“We never grew out of counting the days 'til the last class, the final test. Our little leagues gave way to borrowed cars, black guitars, fragile hearts, misdemeanors, repeat offenders and stolen kissers.”
That's what Matt Whipkey's new album, “Penny Park: Omaha, NE: Summer 1989” is all about: the summer, a theme park and a girl. It's a story that belongs to a lot of us, and Whipkey is laying it out on his new album with a title that shares a close resemblance to Peony Park, the Omaha amusement park that was shuttered in 1994.
“I've never been as excited about making an album than I have been with 'Penny,'” Whipkey said. “I really feel you guys are in for something different and very unique sounding from us.”
The idea for the album, which follows a girl named Penny Park during a late '80s summer, came about when Whipkey had a conversation with Doug Kabourek of Fizzle Like a Flood. Kabourek's band released an album called “Golden Sand and the Grandstand” about the demise of Aksarben.
“To this day it is one of my favorite Omaha albums ever. The idea of creating a story out of a very real place that meant so much to so many is fairly intoxicating. The possibilities are endless. As a writer, you really could not ask for a better subject,” Whipkey said.
To produce the album, Whipkey needs some help. “Penny Park” will be a double vinyl album with colored LPs and a gatefold cover, which is really costly. That's why Whipkey is asking for a boost via his Kickstarter project.
He's hoping to raise $4,000, which won't nearly cover his recording costs, mixing or duplication of the album. Rewards for donors run from downloads of the new album to guitar lessons, private concerts and your name in the liner notes.
I've heard a few early edits of tracks, including “Five Times So Far,” and I dig where the album is headed. Lines such as “You walk down the arcade/Like a rainy holiday/Know that to me you were more than summer break” conjure up memories of hanging out and going after girls.
Whipkey's Kickstarter page also includes the songs “Roller Coaster” (guitar melodies dripping with sunshine) and “La Festa Italiana” (a shimmering tune about finally making a move on Penny).
Over at mypennypark.com, Whipkey's also asking for personal photographs and memories of Peony Park to be included in the album's packaging. Those who want to share can send photos and stories to email@example.com.
Whipkey has plenty of memories of his own regarding the park, which closed when he was in 7th grade.
“Over the years hearing all the stories of the sweet bands that came through, the crazy Sprite nights,” he said, “it always felt like a story that needed an album.”