AJ Weigman of Hosting Monsters and director of Speak Up, organized the 5th Movember Showcase to bring awareness to men’s mental health issues.
This benefit grows every year. On November 20th 2021, $1,745 was raised for the Well Being Initiative and around 150 people attended this years benefit at the 1867 Bar. The event included a silent auction, vendor and band merch sales. A percentage of sales were donated to the total raised.
The Movember Showcase covered a wide scope of rock music. Genres included alternate, indie-emo, hardcore and punk rock. There was a little bit of everything.
Motel Citizens, an alternative rock band out of Lincoln was up first. This was Kaila Halpine’s second year supporting the Movember Showcase. Halpine also fronts the band Griffoctopus. Griffoctopus performed in the 3rd year of the benefit.
Hardly, an Indie-Emo-Pop band from Lincoln played second. They performed an open, honest set with original music.
Whitmore, a hardcore metal band out of Omaha, turned up the dial and got the crowd headbanging with their screamo metal set.
Headliners, Hosting Monsters brought the punk rock. The room was packed, the crowd was energized and it was evident they were ready for the main event. There was a little bitter with the sweetness of this set. Keith McGuffey, had been the drummer for Hosting Monsters since the first Movember Showcase in November 2017. This showcase was his last with the band.
Through out the night people came and went, supporting some or all of the bands. It was a safe and inclusive environment. Bands shared their own struggles with mental health while encouraging others to speak up and ask for help when they need it. The event helped initiate conversations and invited an open dialog. It was a great event, helping remove stigmas and bringing awareness to not just men’s mental health but mental health issues in general.
I sat down with a cup of coffee and Jon Kruse to chat about about his upcoming KZUM Benefit “The Labor Day Massacre” and his radio show, The Metal Manifesto .
Pam: I think you change the name every year, don’t you?
Jon: Yeah, I’ll give it a different theme every time. Since it’s on Labor Day, I named it the Labor Day Massacre to give it that metal feel.
Pam:So how many benefits is this?
Jon: Including the one I did with the guys from Duffy’s, Bodegas and the Bourbon, we’ve had five events. With the ones I’ve done myself, four. The first one, we raised $900 total. I figured we could do something bigger, so I reached out to Karen at Gray’s Keg and she helped me. I told her I’ve never done anything like this before. The first time in September 2019, we raised close to $1,200 with the “Metal Inquisition”. In February, right before Covid, we did another benefit, which was “Have a Heart” for Valentine’s Day. We raised close to $1,500. We did one last May, the “Mayhem Manifesto” and raised almost $2,000. Every time it’s been a little bit more, we get the word out a little bit more.
Pam:This year’s benefit is only one day. You’ve had it two days in the past. Is it just because of Labor Day weekend?
Jon: It was initially two days but there was a scheduling conflict. Two day is harder for me because I would do (the benefit) on Friday and Saturday. I’d have to leave by 11 o’clock Friday to do my (KZUM) show. I didn’t like the idea of having bands play and I wouldn’t be there. My thoughts are, if I’m the one putting it together, I should be there the whole time. I’d like to do a two day event, but honestly one day works better; It’s more successful.
This show on Labor Day weekend is the only date that Karen had available. Karen thought we might have a hard time getting bands to commit, but I had all the bands committed and almost all the sponsorship money within a day or two. It seems to be getting a little bit easier as I get a little more rapport with the local bands.
Pam: Tell me about sponsors and donations.
Jon: The idea is the money we bring in from the benefit goes to KZUM. We want to keep the costs minimal. Karen at Gray’s Keg sets up the shirt sales through the bar and restaurant and takes on the cost and fees, which is nice. In a way that and using the bar is her donation.
Pam: So who are the other sponsors?
Jon: Suzy Swede is the T shirt company. I’ve used her the last two times. Suzy actually has knocked down the price as her donation for the benefit.
There’s a a guy my wife worked with. He’s a heavy metal fan and owns Justin’s Neighborhood Meats in Beatrice. He has sponsored every single time.
G&G Smoke Shop has done it every time. Joe is one of the owners. He’s in Peace Love and Strychnine. They’ve played almost every benefit.
We also have Cosmic Eye. He did a sponsorship before and with Covid last year didn’t. But he is this year.
I have my roommate, John, he sponsors every year around $250 to $400. On the back of the benefit shirt it says “Metal John”. That’s him.
I’ve had some places like Recycled Sounds and CD warehouse, I know the owners of both of them, they’re not really in a position to donate money, but they’ll give a gift card or something like that.
I get some donations internationally. One guy from the Czech Republic sent me CD’s to use towards a fundraiser. He also bought a shirt and posted photos of him wearing it on Facebook. I had a listener from Singapore that donated $250 and one in Japan that donates about $100 each time. There’s a guy in Puerto Rico that is putting out a solo album. He’s in a band and has a (benefit) shirt. He is doing a video showing the process of making an album. He is going to wear the Metal Manifesto shirt on the video. I do anything I can to get the word out and get people involved.
Pam: What does the money raised go towards?
Jon: The best way to explain it is like alpha media or commercial broadcast media, they get big sponsorships from, for example, Coca-Cola or Pepsi. They pay to get their commercials on the air. KZUM is a nonprofit. There are some government monies they get, but it’s based upon how much money they can get in donations. We set a goal every year of how much money we need to raise. Throughout the year we do four fundraisers. That money goes back into the community.
KZUM does a Stransky Park event, but they also help support events like Jazz in June and Lincoln Calling. In addition to (community events) it goes to equipment repairs. Any equipment that needs to be replaced or refurbished, things like the transmitter. There’s only a few people on staff there. Everybody, including myself, programmers, are volunteers. So we don’t get paid for any of the time we put in. It’s just for the love of what we do.
Pam: So what’s your goal for this benefit?
Jon: I would like to do $2,200 – $2,300. I’d like to see us go above what we did last time. I’ll have shirts on sale online and will have additional ones made for the venue. I did last time and they were sold out by four thirty or five o’ clock on Saturday. It didn’t take long to sell them. Once people see them, even the bands, they will pay the full price, $20. It has all the band logos in the back, it’s promoting the bands. In the past, they’ve done well.
Pam: Who created the design this year?
Jon: Julie Huenink created the picture itself; she drew it up and did a really nice job. Troy from Broken Skulls had done the previous two.
A.J. from Hosting Monsters designed the logo for the show. He created it for a previous show I did; an homage to the singer of Entombed who died. Entomed has always been one of my favorite death metal bands. I had a bunch of Swedish bands send me clips reminiscing of he times they met him. A.J. created a logo for that show. It looked like the Entombed logo. I liked it so much, it stuck. So, that’s the one I’ve been using since. A.J. also did the first one, the “Metal Inquisition”. It was a take on the Spanish Inquisition from Monty Python. They were all demonic faces instead of the python guys.
Pam:I guess I’m going to have to go back and look at my shirt.
Jon: If you’re a Monty Python fan and you remember that skit, the Spanish Inquisition, they’re all dressed in the old Catholic garb. He basically took a silhouette of that picture but instead of their faces, he had demon faces.
Pam: How far out do you typically start working the benefit?
Jon: As soon as I find out when the KZUM fundraiser drive is for that timeframe. We started in May during Give to Lincoln week. If I can, I’ll do it the week where I ask for donations. I talk to Karen at Gray’s Keg and make sure I’ve got a date set. I reach out to the bands. I ask for volunteers, programmers at KZUM, to help at the door and pretty much do everything else on my own. I also reach out to the t shirt lady.
Pam: How do you reach out to bands?
Jon: A lot of times through Messenger and Facebook, because I already interact with a lot of them. When I know the dates, I post on Facebook to see if there’s interest. I’ll reach out to the bands that have done it in the past and maybe some bands that couldn’t do it before. In the short amount of time I’ve done the radio show, I’ve really increased not only my knowledge of the local music scene but my connection with a lot of different folks.
I try to reach out to bands I’ve never heard before and always try to get bands from out of town. Last May I got two bands from Dodge City, Kansas. We’ve been friends forever. For this show, I have a band coming from Joplin, Missouri, Gravehuffer. I’ve been friends with Richie from Gravehuffer for quite some time. He printed and mailed the fliers to me for free through his job.
Pam: How did you get involved with the Metal Manifesto?
Jon: Through my job at Sam’s Club. My friend Joe Harris had a show when he was at the University of Nebraska. He did Heresy on KRNU. It was a metal show. Joe had me come out a few times to guest host with him. I was really nervous the first time. I didn’t say much till the end of the show. Then it just felt natural. He was surprised I’d never done it before. So I was interested in doing that.
We were at a business expo (with a booth) next to Alpha Media and I asked them about programs. They said you don’t have to have a degree. Experience in radio is probably key but don’t need a degree. I then stopped by the KZUM booth and asked them. They said you just have to want to do a show and apply for it. She asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to do an extreme metal show.
I applied and got the spot. Initially it was on Thursday nights from midnight to three, which wasn’t very smart of me because I worked on Friday. By one o’clock I was done, sitting in my chair, going ugh! There was the ability for me to move to Friday night, which I thought would be more beneficial.
The show used to be midnight to two. I would always have so much music lined up and I would never get to play it all because I would run out of time. I asked the program director if I could occasionally stay till three a.m. He said, if you’re going to do that, you just have to do it. So, I went home, told my wife, and after a little bit of glaring and dirty looks she said that’s fine. The worst part for me is I live 40 miles away from Lincoln. I get done with my show at three. By the time I get home and get to bed, it’s four o’ clock. I’ve only missed a handful of shows. Unless the roads are really, really icy, I’ll make an effort.
Pam: That’s pretty impressive that you do all that for free. That’s dedication. You must be really love it.
Jon: My collection. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of my collection.
Pam: Oh, yeah. So that is all your collection?
Jon: Yup, that’s my basement. Not many people see it other than on Facebook. If I’m not going to do anything with it, it really becomes useless. It’s something I enjoy. I’ve loved music my whole life. I’ve been collecting for a long time. I tried my hand at playing instruments, and I’m OK. At one (benefit) I got up and played. But this is my calling; to support the local music scene. In addition to supporting local, I also support bands from all over the world.
Commercial radio, not by any choice of their own, can’t really play whatever they want. They have to play what’s on Billboard. They have to play what’s popular. Their hands are tired. The only setback for my show is the profanity. If there is profanity in the song, I go in and edit it so I can play it. I would guess 90 percent of the stuff that I play on my show they wouldn’t play on The Blaze.
I had a band from Denmark reach out to me and had me do an audio spot for their newest video. There is a guy in a truck listening to the radio, my voiceover is the guy on the radio. It’s me, “Metal Maniac from KZUM”. There’s a couple different bands that listen to my show every week from the UK and Denmark.
I reached out and did a show “Metal From Asia”. I tried to find a bunch of unsigned bands. I was able to do a three hour show where I played all sorts of different bands. I like the idea of being able to support the local bands. I also liked the idea of being able to bring to light some that people haven’t necessarily heard of.
Pam: I think those are my questions. Is there anything else you want to add about the show?
Jon: If you mention it can be streamed later for two weeks. Also, If there are local bands interested in doing it in the future, all it comes down to reaching out to me on Facebook and sending me an MP3. I don’t judge. I don’t do a review. I don’t get on the air and say, well, that stunk. I play it. There’s always something good in every band. There’s always something good about the songs they play.
Pam: I think everybody has their own flavor. It might not be your flavor, but it might be somebody else’s.
Jon: I try to market (the song) beforehand, letting people know that it’s going on, like Dear Frieda‘s. The last song they just showcased, they played it on The Blaze. I reached out to them and said this is what’s going to play. I posted it. They posted it. The whole idea, my whole goal, is to get more people to listen to the show.
I don’t know who listens on the radio because I don’t have a way to to track that. I can’t see who’s streaming the show. It’s kind of hit or miss on what I really see. I had a guy ask about my KZUM mask at work one day. He asked what show are you promoting? I said, I do a show on Friday night, Metal Manifesto. He said, You’re kidding, right? He said, I listen to your show every Friday night. I get out of my car, go in the garage, you know, because nobody wants to hear it in the house. I listen to your show every week. He called me during the show that Friday night. I couldn’t remember his name, but I shouted out that I met a listener at work. I see people with metal shirts, I tell them about the show. Biggest thing is getting more listeners.
Since I’m doing the volunteer thing, I feel it gives me perspective on how the local bands feel. They put a lot of time and effort into marketing, practicing, putting together the music they do, go out and sometimes play for five people.
To me that’s a lot more disconcerting. That would be harder for me to deal with. I go into the studio, put on my headphones for three hours, crank it up and veg out. It’s my room. This is my station.
The guy, Jared, that does Sunday School on The River listens to my show every week. He always says, hey, dude, I’m listening. So that’s really cool. His format and is very similar to mine. I don’t know that he always goes as deep as as I do, but sometimes he does. He’s hit me up for versions I’ve edited so he can play it too.
The Silence is Madness show at the Reverb Lounge on Saturday Night has stuck with me all week. It was a killer show, but there was more to it than that. There was the diverse crowd that was more eclectic than usual; there was a definite queer presence and aesthetic in the room.
I felt conflicted… Is it bad to notice? Should I notice? Should it be a big deal? Does it even have to be mentioned? My daughter reminded me rock and metal spaces have historically been safe havens for LGBTQ+ communities. They both have similar subculture roots so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
There’s a stereotype that metalheads are closed-minded, but I observed the opposite. I observed a close knit, accepting community with synergy between the crowd and the bands. The night progressively increased in energy and intensity.
Leggos, a solo acoustic artist, took the stage first. With a powerful voice, Leggos rallied crowd participation and warmed up the room perfectly.
Till Hell, a Lincoln-based metal band favorite, was second in the lineup. Justin Kramer and crew brought the hell. They won the crowd over with their cover of the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You”.
High Card Killer was the first Omaha-based band. High Card Killer is a newly formed band comprised of members from Choked Out. They were fast, loud, controlled the stage, and crushed their set.
Female-fronted, The Clincher performed next. The stunning Lori Piper dominated the stage. Dressed to the nines in a black gothic dress and bustier, Piper’s voice matched the essence.
Silence is Madness wrapped up the night with a high powered, energy loaded set. They did a live video shoot and their fans ate it up.
The pit was turbulent. The crowd lost their minds. It was the most hype, crazy show I’d been to in a long time. Keep an eye out for the videos. Kessel Kreations is sure to put out a banger video… don’t miss it.
It’s been a long time coming. A year to be exact. Slowly but surely shows are coming back. Bands have been creating music, producing videos, and releasing albums. Venues are opening up to live music and fans are trickling in, just to get a taste of the sweet sounds of live music.
My husband and I ventured out to The Reverb Lounge Friday night to catch the sold out The Long Awaited EP release show with Gallivant and The Party After.
The last time these three power trios played together was a little more than a year ago. I’d never seen any of these bands live, so went in without any preconceived notions.
The Party After started the night off strong. Jared William’s vocals were gritty yet, silky smooth. Tony Bates rocked his bass, that bowtie and added unlimited energy. I wasn’t sure how the next two bands were going to top this opener, because they were unbelievable.
I felt a 70’s vibe with the second band, Gallivant; their stage, music and Sam Hayes’ guise. Hayes nailed the horseshoe mustache and bellbottoms. Gallivant is freakishly talented. Hayes, Josh Craig and Joseph Donnelly’s vocals were seamless, and Donnelly hit all the sweet high notes. At one point, all three swapped instruments. Yes, they each played the drums, the bass and guitar and blew everyone’s minds. My husband and I couldn’t believe what we were watching. Gallivant’s entertainment value was worth the price of admission it’s self.
The Long Awaited finished the night strong, sealing the deal. They featured songs off their debut self titled album The Long Awaited. “Get Up” and “Impatient” stood out as heavy favorites. Their fans were there in force, singing along, loving every minute. The show was fantastic and much needed fuel for the soul.
With no live local music anytime soon, you can still support local bands on a number of different sites. Here is a list of local bands (and links) on ReverbNation. Check ’em out, download, buy, check out their merch; anything helps!
With no live local music anytime soon, you can still support local bands on a number of different sites. Here is a list of local bands (and links) on Bandcamp.com, Check ’em out, download, buy, checkout their merch; anything helps.
Gray’s Keg was the second stop on Mudd Fluxs’ 2020 – 16 show tour. They played second billet after Lincoln band, Till Hell. Broken Skulls wrapped up the night.
Mudd Flux was dressed to the nines with leather, buckles, chains and studs and put on a impressive hard rock show. Becky Scheufler has a powerful, melodic voice that blends well with the bands weighty, impressive style.
Mudd Flux primarily tours in Oklahoma and Texas, but you can check out their latest album Light the Skies Electric on their website http://www.muddflux.com.
The 3rd Annual Movember Showcase went off without at hitch, at least from an outsiders perspective.
AJ Weigman had all the bases covered from the venue, sound system, door man and all the bands. TJ Roe did an awesome job with the sound system and made sure the bands transitioned promptly throughout the night. He was a well oiled machine and the bands sounded great. Austin Stroube was flexible and friendly, greeting 78 concertgoers, band members and staff at the door. Ashley Whitney supported the event with refreshments and other miscellaneous needs.
All Knowing McGill eased us into the evening with some sultry country rock. As one of the first bands to raise their hand to play in the showcase, Craig Beougher talked about his personal experience with mental health issues and performed the song he wrote about it, “Demons”. All Knowing McGill played original music, including songs off the EP Conflicts they released earlier this year.
Zac Thomas did a casual acoustic set with a mix of covers and original music.
Third in line was Griffoctopus. They started to ramp up the night with their upbeat, pop-punk set. Luke Molzer and Kaila Halpine had so much energy and fed off each other. The band had great chemistry.
Happy Hazard took the mid show billet and provided a good time with upbeat alternative rock tunes.
Top-Notch Defective brought the punk. They played fast and furious start to finish. So fast, Kai Kelly lost his hat mid set. The bands energy was infectious and got the crowd jumping and fists pumping.
Hosting Monsters played a high energy punk set. It was also an emotional one. As AJ Weigman thanked everyone for coming to the show, tears welled up in his eyes. It was evident the showcase, bands and people coming out to support the reason behind the evening (men’s mental health) was impactful to him.
The Hanyaks closed out the night with what could potentially be a final Hanyak show at least with the current lineup. Monte Peck let the crowd know this was the last show with Robert Klingsporn and Nolan Morten. Regardless of the bands status, they rocked all their original crowd favorites.
Over all, it was a great night of music, friends and family. The Bay was a perfect venue that welcomed all ages. Everything went off without a hitch and the 3rd Annual Movember Showcase raised a total of $675 for The Wellbeing Initiative. Weigman said he was looking to add a spring event, so keep an eye out for those details.