* In the absence of an Omaha-Lincoln light-rail (don’t get me started … ) it takes a lot for me to make the trek to Titletown, even for the best of events. But if you travel I-80 southwest just once this year it should be this Friday, Dec. 3, for the Hear Nebraska Benefit at Bourbon Theatre featuring Orion Walsh, Shaun Sparks and the Wounded Animals, and Bandit Sound. Hear Nebraska bills itself as a “homegrown, nonprofit media that cultivates the state’s vibrant, fertile music community,” and is all about promoting Nebraska music, offering resources to bands and fans and intending to buoy regional artists and small businesses. The idea is, since we’re blessed with such a rad and eclectic scene, let’s celebrate it and make certain the other 49 states and beyond listen up to the sounds of “the good life.” Hear Nebraska has functioned via Facebook (facebook.com/#!/hearnebraska), Twitter and Tumblr since June, but now it’s time to put the .org in this organization, which requires some much-needed funds to be raised. HearNebraska.org will connect fans, bands, venues, promoters and others, allowing them to create profiles and events, blog and to share media, opinions, tips and more. The 9 p.m. benefit show follows Lincoln’s First Friday Art Walk, welcomes ages 18-and-up and suggests a $5 donation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give more to this fine cause that stands to repay you in spades and tunes for years to come. (Full disclosure: The main man behind the Hear Nebraska curtain is Reader news editor and former managing editor, Andrew Norman.) * Thursday, Dec. 2 at España in Benson, loom promotes NextAid’s 4th Annual World AIDS Day campaign, with all proceeds going directly to NextAid’s operations. The party is one of a baker’s dozen worldwide. As much of NextAid’s work is done in Africa, this loom will be dedicated to the continent. Co-creator (and Reader contributor) Brent Crampton writes on Facebook, “I invited Omaha’s top African DJ to join us, Deejay Maestro. He played a set at this year’s Joslyn loom and wowed us with not only his track selections, but his sincerity. From the old school of Fela Kuti & Babatunde to the Nigerian new school, soukouss, coupe decalle and South African house, we’ll cover a wide range of music from, and inspired by Africa.” The party starts at 9 p.m., but if you can’t find your dancing shoes that night and still want to donate, visit nextaid.org/wad2010. Backbeat takes you behind the scenes of the local music scene. Send tips, comments and questions to backbeat@thereader.com.

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