Very little intro necessary for this week’s column other than to say it’s good to have Kyle back in Omaha. Without further ado…
Column 14 — The Ghost of Kyle Harvey
I thought I saw a ghost last Friday night when I was out enjoying a performance by Son, Ambulance at the Joslyn Art Museum.
It was all part of Joslyn’s annual College Night festivities. Son, Ambulance was set up in the atrium beneath the Chihuly glass balloon tower that seemed to float just above Joe Knapp’s nappy head. Son, Ambulance managed to pull off their best live performance in spite of the atrium’s atrocious acoustics, which made the band sound like it was playing in a mausoleum.
Between sets whilst gnawing a piece of free cold pizza, up walked what appeared to be the ghost of Kyle Harvey. Could this rather gaunt individual with pants barely hanging onto his ass and the trademark yellow-and-brown striped ski cap really be the once rotund singer/songwriter?
A couple days later, I ran Harvey down via cell phone to find out why he was back in Omaha. It was only last August that he’d packed up and headed to Country Music USA, six months after releasing his solo debut, The Holidays in Spain, a bleak environmental recording that captured the emotional emptiness he suffered after breaking up with a long-time girlfriend. Harvey said his move was an attempt to refocus his songwriting and escape the monotony of the Omaha music scene. “I really needed to get out of town, just for my mental health’s sake.”
The weight loss wasn’t the result of any Atkins diet. “You could call it the Starving Artist Diet,” he said. “I guess it came from living on crackers and cans of tuna. Working in a record store in a city that you’re not familiar with, you have to figure out a way to scrape by.”
The comments make his existence sound harsher than it actually was. Days after landing in Nashville, Harvey landed a job at The Great Escape, the oldest independent music store in Tennessee, where he began making connections with people involved in the city’s renowned music industry. Before long, he was playing in a band called The Ointments.
“The best part of being down there was the chance to step away from being consumed by everyday life and focus on songwriting,” he said. “I would go out to shows and see some of the best musicians in the world, but I spent most of the time in the studio.”
Before he moved back, Harvey finished laying down 12 tracks for an upcoming full-length with the working title Truth Is the Color of Teeth, recorded in the home studio of Brian Thackery, a fellow member of The Ointments. Harvey says the CD goes even further than the ambient-folk sound heard on Holidays in Spain. “There are a lot of electronic beats, different sounds and noises. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever done.”
We’ll have to wait until later this spring to hear it. Harvey’s headed back down to Nashville in March to mix the CD before bringing it back to Omaha to be mastered by Doug Van Sloun, the sound engineer who’s mastered all of Saddle Creek Records’ greatest hits. Four or five labels have expressed interest in releasing Harvey’s CD, he said, including one from Nashville.
So with all that happening, why bother moving back? Seems Harvey missed his friends and family, especially younger brother, Daniel, an accomplished drummer who he hopes to work with in the future. But maybe the real reason was that his relationship with Nashville never took. “It never felt like home,” he said. “I always felt like I was on vacation. The one thing that turned me off was the industry. There are a lot of people there who were all about the money instead of the art.”
And how was the much ballyhooed Omaha scene viewed in Nashville? “Everybody was interested in knowing what was going on here,” Harvey said. “But that’s the way it is everywhere now. There’s a buzz about the Omaha scene, even though most people don’t know about the better bands; they only know the ones in Rolling Stone.
“Once I was away for a few months, I gained a new respect for Omaha. We really have something special here.”
I guess absence really does make a heart grow fonder.
A couple brief headlines:
- Looks like 1 Percent won’t have a chance to make back all the money they lost booking the Jayhawks over the years. They’ve called it quits. So, apparently, has Blink 182.
- News from the road from Beep Beep as they rolled through Sprinfield (here). Fun quote: “It wasn’t like the city of Omaha was giving any of these bands a big hug and putting money in their pockets,” Chris Hughes says. “They had to discover themselves by leaving, touring and getting recognition outside of Omaha.”
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