HighUp081917-2
High Up at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

Welcome to Lazy-i, an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news.

The focus is on the indie music scene. Yes, there’s a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area, but Lazy-i also offers interviews, stories and reviews about national indie bands.

Most of the feature stories and columns in Lazy-i will have previously been published in The Reader, Omaha’s weekly alternative newspaper.



The Show is The Rainbow returns; Cursive tops divorce list; Truck Stop Love reunion; Agent Orange tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm October 17, 2017
Darren Keen as The Show Is the Rainbow holds court in Dundee, Aug. 27, 2011.

Darren Keen as The Show Is the Rainbow holds court in Dundee, Aug. 27, 2011. Now the one-man band is back.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Show Is the Rainbow is back.

The one-man band fronted by former Nebraskan now New Yorker Darren Keen is putting out a new record and hitting the road. In fact, there’s even a Kickstarter campaign under way to help underwrite some of these return activities.

The first time I interviewed Darren was way back in 2003 (right here). TSITR continued on up until a few years ago when Keen moved to New York and began focusing on DJ and production work. So why bring back TSITR?

I am bringing back TSITR because for the past few years all of my music has focused almost exclusively on sound design, and i miss iwriting songs,‘” Keen said. “Part of the reason I quit TSITR is because I was scared to sing and write lyrics since I have a way of offending and upsetting people both accidentally and intentionally. I am no longer worried about that, and am looking forward to being the lead singer of a one-man band again.”

There you have it. Keen says his new album is slated for release in November or December. You can help fund the project at his Kickstarter page. Find out more below:

* * *

Congrats to Cursive for making Stereogum’s 25 Notable Divorce Albums list for 2000’s Domestica. From the article: “Using some embellishments and stand-in characters, the band drew on Kasher’s experience to craft a concept record built around the arc of a relationship in near-collapse, their angular emo-leaning rock an appropriate vessel for that particular brand of anguish.” They join the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and Richard & Linda Thompson (my personal favorite).

* * *

Speaking of the ‘90s, early ‘90s Manhattan, Kansas, band Truck Stop Love is reuniting for the release of Can’t Hear It: 1991-1994. The band released three albums on Scotti Bros. between ’93 and ’95.

From the press release: “Twenty-five years ago Truck Stop Love released their first recording; a cassette recorded by the band in the back room of Vital Vinyl, a local record store in Manhattan, Kansas. This November, the band will release three of those songs, plus 8 more previously unreleased demo tracks and never-before-heard recordings, on vinyl LP through Kansas City coop record label Black Site.”

More info and pre-order info here, including info on a handful of reunion shows in the Lawrence area…

* * *

Finally, tonight at Lookout Lounge is another night of punk with Agent Orange, Flatfoot 56 and Get Dead. $20, 8 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

David Nance Group, Candace, Stronghold, RAF tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:56 pm October 13, 2017

David Nance at The Sydney, July 7, 2017. He plays tonight at Brothers Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Super quiet weekend for shows, which I guess is par for the course when we’ve had such a strong week of shows what with Church/Zola/Whispertown. Why couldn’t any of those shows been on Friday or Saturday? Oh well…

Tonight, David Nance Group plays at Brothers Lounge with Portland psych/shoegaze band Candace (formerly Is/Is) who count Verve and Loop among their influences. Check out the dreamy track below. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight Omaha hardcore act Stronghold celebrates an EP release at Lookout Lounge. Sharing the bill are punk legends RAF, Finch x Kovacs and Black Velvet. $7, 9 p.m.

O’Leaver’s tonight has Rivercourt, Timecat and Light Speed Highway. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) O’Leaver’s has Lonely Estates, Ojai and Ft. Collins act Slow Caves. $5, 10 p.m.

And, jeeze, that’s it. I know I’m missing something… I always do.

If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Zola Jesus; Whispertown, High Up, Mudd Club, Lovely, Still tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:31 pm October 12, 2017

Zola Jesus at The Waiting Room, Oct. 11, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A very sparse crowd last night for Zola Jesus at The Waiting Room; which wasn’t surprising. I remember seeing her five years ago at SXSW with a friend (who also was at last night’s show). The SXSW show was packed — shoulder to shoulder. I remember my friend saying Zola Jesus would have a hard time drawing in Omaha, and he was right… five years later.

I got there just in time to see/hear the last 15 minutes of one of the openers, John Wiese. The act was basically this guy sitting in the dark on stage plugging away at a computer that made loud static noises, layered tones and other dramatic sound effects. Some folks said it sounded like the soundtrack to a horror movie. I thought it sounded like someone working on his car. I wanted to yell, “OK, try it again…

Zola Jesus came on at around 9:15. A trio, frontwoman Rosa Danilova was flanked by a guitarist and violinist. No drums, no bass. All of that was handled by programming and pre-recorded tracks, which I assumed were controlled from the sound board.

When I saw Zola Jesus five years ago, the music was entirely ethereal, ambient compositions, very drone-y. By contrast, last night could have been a dance party — dark, pop songs driven by big beats, thick bass and Danilova’s amazing voice that (to me) recalls early Sinead O’Connor. The set was broken up by gorgeous slower numbers, like album highlight “Witness,” which Danilova said was about suicide. Actually, her new album, Okovi (2017, Sacred Bones) dwells on death, though you wouldn’t know it by the beats.

Five years ago I thought Danilova could become the next Gaga. Now I’m thinking she could be a better, more human version of St. Vincent, sans guitar of course. I guess we’ll see in another five years.

* * *

Tonight there’s a slew of events, some of which don’t have a live music component.

Film Streams, for example, is showing a special memorial screening of Nik Fackler’s feature motion picture, Lovely, Still, in honor of Martin Landau, who passed away a few months ago. The program starts at 7 p.m.

Also this evening author Richard Boch, the doorman at the legendary Mudd Club in the early ’80s, is doing a Q&A with our very own Scott Severin, who was a Mudd Club kid back in the day. You’ll be hearing lots of stories about NYC debauchery in a time when kings like Bowie and Lou Reed ruled the Lower East Side. The event is being held at Hi-Fi House and is free and open to the public. Starts at 8 p.m.

And after all this, there’s a great show at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Indie band Whispertown plays with High Up. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Zola Jesus, Palm, Thick Paint, The Menzingers tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm October 11, 2017
Zola Jesus at Elysium, SXSW, March 14, 2012.

Zola Jesus at Elysium, SXSW, March 14, 2012. The band plays at The Waiting Room tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I listened to the new Zola Jesus album, Okovi, all morning. Its description doesn’t match its content. I was expecting a very droll, very somber experience. In fact, the record is probably the poppiest, most upbeat thing Rosa Danilova and Co. have done. She reminds me of very early Sinead O’Connor vocally, compositionally; maybe Kate Bush as well. Read her Ten Questions here.

So I was on the fence between going to that show, which has an 8 p.m. start time with two openers (and a cost of $15) and Palm, who is playing right around the corner at Reverb.

Palm’s new album, Shadow Expert, is something of a departure from their 2015 release, Trading Basics, though no less mathy, disjointed, proggy. The songs have a similar jangled urgency but with better central melodies, more focused, more pop. That Palm show also has the benefit of solid openers. Our very own Thick Paint is on the bill — always a good time — along with Brooklyn trio Real Life Buildings.

And the Palm show is a bargain at $12, but that 9 p.m. start time on a school night… See you at Zola.

Also tonight, emo-punk band The Menzingers are playing at Sokol Underground — yes, Sokol Underground. Salt Creek and Centerpiece open. 8 p.m., $20.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Church releases new video, plays tonight at The Waiting Room…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:53 pm October 10, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

As if on cue, The Church today released a new video from their upcoming album, Man Woman Life Death Infinity, which comes out Friday. The band plays tonight at The Waiting Room with The Helio Sequence. Tickets are $30, show starts at 8 p.m. Before you go, read my Ten Questions interview with Church frontman Steve Kilbey.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Zola Jesus; Ice Balloons (TV on the Radio, Samiam), Low Long Signal tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm October 9, 2017

Zola Jesus plays The Waiting Room Oct. 11. Photo by Tim Saccenti.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

After seeing Zola Jesus perform at SXSW in 2012 I walked away thinking frontwoman and creative force Rosa Danilova was an indie Gaga. I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she exploded into dance the moment the band broke into its dreamy, spiritual, post-ambient rock drenched in synths, guitar and drums.

Her music has been compared to Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, though it bears an even darker tone on her latest album, Okovi, released last month on Sacred Bones Records.

While writing Okovi, I endured people very close to me trying to die, and others trying desperately not to,” Danilova said. “This album is a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of nature.”

We caught up with Danilova and asked her to take the Ten Questions survey:

What is your favorite album?

Zola Jesus’ Rosa Danilova: It changes. Right now it’s the Stalker OST.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Hmm… I don’t know that I have one.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Being able to insidiously connect with people I’ve never met.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

The pressure it makes me put on myself.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Sap, from trees.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

I like to play cities that remind me of home…

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Well, I once cried on stage at Silencio in Paris. Not my best moment.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Thankfully, I am, though it takes a lot of work and sacrifice. I tour a lot and live in the middle of Wisconsin, which is cheap. It helps make it possible to focus on doing what I love.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Sometimes I wish I would be an architect, but I would build very bad buildings. I’m sure they would collapse. I’ve worked many jobs in the past and was fired from most of them. I’m not a very good employee!

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I’m not sure I’ve heard many stories, but I sort of glorify Omaha in my mind. Being a midwesterner from Wisconsin, I feel companionship with Nebraska. Which is why I’m excited to finally play there.

Zola Jesus plays with John Wiese and Ivan Zoloto Wednesday, Oct. 11, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $15. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

* * *

Tonight Brooklyn noise rock band Ice Balloons (Volar Records) plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The band includes Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio and members of Samiam, among others. Benny Leather (Ben VanHoolandt of Digital Leather) and Low Long Signal open. 9 p.m. $5.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Clarence Tilton, BFF (Jason Steady) tonight; Big Al Music Fest Saturday; Numero Group Pop Up Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:23 pm October 6, 2017

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016. The band is playing the Big Al Free Music Festival at O’Leaver’s Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we get to the weekend rundown, notice anything different about the Lazy-i homepage? Come on, LOOK.  I want to thank Digital Leather for holding that position on the homepage for six years. I’m sure at some point we’ll rotate a more recent photo of Shawn and the guys the next time I go to a DL show (which can’t be too soon).

Anyway, soggy weekend ahead, at least part of it. Don’t let the rain keep you inside. Here’s what’s happening…

Omaha’s premiere alt-country band, Clarence Tilton, is playing a set out at Growler USA, way out on 162nd and Maple. St. If you haven’t been out there, now’s your chance. It’s free and the place has something like 100 beers on tap. No opener. Starts at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, tonight O’Leaver’s has a bill of unknown acts (unknown by me, anyway) that include House Vacations, Condor & Jaybird and Harakiri. Where is Craig D. finding these bands? Check out HV’s track below. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And, in case you forgot, it’s the first Friday of October, which means it’s Benson First Friday.

We’ve got a special art show tonight at The Little Gallery, located across the street from The Sydney in the east bay of the Masonic Lodge building. You may know him from Talking Mountain or Wolf Dealer or his latest musical project, Number One Hit Kids, or you also may know him as an exciting graphic artist on his way to blowing up the Omaha art scene. The renaissance man I speak of is none other than Jason Steady. And tonight, The Little Gallery presents: Jason Steady: Objects.

Swing by between 6 and 9 p.m. and enjoy some chips and salsa while you peruse the art, along with some strange coke+red wine concoction (and probably beer). See you there.

That brings us to Saturday night and the 10th Annual Big Al’s Free Music Festival at O’Leaver’s. Yes, it’s free, but you’re encouraged to bring a can of food for the food drive. This year, Al’s added a “comedy stage.” Local funnymen will do standup between music sets, which are listed below:

5:00 – 5:25 The Shineys
5:45 – 6:10 Jales Hupke
6:30 – 6:55 ARMY of 2600
7:15 – 7:40 Bathtub Maria
8:00 – 8:25 Sam Martin
8:45 – 9:10 Relax, It’s Science
9:30 – 9:55 Dereck Higgins Experience
10:15 – 10:40 Mike Saklar Trio
11:00 – 11:25 Wagon Blasters
11:45 – 12:10 Big AL band

Also Saturday night, Nebraska legend Charlie Burton continues his return tour, this time playing with his band, Or What, at The Barley Street Tavern. $5, 9 p.m.

Finally, Hi-Fi House is hosing an open-to-the-public event Sunday afternoon featuring record label Numero Group. According to Wiki, Numero Group is “an archival record label that creates compilations of previously released music, reissues original albums, and creates album reconstructions from a variety of musical genres.”

Hang out and hear stories from label co-founders Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley, and hear selections from the works from the one-of-a-kind Numero catalog. They’ll also be selling tons of Numero Group merch from their pop-up shop. Noon to 6 p.m. Hi-Fi House is located at, 3724 Farnam St.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with The Church (@The Waiting Room Oct. 10)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm October 5, 2017

The Church plays The Waiting Room Oct. 10.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If you listened to college music in 1988 you owned a copy of The Church’s seminal album Starfish, with its breakthrough hit, the dreamy, atmospheric “Under the Milky Way,” a song that dominated CMJ and MTV. Afterward, the Aussie band released 14 more studio albums, leading up to 2014’s Further/Deeper (Unorthodox Records), which, in some ways, marked a re-emergence for a band that’s always been around.

Now comes the band’s 26th studio album, Man Woman Life Death Infinity, out Oct. 6. It’s the second album with the rejuvenated line-up consisting of frontman Steve Kilbey, co-founder Peter Koppes, Tim Powles and Ian Haug. The tour that brings them to The Waiting Room Oct. 10 is their first since 2015.

We caught up with frontman Kilbey and asked him to take the Ten Questions survey:

1. What is your favorite album?

The Church’s Steve Kilbey: Diamond Dogs by David Bowie… or do you mean by The Church? Then that is Priest = Aura.

2. What is your least favorite song?

By The Church? Maybe “These Boys” off Remote Luxury.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Playing onstage when we are having a great night.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Playing onstage when we are having a bad night.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Marijuana

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Chicago, Melbourne, London, Atlanta to name a few.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

I once had a terrible gig in Christchurch New Zealand. Everything was wrong. I wanted to disappear!

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I am squeaking by on music, plus I paint and write articles, etc.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Love to have been an ancient greek scholar. Hate to be a mathematician.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I played there once. I dunno if they liked us much. Hope they do this time around.

The Church plays with The Helio Sequence Oct. 10 at The Waiting Room. Tickets are $25 Adv./$30 DOS/$99 VIP. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Tears of Silver; Leggy, Those Far Out Arrows tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm October 3, 2017

Tears of Silver at Hi-Fi House, Oct. 2, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Going to Hi-Fi House is like going to a music church, a place where people seem to worship music as much as enjoy it. Everyone speaks in whispers for fear of annoying someone who is listening to whatever’s being played on the “big stereo.” In the case of the music being played before last night’s Tears of Silver show, the music was a grating art jazz album that sounded like 30 minutes of noodling. But the folks at Hi-Fi want to build an appreciation for jazz among the rock ’n’ roll masses. Instead, the bonk-bleep noise likely irritated an already frayed audience that had spent the day getting updates on the Las Vegas massacre and the dead/not dead status of Tom Petty.

So we all sat and politely listened to whatever awful jazz record someone had selected, quietly seated in the house’s long couches and ’70s-era padded chairs, no one talking above a hush. Finally, at about a quarter past 8, Tears of Silver came into room, which was set up perfectly for this sort of concert. The band is a four piece — three guitars and keyboards — and no drums. I don’t know how it would have worked with a drum set considering the room’s nearly silent acoustics.

Fronted by Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, the band played a set that included covers of songs by Neil Young, Flaming Lips and Al Kooper, as well as songs by the members’ respective bands: Posies, Mercury Rev and Midlake, closing the night with a Big Star cover. In fact, everything they sang sounded like a Big Star version of whatever they were covering — slow, soothing, very dreamy. Stringfellow and Donahue  continue to sport strong, gorgeous voices. Local vocalist Molly Welsh joined the band for a few songs, including two Stringfellow tunes from an “opera” he’s penned.

My personal highlight was hearing their cover of Pavement’s “Here,” which took on a mournful, melancholy air, certainly different than the slacker anthem Pavement fans are familiar with.

The room was at full capacity as in every seat was taken and a few members of the mostly older crowd sat on the floor. Hi-Fi House it’s a good venue for this kind of sit-down, focused performance; it was almost like being at a recital… or in a church.

* * *

I’m gonna miss Tom Petty. He’s one of those guys whose music felt like is always existed, and who I thought would always be around. It’ll be strange not having him in this world. Everyone’s talking about their favorite Petty album, mine is the overlooked Southern Accents album, certainly it’s the one I listened to most, having bought it on cassette the day it came out way back in 1985…

* * *

Cincinnati power trio Leggy plays tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. They’re a self-described “feminist trio who speak openly about consent, self-worth, sexuality and female empowerment.” They also rock like Hole meets L7 meets X.  Opening is dreamy Chicago clap-snap-pop band Varsity (think upbeat early Liz Phair). Our very own No Thanks starts it off at 9 p.m. $5.

Also tonight, Those Far Out Arrows returns to The Sydney in Benson. They’re headlining a show with a couple Kansas City garage bands bands — Arc Flash (actually, they’re from Lawrence but they’re on High Dive Records) and Drugs & Attics (Creep It Real Records). $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Tuning into Hi-Fi House (in the column); Tears of Silver tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm October 2, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight Hi-Fi House hosts Tears of Silver, an indie super group that includes members of Posies and Mercury Rev. I’m told by HFH owner Kate Dussault that seating is limited, so if you want to go, you need to RSVP at this site ASAP.

Speaking of Hi-Fi House, Dussault granted me an interview late last month for The Reader to explain what HFH is trying to do, how it works and where it’s headed. You can read it in the October issue of The Reader, online at The Reader website, right here, or… you can read it below.

There was tons of additional info that didn’t make it into the story, which I’ll share with you over the next couple days. Until then…

One of the Hi-Fi House sound systems.

Over the Edge: Tuning into Hi-Fi House
The hush-hush private music club finally goes public.

On the surface, it seems difficult to explain the concept behind Hi-Fi House, a private club that charges members anywhere from $75 to $1,000 a year for the privilege of playing its record collection on its stereo systems.

You might naturally say to yourself, “I could buy a whole bunch of records for $1,000 that I could play whenever I want to in the privacy of my own home,” but you’d be missing the point.

The club, located at 3724 Farnam St. in the Blackstone District, has been operating privately for more than a year. I first stepped foot in Hi-Fi House last year during a Record Store Day event where the public was allowed a sneak peek.  The facility is first class all the way — a huge open, carpeted space with comfortable furniture arranged in circles throughout, centered around stereo equipment set-ups, including one I was told cost $80,000.

Behind the big room is a couple smaller rooms. Inside the first is Hi-Fi House’s massive album collection — more than 10,000 vinyl records. A glance at the titles indicates the music touches all genres, with issue dates ranging from the 1940s to present. Some of albums look unplayed and are still sealed. On display are a number of interesting music-related items, like a Patti Smith edition of a Pono Music Player — something I’d never seen in real life.

On the afternoon of that sneak peek, local bands performed in the space, including an early incarnation of the progressive jazz combo Chemicals. A small crowd watched the performance while enjoying beer and wine served at a bar near the club’s front door.

For reasons I never understood, Hi-Fi House was hush-hush back then. At the time, owner/operator Kate Dussault wouldn’t give me an interview on the record, though the club had been operating for months, including offering special music programming for children.

Well, the cloak of secrecy finally was lifted from Hi-Fi House last month when the organization launched a website — www.hifi.house — and began actively soliciting memberships. Dussault, now on the record, explained why the club operated in secrecy for so long.

“One reason was that we really wanted to experiment with all the programming,” she said, seated at one of the club’s large tables alongside Hi-Fi House General Manager (a title made up on the spot) Jon Ochsner while that $80,000 stereo system quietly played some funky jazz sides.

“The other reason was to really let the music community have the space pretty much to themselves for a period of time. We were able to have a lot of conversations with local artists and people who work in the industry to find out how we could best live in this community and serve it.”

In a nutshell, Dussault said, Hi-Fi House was built “so musicians could have their own private club. We’re offering a place where they can communicate with each other.”

She said musicians often don’t have time to chat when they’re at venues performing, “but when they come over here, they can really sit down, share music and listen to music together, and a lot of them really love that experience.”

Think of it like The Omaha Press Club, but instead of focusing on journalism and public relations, Hi-Fi House focuses on music. Fees start at $75 a year for a “lab membership” that allows access to Hi-Fi House during daytime hours. In the evenings, Hi-Fi House turns into a private club whose membership fees (which cover one person and a significant other) range from $300 a year for musicians to $600 a year for members of “the industry” — a broad category that includes any career that touches music, from journalists to studio employees to club owners to people involved with music-related nonprofits.

Finally, there’s the general public membership at a cost of $1,000 per year. Dussault doesn’t sound like she expects to sell many of those, but with the venue’s capacity rated at only 125, she doesn’t want to oversell memberships, anyway. She said she’s already sold a few hundred memberships, with all the money received channeled back into covering facility costs, which include constantly buying new records for the club’s ever-growing collection.

In addition to access to that collection, members are invited to attend special night-time programming that includes exclusive album listening parties, chats with artists and industry professionals, and intimate performances, such as a private concert last year by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson.

With its heavy music education focus, you’d assume Hi-Fi House would consider becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, but Dussault wants to steer clear from that for now. “The truth is most nonprofits have to scrap and re-raise their operating money every year,” she said. “It’s difficult, and they are at the whims of, in some cases, the same very few people who are supporting everything else. It doesn’t give you a chance to break out and invite new people to the party.”

So sure is she of the Hi-Fi House concept, she’s already planning to expand to other cities. After spending the next three months working alongside Ochsner, Dussault will move to New York City where she’ll spend three months with lawyers and other associates to review expansion plans.

“We’ll be solidifying New York, and then I’ll be traveling to Boston and other nearby cities,” she said, adding that there’s already “movement” for clubs in Denver, Des Moines and Chicago. “We’re talking to people in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle, as well as five different Los Angeles locations.”

Surely Dussault must be a wealthy woman to make all of this happen. She just laughs at the suggestion.

“This is a labor of love,” she said. “I work two full-time jobs while I do this. I have a medical house-call company in New York that I spend a good six hours on a day on and I do some work for a music supervision firm in New York. If I weren’t doing those things, we wouldn’t be alive.

“Everything doesn’t have to be a nonprofit,” she added. “Some people have to take their own money and get out there and gamble it on making changes. I’m willing to live or die based on what I can deliver these people, and whether they’re happy with the experience.”

First published in the October 2017 issue of The Reader. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved. Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts.

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The doors open at Hi-Fi House at 7 p.m. for tonight’s Tears of Silver show. Showtime is 7:45 p.m. Admission is free with RSVP. And if you haven’t already, check out the Ten Questions Q&A with Tears of Silver’s Ken Stringfellow and Grasshopper right here.

Also tonight, singer/songwriter Todd Grant will be playing tonight at Barley Street Tavern with Michael Treinhail. Showtime is 10:30 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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