Growler USA targets original music in West Omaha; Maha announcement, Those Far Out Arrows, Arc Flash, Jonathan Richman tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:56 pm March 30, 2017

by Tim McMahan,

Brent Malnack, owner of new brew pub/restaurant/music venue Growler USA IM’d me yesterday to say Matt Whipkey Band will be playing free shows at his place from 9 to 10:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday.

Growler USA, part of a national chain, is located way out in what I’ve heard referred to as Wonder Bread Land —  16268 Evans Plaza (right off 162nd and Maple). Malnack, who books the club, said he’s focusing on original music, not cover bands — which is something new for West O.

“All original music with the exception of the Rat Pack Jazz guys and other jazz acts,” he said. “Singer-songwriter types like Mace Hathaway and Sarah Brandt. We have Gaudio, Matt Cox Band, Charlie Burton and others coming up.”

Malnack says he and his co-owner wife have put much coin into the 120-capacity room’s sound system. “We’ve got over 1,000 pounds of custom sound panels hanging in the room. It is more studio than club,” he said. “Tom Ware did all of the sound treatments.” Ware is a legendary soundman who runs Ware House Productions.

“Our thought is that with no cover charge people will drop in with nothing to lose,” he said. “If they hate it, they’ll leave. We’re trying to keep some of the younger folks from making the trip to Benson, or at least stopping by our place on the way down.”

Still, I assumed based on the bands he mentioned that he was interested in mostly Americana and blues acts and might stay clear of indie, garage and punk rock. “Only one rule so far,” Malnack said, “no pointy guitars (metal, hair metal). Everything else is welcome.”

Over the years I’ve gotten into lengthy arguments with members of the Omaha music community over whether original music like the stuff booked in midtown would go over in West Omaha. I believe there is an enormous, exponentially huge audience of kids, young adults and music fans west of 72nd St. who are untapped in this music scene. It would be interesting to see how a traditional O’Leaver’s/Brothers/One Percent-type band — i.e., indie/garage band — would translate out west.

Something tells me the pay scale blows away midtown clubs. Just sayin’. Here’s an opportunity for bands to grow a fan base and make good money.

I plan on checking out Growler USA this weekend. If I do, I’ll have a full report next week.

In the meantime, Kevin Coffey has a detailed article about Growler USA in today’s Go section. Check it out.

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Tonight the Maha Music Festival folks have their big reveal at Reverb Lounge starting at 7 p.m. No doubt they will be tapping into their social media streams to spread the news as bands are announced. Maha’s “line-up video” premiers at 8 p.m. Reaction here tomorrow. As I mentioned before, it’s an impressive line-up and a bit of a change in direction from last year’s festival. And yes, I think it could very well sell out again this year…

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Lawrence band Arc Flash headlines. Joining them is our very own Those Far Out Arrows and Condor & Jaybird. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Modern Lovers founder Jonathan Richman (featuring Tommy Larkins (Giant Sand) on drums) plays The Waiting Room. 8 p.m., $15.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.

1 Comment »

  • I know I’m not the only “senior” out here in West “O” (I don’t eat Wonder Bread) who travels to Bensonand elsewhere to hear good original music! I hope Growler does well and plan to check it out. We older folk grew up with the singer/songwriters that are being emulated by the younger artists, you know!

    Comment by Dan Cox (Matt's dad!) — March 30, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

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