A musician playing or singing on the street is a common sight in big cities but not so much for Denver. That is except for the young Denver man who rocks his heart out for whomever may be driving on Webbs Road. These days, the reverberation of his electric guitar music competes with the noise of construction equipment as that section of Denver is the site of much of the new development in the area.
Nick Omes, who is 20, has been performing in his own private concerts on Webbs Road since he was around six or seven years old. He does this because “there’s nothing fun in Denver” but also to gain experience, confidence and exposure. He’s become quite well known by the community both for his music and his innovative way of delivering it.
Omes has been living with his grandparents, Herman and Charlene Travis, since he was a toddler. They adopted him last year and while he legally took their last name, he continues to use “Omes” and “Omez” because that’s how people know him. He uses the stage name of “Nick Omez,” putting a “z” on the end so people can pronounce it correctly.
“I love my parents but they’re just not there,” Omes said. “My dad lives in Concord and my mom lives somewhere in Stanley. I love my grandparents very much and I felt it was right to take the Travis name.”
While attending North Lincoln High School, Omes took part in the band playing an upright bass guitar. Omes learned to play by ear and learned to read sheet music from former music director Neil Underwood.
“He was a great young man and excited to learn how to read music when he started in band,” Underwood said. “I most remember him playing guitar in the lobby at North Lincoln during breaks. The kids loved to listen, he was like a strolling minstrel.”
When Underwood left North Lincoln, Kevin Still became the Director of Bands. Omes continued to play the bass in jazz band and the double bass in concert bands.
“Nick was always respectful and a joy to teach,” Still said. “He was also not afraid to try new things and be himself, which is always a cool thing.”
Omes still lives with his grandparents in a small home on Webbs Road not far from N.C. 16. He used to live in a house further down Webbs Road.
“This road is so busy,” he said. “We’ve got so many new developments coming and a lot of people moving here from the North. Concerts are expensive now, so I give my own. I’m not really allowed to play inside because I get too carried away.”
While most street musicians play in public places in order to earn money, Omes does it as a way to practice and to get more comfortable playing in front of an audience. In addition to the private concerts on Webbs Road, Omes plays in three different bands as well as with his church band, which was the first band he was involved in. He’s also played with a band at both Denver Days and the Lincoln County Apple Festival.
“In a world dominated by hip hop and country, rock always helps me feel nice,” Omes said as he strummed a few cords on his guitar. “It’s eye opening.”
The feeling and emotion of music are two things that Omes likes about music but he also enjoys the enjoyment he provides to others. Occasionally, there will be noise complaints in the neighborhood and a sheriff’s deputy will be sent to ask Omes to turn down his music, which he does, “until they leave.” Omes plans to continue to be involved in both writing and playing music and he hopes one day to travel around the world with his music.
“I think of myself as a sign spinner – you know those people who stand outside businesses dancing and spinning a sign,” Omes said. “My message is to just keep playing until you’re heard. I’m definitely being heard now.”
With the upcoming warm weather, it’ll be easy to locate Omes on Webbs Road. Just listen for the sound of his guitar.