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Dereck Higgins: Veteran Cosmic Rocker

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: July 13, 2005

Dereck Higgins
w/ Richard Schultz and the Miracle Men and One Mummy Case
July 16, 8 p.m.
Omaha Healing Arts Center,
1216 Howard St.
$5 with reservation -- 402.345.5078 -- or $8 at the door.

Dereck Higgins is better known for his work as a sideman than for his solo efforts. He's played in a handful of local bands since the late-'70s through the '80s to today -- most notably with new wavers Norman and the Rockwells and Disco Ranch, hardcore punk outfit RAF and ambient-pop band Digital Sex.

But though he may be the most-respected bass player in town, it's Higgins' recent solo work that defines who he is and where he's going -- even at the tender young age of 50.




His latest CD Dereck 2, self-released last fall, is an ambient head-trip, a tonal excursion into deep, almost spiritual territory best listened to with headphones on and lights out. Higgins draws upon a myriad of conventional and unconventional influences, from '80s dream pop (Chameleons) to English progressive (early Genesis) to experimental ambient soundscapes (Eno), all to create a style that is as otherworldly as it is strangely familiar. A typical track melds electronic drums and synths with warm-tone guitar, bass and Higgins' haunted, almost brassy tenor that drops to a Peter Murphy deep-as-a-well echo on standout "You Live This Life."

A mental health rehabilitation specialist, Higgins says he can't separate his day-job from his music. "What I learn about human behavior and mental wellness is connected to my life view and the way I see things in general," he said.

But just as influential is his enormous record collection. Higgins throws out names of obscure bands not to impress but as a matter of fact. You may not have heard of The Minny Pops or Amon Duul II or The Names or Porcupine Tree or The Heart Throbs or Faust, but they're part of Higgins' everyday listening experience along with less mysterious acts like The Moody Blues, R.E.M., Wire, Joy Division and Magazine. "Some of the best records ever made are never heard," Higgins said. He hopes that isn't the case with Dereck 2.

Last winter, Higgins performed his material alone with a pre-recorded CD just to "get it out there." The results were spotty at best. Now with a full band backing him, including John Friedman on guitar, Bill Eustice on bass and Jeff Tegtmeir on drums, fans will get a chance to see his music fully realized in a live setting. Leave your headphones at home.

Go to Higgins' website to order a copy of Dereck 2, or check out his MySpace and iSound sites.

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Published in The Omaha Reader July 13, 2005. Copyright 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.









"Some of the best records ever made are never heard."