Black Squirrels, 2006-2010--now officially roadkill!
Winner, 2008 Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards (OEAAs): "Best Roots/Folk/Country/Americana/Bluegrass" Artist.
Named one of Omaha's "Top 20" bands by The Reader for 2008 and 2009.
Nominated for three 2009 OEAAs: Best Folk/Roots/Americana/Bluegrass, as well as Album Of The Year, and Artist Of The Year.
In 2009 the band has played various local gigs, toured Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and had a mini-tour that took them to Chicago. The group played to over 300 people at the Joslyn Art Museum, participated in "Wild About Omaha," The River City Wine Festival, and played at the Omaha Press Club for Opera Omaha.
On June 7, 2009 Black Squirrels appeared on the long-running (25 years!) River City Folk, which goes out on NPR and XM Satellite’s “The Village.” The episode has been replayed numerous times since then.
Black Squirrels embody many styles from the rich tradition of American country music. However, this is no retro act: Black Squirrels meld a modern, literate twist onto the old forms. A premium is placed on strong, original songs (and a few choice covers), whether it’s a four-to-the-floor barnburner, or a gently swaying waltz.
Black Squirrels have on more than one occasion been described as "country music for people who hate country music." It's also definitely for those who love it.
Black Squirrels were formed by Smith and Sing in the spring of 2006 with the singular purpose of bringing some much-needed roots music to the indie-rock dominated Omaha scene. Williams soon joined them, and they debuted at the Dubliner Pub in September of that year. Tim joined to "round out the sound" in June 2007 just after the band (as a trio) released its first CD.
In 2008 Black Squirrels performed at Rosenblatt Stadium, Earth Day Omaha, The Omaha Summer Arts Festival, Mid-American Music Festival, OEAA Summer Jam, private parties, several benefits, and was one of only four local acts asked by Opera Omaha to turn a poem into a song in conjunction with the premiere of former-US poet laureate Ted Kooser’s "Blizzard Voices."
Black Squirrels garnered the most public votes for the 2008 OEAAs, and claimed the most votes by the academy members and the public for the 2008 OEAA Summer Jam. The OEAA Academy agreed, as the band beat out Conor Oberst (yes, him) to win the "Best Roots/Folk/Country/Americana/Bluegrass" Artist.
Since the release of "Paying For Your Pleasure" in October 2008, the album has been in heavy rotation, including the #1 spot, on UNOMavRadio, the area’s only CMJ-reporting station. The band's music has been played on the radio from Florida to Texas to Australia. The album has garnered praise on both sides of the Atlantic.
For the year 2007, the group was nominated for three (3) OEAAs, including “Best New Artist,” “Best Folk/Roots/Americana,” and “Best Country/Bluegrass.”
Kat Smith (vocals/guitar)
Kate Williams (accordion/vocals/keyboard/and more!)
Tim Cich (electric guitar/mandolin)
Travis L. Sing (doghouse bass/vocals)
Paying For Your Pleasure (2008, Nectar & Venom Records)
Last Of The Ghost Town Gang (2007, Nectar & Venom Records)
Top 20 Bands, 2009
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"The [Black] Squirrels offer a solid alternative to the indie rock Omaha has become known for, servi..."The [Black] Squirrels offer a solid alternative to the indie rock Omaha has become known for, serving up its own brand of Americana country with unique flourishes and an undeniably high-energy live set. With two full lengths under its belt, The Squirrels are fast becoming one of the metro area’s most memorable bands." -–Jesse D. Stanek, 12.10-16.09
Milk-sweet harmonies and homey storytelling
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“Sunday afternoon, rural folks donned their finest and gathered in an austere, clapboard farmhouse f...“Sunday afternoon, rural folks donned their finest and gathered in an austere, clapboard farmhouse for good fellowship and to hear what the four dirtroad pickers had picked up in the big city. Banjo, mandolin, and guitars ambled without airs. Faded flowery wallpaper peeled. Milk-sweet harmonies and homey storytelling broke open the blue August sky.” [3/6 records]; Issue 45 (Spring 2009)
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“The main talk at the after party at Nomad was that a lot of bands that deserved to win did...The Bl...“The main talk at the after party at Nomad was that a lot of bands that deserved to win did...The Black Squirrels winning the best Bluegrass/Folk/Americana award seemed to be a rallying point for many post-awards show as the hard-working band really paid their dues this year.” - Marq Manner “Local Tunes,” 1.14-20.09
Have they hidden any tasty nuts?
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"With black squirrels now attacking grey squirrels in the UK and grey squirrels having all but kille..."With black squirrels now attacking grey squirrels in the UK and grey squirrels having all but killed off our native reds the question is: should we be welcoming any black squirrels into our lives? Well they do make a strong first impression. The sleeve is lovingly tooled and illustrated. The first song "30 Miles" instantly reminds me of the Walkabouts and the Handsome Family with its dark compelling folky sound. It’s a good start, a very favourable first impression. They look a little like the Handsome Family too (well if you add another couple into the mix). They blend together traditional styles and instrumentation but unlike the Handsomes they don’t add a twist of their own. The harmony, melody and structure of the country lament "I Took Your Name in Vain" is straight down the line. It is beautifully constructed and equally well performed.
The songs fly past like a revival meeting for the Bluegrass Society of Middle America. They have a middle class intellectualised air even though they seem to engage with the music. I can’t help thinking there is a critical distance between concept and performance. I’m not sure why I think this and "After I Left" begins to dispel most of the nagging doubts. It’s a deft song about parting and it is as melancholy as it is pretty and maybe I’d embrace it wholeheartedly if it wasn’t for some unnecessary clarinet. I’m not convinced either by the alcohol fuelled "Whiskey Perfume". Kat Smith and Kate Williams seem to me to be the type of people who would be locking alcohol into a credenza maybe after a quick sherry rather than throwing whiskey down their throats. 6/10" -David Cowling, 12.4.08
3.5 out of 5 stars
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"'Pleasure' is a delight, wound together tightly with perfect pitch and a musicianship as sturdy as ..."'Pleasure' is a delight, wound together tightly with perfect pitch and a musicianship as sturdy as the grassroots in which this take on Americana are held. . . . As such, these stories are crisp and interesting, humorous and downright sad. They successfully run the gamut of human frailty, and if for nothing more than that, the band is to be commended." – Brady Vredenburg, 10.23-29.08
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"The Waiting Room was the scene Friday, Oct. 3rd for The Black Squirrels CD release show. 'Paying Fo..."The Waiting Room was the scene Friday, Oct. 3rd for The Black Squirrels CD release show. 'Paying For Your Pleasure' is the second offering from the Squirrels. It showcases the country side of Omaha's music scene....The Black Squirrels played to a standing-room only crowd and showcased songs from the new record...The Squirrels played an amazing set that blended their style of traditional country with a touch of bluegrass. Beautiful harmonies and the extended band [on that night] showed the true potential of the Black Squirrels as a band that is helping cut new facets of traditional country influenced original music into the local scene..."— Mark LaPointe, 10.10.08
Black Squirrels offers a new album, adds new member
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"Forget about the sophomore slump. It's more like a sophomore surge. . . . ‘Paying for Your Pleasure..."Forget about the sophomore slump. It's more like a sophomore surge. . . . ‘Paying for Your Pleasure’ finds the band with another batch of well-crafted material, from playful country stompers to tear-in-your-beer ballads." – Niz Proskocil, 10.2.08
Band Of The Week
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“Black Squirrels seamlessly merge the sadistic with the sublime.… The songs are short and sweet – if...“Black Squirrels seamlessly merge the sadistic with the sublime.… The songs are short and sweet – if not a tinge sardonic ...” – Will Simons, 4.9-15.08
Typical set lists span both of the albums:
Somebody Else's Trouble
After I Left You
Mr. Big Bad Wolf
Be Kind, Jesus
I Took Your Name In Vain
I'll Take Those Odds
Hollow On My Pillow
When The Money Ran Out (So Did He)
There are often covers of country chestnuts like: "Tennessee Waltz" and "Jolene." We also have a penchant for making country songs out of trashy pop: "Take It On The Run" (REO Speedwagon) and "Kiss Me Deadly" (Lita Ford).
There are no upcoming dates at this time.