Column 110 — Someday Never never again; And the winners are…

Category: Blog — @ 1:24 pm January 18, 2007

And so, we bid adieu to Joe Someday. Missing from the column below is a list of all the bands that Joe worked with. I’m sure if asked he’d highlight The Architects, Criteria, Little Brazil, The Show Is the Rainbow, Statistics, Fizzle Like a Flood, The Pomonas, Ladyfinger, Brimstone Howl, The Monroes, Beep Beep, Forty Twenty, Life After Laserdisque, Watch the Stereo, Le Beat, Youth in Asia, Mr. 1986, Bombardment Society, Bright Calm Blue, The Carsinogents, The Like Young, Poison Control Center, Shelter Belt, Ex Models, The Willowz and of course, Saturday’s line-up of SDN regulars Ideal Cleaners, Rent Money Big and Race for Titles. Most did well, many didn’t, like the The Hold Steady and Devendra Barnhardt — two bands that drew no one, and that Joe says will never return to Omaha because of the poor turnout. No question that if The Hold Steady came back, they would likely fill Sokol Underground — but you never know. The promotion game is a crap shoot, especially in a city that has no college radio station. Omaha is going to miss Joe. His website, his label, his promotion company played an important role in this city’s music history. Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of him…

Column 110: Goodbye Someday Never
Promoter Joe Vavak calls it quits.
Rock band Ideal Cleaners summed it up from the stage: “This goes out to Joe. He’s helped us a lot over the years.”

There was one aspect of last Saturday night’s show at O’Leaver’s that didn’t quite fit the evening’s theme: The place was packed. That’s something that can’t be said about a typical Someday Never show. Leaning against the railing, I turned to Joe’s old comrade, Mike Perry, and said maybe tonight Joe will actually make some money. He just looked at me and we both smiled. No. Joe will give the door money to the bands. Two of them — Rent Money Big and Ideal Cleaners — made the trip from Lincoln on sloppy roads. It’s the least he can do.

Joe Vavak — a.k.a. Joe Someday of Someday Never Productions — never did it for the money, and that’s one of the reasons he was saying goodbye to the whole dirty business Saturday night at the last show he says he’ll ever book.

What’s he leaving behind? Long drives to the venue from his West Omaha home. Late nights dealing with belligerent sound guys, clueless door guys and the anxious bands with the endless problems. Worrying if the bands will show up at all. The choking cigarettes (Joe doesn’t smoke), the drunks (Joe doesn’t drink), the loud music (which wasn’t always good). The nights when no one showed up, leaving Joe to explain to the out-of-town band that there’s only 20 bucks from the door (and nothing at all for the locals). Twenty lousy bucks, a pauper’s sum for a bunch of musicians who will be packing up their gear and either looking for a floor to sleep on, or hitting the road to get a jump on Chicago or Kansas City or, god forbid, Denver.

No, when the plusses and minuses are totaled, Joe says he never made a dime from promoting shows. If there’s one thing you can say about him — good or bad, depending on your viewpoint — it’s that Joe is idealistic, maybe to a fault. He believes in his heart in supporting the local music scene for the scene’s sake. Or at least he used to.

Joe explained that Someday Never wasn’t always just him. It was also partners Mike Perry, Jimmy Winter and a handful of others who helped get the ball rolling almost a decade ago. It began in the summer of ’98 as a punk website (originally gotpunk.com). Over the years it evolved into a booking agency, beginning with a gig featuring punk bands Strike Anywhere, Boycaught and Putrescene at the old Farnam St. venue in 2002 — 110 shows ago. In its heyday, Someday Never even became a record label, releasing Rent Money Big’s debut, Proper Flesh Suit. There were always more records on the horizon, but they never materialized due to lack of funds.

“We had momentum at one point,” Joe said. “That momentum’s been lost. Someday Never used to be me and other people, then it became just me. And now it’s coming to an end. I need a break. I’m pretty burned out on the whole thing.”

Beyond fatigue, Joe’s disillusionment stems from a music scene that’s become “too much about the money.” When Someday Never began, Omaha music was just beginning to garner national attention. It quickly ballooned. Joe couldn’t compete with other local promoters (one in particular) who, quite frankly, had a better business sense than he did — and really were in it for the money. And what’s wrong with that?

Then there’s Joe’s burgeoning career as a fine art photographer. His work — quietly powerful static images of commercial buildings, homes and objects — has been exhibited at Hot Shops, the Public Library, and Corning, Iowa (You have to start somewhere). His plan is to build a name for his photographic style and develop commercial work to augment his paycheck from Sears.

“I have to make money somehow.”

After the last guitar chord of the evening, I left Joe talking to a beautiful young girl that had her arm around him, but who was “just a friend.” Same ol’ Joe. Why doesn’t the nice guy ever get the girl? He wants better. He deserves better. Maybe he’ll find it, in his photography, in something else. But 28 isn’t 18. I recall Saddle Creek Record’s Robb Nansel once telling me that if you stay involved in music until you’re 30, you’ll be involved in it the rest of your life. Joe missed it by a couple years.

I asked Joe if he just outgrew the whole thing, and he nodded. Yeah, maybe he has. The new stuff isn’t doing it for him anymore, and nothing looks promising on the horizon. Funny thing about getting old, sometimes you outgrow music.

And now, the winners of the Lazy-i Best of 2006 Compilation CD. There was a limited number of pressings this year, and as a result, only two names were drawn from the hat. Those names were Mary Anderson of Long Beach, California; and Elizabeth Irvine from right here in Omaha. I’ll be dropping your CDs in the mail in the next day or two. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered.

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