While in line for food at an over-the-top reception hosted by a defense contractor during a week-long science conference isn’t the place I’d have expected to meet a musician. But Omaha’s Kaitlyn Maria Filippini, a trained violinist who studied at Berklee School of Music before completing a degree in neuroscience at the University of Nebraska Omaha, isn’t your typical science nerd either. When she isn’t rubbing elbows in the science and technology world, she is building a mind-boggling performance resume that includes everyone from Gladys Knight to Michael Buble, Conor Oberst, Tim Kasher, Mannheim Steamroller, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Mary J. Blige, Josh Groban, The Big Deep, and Skypiper. She is completing singles for release later this year.
Ghettoblaster caught up with Filippini to discuss the highlights of her homebase, Omaha, Nebraska. Here’s what she had to say…
1. What’s your town’s nickname?
2. What’s your nickname for your town? Home ? Why do you live there?
Omaha has a low cost of living, nice people, American Gramaphone Records, talent, and my family. ?
3. Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?
I didn’t grow up here, but it is the only place that has ever registered as “home” for me. The reason we moved here was because of my sickness as a child. Omaha had the best medical center out of all the cities that my father was offered a job through First Data. Who knew?
4. What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
Let’s just say that there is a lot of fun to be had in Omaha, and what happens in Omaha…will likely end up on Facebook. One of the weirdest things that has every happened to me was that I managed to crash the huge New Years Eve GOO dance party at the Slowdown last year (2011). Through just a few contacts, I ended up getting past the bouncers with my violin case, meeting the DJs for the first time, plugging into their mixer, and jamming out all night. It is probably my most favorite memory of playing with DJs, since their DJ collective was the original reason why I wanted to get into the scene.
5. What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
I love the Old Market. It’s a section of downtown Omaha that has brick streets, horse drawn carriages, great food, and great music. There are usually musicians playing on the sidewalk, and around Thanksgiving time there are Christmas lights everywhere. I’m a sucker for Christmas lights. ?
6. What is your favorite local event or festival?
Absolutely the Winter lights festival. There are white Christmas lights everywhere downtown and all over the Gene Leahy mall. I know it’s probably a wasteful use of electricity, but it’s my most favorite thing in town.
7. What is the best time of year to be there?
Either the time period between Thanksgiving – New Years for the Winter Lights Festival, or during the College World Series games (baseball). We just got a new stadium for the College World Series downtown, so that should be especially great this year.
8. Who is your favorite local celebrity? Warren Buffett. I’ve played a few gigs with/for him, and he can play a mean Ukelele.
9. Where is the best place to drink and what is their specialty or happy Hour?
I am allergic to alcohol, but I always hear that Krug Park is where it is at. It’s a new bar that was just owned by the owners of The Waiting Room. They specialize in craft beers and specialty drinks. Fun fact: I’ve performed with Conor Oberst there. ?
10. Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
The Sidney has a jukebox! It’s electronic, so everything and anything. Usually that means that you’re going to hear new club hits as well as hits from the 90s.
11. Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
Honestly, I’ll play music anywhere. My favorite venues are The Slowdown, The Waiting Room, The CenturyLink Center, and House of Loom. I also frequently play at places that don’t normally have live music such as Sushi Blue, Rehab, and Capitol.
12. Does where you live influence your music?
Of course! There are so many talented people here that I feel that my music has become a sort of melting pot. I grew up listening to Mannheim Steamroller and movie scores, but in my twenties I have gotten more into progressive rock and the DJ scene. My music is a mesh of all these things. I blame my synesthesia.
13. What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
My favorite place to see live music is The Slowdown. Hands down, my favorite show there is when a local DJ collective (GOO) throws it down on their annual New Years party. It was one of their New Years shows that inspired me to want to perform with DJs, and completely changed my life (musically, and personally).
14. What is your favorite local band?
I really have a hard time with this question because there are so many talented people. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to perform with every single one of them:
Singer/song writers: Conor Oberst and All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
Bands: Skypiper, The Big Deep, Filter Kings.
15. What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
O Dining. I frequent their curry and dumplings , but they have so many amazing dishes that it is hard to pick just one. I also enjoy this restaurant because you can get both great drinks and great espresso. I can’t drink alcohol, so this is one of the few legitimate bars that I can sit down and have a drink with friends. Their staff is like a family, and I enjoy performing there frequently.
16. What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
Drastic Plastic is the local record store in town that most everyone frequents. My best find there was not music, but I’ve found several friends there. That’s kind of normal for Omaha.
17. What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
The Reader. They cover all the creative news going around Omaha. They are a huge supporter of the music scene, and I enjoy their reviews.
18. What is your favorite local shop?
Caffeine Dreams! It seems to be the hub for the creative scene in Omaha. Every day you will find musicians, artists, web developers, designers, and whatnot just hanging out. Also, it is a “go to” spot for first dates. There is art from local artists all over the walls, so I suppose you have something to talk about no matter what.
19. If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
I’d have a house in L.A and an apartment in NYC that I would use for business trips, but I think I’d always want to have our home base in Omaha. It’s a great place to raise a family, and I plan on doing so some day. You can’t beat it.
(For all the latest on Filippini, visit her website here: www.KaitlynMariaFilippini.com.)