Maha Moves

Aksarben Village to host the three-year-old festival August 13

The Maha Music Festival is taking its show to Aksarben Village.

The indie music-focused festival signed a lease agreement to use Stinson Park on the western edge of the midtown Omaha development. It sits to the north of Center Street at about South 64th Avenue, Maha organizer Tre Brashear says.

The entire festival area will be surrounded by an eight-foot privacy fence. Mercy Road will be closed the day before and the day of the Saturday, August 13 event.

The three-year-old festival had originally planned on returning to downtown Omaha's Lewis & Clark Landing, but rising Missouri River waters precipitated a change in location. This year's show is headlined by Guided By Voices, Matisyahu, Cursive and the Rev. Horton Heat.

The venue change added a little extra difficulty to putting on the festival, which also switched its date this year, so as not to conflict with the Red Sky Festival at TD Ameritrade Park.

When Maha lost the Landing and its relative easy usability, organizers had to decide what they needed.

“Now that we've reinvented the wheel, that's no longer a hurdle,” Brashear says.

Aksarben Village is also hosting Playing With Fire's July 16 show headlined by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. That show was originally scheduled for the Landing.

While Maha will spread beyond Aksarben Village's Stinson Park, Brashear says he's promoting the location as just Aksarben Village.

“We will be in the park grounds,” he says.

The deal to move to Aksarben Village developed after officials with the midtown community approached Maha about relocating the 2011 festival to the area.

“That really took off and had legs,” Brashear says.

Aksarben Village's positives added up quickly, Brashear says.

“There's a lot of good things about the space,” he says. “First and foremost, is, well, it's grass.”

Brashear says its location in the heart of the city, a Maha-only parking garage and parking lot, the multiple roadways leading in and out of the area, its proximity to the Keystone Trail and Stinson Park's permanent stage, all swayed Maha organizers.

The installation of a temporary privacy fence will be a Maha-only addition, to prevent people from catching the ticketed show free-of-charge. While Maha's performers will still be heard outside the fenced area, there won't be many places to catch a view of the bands, unlike years past.

“If you really want to experience Maha, you need to be inside the fence,” Brashear says.

Preliminary set-up scenarios involve putting vendor and sponsor tents on the Mercy Road concrete. There's no solid determination if the permanent stage will actually be Maha's mains tage, however.

The free Playing With Fire show will shed some light on how a big one-day event will play at Aksarben Village. The headliner, Sharon Jones, will play on the permanent stage.

Brashear says having that show a month before Maha is a big bonus for Maha's planners. They'll be able to see what works, and/or any problems. Questions remain about loading in equipment and setting up a backstage area.

“We have to work through those logistics,” he says.

Meanwhile, Maha has filled the majority of its volunteer spots for 2011. Volunteers snatched up 165 of 180 total volunteer positions within four hours of online volunteer sign-up last week, Brashear says.

posted at 05:39 pm
on Tuesday, July 05th, 2011

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