Mailbag: Speedy loves Mogis; new Nik Freitas; new SAVAK video; Brad Hoshaw, Charlie Parr tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:38 pm May 8, 2018

Brad Hoshaw at The Shark Club, March 19, 2016. Hoshaw plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

Tuesday is becoming mail-bag catch-up day…

Speedy Ortiz’s third album, Twerp Verse, came out last week on Carpark Records. As part of the media blitz, Speedy’s Sadie Dupuis did an interview with The 405 where she declares her undying love for ARC’s Mike Mogis, who mixed the new album.

From the interview:

You worked with Mike Mogis on this album, how did he come into it?

Dupuis: Yes! We’ve been in touch with Mogis for years about doing a record. We became friends, probably three years ago, and I obviously am such a big fan of his. Maybe that’s not an obvious thing, but my holy trinity when I was in 9th and 10th grade were Bright Eyes, Cursive and Rilo Kiley, and I would order by mail Saddle Creek records. He was the first producer that I remember knowing the name of, so it was really very cool that we found out he was a fan of Speedy, and had invited us to come see his studio, and now every time we go through Omaha we stay with him.

So we’d been wanting to do this record for a few years and the timing didn’t really work out for him to record it, but we were able to carve out some time for him to mix it. It’s the longest time I’ve ever spent in Omaha, normally I’m there for one or two nights, and we were there for close to three weeks. He’s obviously a thorough producer, but working with him as a mix engineer was so much more involved than any mixing process we’ve gone through; he really pays attention to the tiniest thing. For me, someone who’s an aspiring producer, it was really educational to see what kind of things he picks up on. Lyrics really matter to him in a way that I don’t think they always do to producers, especially when they’re strictly focused on the mixing. He’s automating every word so that everything’s audible, and just thinking very hard about the tone choices we made and how he can improve upon them. He has such an amazing assortment of gear that he’s collected over his however-many years of producing stuff, so that was really fun, to see what cool toys he’d be putting my guitars through on this particular track or day. So, yeah, only amazing things to say about Mogis, I really hope that we get to do a record from start to finish with him, maybe next time around. And what a childhood dream accomplished it was to do anything with him.

There’s more at The 405.

* * *

Mystic Valley Band member Nik Freitas dropped his first single, “What A Mess,” from his upcoming solo album Dark & Day out June 29. Among the guests on the record is Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor.

Freitas is also slated to play at fabulous O’Leaver’s June 8 with Miwi Laupa.

* * *

Former Omahan Mike Jaworski’s latest project SAVAK dropped a new video from their sophomore album Cut-Ups (out now on Ernest Jenning Record Co.) called “Christo’s Peers (Soon We’ll Be Floating).” The band is headed to Europe next week for a handful of dates.


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As you may or may not know, Brad Hoshaw is moving away to the West Coast. I’m not sure of the dates or reasons, just that he’s leaving. Which makes tonight’s opening gig at Reverb Lounge for Charlie Parr all that more important. Get yourself some Hoshaw while you can. $10, 8 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Ten Questions with Kevin Morby (@Reverb 8/28); Brad Hoshaw live at Ted & Wally’s…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:04 pm August 24, 2017

Kevin Morby plays at Reverb Monday, Aug. 28. Photo by Adarsha Benjamin

by Tim McMahan,

Before you read the answers to his Ten Questions survey, let me try to explain singer/songwriter Kevin Morby’s connection to Omahan Simon Joyner. Morby may be best known as the bassist for indie band Woods (though he also formed a band called The Babies), which has recorded seven albums on Woodsist Records, which has released albums by Kurt Vile, The Oh Sees, Real Estate aaaand... Simon Joyner. In fact, Joyner performed at the label’s “Woodsist Festival” a couple years ago.

So it’s a shame that Joyner won’t be at Morby’s show Aug. 28 at Reverb (because Simon’s currently on tour with David Nance). The good news is you’ll be able to hear Morby perform songs off City Music, his new LP on Dead Oceans Records. The album is an urban counter-point to his 2016 rural collection Singing Saw. That record pulled from Dylan and Cohen for influences, while City Music was influenced by Lou Reed and Patti Smith (and has similarities to Kurt Vile’s output).

1. What is your favorite album?

Kevin Morby: Skeleton Blues by Simon Joyner.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Any song not by Simon Joyner.

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

Having played with and met Simon Joyner.

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

That I’m not as good as Simon Joyner.

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

Simon Joyner

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

Omaha, Nebraska, because maybe Simon will come.

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

Last night and everywhere that Simon Joyner was not in the audience.

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 a full time musician to cover the bills, and devout Simon Joyner fan as hobby.

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

Simon Joyner guitar tech is attempt. Something I’d hate to do is be a cop.

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

That Simon Joyner lives there.

Kevin Morby plays with Shannon Lay Aug. 28 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $12, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to 

* * *

Last night Brad Hoshaw played an acoustic set as part of the Mode Shift Membership Kickoff outside of Ted and Wally’s in Benson (you can still sign-up for Mode Shift here). It was good weather, a good crowd and a good time.

Moments into his set, I thought of capturing Brad’s performance via Facebook Live (with Brad’s nod), which you can view below. It dawned on me that if an artist were to tap into the right Facebook channel, FB Live sessions could be an effective way to get their new music heard in a format unique from their recordings. Maybe after hearing a couple new songs from Brad’s just completed Four New Songs EP listeners will wander on over to and buy the CD. The following live acoustic version couldn’t be more different than the well-produced studio recording (that features a full band, strings, piano, etc.).

It’s also cool to see fans tap into the feed during the broadcast, from around town and around the country. There was close to 100 views during the live session; the session now has about 300 views… Check it out below.

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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.


Brad Hoshaw hits house circuit; Noah Sterba love; Nomaha Alerts: Luna, Beach Slang; Closeness tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:47 pm July 26, 2017

Closeness at O’Leaver’s April 30, 2016. The band plays at The Slowdown tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

What’s becoming a common occurrence (even with more established artists — Eric Bachmann just played a show at a house a couple blocks from me), Omaha singer/songwriter Brad Hoshaw announced he’s put together a “Summer House Tour.”

Although I’ve performed many house concerts over the years, this is my first time trying a full tour of house concerts,” Hoshaw said. “I will be performing 10 shows in living rooms and backyards across six states (NE, IA, WI, MN, SD, KS). The hosts are fans who have invited their friends and family to come enjoy a concert in their home. I’m not charging the hosts any money for the concert, but will rely on audience donations to fund my travels. My goal is to create a more authentic personal experience that will connect and strengthen the community that has formed around my music.”

Hoshaw will be selling an exclusive 4-song EP on the tour, which runs Aug. 3-20 starting in Overland Park, KS, and finishing in Lincoln, NE. The full schedule (including the Omaha date) is at

* * *

Noisey did a nice write-up on Noah Sterba’s new album, 13-Bar Blues. You can read it here.

People are taking notice of the cadre of talent talent surrounding Sterba, consisting of David Nance, Simon Joyner, and the team of musicians who appear on their records. Someone should come up with a name for them — how ’bout the Almost Music Collective, since they all have been known to hang out there…

* * *

I’ve been told that my NOmaha Alerts are little more than whining and are a negative especially in the face of all the other talent local promoters are bringing to town. Maybe so, but more than anything, they point out who’s passing over Omaha on their tour, and maybe one of those promoters can work a miracle and get them to add a local date, who knows?

Top of my NOmaha list is Luna, who just announced a North American tour. The closest pass to our fair city is Nov. 1-4, when they play Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis. The tour is in support of an album of covers (including songs by The Cure, Mink DeVille and Fleetwood Mac) called A Sentimental Education, and an instrumental EP called A Place fo Greater Safety — the band’s first  output since Luna’s last studio album Rendezvous, released 13 years ago. Someone get them here.

I think I already mentioned the Afghan Whigs NOmaha alert. Today the band released a new single called “You Want One,” which is available as a free download here. Anyway, they’re still not coming here.

And Beach Slang yesterday announced their fall headlining tour. The closest pass to Omaha is KC Sept. 9, Chicago Sept. 17, Denver Nov. 7. NOmaha, though notably See Through Dresses will be joining them on five dates in mid-November.

* * *

Back to what IS happening in Omaha… tonight Closeness, the project featuring Todd and Orenda Fink, opens for Nicolas Jaar at The Slowdown in the big room. Jaar is a Chilean music producer, mixing engineer and DJ based in NYC. Having listened to some of his stuff this morning on Spotify, dancing not only is advised, it’s recommended. $20, 8 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: Brad Hoshaw; SWMRS (Mr. Green Day’s son), The Frights, Pleasures tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:46 pm March 21, 2016
Brad Hoshaw at The Shark Club, March 19, 2016.

Brad Hoshaw at The Shark Club, March 19, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Notes from Saturday night’s show, please bear with me…

The Shark Club, located at 2808 S 72nd St, felt like the kind of place that was a hip, happenin’ hot-bed of late-night action… about 20 years ago.

Built above a Quality Inn hotel, the first thing you’re met with as you walk inside the ginchy, all-maroon lounge is a humid wave of chlorine, evidence of a nearby swimming pool. I asked the door guy, and he pointed to the adjacent room whose windows overlooked an enormous indoor pool and hot tub salon. Down below kids with yellow floaties on their arms splashed away while their parents enjoyed beverages neck-deep in hot bubbles. Ohh-la-la…

A loud crack! brought me back to reality, and a young ponytailed girl walked through the hall with a 3-stack of billiard-ball racks. I almost bumped into a guy eating french fries staring at a table while Fast Eddie Felson grimaced watching his cue ball drop in the corner pocket.

Back in the bar, Brad Hoshaw tested his microphone, surrounded by high-top tables, flat-panel TVs and 100-gallon fish tanks glowing with coral. His stage was a plywood platform backed by a huge 10-foot by 30-foot mirror. The lighting was weird. Hoshaw looked like an alien covered in odd patterns of cheap green-red-blue digital lights.

But after 10 minutes of futzing around, the sound wasn’t half-bad and Hoshaw began rolling through another high-quality solo acoustic set. He’s one of the few local performers who can entertain a room with just his voice and his guitar, thanks to the strength of his songwriting (first-tier all the way; like I said, if I only owned a label…).

The 30 or so on hand paid attention in a room not designed for live music. Three folks sat in a large out-of-place red-leather bolstered couch in front of a dormant fireplace that had a large TV mounted over it that showed a courtroom documentary instead if the NCAA tournament which was wall-to-wall in the other room. A group of folks next to the front door erupted in laughter. A family reunion. Hugs all around. Meanwhile, behind where I’m sat, plates of hot wings and nachos cooled untouched in the kitchen’s pickup window. A bell chimed for someone to fetch the victuals, but no one showed.

And so it went, a very different scene from 20 years ago, before cell phones and Tinder, back when a bar like The Shark Club got its name not because of the fish tanks but because of the action happening on the dance floor. Technology has made meat markets obsolete, turning them into pseudo sports bars, pool halls and now, music venues… sort of.

* * *

Lots o’ stuff happening this week. Two shows of note tonight alone.

Lookout Lounge does it again, this time bringing in SWMRS for a headlining show. The Oakland-based punk band features the son of Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong (Joey Armstrong) on drums — don’t hold it against them. From what I’ve heard online, they blow Green Day out of the water. Opening band The Frights has a new album just released produced by FIDLAR’s Zac Carper. Also on the bill are The Beat Seakers and The Way Out. Four bands for $13. Show starts early, at 7:30.

Also tonight, fabulous O’Leaver’s welcomes the cool synth-rock sound of Pleasures. The Florida band lists Battles, Flying Lotus and Tame Impala among their influences. Stephen Nichols opens. $5, 9:30 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Special Saturday Edition: Serial (members of Ritual Device, Bad Luck Charm), Back When, Brad Hoshaw Tribute tonight; Jake Bellows, Oquoa, Clarence Tilton Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:20 am December 26, 2015
Back When at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

Back When at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013. The band reunites again tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s hoping you had a great Christmas. How about that snow, Christmas Eve? What a pain in the ass. The street outside my house still hasn’t been properly cleared. Oh well, it’s inconsequential since I have four wheel drive. It certainly isn’t going to keep me away from the special holiday-tinged shows this weekend.

Top of list is Serial at The Brothers Lounge. Serial is a band that consists of John Wolf (Cellophane Ceiling, Bad Luck Charm, Porn), Tim Moss (Ritual Device, Porn), Lee Meyerpeter (Cactus Nerve Thang, Bad Luck Charm, Filter Kings) and Jerry Hug (Ritual Device, Porn). The show came out of the blue, and is sort of a sequel to last Christmas’s Ritual Device show (though I don’t expect to hear any RD songs tonight). Ron Wax a.k.a. Ron Albertson (ex-Mercy Rule) opens the show at 9:30 (though Brothers’ shows start notoriously late). $5.

Also tonight, Back When reunites at The Waiting Room. The noise-metal-doom band is back with their “We Sang As Ghosts” 5-man lineup. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the release of that album, Back When will be playing the record exclusively and in its entirety. Co-headlining is the reunion of black-out metal band Paria. Timecat opens. $10, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down the street at The Barley Street Tavern, a clutch of local singer/songwriters/bands are getting together for a tribute to the late Brad Hoshaw. Actually, the only thing late about Brad is that he’s late getting his next album out (which I’ve been told is a departure from his usual singer/songwriter stuff to new electronic vistas. Really, Brad? Don’t be such a hold-out). Among the musicians/bands scheduled to cover Hoshaw tunes are Scott Severin, Daniel Burns, Elisa Doo, John Klemmensen, Low Long Signal, Mark Sebring, Jeremy Mercy Orion Walsh, Zachariah, Shineys and Vinyl Recliner. This one is free and starts at 8 p.m.

Sunday night it’s back to fabulous O’Leaver’s for a four-band bill: Oquoa, Jake Bellows, Carl Miller and the Thrillers and Field Division. $5, 9 p.m. What’s Christmas without at least one night back at the Club?

And what’s a holiday without a little giving? Sunday night you can do something with that unused coat hanging in your closet when The Waiting Room hosts the Coat Drive for Heart Ministry Center. The line-up is Clarence Tilton (who makes an appearance on this year’s Lazy-i “Best of” compilation), Matt Cox and The Willards. Admission is $8 or a coat. Show starts at 7 p.m.

That’s what I got for the weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Stay warm, Omaha…

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Random Notes: New Rig 1 record 5/13; Protomartyr does The Stooges; Whipkey/Hoshaw, Desert Noises tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:52 pm April 23, 2014
Rig 1, a.k.a. Ian McElroy, has a new album coming out in May.

Rig 1, a.k.a. Ian McElroy, has a new album coming out in May.

by Tim McMahan,

A few bits from the in-box.

Rig 1, a.k.a. Ian McElroy of Desaparecidos fame, has a new record coming out May 13 on Team Love. Titled North of Maple, the album includes contributions by Clark Baechle, Jacob Thiele and Dapose from The Faint, Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes) and Orenda Fink; and is produced by Andy LeMaster (Now It’s Overhead). The album release show is May 14 at Bowery Electric in NYC, so get your plane tickets now. The first single, “Duality,” is below:

* * *

Protomartyr is a band I (luckily) fell across a couple times this year at SXSW, and it turns out, was one of my favorites. Much to my surprise (and pleasure) I notice they’ve been booked to play Slowdown Jr. May 15 (It’s an Eyeball Production). If you have even a passing interest in post-punk, you need to attend this show.

Anyway, yesterday Protomartyr was featured in AV Club‘s “Pioneering” series where they were interviewed about The Stooges and performed a cover of “Down on the Street” at the Michigan Union Ballroom (why that location is significant requires watching the video). Check it out below:

* * *

I considered Matt Whipkey’s and Brad Hoshaw’s split 7-inch release party to be Record Store Day, specifically their performance for hundreds of line-waiters outside of Homer’s before the shop opened last Saturday.

Instead, they’ll both be performing tonight at Whipkey’s weekly Wednesday night performance at the Harney Street Tavern (Whipkey Wednesday), and are calling it their record release show for “I Miss You” b/w “Sorry,” which will be available for purchase at the show. 9 p.m., free.

Also tonight downtown, Provo band Desert Noises (SQE Music – yep, that’s The Faint’s label) plays with John Klemmensen and the Party at The Hive, 1207 Harney St. $7, 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Brad Hoshaw’s doing a Kickstarter; Jeremy Messersmith, BOY to highlight Day 2 of Lincoln Calling; Willie Nelson tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm October 16, 2013
The ironically named duo BOY headlines Lincoln Calling's Day 2 festivities at The Bourbon Theater.

The ironically named duo BOY headlines Lincoln Calling’s Day 2 festivities at The Bourbon Theater.

by Tim McMahan,

A few days ago Brad Hoshaw launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of his new album with his band the Seven Deadlies. You can read the details here (including some sweet premiums). Seems like Kickstarters is for presales more than anything these days, a way to pre-pay for an album and get the money in the hands of the artists when they need it most. Kickstarter takes some of the risk out of making records. Some.

Hoshaw is an enigma to me and has been since I first saw him perform all those years ago. His band’s debut album is one of the best collections of songs to emerge from our fair city. The sad part is that it never caught the attention of anyone outside of Omaha. It should have. So who’s fault is that? Well, I guess it’s Hoshaw’s, right? Why didn’t he get this record in the ear holes of the industry people who make decisions in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, Hollywood, etc.? It’s easier said than done, and virtually impossible without the right connections. Maybe he tried.

Making a good record has never been enough to break through to something bigger than playing well-attended Omaha shows, especially if your music is written to appeal to something broader than an indie music audience. At least there’s a path with indie. There’s a chance of getting reviews of your record in the handful of “important” indie websites, and if you’re lucky, in Paste or Pitchfork. And then on from there. There is no similar path for mainstream-targeted music, and Hoshaw’s songs certainly fall into that category.

At the very least, his music is picture-perfect for use in commercials, film or television. Who else thought “Carpenter” was the perfect song for a Sherwin-Williams commercial? But for that to happen, someone in charge first has to hear the song. I’m not sure how you do that. Hire an agent? Maybe, maybe…

Anyway, the first step is still to create the music, and this Kickstarter is where you come in. Check it out and give ol’ Brad a hand.

* * *

Speaking of songwriters who deserve to be heard by a larger audience, Jeremy Messersmith is playing Day 2 of Lincoln Calling tonight at The Bourbon Theater. Messersmith — like Hoshaw — is a mastercraft songwriter who knows his way around an infectious hook and a clever lyric.

And Messersmith is breaking through. He recently signed with Glassnote Records, whose stable of acts includes Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Chvches and The Temper Trap. Messersmith used to just give his music away via his website. I don’t think that’ll be happening with any new material, nor should it.

Messersmith opens for German duo BOY, whose music has been compared to Feist. Check it out below.

That Bourbon show is $15 and starts at 8 p.m. The rest of the Lincoln Calling line-up is at their website, here.

Meanwhile, back here in Omaha, there is virtually nothing interesting going on except for the Record Club at the Saddle Creek Shop, which tonight features Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger. Hosting tonight’s installment is none other than Dan McCarthy of McCarthy Trenching, who will lead the discussion after the album’s play concludes. The needle drops at 7. More info here.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Hoshaw musical, Whipkey 3, Ground Tyrants tonight; The Millions reunion, Noah’s Ark, Lash LaRue Toy Drive Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:57 pm November 30, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to the usual weekend listing, singer/songwriter Brad Hoshaw dropped me a line about a musical that premieres tonight. The production, presented by Blue Barn’s Witching Hour Theatre Company, is called “Grass So Tall, Sky So Black.” It’s being billed as an “old time ghost story musical.” The production’s original music is a collaboration between Hoshaw and Elizabeth Webb, which they’ll be performing live during “this exploration of movement, masks and storytelling.”

Opening night is tonight at 11 p.m., and the show wraps up at midnight, Hoshaw said. Five additional performances have been scheduled over the next three weeks (12/1, 12/7, 12/8, 12/14, 12/15). It’s at the Blue Barn Theatre, 614 S. 11th Street. Admission is $10 at the door. Sounds like weird fun.

And now, the usual stuff…

Over at the Barley Street Tavern tonight, The Whipkey Three and The Ground Tyrants play a show with Ten O’Clock Scholars. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is, of course, The Millions reunion show at The Bourbon Theater, which you read about yesterday here or here at The show, which has no opening acts, starts at 9:30. The band will be playing two 45-minute sets. Cost is $10 Adv.,/$12 DOS. Attendance is required for any or all fans of The Millions, as this collective may never grace a stage again.

Also Saturday night, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship plays at Slowdown Jr.  with See Through Dresses (Sara Bertuldo (Millions of Boys, Conduits), Matt Carroll, Nate Van Fleet and Robert Little) and Dirt, a self-proclaimed “three-piece-indie-fuzz-rock-phenomenon” Check ’em out below. $7, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night is the annual Lash LaRue Toy Drive at The Waiting Room, this year featuring Secret Weapon, Cannonista, & The Blacktop Ramblers. Admission is $10 or an unwrapped toy of equal value. Proceeds go to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Show starts at 9.

Have a weekend, y’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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Recap: Lincoln Calling beats last year’s crowds; Brad Hoshaw returns…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:54 pm October 18, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Looking at the numbers, last weekend’s Lincoln Calling festival was another success. Jeremy Buckley, who organized the event, which featured 100-plus bands and 16 DJs over five nights at 10 venues in downtown Lincoln, said overall attendance was about 4,850, slightly higher than last year’s numbers.

“Overall, I think the whole weekend went about as well as I could’ve  asked for,” Buckley said. “We had a few shows with only about 30 to 40 (in the crowd), but they were either at Zen’s Lounge, where only one band performed a night, or the Black Market, a vintage clothing store that hosted early free shows.”

But other than that, Buckley said at least 50 people attended every show, and 19 of the shows had more than 100 in attendence. “The biggest events were Friday (500) and Saturday (600) nights for DJs at the Fat Toad,” he said. “Those shows only had a $2 cover.”

As is the case every year, Buckley said participating bands took home some cash for their efforts. After he pays off the remaining bands and his advertisers, he said he’ll sit down with friends and begin brainstorming next year’s Lincoln Calling. “I’m actually looking forward to it already.”

* * *

Brad Hoshaw, Spirit of the Lake (self-release, 2011)

Brad Hoshaw, Spirit of the Lake (self-release, 2011)

We were sitting around the table at last week’s Reader music writers’ meeting wondering whatever happened to Brad Hoshaw. None of us had heard from him in a long time — he hasn’t played live in ages and his last formal album came out a couple years ago.

Then the next day as if on cue, Hoshaw posted a link to a new album on his Facebook page. Spirit of the Lake is “a collection of songs written over the past four years at a cabin on Lake Michigan,” Hoshaw wrote. “Most are collaborations with other songwriters from all over the country. I am releasing these home recordings because I’m hoping to raise the money to go into the studio and re-record these same songs with full instrumentation.”

We’re talking homemade bedroom recording heres — just Hoshaw and his guitar and his crazy knack for writing catchy hooks. You can check out all the songs for free on his Bandcamp page, where you can also purchase and download the album for a mere $5. Check it out.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 279: Lincoln Invasion recap; Benson hostel benefit tonight; now open ’til 2 a.m…

Mercy Rule at The Waiting Room, July 9, 2010.

Mercy Rule at The Waiting Room, Lincoln Invasion, July 9, 2010.

by Tim McMahan,

Lincoln Invasion organizer Jeremy Buckley e-mailed late yesterday to say that bands who took part in this year’s festival took home $80 each vs. $30 each at least year’s event — quite a bump in pay. Yeah, I know, $80 ain’t much, but at least it’s something, especially considering that the bands had to make the drive from Lincoln — most of them in gas-guzzling Econolines. Ain’t nothing wrong with getting paid…

Column 279: Attack from Star City!!!!

Live Review: Lincoln Invasion, Pt. II

Another Lincoln Invasion has come and gone. And so the question begs to be asked: Which city — Omaha or Lincoln — has the better band roster?

But before we get to that, Lincoln Invasion organizer Jeremy Buckley chimed in to say that last Friday night’s “festival,” featuring more than 20 Lincoln bands at six Benson venues, was a moderate success. “The attendance numbers will be impossible to calculate completely accurately, but if we assume that every patron paid $8 to attend ($5 got you into one venue) then we had about 326 paid,” he said. “So that would be the low end for overall attendance. For last year I’d have to guess but I’d bet we had about 300 paid over the course of two days. So yeah, better all around. Here’s to hoping next year we have even better luck, though this year was more than we could’ve expected.”

Fewer bands but higher attendance should have translated into more money per band — that’s right, unlike the OEAA Benson festivals, bands actually get paid to play Lincoln Invasion via a split of the overall door take — a novel idea. Here’s my recap:

Singer/songwriter Ember Schrag closed out the early bill at Benson Grind. With her ’70s chop haircut and plaid skirt, Schrag reminded me of one of the Tuscadaro sisters — Leather or Pinky, I’m not sure which — but sounded like Regina Spektor backed by a bass player and Omahan Gary Foster on drums. Her easy-going acoustic ballads had the rural flair of Basia Bulat and the sophistication of Suzanne Vega, though Schrag sings as well or better than either of them. Too bad an ever-present buzzing from the PA effectively killed my buzz throughout her set.

Next up down at The Barley Street was Shipbuilding Company, a five-piece with keyboards and wobbly voiced frontman Mike Elsener (ex-Head of Femur) on acoustic guitar. Their music seemed to target a slacker / Pavement / low-fi crowd, and most of the time just missed the mark as it wandered over a baroque landscape that was a bit too frilly for my taste. That is until their finale, when the keyboardist pulled out a melodica and it all came crashing together on a roaring indie pop rocker that I’d like to hear again right now.

Masses at The Waiting Room was an endurance test. The guitar-heavy four-piece launched its set with some spacey, trance-y stuff that quickly shifted into catchy math. But it was all downhill after that, as the instrumental-only outfit poured it on way too heavy, and turned into a messy cacophony of noise where everything blurred into everything else until you began to wonder if they knew what they were doing. Did I mention it was loud — thunderously, painfully loud? People escaped onto the sidewalk in front of the club holding their ears, catching a break from the throbbing, raw din that rolled and rolled and rolled always at the same plodding, Excedrine headache pace. How about some dynamics, boys? Without it, you’re just making intricate, painful noise. The set became a sonic wrestling match between the band and the crowd, and by the end it felt like a bully standing on your neck, testing to see how much more you could take.

After the feedback cleared, the crowd slowly funneled back into The Waiting Room for legendary ’90s band Mercy Rule. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about the trio other than their sound never seems to age? Earnest, stoic working-man guitarist Jon Taylor hasn’t lost his angry touch, nor his love for ear-bleeding volume.  So just like every other Mercy Rule shows from back in the day, lead vocalist Heidi Ore’s delicate crooning was lost and buried beneath the guitar-fueled tonnage — and it’s still a shame.

The band took the opportunity to try out a few new songs that were harder and harsher than anything from a catalog that spans 20 years. But it was the old familiar songs that the crowd fully embraced and none more so than set closer “Summer,” where Heidi belted out the tune’s signature line, “I love summer when it’s HOT, HOT HOT.” Mercy Rule continues to be one of Nebraska’s most dynamic and fun bands (and most photogenic, thanks to their trademark floor-mounted flood lights). Their heroic anthems are as relentless as a semi-truck barreling down on you, growing ever larger in the rear-view, about to crush everything in its path. If we’re lucky, it’ll never slow down.

Last stop was at The Barley Street Tavern where punk duo Once A Pawn closed out the evening. Drummer/frontwoman Catherine Balta’s voice kinda/sorta reminded me of Gabby Glaser of Luscious Jackson belting out her punk rants in a slightly atonal caterwaul, while guitarist/co-pilot Eric Scrivens gleefully spun in circles like a dog chasing its tail. As cute as they were angsty, the duo’s Achilles heel was the similitude of their compositions — after awhile, they all began to sound the same, but I guess you could also say that about The Ramones.

So which music scene — Omaha’s or Lincoln’s — has the better collection of bands? These days, Lincoln has the upper hand when it comes to sheer variety, especially when Omaha seems content with its ever-growing parade of Americana folk bands. I guess we’ll have to wait until after this weekend’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards Summer Showcase before we can deterimine a real winner.

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Moments after posting yesterday’s blog update, the listing for the $299 “buy now”-priced pair of Concert for Equality tickets on ebay disappeared. I guess the seller must read Lazy-i or the tickets sold. Then this morning a different pair went up on ebay (here), this time for a buy-now price of $315!

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Earlier this year (or maybe it was late last year?) Singer/songwriter/musician Brad Hoshaw shared an idea with me: To create a musicians’ hostel out of his Benson apartment where out-of-towners could find a cheap, clean, safe place to sleep while in town on tour. If Benson is going to become Omaha’s version of Austin’s 6th Street, there has to be a lodging option besides asking from stage if anyone can spare some floorspace, or spending precious tour revenue on a hotel room located miles away.

Well, months later the Benson Musicians Hostel is open for business. Located at 6051 1/2 Maple St. Apt. #2, the hostel has bed-space for six people, though more can crash on the floor if need be. The price is $10 per bed or $40 for your entire posse. Amenities include a kitchen, stereo (w/turntable and records), an empty “mini-bar” and, of course, a full bathroom.  Judging by the photos on the hostel’s Facebook page, the place looks rather cozy. Sayeth Mr. Hoshaw: “Other than providing a convenience for those that bring art/entertainment into our city, my hope is that the bands will linger in the mornings and spend money on Maple St, before they leave town. Thus helping the retail shops, restaurants, auto mechanics, grocery stores, etc.”

Bravo! To help get the ball rolling, a fundraising concert is beind held tonight at The Barley Street Tavern to raise cash to cover some basic operational expenses and add amenities such as a washer/dryer and WiFi. The cover is $5, and there will be a donation jar on the bar.

The performance line-up:

9 p.m.: Chad Wallin
9:30 p.m.: All Young Girls are Machine Guns –
10 p.m.: Doug Flynn (Comedian)
10:15 p.m.: Brad Hoshaw (Brad Hoshaw & the Seven Deadlies)
10:45 p.m.: Jake Bellows
11:15 p.m.: Justin Lamoureux (Midwest Dilemma)

Midnight: Cass Brostad (Cass Fifty and the Family Gram, Traveling Mercies)

12:30 a.m.: Andrew Bailie (It’s True!, Riverside Anthology, The Wholes)

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The new 2 a.m. closing time for Omaha bars begins tonight. As I reported earlier, One Percent Productions has no intention of pushing band start-times back at its shows. Only time will tell if their approach will also make sense for less-savory places like O’Leaver’s (where I definitely could see shows going later) or fancy-smancy Slowdown (very unlikely  — they rarely run past 12:30 now). In the end, it’s much ado about nothing, at least for me.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.