something for everyone here to appreciate. The Acting. The Music. The stage presence of the actors and the band. Even the pre-show where Billy McGuigan sings some old songs and a few from his new album, “Together.”

It felt good to be attending a live show again. When the Babe retired, we tried new things we’d never done before. We became members of the Omaha Community Playhouse, and saw many plays of high quality, and the annual Christmas Show “Yesterday and Today,” which is a Beatles tribute show performed by Billy and his brothers Ryan and Matthew. A very talented group of musicians. Billy has a pool of amazing musicians to choose from and uses everyone in the best way possible.

The people at the Waiting Room did an outstanding job of only selling 25% capacity for the show. We were more than socially distanced, seated at our table. We could remove our masks while seated, which was good. It was safe and gave us a sense of security with the precautions they enforced. The Waiting Room is in Benson, at 6212 Maple Street. Get there super early! Parking is hard. Doors open at 6:30 pm, Billy performs at 7 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm.

Hedwig has one heckuva voice, whether singing as herself or as himself. The Angry Inch is a rock band who backs up Hedwig, the internationally ignored superstar (in her mind). You learn of her past life, her later life, and her quest to escape East Berlin before the wall fell. It was an historic time for sure. Her desperation to leave Germany was so intense, she resorted to some drastic measures.

The quest to find your “other half” is something we all experience. Hedwig’s was of utmost importance to her. Part stand-up comedy, part rock musical, and part play, it has it all! The female lead was fantastic. What a voice! She rocked the place in fine fashion. And the best part? Evelyn Hill is a senior at Central High School. What a young talent! The possibilities that lie ahead for her!

Jesse White is incredible as Hedwig. The stories and songs tell the story how he started out as Hansel in East Berlin. He came to have a sex change operation, which was botched. No wonder he’s angry!

It was hugely entertaining for a chilly Saturday night in Nebraska. It was worth the drive and the price of admission. When it ended, we wanted more. More shows open later this spring and summer. There are post cards available at your seat to remember dates and places of other Rave On Production shows this year.

It’s going to be an exceptional year, being entertained by the genius that is Billy (always up for a challenge), Ryan (he has quite the stage presence, folks! Pay attention, you’ll see why!), and Matthew (the most excellent musical director) McGuigan, Max Meyer (one of the best lead guitarist’s you’ll ever see), Jay Hansen (Superman), and Larell Ware (Drums – my he’s good!). And I have to say, Kate Whitecotton, House Manager and CEO of Rave On Productions, is the most organized person on earth; she excels at coordinating everything for the performers. Kathleen Kersey is the Volunteer of the Year, selling merch at most of the shows. She knows her stuff, and which versions of the bands performed which version of the CD’s.

For your mental health, make a date tonight or next weekend for the remaining shows of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, at the Waiting Room Lounge. You will not be disappointed. Thanks for checking in today. We’ll see each other tomorrow. I look forward to it.