The Show Must Go On | Conversation with Mary Lawson
Artist Highlight: Mesonjixx
Interview by Luis Jimenez | North Omaha
On a brisk October morning, Mary Lawson rode an electric bike to North 24th Street, Omaha. She arrived at (drips) coffee and showed me how cold it was by placing the back of her hand on my cheek. I agreed. The fall season was arriving. Lawson was ready to discuss the situation with her band; the latest show had been advertised by posters hung up across town by Lawson herself.
Thanks for sitting down with me. Please tell us about your band.
Mary Lawson: Hi, Mary Elizabeth Jo Dixon Pelenaise Kapiolani Lawson. I am Mesonjixx. I have a band. We had a show scheduled for Sunday Oct. 6 at Slowdown as local support for a touring group out of Brooklyn called Sinkane. That show is canceled. I made that decision. My current lineup is Myles Jasnowski on the guitar, Jacob Sorensen on the bass, John Evans on the drums, Nate Asad on keys. Most of us are from Omaha and representing Omaha; one of us is out of Lincoln. What we have coming up are out-of-town shows, and we are excited to be playing the region a little bit more.
Is there anymore details on your cancelation for the October 6 show?
Lawson: I think there needs to be more conversations about money for local bands; so much so, that it needs to be happening at a governmental level. I feel like even the Mayor should be part of the conversation. I feel like there’s a way that the Chamber of Commerce could be involved with how much funding is allocated to local musicians and venues. This is me speaking broadly -- but these are conversations that could be had on those levels where change could really happen...at a level where there is longevity.
I think I get it. Everybody gets up to do something so they can succeed. Same thing with artist. Something with musicians. So the money situation is something that should be upfront. Where can we find more information about your upcoming shows?
Lawson: I have a website mesonjixxmusic.com. You can find all of our upcoming show dates. You can also view the music video for our single “Motion”, that’s off our debut EP, “In The Middle” -- that was released two years ago now.
You are experienced as a local musician. What have been some hardships and what have been some positives?
Lawson: Hardships I’ve experienced as a local musician have been constantly being pigeonholed or tokenized...I feel like we are in a category of our own. So at times it’s been a little disheartening to be put into categories that don’t really make sense to you and your journey -- by people who don’t really know you or your music. I feel a lot of people are quick to label me, especially those I’ve never seen at our shows before. Those same people sit on boards or juries for things that involve the work we do but they have no clue what’s really going on. -- That’s an interesting part of the Omaha music scene: a lot of folks are quick to label you, and quick to throw your name in a conversation, but don’t really know anything about you, your journey, your music, or truly support you.
Lawson: I do believe there is a community here for music-lovers and people who dig good music and are open to pushing boundaries on the creative level of music making. I feel there are authentic artists who are creating and that are trying to put Omaha music on the map. That’s exciting. I feel though we are few, we are here and we are pushing the bar and doing the work and rooting for each other.
What advice can you give bands or musicians that are trying to have an impact?
Lawson: Stick to what you know and be great at it. You know what I mean? I feel like a lot of artists these days want to do everything, but I think a smart way of moving about music is to choose something that you love and are passionate about and try to be the greatest at it. I feel that I have a good hand at songwriting. So I want to be the greatest at it. I do dable in playing the piano, but I’m definitely not where Nate—my keyboard player—is. So, in a band setting try and avoid the saying, “there are too many cooks in the kitchen.” Distinguish what everyone is good at, and have everyone be great at what they do.
Is there something else you want to add to the conversation?
Lawson: Yeah, just take us seriously. Take artists seriously, and understand that a lot of us are choosing this path because of survival, because of necessity, because we are called to because it makes life worth living. We need to recognise, support, and celebrate the great talent that is here - we don’t need to wait for the rest of the world to catch on. It starts here at home. Thanks, Luis.