Taking the mic at Trackside Lounge - Omaha.com
go logo
article photo
article photo
article photo
article photo
article photo
Omaha brothers Joseph Janousek (left) and Andrew Janousek take their turn to entertain the crowd during the weekly open mic night at the Trackside Lounge.(CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD)
article photo
Jessica Errett entertains patrons in the small neighborhood bar at 60th and Woolworth Streets.
article photo
Phil Matyja, a regular at the Trackside Lounge, began singing country tunes at the bar following encouragement from fellow lounge regulars Andrew and Joseph Janousek.(CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD)
article photo
Jacob Duncan was one of the early musicians to take the stage at Trackside Lounge. Musicians Andrew and Joseph Janousek started the weekly open mic night.


Taking the mic at Trackside Lounge
By Cara Pesek

On a recent Sunday night, Phil Matyja braved the cold to play a handful of country songs during the Trackside Lounge’s weekly open mic night.

He didn’t have to go far.

Matyja lives in an apartment above the bar at 60th and Woolworth Streets. He took up the guitar a few years ago, wrote some songs, and after some encouragement from his friends, brothers Andrew and Joseph Janousek, he started playing his songs at the weekly event. Joseph sometimes gets on stage with him and sings harmony.

“They’re damn nice kids,” said Matyja, who got to know them at Trackside, where all three are regulars. As it turns out, he said, the Janousek brothers are from the same town as his mother.

Which perhaps is part of why they all came to frequent the Trackside — as well as the bar’s Sunday night open mic, which the Janousek brothers started last summer.

Andrew, 29, and Joseph, 26, grew up in Schuyler, Neb., where Andrew learned to play guitar and badgered his little brother to learn to sing so they could be in a band together.


WHAT: Trackside Open Mic Nite

WHERE: Trackside Lounge, 1506 S. 60th St.

WHEN: Every Sunday from 8 p.m. to midnight (and sometimes later)

COST: Free, but you may want to reserve a spot beforehand by calling Trackside, (402) 556-7686.

“I liked Oasis a lot,” said Andrew, who as a high school student dreamed of recreating a Nebraska version of the English band with his own brother.

“I knew we would sound good together.”

Joseph was reluctant at first, but he complied, and the brothers bonded over music. Andrew introduced Joseph to bands like the White Stripes and the Strokes; Joseph introduced Andrew to the Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin. They were in bands together throughout high school and college, and eventually moved to Omaha where they formed Rock Paper Dynamite with Trey Abel and Scott Zrust.

The brothers’ first Omaha apartment wasn’t far from the Trackside. And perhaps because of the crazy, red-and-white striped paint, the neon martini glass in the window, or the inviting smell of the bar’s fried chicken, they quickly discovered the lounge. “It reminds me of a bar in Schuyler,” Joseph said.

The Trackside became the place where they went for last call after concerts, and once their own band was established, after playing their own shows. It was a place to grab a drink after work and a place to hang out on Sunday evenings to make the weekend last a bit longer, said Andrew, who would occasionally bring his guitar and sing. They got to know the bartenders, the other patrons, the jukebox.

Last year, Joseph and Andrew moved to Charlestown, S.C., where they wrote an album together. While there, Andrew worked in a bar, where he started an open mic night. When they moved back to Omaha, they decided to try out the concept at Trackside.

Andrew, who remembered being intimidated at some of the more established open mic nights when he first moved to town, wanted it to be low-key — a place where a small-town kid from, say, Schuyler, would be just as comfortable as an established Omaha musician.

They told their friends and started out slowly. On nights when few people showed up, Andrew and Joseph would fill most of the slots with a mix of harmonic folk-rock and acoustic covers of Rock Paper Dynamite songs. Over time, though, word got out, and the brothers spent less and less time on the small, makeshift stage in the corner of the bar. Some nights, the list fills and the brothers don’t play at all.

The night has attracted Omaha musicians including bands like All Young Girls are Machine Guns, Creighton students and a ukulele-playing high school student whose mom called ahead of time to see if minors were welcome (they are, with a heads-up to the bar and parental chaperon, Andrew said).

It’s drawn Trackside regulars like Matyja, and one Trackside bartender who sang cover songs while Andrew accompanied her on guitar.

“You never know who you’re going to see,” Andrew said.

Jacob Duncan, a regular at Omaha open mic nights, played at Trackside for the first time a few weeks ago. He had never been to the bar before.

“I heard they’ve got the best chicken, but I don’t eat meat,” said the 31-year-old guitar teacher.

Duncan played a few folk rock songs early in the night, then hung around to watch.

“There’s a lot of very good singers and songwriters,” he said. “I’ve liked everybody so far.”

Andrew had never met Duncan before that night, and he was thrilled — as he always is — to see a new face among the familiar ones at Trackside.

It’s not a fancy place, but it’s become a second home to Andrew and Joseph, and the brothers hope to many other musicians, too.

“Despite the looks on the outside — and maybe on the inside, a little bit — it’s very warm and welcoming,” Joseph said.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1052, cara.pesek@owh.com

Contact the writer: Cara Pesek

cara.pesek@owh.com    |   402-444-4052    |  

Cara writes about nightlife -- bars, clubs, karaoke, and other places people go to have a good time -- as well as fashion, pop culture and trends.

Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom

Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet
Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet

August concert promises to pack Stinson Park with indie rock fans.

A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour
A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour

The downtown staple recently introduced a happy hour. And its menu's pretty amazing.

Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita

Chef Jose Dionicio has wisely refocused Taita on sushi, and the well-crafted small bites of fresh fish I tasted from his one-man sushi bar are delectable.

New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week
New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week

Fusion BBQ, at 7024 Maple St., focuses on American style barbecue cooking melded with international cuisines.

Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing
Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing

The Nebraska Beef Council announced the winner of its Nebraska's Best Burger contest.

Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef
Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef

Ryan Devitt will come to the restaurant as both a chef and partner to focus on farm-to-table style cuisine.

Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party
Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party

Over Easy is playing host to a west Omaha block party this summer.

Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary
Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary

“Transcendence,” a sci-fi thriller about an attempt to meld the human mind with technology, falls far short of transcendence. So far short I had to fight off sleep.

Dining notes: Dario’s has a new spring menu

Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee has a new spring menu, a new brunch menu and late night vittles.

Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more
Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more

"Bears" is exactly the sort of nature documentary we’ve come to expect from Disneynature, which rolls out a new nature documentary every year at Earth Day.

Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings

Read this!


Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved