University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) senior Matthias Jeske has been infatuated with music for as long as he can remember – a love story that started with an old Patsy Cline cassette tape his mother would play while fixing dinner and has led to a spot on the latest season of the country’s longest-running talent show: American Idol.
Jeske joined approximately 4000 other Hollywood hopefuls this past summer to audition for a chance to make it on to the show. Channeling his MavRadio personality, the retro-focused “Mr. 1960,” Matthias says he chose “My First Lonely Night,” a back-catalog entry from 1960s crooner Jewel Akens, who is best known for the song “The Birds and the Bees,” to perform for the judges.
While there is no way to know how Jeske did until the show airs (Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. on Fox), he says that the experience was certainly unique- he just can’t talk much about it.
“There were many forms to sign and a promise not to reveal any details of the show’s inner workings on pain of dismissal,” Jeske explains.
When not performing for Idol judges, he keeps busy with degrees in history and broadcasting with a pair of minors in theater and creative writing. While it may seem like a lot of work, each area ties together Matthias’s love of all things nostalgia and all things music.
“Music flows through my veins along with blood,” he says. “It seems like I couldn’t ride home from grade school without hearing ‘Build Me up Buttercup’ by the Foundations or ‘I Will Follow Him’ by Little Peggy March.”
Matthias’s radio show, “The Waxx Museum with Mr. 1960,” has been a staple on MavRadio (the campus-run radio station) for the past couple of semesters. On the show you can hear standards and deep cuts from the greatest hits of the mid-20th century.
“My show is truly the highlight of my week, so much so that I added my second major (in broadcasting),” he explains. “I went to high school, listened to a wide variety of crap-ala-2006, but the American Hot Waxx of yesteryear always pulled at me from my subconscious.”
Even if he doesn’t strike it big on American Idol, Jeske hopes to share his love of history with as many people as possible.
“I'd like to build a kingdom of class and nostalgia: a hotel to shame Ike Evans' Miramar Playa, a restaurant-supper club like Slapsy Maxies in Los Angeles or The Gobbler in southern Wisconsin, a Bijou theater where cartoons and classic films are shown for free before sunset,” he says. “A town out of time, where uniformed constabulary patrol the sidewalks, folks gather to see all the neon light up the strip, and guests are welcomed to leave the troubles of the internet age behind.
“I think the tagline could be something like ‘the good old days are right now,’” he adds.