New Simon Joyner (and others) for sale for a good cause; BFF, Mitch Gettman tonight; Wagon Blasters Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:05 pm February 3, 2017

Mitch Gettman at The Waiting Room, May 2, 2014. He plays tonight at The Barley Street Tavern.

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to what’s happening (or what’s not happening) this weekend, let me point you to a special deal from singer/songwriter Simon Joyner. Here’s Simon, via Facebook:

Friends, I’m putting up “The Phoenix Demos: Songs for Upcoming 2017 Album” for exclusive purchase during the Bandcamp fundraiser tomorrow. Nine out of 12 songs I recorded live a couple of weeks ago in Phoenix with just guitar, vocal and Michael Krassner on piano to prepare for the new album we are about to record with the band in Omaha. Get the stripped down sneak peak at songs being considered for a new album.

“I’m only making these demos available for one day at a premium to hopefully raise some money for the ACLU Nationwide, Planned Parenthood, and the Refugee Empowerment Center. You are encouraged to pay more than the asking price if you can, it will all go to these organizations. I’m also making available “Salt Lake City House Show 10-20-16 (with David Nance).” It’s a particularly well-recorded show from the Diss Riptide living room tour we did a few months ago and the only show that David Nance joined me for the entire set!”

The sale is part of #NoBanNoWall, a Bandcamp effort with more than 200 artists and labels donating their Bandcamp profits to the ACLU and other organizations in support of immigrants and refugees. Check out the index and buy some stuff.

Also, Saddle Creek Records is donating the proceeds from its Bandcamp sales today to the Refugee Empowerment Center in Omaha.

* * *

Well, this is about as sparse a weekend for shows as I can remember.

Tonight, of course, is Benson First Friday, and I would be remiss in not mentioning the art show being held at the gallery operated by my wife — The Little Gallery in downtown Benson across the street from The Sydney on the storefront level of the Masonic Lodge. Titled Oscillating Bodies, the show features the work of Torrey Smith and Nadia Shinkunas. Opening hours are 6 to 9 p.m., free and snacks and beer/wine will be available. Swing by and say hello and buy some art. More info here.

The BFF showcase at The Barley Street Tavern features FINO, Lowercase Tres, Ben Jones and singer/songwriter Mitch Gettman. 9 p.m. $5.

That brings us to Saturday night, when you’ve got one of the most eclectic mixes to appear in one night at fabulous O’Leaver’s. It kicks off at 9:30 with Dereck Higgins Experience — the debut of Higgins’ new band project. Dereck is one of Omaha’s most well-known and talented bass players, whose history dates back to ’80s first wave act Digital Sex. Next up is the always entertaining Wagon Blasters featuring tractor-punk legend Gary Dean Davis behind the microphone. The night ends with the two-person heavy-metal grind of Big Al Band. All this for a mere $5.

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

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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.

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‘Bad Guitarist’ David Nance in HN: TBT: Feb. 2, 2007 — Them House Show Blues and old Commander Venus reunion rumors…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:44 pm February 2, 2017
Slowdown Virginia at Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2010.

In the #TBT Lazy-i Archive: Slowdown Virginia at Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2010.

by Tim McMahan,

No shows again tonight and not much else happening, though I want to point you to a feature that just went online at Hear Nebraska — a mammoth profile of David Nance by Andrew Stellmon that’s worth your time, with a classic line:  “After once seeing The Ghosts, Conor Oberst told (Simon) Joyner that Nance was ‘the best bad guitarist’ he had ever seen.'” Joyner goes on to explain the quote, but I don’t want give away any spoilers, go read it yourself and get to know Nance, who is bubbling up in a national sort of way.

This week’s #TBT dip into the Lazy-i archives is a mixed bag, but I figured it might be fun just to see what we were all up to in a kinder, gentler time before our government was taken over by a monarchy, and so on… take a look.

Them house party blues, Ed Grey, Oxford Collapse tonight; Slowdown Virginia reunion?Lazy-i, Feb. 2, 2007

One of the biggest shows of the weekend is, in fact, a house party being held tonight at “Frank’s Hotel” across the street from The Brother’s Lounge and starring Capgun Coup, Coyote Bones, The Family Radio and Flowers Forever.

House parties continue to be a staple of indie music, they’re the most convenient outlet for bands and their underage fans to get together without the added cost of a hall rental. It also turns the tables on the whole age issue. Just like those under 21 can’t get into bars, those over 21 can become somewhat suspect at house shows. Those over 30 become oddities. And those over 40 who don’t know anyone there become the elephant in the room: “Look, someone’s dad is here.” “Sir, please, take my chair, I’m fine standing up.” “How’s it going… cop.” Or, simply, “Who’s the freak in the corner?” I joke, of course.

But I have to admit I remember a time when I was in high school and went to house parties (ones where the centers of attention were a keg and a Hal Holbrook party hat (Editor’s Note: That’s slang for beer bong.). Whenever you saw an old guy there (say, in his mid-20s) you thought, “Jeeze, I hope I don’t end up like that old guy.” Music transcends age issues (especially indie music), but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable for those of us with graying temples. It is, as I’ve said before, my problem and no one else’s. I know I wouldn’t be the subject of ridicule (at least not in earshot), but still…

Look, if you’re wise and mature enough to not have my hang-ups, don’t miss this show. Coyote Bones is one of those bands that obviously has “it,” and will get signed by a savvy indie label in the very near future. The Family Radio is Nik Fackler’s posse and features arguably the best bass player in Omaha in Dereck Higgins (a guy who has no qualms about his age, nor should he). Capgun Coup epitomize the Archers of Loaf/Pavement slacker esthetic with an extra scoop of Omaha tuneful(less)ness thrown in for good measure. And Flowers Forever will be celebrating their debut.

So what will I be doing this weekend (in 2007)?

There are two other good shows tonight. Sokol Underground gets back into the indie swing of things with Sub Pop recording artist Oxford Collapse, Thunderbirds Are Now! and Latitude, Longitude. 9 p.m., $8.

Meanwhile, down at O’Leaver’s it’s a folk explosion with Iowa City’s Ed Gray. Ed’s worked with John Crawford (Head of Femur, Grey Ghost), violinist Tiffany Kowalski (Lullaby for the Working Class, Mayday, Shelley Short), and producer Alex McManus (The Bruces, Bright Eyes) as well as a ton of other Omaha musicians creatively linked to Simon Joyner. Also on the bill, the rocking Miracles of God, Petit Mal and The Front. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally, in an interview with Conor Oberst posted on, the boy wonder talks about a possible Slowdown Virginia or Commander Venus reunion in honor of the grand opening of the Slowdown entertainment facility this summer.

Says the article: The opening could feature a performance by erstwhile indie rockers Slowdown Virginia. And Oberst said that while nothing’s been discussed yet, he thinks reuniting his former band, Commander Venus – which disbanded in 1997 after just two years – would make the night even more interesting.

“It would be very funny if that happened,” he said. “I wouldn’t imagine there’s much of a demand for that reunion, but it’s possible. We’re all still around, but I doubt [guitarist] Robb [Nansel] would ever get onstage again.” But Oberst says that reuniting with his other former outfit, Desaparecidos, is “certainly a possibility. I could see that happening at some point down the line.” (Read the whole interview, (still online) here.)

Conor’s talked about a Desa reunion since before Wide Awake came out, and others close to the project all the way back in March 2005 told me that new Desa music had been recorded and only awaited Oberst to add the vocals — which apparently never happened. As welcome as a reunion would be, I’m not holding my breath on this one. A Commander Venus reunion would be fun, but a Slowdown Virginia reunion would be stellar, and appropriate. Why the original Slowdown CD — Dead Space — hasn’t been reissued by Creek (or someone else) is a mystery to me, since it stands up today (I just listened to “Whipping Stick” again this morning). —Lazy-i, Feb. 2, 2007

* * *

Well, that Commander Venus reunion never happened and likely never will. But the Desaparecidos reunion did happen, and we all know how that ended. And Slowdown Virginia reunited three years later in 2010 to a sold out Slowdown crowd (Here’s the review).

Frank’s Hotel (I think) is West Wing these days, but the under-21 set also has Milk Run for shows, and now we’ve got an under-age ordinance thing that allows minors into music venues with parental permission slips, which wasn’t around 10 years ago.

And though I’m 10 years older, I’m still not intimidated about going to shows at Milk Run where I’m clearly old enough to be most of the crowd’s grand-pappy. That’s one of the reasons I like indie rock — most of us who listen to it are outsiders (and misfits) and there’s always room for another misfit at an indie rock show, no matter how old he is…

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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.


New Tim Kasher; 21 Saloon closes; Cherry Glazerr, Slow Hollows, Young and Heartless, Museum Mouth tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:13 pm February 1, 2017

by Tim McMahan,

The second single off Tim Kasher’s upcoming debut on Cursive’s new label, 15 Passenger, hit the internet yesterday. “Break Me Open” is a gorgeous heart-break pop song that floats on a cushion of lovely strings. Kind of reminds me of “From the Hips,” not sure why. Check it out below. Tim’s doing the presale at Bandcamp for No Resolution; the album comes out March 3.

* * *

Word went around yesterday that The 21st Saloon on south 96th St. is now closed. The venue focused on blues shows and “while blues shows were generally well-attended, it was not enough to pay the bills.” Sounds like Blues Society of Omaha is moving some of its series to Chrome Lounge on 85th and Park Drive. 21st Saloon had been around since 2012. Any time a club that features live music closes it’s not a good sign for the health of the city’s overall music scene…

* * *

It’s been awhile, but there’s actually a touring indie rock band playing tonight at Slowdown Jr. California garage band Cherry Glazerr got its start on Burger Records, while their latest, Apocalipstick, is out on Secretly Canadian. Opening is LA-based indie band Slow Hollows (Danger Collective Records). $14, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, The Milk Run has Young and Heartless (Hopeless Records) with Kississippi (Soft Speak Records) and Museum Mouth (Equal Vision). $10, 9 p.m.

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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.


Live Review: Take Cover VI-Omaha (Song Syndrome, Jocelyn)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:48 pm January 30, 2017

Song Syndrome at The Waiting Room as part of Take Cover VI, Jan. 28, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ve criticized Hear Nebraska in the past for the format behind its Take Cover events, or as I jokingly used to describe them: “Bands you don’t know covering songs by bands you don’t know.”

Well, if Saturday night’s crowd is any indication, Andy Norman (HN’s executive director) and team should keep things just the way they are. By the time I left the festivities a little after 10 p.m., The Waiting Room was comfortably packed with the biggest crowd I’ve seen at one of these events.

I caught only the first 90 minutes or so of Take Cover performers. Two acts stood out:

Song Syndrome used to be a band called Anthems (thanks for the data, Mr. Manner). It’s a red-hot rock outfit with Social Distortion overtones and an in-your-face frontman who looks like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. They bit off a little more than they could chew when the tried covering an Elliott Smith song, and inasmuch admitted it from stage. Still, their own material was head on, brutal. Why they would change their name from Anthems to Song Syndrome is a mystery, but I suggest they either change it back or come up with a better name, because unfortunately, in this age when there are a zillion new bands starting up every day, your band name actually matters.

The other standout was local phenom Jocelyn, who has been tearing up the stages like the Side Door Lounge for awhile now, developing a rather sizable following for her brand of acoustic pop. Her style and energy are undeniably infectious, and her voice could make her a finalist on The Voice. Jocelyn covered an Ally Peeler song and one other, and then did an original that got the crowd to explode.

What stood out as much as her voice and energy was her youth. Jocelyn looked like a teenager but performed like a seasoned veteran. I was reminded of one of my all-time favorites, Tracy Chapman, except for the fact that Chapman’s music (specifically her debut album) is layered with deep, painful emotions on songs about survival and redemption. Jocelyn’s songs, on the other hand, are as shiny and upbeat as you might expect from someone her age. In her defense, Chapman was 23 when she recorded her Grammy-winning debut. Jocelyn still has some living to do, but maybe she’s better off never going to those dark places…

Mr. Norman tells me this was the most successful Take Cover weekend in the organization’s history, pulling in thousands in donations from the 300 or so on hand at The Waiting Room and the nearly as many who went to the Bourbon edition Friday night in Lincoln.

For years I’ve always tried to convince Andy to focus on only one artist for the covers portion of the show; host something like “Take Cover: Elliott Smith” or “Take Cover: Tim Kasher,” wherein all the participants select one song to cover by the featured Nebraska artist. But why fiddle with an already winning formula?

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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.


Another Take Cover weekend; David Nance, Cult Play tonight; Sun-Less Trio, Lodgings, Lupines Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:37 pm January 27, 2017

The Sun-Less Trio at The Waiting Room, Oct. 7, 2015. The band plays Saturday at The Brothers Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s another Take Cover weekend in Omaha and Lincoln. The annual event, a fund-raiser for everyone’s favorite music non-profit, Hear Nebraska, features local bands covering other local bands’ songs plus performing one or two of their own.

The Lincoln version is tonight at The Bourbon, while Omaha’s edition is tomorrow night at The Waiting Room. Among the 12 performers in Omaha are See Through Dresses, David Nance, Mint Wad Willy and Thick Paint. Covers will include songs by The Good Life, Neva Dinova, Elliot Smith and Bright Eyes.

The 8 p.m. show is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. This is the sixth year for Take Cover and each year it gets bigger and better. Do it.

What else this weekend?

David Nance kicks off a big weekend at The Brothers tonight. He’ll be headlining with Satanic Abortion and Suzie Q. $5, 9 p.m. (though Brothers shows are notoriously for starting late).

Also tonight self-proclaimed dark-techno band Cult Play headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Little Ripple and Big Slur (Dan Scheuerman of Deleted Scenes). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday night…

The Sun-Less Trio have a new CD they’ll be selling at The Brothers Lounge before and after their performance. The disc’s packaging contains a highly detailed explanation of how frontman/engineer/producer Mike Saklar recorded the album — very technical stuff involving analog equipment and other doo-dads. Tape-Op would be proud.

Performed by Saklar on guitar/vocals/keys, Cricket Kirk on bass and Marc Phillips on drums, the 8-song collection has been in the works for a number of years, and now is available for your listening pleasure.

Sun-Less Trio actually opens the Brothers show. Also on the bill are Relax, It’s Science and headliner Lodgings. And the fine folks from B&G Tasty Foods will be on hand slinging their famous loose-meat sandwiches. $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, the mighty Lupines headlines at The Sydney in Benson. Sean Pratt and the Sweats and The Morbs open. $5, 9 p.m.

Slowdown Jr. Saturday night has Conny Franko (M34n Str33t), CJ Mills, Haunted Gauntlet and headliner The Regulation celebrating an album release. $5, 9 p.m.

That’s not all. Joining Edison & the Elephant and Satellite Junction at O’Leaver’s is Big Wheel, a rock band that features Jason Churchill and Kevin Hiddleston, two of the most notorious sound engineers in the city. Believe me, if you go to shows, you’ve seen these dudes twirling the knobs. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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

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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.


#TBT: Jan. 31, 2007: The Wait Is Over; Turnpike Troubadours tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:02 pm January 26, 2017

In beautiful Downtown Benson..

by Tim McMahan,

This truly is a landmark year for Omaha’s music scene as two of its prominent music venues are celebrating 10-year anniversaries.

When The Waiting Room was announced a decade ago this month it was a surprise to many. We knew the dudes at One Percent Productions were looking for a place to call their own rather than to continue renting Sokol Underground; but few people knew where they were looking. There had been rumors that the Sokol facility was in their cross hairs along with the Saddle Creek Bar (can you believe at one time both The Slowdown and One Percent were looking at the Metcalf Park area for their locations?).

I wonder how The Waiting Room and The Slowdown will celebrate their anniversaries… We’ll just have to wait and see. For now, step back into the Lazy-i vaults and relieve this announcement all over again…

Column 112: The Wait Is Over
One Percent to Open Music Venue
Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

For the guys at One Percent Productions, a long-held dream is about to become a reality.

That dream is called The Waiting Room, a new venue slated for an early March launch at 6212 Maple St., the location of the now-defunct Marnie’s Place. The impending opening is bound to send shockwaves throughout the Omaha music scene, sending askew the delicate balance that exists among a handful of clubs that also host indie rock shows.

Why all the hoo-ha? Because The Waiting Room is owned and operated by Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz, the dynamic duo behind what is arguably the city’s most important promotion company, One Percent Productions — the folks who, along with Saddle Creek Records, helped forge this city’s reputation as a national indie music Mecca.

Anyone who’s known Johnson and Leibowitz over the past decade knows that they’ve spent almost as much time looking for a suitable location to open their own club as they have booking shows. Now they’ve found it in the heart of Benson.

Though it’s been talked about in hushed voices for weeks, Johnson officially confirmed the rumor a few days ago after negotiations with the landlord were signed, sealed and delivered. Details are still sketchy since he and Leibowitz only received the keys on Monday, but here’s what Johnson knows for sure:

The estimated 250-capacity club will book a wide range of music in a variety of genres, not just the indie fare that One Percent is known for. Johnson said in addition to local and national indie bands, look for more adult-oriented music, including rockabilly, country, folk, reggae, blues, and yes, even cover bands. Plans call for live music five days a week, with Leibowitz doing the lion’s share of booking.

Facility-wise, look for the usual bar accoutrements, including pool tables, pinball machines, a good jukebox, even those stupid bar-top videogames. The establishment will have a full liquor license, but no food will be served, which means — you guessed it — smoking will be permitted.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about parking? Johnson said there’s plenty of street parking and also some parking to the south of the building, behind the hardware store.

He said the venue’s premium sound system will set it apart from all the other clubs in Omaha. “We’re spending a lot of money on the sound system,” Johnson said. “Jason Churchill, who does sound for us at Sokol Underground, is designing the system, and it will be among the best.”

But Johnson said The Waiting Room’s edge over the other guys comes from the duo’s decade of experience successfully booking bands in rooms all over town. One Percent Productions’ rep is renowned among national agents who handle the highest quality touring bands. “We’ve shown what we can do at the clubs we’ve worked with over the years,” Johnson said. “That’s really our advantage.”

So what about that name, The Waiting Room? Johnson said it’s derived from the opening track off Fugazi’s classic 1989 album, 13 Songs. The throbbing post-punk anthem sports the line: “I won’t make the same mistakes / Because I know how much time that wastes / Function is the key / In the waiting room.” It’s kind of like how the promotion company’s name came from a Jane’s Addiction song, “1%,” which has the inspiring lyric, “I’m tired of living the bosses’ dream.” The duo was toying with the idea of renaming the club The Liftticket Lounge since it’s the site of the fabled venue that hosted, among others, Nirvana and Soundgarden.

“The room has a legacy,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of cool.” In the end, they preferred to leave that legacy as part of Benson’s history.

The other burning question is how the club will impact One Percent’s ongoing promotion operations. Over the past decade, One Percent has booked nearly 1,000 shows primarily at Sokol Underground and Sokol Auditorium, but also at O’Leaver’s, The Saddle Creek Bar, The 49’r and nearby Mick’s.

Johnson said their promotion efforts won’t be affected at all, and in fact “it should allow us to do more shows at other places in town,” he said. “By offering another room, we’ll hopefully be able to get bigger and better shows. We still need Sokol and Slowdown and The Mid America Center and The Orpheum and The Rococo in Lincoln.”

In fact, tucked away in the back of the new venue will be the first official offices of One Percent Productions. “It’s going to be nice for Marc and I to be able to sit in an office together,” Johnson said. “Maybe it’ll give me the opportunity to be more involved with the live booking than I’ve been in the past. We already discuss every show over the phone, but now we’ll be able to do it face to face.” — Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

* * *

So what’s going on at The Waiting Room tonight? So-called “dirt country” band Turnpike Troubadours plays TWR tonight with Dalton Domino. $30, 9 p.m.

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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.



Live (and EP) Review: Bazile Mills; Nate Krenkel, Gonzalez form NAG Management…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:51 pm January 24, 2017

Bazile Mills at Reverb Lounge, Jan. 21, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

A few days ago I received an unexpected package in the mail: Where We Are, the debut EP by Bazile Mills — a finely produced 4-song 12-inch on black vinyl. I’ve mentioned before — send me vinyl and I will listen. And thus I have, and did again when they played their EP release show Saturday night at Reverb Lounge.

Bazile Mills is a big conglomeration of people on record and on stage. The record had a couple extra people on board who weren’t there Saturday night. Missing were vocalist Laura Long and viola player Avery Thomas. Both make central contributions on the record, so I was surprised at their absence, but as the New Yorker used to say, “musicians (and night-club proprietors) live complicated lives,” and things can get in the way on the night of your EP release show. Regardless, the stage was still crowded with three guitarists, bass and drummer and the occasional special guest.

Let’s talk about the record first. Two songs were recorded at the legendary ARC Studios by producer Ben Brodin (side A) and two were recorded at the legendary Hidden Tracks Studio by producer Jeremy Garrett. You can’t tell the diff in recording locales (which is a good thing, though I’m not sure what that says about either studio).

Opening track “Personal Concierge,” the only song voiced by Long, starts with a wispy violin/mandolin intro before shifting into 10,000 Maniacs gear. Track two, “Spirals Out,” sung by leader Dave Mainelli, tries for latter-day R.E.M., while  “We Are the Misfits (Just Like You)” leans closer to Decemberists territory. The closer/title track (and personal favorite) pulls it all together along with a fine trumpet line and laid-back, easy-going vocals by Sam Vetter, who really should sing more.

In fact, Vetter was a highlight Saturday night (along with drummer Robb Clemans) as the band rolled through the new songs along with a few from an early digital release. The room was packed, and it indeed felt like a party, with Mainelli calling out a number of friends in the crowd. If I were to venture a guess I’d say Bazile Mills is a labor of love more than a career move by these musicians, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, considering the current state of the music industry, it’s becoming the only way to go.

* * *

Some music industry news that just dropped into my email box…

Conor Oberst’s longtime managers Nate Krenkel and Gabriel Gonzalez have formed NAG Management, according to The new company will also represent Bright Eyes, Desaparacidos and the Mystic Valley Band.  Krenkel’s been involved with Oberst since that legendary Sony publishing rights deal way back in 2003.

Krenkel also runs Team Love Records with Autumn Seguin, who will be joining NAG, according to Billboard.

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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.


Rest in Peace Kronch; Low Long Signal tonight; Bazile Mills EP release Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:28 pm January 20, 2017

Mike Kronschnabel, a.k.a. Kronch, hosting an episode of Trout Tunes.

by Tim McMahan,

Before I get to the weekend, some thoughts on Mike Kronschnabel, a.k.a. Kronch, who passed away yesterday.

If you were kicking around the Omaha music scene in the early ’90s you knew Kronch. He was a fixture at all the good rock shows with his video crew and their tri-pods and cables and microphones positioned off to the sides of the room, out of the way but close enough to catch the action on stage. Sometimes it was just Kronch with a video camera. Either way, you knew you were in the right place that night because Kronch was there videotaping the whole thing for his cable show, Trout Tunes.

We only spoke a few times when we bumped into each other at shows. He had a warm voice and a generous nature and was always good conversation because he knew his stuff and he had good taste and he was passionate about local original music. Everyone knew him and respected him because we knew he was documenting a scene that wasn’t going to be around forever. Well, more than 20 years later, Omaha’s music scene is still very much with us, built upon everything that came before it. And thanks to Kronch, we have a record of it to watch again on YouTube. Check out his channel.

These days when I go to shows every time I see a gang of digital camera people (usually from Hear Nebraska) I think of Kronch, who did it before anyone else. He is missed.

* * *

It’s a very limited weekend for rock shows.

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Low Long Signal headlines with Tenenbaums and Mint Wad Willy. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night it’s the EP release show for Bazile Mills at Reverb Lounge. The 4-song 12-inch I believe is the first release on new label Widmest Productions. No opener is listed. $8, 9 p.m.

That is all I have for this weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section.

* * *

BTW, on this inauguration day, I’m listening to Battle Hymns, a compilation album created in direct response to the current political situation in the U.S.A. It is a protest record! It was released digitally on inauguration day in opposition to the incoming administration. The album is available pay what you want at with all proceeds divided equally between Planned Parenthood, The ACLU and Artists include Mac McCaughan, Boss hog, Stephen Malkmus, Mary Timony, Qusi, Rebeccas Gates, Dough Martsch and more. Get your copy at

I’m sure there will be a lot more records like this one in the coming months and years. Collect them all.

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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.


#TBT: Jan. 24, 2007: Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) drinks tea at Target and strolls the dying halls of Crossroads…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:58 pm January 19, 2017

Dev Hynes circa 2007, then a member of Lightspeed Champion, stands next to a giant Buster Sword at Ala-Ka-Zam in the Crossroads. Blood Orange was still years away…

by Tim McMahan,

The future of Devonte Hynes was a bit murky 10 years ago when the following story was published in Lazy-i and The Reader. I’d never heard of the singer/songwriter and was simply looking for a way inside Mike Mogis’ at-the-time brand-spanking-new ARC Studios. Little did I know after working with the likes of Sky Ferreira, Carly Rae Jepson, Britney Spears even Kilie Minogue that Hynes would emerge years later as the break-out act Blood Orange, with the infectious dance hit “Best to You” off last year’s Freetown Sound.

On this Throwback Thursday, let’s step into the Wayback Machine and set the dials to 2007 and revisit Dev Hynes before he became Blood Orange…

Column 111: Englishmen in Omaha — Lazy-i, Jan. 24, 2007

Of Target, Chili’s and large knives

So I get this e-mail from UK label Domino Records telling me that one of their bands, Lightspeed Champion, was in Omaha recording with superstar producer Mike Mogis at ARC Studios — the new mansion studio that replaced Lincoln’s Presto! studios. Having seen the bands I’ve covered in the past, would I like to do an interview for Lazy-i?

Devonte Hynes, the mad genius behind Lightspeed, used to be the vocalist in Test Icicles, a band that only a couple years ago was on the verge of exploding across the London musical landscape, thanks to a rowdy style that combined noise with hardcore dance beats. After only a few club gigs around London in ’05, Test Icicles became the subject of a fierce label bidding war. Domino won, but a year after the release of their debut, For Screening Purposes Only, Test Icicles broke up. Here was a chance to find out why, while also getting a glance inside what I’ve been told is the sweetest recording studio in the region.

Domino set up the interview for last Monday. I was to meet Dev at the studio at 7 p.m. It was colder than hell the night I drove up to the large, ’60s-style house right on Dodge St. Sure didn’t look like a studio. I walked up to the door and knocked, certain that I had the wrong address. But no. Answering the door was Mike Mogis, spoon in hand. He was in the throes of making dinner for his family — a smiling wife appeared at the stairs, an adorable child skipped across the floor, and even Mike’s Brother, AJ, was there, standing next to the kitchen island by a large bowl of salad-looking food. I felt like an ass.

Dev? Oh, he’s over in the guest house. Mike pointed out his back window to another house across the compound. He kindly let me cut through his kitchen and out the back door. As I made my way across the frozen tundra, off to the right was the recording studio building, glowing in the night. That was the closest I got to it.

Instead, I made my way to the guesthouse where I was met by Tom Clarke, a cello player and part of Lightspeed. Inside, Dev sat behind a Powerbook near a kitchen table overflowing with sugary Halloween candies. Tiny empty boxes of Nerds littered the table. From upstairs came Ian Aeillo, an engineer who works with Mogis and is working on the Lightspeed project.

“They want to go to Target,” Ian said. “I’m sorry about all this.” There’s nothing like Target in London — at least not in the part of London where Dev and Tom are from — and the duo had become obsessed with it, having walked to Crossroads a number of times since arriving a week earlier to begin recording. So we all piled into my dirty Sidekick and headed to the mall.

So far, the English duo’s Omaha experience had been like Bowie’s in The Man Who Fell to Earth, aliens discovering mysteries in the most mundane things that we take for granted. Tom and Dev’s other memorable shopping experience: USA Baby, which they had mistakenly pronounced USA, Baby! and hence, expected a mod fashion boutique instead of a store filled with baby goods. “We have nothing like that in London,” Tom said. Nor do they have stores dedicated to cowboy gear, like Wolf Brothers next door — a store they were too intimidated to enter. “But we’re going back,” Tom said. “I want hats and spurs.”

“I could happily stay here for awhile,” Dev said, sipping his tea. “I’m quite content. I don’t need much.”

Omaha couldn’t be more different than the poverty-laden area where Dev lives, an East London borough called Hackney. “It’s one of the worst places in the UK,” he said. In fact, a few days before leaving for Omaha Dev was jumped by a gang brandishing guns and knives. He recounts the story nonchalantly. “The guy said, ‘You want your life to end right now?’ and I said, ‘I don’t fucking care.’ My friends had to pull me away, and pull me into my place so I didn’t get shot in the face.”

“We live there because our friends live there,” said Tom, who lives a few blocks from Dev in the nearby borough Towers Hamlets. “London isn’t like here. It’s so big. Here, it’s so small. Literally everyone is in this small place. It’s surprising, this Saddle Creek thing. There are a lot of bands in East London, but it’s not a connected scene, just a lot of people in bands. Here, it’s all local and integrated, it’s so awesome.”

Becoming part of that scene was the last thing on Dev’s mind when he made the demo that ended up with Mogis, who agreed to produce their debut album. “I was quite shocked,” Dev said. “He’s done some pretty awesome stuff, like Cursive’s The Ugly Organ.”

So far, Clark Baechle, Nate Wolcott and Mogis all have contributed to the Lightspeed recording. “The Tilly girls might do some percussion,” Dev said. “The music scene here is a bunch of friends. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. Ian and Mike don’t think twice about it. The other day they were talking about asking Tim to come over to watch football. I turned to Tom and said, ‘Is he talking about Cursive?’ It’s the way everyone wants their music scene to be.”

For the next hour over peppermint tea at Target, Dev and Tom talked about the recording and explained what happened to Test Icicles.

“We’d been saying we would split up for ages,” Dev said of his former band. “We didn’t like the music, we didn’t want the money, we didn’t want to be famous, why were we doing it? So we just split up. Everyone was saying, ‘Man, you could have played Brixton Academy.’ Well, wouldn’t you rather make music you like? People around London didn’t understand. Now they do.”

Dev said Lightspeed Champion gives him a chance to do what he wants. “The music shifts between country, folk and grunge, with a running story line,” he said. “And we’re doing this comic book with it. It’s all completely selfish. Being here now, recording it, it blows my mind.

“It’s going to be the best album in the world,” he added, half-joking. “Sometimes I’m recording and I hear a whisper in the distance, and that whisper is saying ‘Grammy, Grammy, Grammy…‘ I’m aiming for the shelves of Target, the ones with the picture above it.”

Certainly the indie scene could use a savior to lift it from its current doldrums. Dev and Tom seemed skeptical that a savior is coming from London or anywhere else any time soon.

“Nothing’s happened on a world-scale since The Strokes, and before that, Nirvana,” Dev said. What about Arcade Fire? Dev and Tom both lit up with the mention of the Canadian band, having loved Funeral, but said a lot is riding on the band’s follow-up, the forthcoming Neon Bible. “I like to think that no one cares about this sort of thing, but if Neon Bible doesn’t sell as much as Funeral, it’s instantly going to be deemed a failure. You see it all the time. People are now talking about the downfall of The Arctic Monkeys. How can that band fall from grace without even having released a second album or touring?

“Shit like that is why (Test Icicles) broke up,” Dev said. “Things got to a really weird point. I’m sure there are a million bands doing what Test Icicles was doing. It wasn’t groundbreaking.”

Still, songs like the brazen “Circle. Square. Triangle.” were pure dance-floor candy. “I was listening to Dance Macabre at the time that came out,” Dev said. “We were listening to Ex Models a lot, and the first Rapture stuff. When we wrote it, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this gets played and the club reopened? — The song is an ode to the club we played in, kind of like a joke.”

Did Dev outgrow his former band’s clubby sound? “We didn’t grow out of it, we weren’t into it as much,” Dev said. “You kind of change between 17 and 20. At the time, we all were making new bands every week out of complete enjoyment. We’d play a gig and break up. We did it repeatedly, constantly.”

Dev said that after the Lightspeed Champion sessions end — probably in the next few weeks — he’s going to disappear. “Mike will mix the record. I guess it’ll come out in the fall — it’s not up to me. After this is done I’m just going to lock myself away for awhile. I’m going to stay inside and chill until it’s time to tour.”

Before heading to Chili’s to pick up a “to go” order, the four of us strolled through the half-dark, dying mall to Ala-Ka-Zam, a store that features giant, 60-pound Final Fantasy “Buster Swords” (a best-seller, according to the store’s proprietor who was happy just to have someone to talk to), along with a collection of bizarre decorative weaponry inspired by comic books and role-playing games — the kind of stuff you see sold on cable shopping channels at 3 a.m. by guys who sound like trailer-park hillbillies.

Of course Dev and Tom had never seen anything like Ala-Ka-Zam, and took the opportunity to snap pictures holding the gigantic cheaply made metal swords. In a few weeks, they’ll be back in London, thousands of miles away from Omaha and Target and our dying mall. Ah, but they’ll always have the memories. — Lazy-i Jan. 24, 2007

BTW, the name of the Mogis-produced album Lightspeed Champion released a year later on Domino Records was Falling off the Lavender Bridge. It reached the No. 45 spot on the UK album charts. Pitchfork gave it a 6.3 rating and it pretty much has been forgotten in the annuls of time…

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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.


New Conor Oberst album, gig March 9 at TWR; new Whipkey ACLU track; Pile goes boating…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:46 pm January 18, 2017

Conor Oberst (sunglasses on head) with The Felice Brothers and Jim Keltner during the recording of “Salutations” at Shangri-la Studios in Malibu, CA. Photo by Julia Brokaw.

by Tim McMahan,

Just when I said nothing was happening, along comes Conor Oberst this morning announcing that he’s releasing yet another album — a full-band studio version of the songs on last year’s Ruminations, plus seven new songs — that’s 17 songs and what I assume will be a double album called Salutations, out March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day!) on Nonesuch Records.

From the press release:

When Oberst wrote and recorded the songs on Ruminations, entirely solo – with just voice, piano, guitar and harmonica – he intended to ultimately record them with a full band. In the midst of putting together that band – upstate New York’s The Felice Brothers plus the legendary drummer Jim Keltner (Neil Young, Jackson Browne, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and many more) – the passionate responses Oberst was getting to those first solo recordings, from friends and colleagues, encouraged him to release the songs as-is, in their original sparse form, as his seventh solo album.

Meanwhile, Oberst simultaneously moved ahead with his plans to record with the band, heading to the famed Shangri-la Studios in Malibu to record Salutations – co-produced with Keltner and engineered by long-time musical compadre Andy LeMaster. Guest contributions come courtesy of Jim James, Blake Mills, Maria Taylor, M Ward, Gillian Welch, Gus Seyffert, Pearl Charles, Nathaniel Walcott and Jonathan Wilson.

Oberst, with The Felice Brothers as his backing band, will tour in celebration of Salutations beginning March 9 at The Waiting Room.

Tickets for the tour’s March dates go on sale Saturday, Jan. 21, at noon EST.

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Matt Whipkey has a new song out called “Fred, You’re Dead,” that was inspired by Friday’s presidential inauguration. “America is entering a period of uncertainty; our leaders, at times, appearing at great odds with the founding principles of our Constitution,” Whipkey said. “This song was born from that uncertainty.” Proceeds from the song’s purchase will be donated to the ACLU.

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And one piece of nautical show news… Boston band Pile is headed on the road in support of upcoming full-length A Hairshirt of Purpose (Exploding in Sound Records), out March 31. Among the tour’s announced dates is a performance on The River City Star May 7. Having gone on the river boat for last year’s Shannon and the Clams show, I can tell you this one should be a blast. Presumably more info soon…

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.