NYC notes; Spoon, Nicole Atkins tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:47 pm September 9, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looking south toward greater Manhattan from the north shore of the Jackie Onassis Reservoir, New York City.

Well I’m back from my annual trip to NYC. And, once again, I didn’t catch any music on this trip as there were only light calendars at the venues, likely due to Labor Day and Covid. There’s still plenty of shows planned for NYC, but there wasn’t when I was there.

So I’ll leave you with these three observations from a long weekend spent in Manhattan.

  1. In NYC, wearing a mask is ubiquitous. Whether in restaurants or bars or on the streets and subways, everyone wears a mask. NYC requires masks on mass transit and in most building, and wearing one is no big deal. Yes, there are a few “open-nosers” here and there. Few people wore masks in Central Park, however, and no one wore them while jogging (but why would you?). Didn’t see a single anti-mask crazy the whole weekend.

  2. NYC has implemented a proof-of-vaccination and/or proof-of-negative-Covid-test requirement to dine in restaurants and attend events, such as the U.S. Open, where I was. The requirement was no big deal — when we were asked, that is. The U.S. Open had queues where you merely flashed your card or your cell phone with a photo of your vax card — which was very lightly scrutinized. The closest look came at a weird ABBA event in Central Park, where you had to show your card and a second piece of ID. No restaurant asked for our vax cards, though we ate outside most of the time. Manhattan has transformed into a city of outdoor dining. Here’s hoping they keep those outdoor dining areas after Covid has passed.

  3. In the old days, you couldn’t go anywhere in Manhattan without smelling cigarette smoke. It was part of the city scent along with garbage and diesel fumes. These days you can’t go anywhere in Manhattan without smelling pot. It’s everywhere. A new ordinance that went into effect in March allows people to legally light up anywhere in NYC where smoking is allowed under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act. That would seem to actually be rather limiting, but you wouldn’t know it by sniffing. It was odd watching a guy smoke a joint while trying to figure out the CitiBike kiosk across the street from where we were eating lunch. PS: I’m all for pot, though I don’t imbibe myself; I just can’t stand the smell of it. Skunkweed!


BTW, I did return from NYC with a nasty head cold. As a preventative measure, I got a rapid Covid test yesterday that came back negative. You can’t be too careful these days. Fact is, you’re more likely to get Covid in Nebraska than in New York.

> > >

Tonight it’s Spoon at The Slowdown, and as of this writing the show has yet to sell out, which is kind of a surprise. Tickets are $40, and you must have a vax card or proof of negative Covid test to get inside by decree of the band. It will be interesting to hear how that goes, though I don’t foresee any problems unless an anti-vax knucklehead shows up and wants to cause problems. Nicole Atkins opens at 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Digital Leather (sort of belated) album release show Saturday at The Sydney…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:01 pm June 25, 2021
Shawn Foree of Digital Leather. Photo by Ben Vanhoolandt.

It feels like the following story on Digital Leather, published in The Reader last August during the height of the pandemic, was written 10 years ago. Some of Shawn Foree’s predictions about post-COVID gigging came true — some clubs did close permanently, some bands did break up for good. But the one about new regulations post-COVID seems to be a miss. More and more, it’s beginning to feel like the pandemic never happened.

That said, we’re still not “fully back” in Omaha, and the live music calendar reflects that. Touring is only now just getting off the ground again, and a lot of local bands are still getting back in performance-shape and aren’t ready to return to the stage.

That said, it’s good to see Digital Leather is playing Saturday night at The Sydney. I have no idea who will be in Foree’s band for this gig or if he’ll be playing songs from his most recent release, New Wave Gold (No Coast, 2020). So much time has passed, Foree has likely already shelved those songs for new material, he’s such a fast (and prolific) song writer.

For those of you who missed it, here’s that Digital Leather article again, written in support of the new album, released when we were all hidden in our bunkers. DJ WAffLEZ also is on Saturday night’s bill at The Sydney. Show starts at 9 p.m., tickets are $10. It’s the only show I have on my calendar this weekend.

Digital Leather in the Days of COVID
The Omaha electro-punk act celebrates 20 years with its 24th album.

Aug. 13, 2020 — Prior to the interview for this column, the last time I spoke with Shawn Foree, the mastermind behind the musical project Digital Leather, was a couple years ago. It was late in the evening standing outside the patio door at mid-town punk club O’Leaver’s, no doubt killing time between live sets from a couple local garage bands we both knew.

Foree, who looked like an unholy cross between Jim Morrison and Deliverance-era Burt Reynolds, told me he was about to hang it up as far as Digital Leather was concerned. He’d just turned 40 and was tired of banging his head against the music industry wall, trying to get someone to notice what he was doing. And it sure didn’t look like things would ever change.

The conversation bummed me out, because Foree / Digital Leather was and is my favorite Omaha-based music project. The only person more frustrated by his music never receiving the attention it deserved was me. Digital Leather music is the perfect amalgamation of modern songwriting, instrumentation and vintage digital sounds. The product is highly addictive, darkly worded 21st Century synth-punk that can stand alongside music by acts like Gary Numan, Psychic TV and The Faint.

As it turned out, Foree was just in a bad mood that night at O’Leaver’s. “Don’t believe me when I say I’ve given up,” he said over the phone July 21. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again.”

In fact, only a few months after that announced retirement, Digital Leather recorded and released a new album, followed by another and another.

And now comes New Wave Gold, out Sept. 15 on Madison, Wisconsin, label No Coast Records (Thee Oh Sees, Red Mass, The Hussy). The 16-track collection is the 24th full-length album (in addition to 13 EPs and singles) released by Digital Leather over the 20 years Foree has made music under that moniker.

Digital Leather fans will be happy to know New Wave Gold is the most cohesive, pop-fueled collection Foree has released since 2009’s Warm Brother (Fat Possum Records). He recorded and mixed the album in his apartment studio with contributions by drummer Jeff Lambelet and mastering by sound engineer Ian Aeillo.

The album opens with the first COVID-19 quarantine-inspired song I’ve heard, “Dark Ages,” which closes with the lines: “Don’t you go and worry about me, baby / You got better things to think about, I’m sure / Honey, don’t you know these are the Dark Ages / Disease is in the air, and it’s pure.”

Foree is the only person I’ve talked to who’s tested positive for COVID-19. “I tested positive a month and a half ago,” he said. “I was asymptomatic. It was a little freaky. I wasn’t sure if I was going to become sick, but fortunately, I was OK, maybe a little tired. I tested again a couple weeks after, and it came back negative.”

His day job doing environmental testing, which he’s kept throughout the pandemic, takes him all over the country. “I was floating around South Dakota, Missouri, all around red states, so it could have come from anywhere,” he said. “It was a positive test, but none of my friends had it, just me. So I don’t know if I really had it.”

With COVID-19 shutting down music venues and making touring impossible, it’s a strange time to release a new album. Foree, who has released more than an album a year on average, didn’t want to wait around for the world to reopen. “The record was done,” he said. “I showed it to Bobby (Hussy), who runs the record label, and we just said fuck it and put it out so I can move on to new material.”

To help market the release, Foree is working with national publicist Grandstand Media, whose massive client roster includes acts like Tame Impala, Waxahatchee, Soccer Mommy, Bright Eyes and Kim Gordon, to name a few. “It’s totally new ground for me, selling records without playing live,” Foree said. “If we can make our money back, that would be fine. Making a profit is not on my or the label’s to do list.”

Foree also is the first musician I’ve interviewed since COVID-19 began. The pandemic has had a huge impact on his music world. “All my friends want to play shows and are depressed, because it’s not only their livelihood, it’s part of their sanity. It’s part of who they are,” he said. “I have friends who were about to release records, go on tour, go to Europe, and now it’s all TBD. I think everyone is pretty fucking depressed about it.”

Even after the pandemic is under control, he said things won’t be the same. “There will be all kinds of new regulations; it’ll be weird,” Foree said. “A lot of people won’t want to go out to shows. Venues might close. How are they going to support themselves if they can’t do business? The same goes for musicians who live off their music.”
Foree isn’t one of those, not anymore. He’s managed to find a balance between making a living and making music, and has accepted the fact that, despite having toured the country and releasing albums on a dozen different record labels, he may never make it to “the next level.”

“Part of me is frustrated that I don’t have a larger audience, but I’m also kind of glad things are the way they are,” he said. “I see the silver lining. I have freedom to do what I want. You’re supposed to give it up at 30 and get a real job once you realize there’s no money in it. Well, I have a real job and can still do it, so fuck them all.”

First published in The Reader, September 2020. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Local bands talk about returning to the stage (in the column); Slowdown announces reopening…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 8:30 am March 5, 2021
Jon Taylor of Domestica’s funky get-down space.

The Slowdown announced Tuesday that they’re reopening in April. The plan calls for shows only on the main stage to make more room for social distancing as the pandemic begins to wind down. It’ll be a fun opportunity for smaller bands who are used to playing the small room to try the big stage and its massive sound and lighting system.

Their first show is April 2 featuring Journey cover band Recaptured followed by Two Drag Club April 9.

Slowdown joins The Waiting Room and Reverb, who announced late last month that their stages are reopening.

When will the majority of our favorite local indie acts be returning to stage? That was the subject of my March column in The Reader, which is online right here. I contacted a dozen local musicians to find out when they’re coming back, and their responses underscore their caution as COVID-19 is still very much with us in this community.

The story is in the printed edition of the paper, which should be in the racks around town now or very shortly. Check it out. And heck, you can also read it below:

What Are They Waiting For?

As COVID-19 retreats, the stage has been set. It’s the artists who have cold feet.

Last month I told you where some of the more important local stages for indie music stand in regard to booking shows. A year after the pandemic began, places like The Slowdown, The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge are reopening their stages. And while it’ll be some time before touring bands hit the road again, local acts are invited to plug in and rock on.

The only thing stopping that from happening are the bands themselves. I reached out to a dozen local musicians to find out when they’d play again on a local stage. Their answers reflected a serious respect for COVID-19.

Jon Taylor, lead guitarist for Lincoln-based seminal punk trio Domestica, is waiting for folks to get vaccinated. “Based on current vaccine shipping schedules, summer appears to be the earliest anyone should consider assembling large groups of humans for any reason,” Taylor said. He’s passed the pandemic time rocking out on his own glittering basement stage where, “I’m able to self-medicate with high volume until gigs happen.”

Domestica has been known to share a stage with Wagon Blasters, the tractor-punk powerhouse fronted by the inimitable Gary Dean Davis. Those with a sense of history will remember how these folks’ previous bands — Mercy Rule and Frontier Trust — were integral to Nebraska’s first wave of indie punk almost 30 years ago.

Davis has spent his downtime focusing on his record label — SPEED! Nebraska — which reissued Frontier Trust’s debut CD in June and released a new Mezcal Bros. album, Shakin’ Dog, in September.

“As Joe Strummer famously said, ‘The future is unwritten,’” Davis said. “Hopefully things can calm down over the summer, (and) we are able to return to playing shows. Maybe we’ll need to start off outside to keep everyone safe?”

Wagon Blasters bandmate, bassist Kate Williams, said while she would be comfortable on stage once vaccinations have reached the majority, “It will be strange to return to the small, intimate venues that I love, where the audience is right on top of the band.”

Williams hasn’t seen Davis or her other bandmates in person in a year. “Many of us are high-risk (or high-risk-adjacent) and aren’t comfortable practicing in an enclosed basement yet with each other, let alone playing in a room full of friends that we also haven’t seen in the last year,” she said. “It will happen though — I miss all of it so much!”

Caution also was the theme for legendary bassist/musician Dereck Higgins. “I’ll be 66 in July, and that is why I am being cautious and in no hurry to get out in the public gigging,” he said, pointing to fall for a possible return. In the meantime, he’s been recording new music and working on an art project with local choreographer Lauren Simpson.

Craig Fort of punk band Leafblower created an entirely new, outlaw-country-infused musical persona called Lightning Stills during the pandemic. “Obviously COVID is keeping us from booking anything, as well as neither project has been in the same room together in a year,” Fort said. “We all take this very seriously. Not being able to play shows is what’s keeping me from releasing anything physical. Without shows, I don’t have a booth to peddle my goods.”

Indie rockers See Through Dresses frontwoman Sara Bertuldo said her band is still together, “but we’re just focusing on different things at the moment. Some of us are back in school, focusing on work, and/or learning some new skills.” And she added, “We’ve also been working on our third album!”

One of my favorite songs released during the pandemic is “Snake in my Basement,” an infectious (in a good way) garage rocker by Those Far Out Arrows. Guitarist/vocalist Ben Keelan-White thinks his band will be back on stage possibly in early- to mid-summer.

“Outdoor shows seem more likely, but maybe some indoor venues might be willing to make some moves,” he said. “I feel like there is an optimism with more vaccine administration on the horizon. Nobody wants to be a part of a spreader event, but I think the type of individuals who want shows back would be absolutely willing to take the utmost precaution needed to go forward.”

“We’re all dying for shows, but nobody should die for shows,” said Aaron Gumm, half of the red hot electronic rock duo Glow in the Dark. “My parents in Iowa get their second shot next week, and my sister in Austin got her first today. Things are moving in the right direction.”

Some aren’t waiting to return to the stage. Josh Hoyer, one of the area’s best blues and soul voices, played a Sunday residency Feb. 21 at The Jewell in downtown Omaha.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but it came down to me needing to get back to work and the venues needing to start getting people in or shutting down for good.” Hoyer said. “At this point, I am trusting people to do what is best for their health and the health of the community. So far, everything has been good, but the moment I feel that there is too much risk in any given venue, I will have to reassess my involvement with them. I think if people are intelligent about it, we can slowly get back to live entertainment.”

Darren Keen, the mastermind behind The Show Is the Rainbow and now a new electronic act, Problems, has a gig booked on St. Patrick’s Day at Boombox Social Club in Lincoln.

“As long as people are masked up and distanced, I’m OK with it at this point,” Keen said. “I’m still hesitant to book my own shows because I can’t honestly say, ‘You gotta come to this gig’ right now. I respect that people want to stay home and safe, and so if I can’t promote things 100% I’m not comfortable booking them.”

I saved the final word for Landon Hedges of one of my all-time favorite indie rock bands, Little Brazil. Hedges doesn’t know when he’ll be back on stage.

“It’s a matter of responsibility and feeling comfortable in the sort of environment that I’m used to playing a show or going to a show,” he said. “I want to do both. But this virus isn’t about me or what I want to do. I just want to try to do the right thing. It fucking sucks. You can quote me on that one.”

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com. First published in The Reader, March 2021.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Soundtrack to a Pandemic (the top 40 Nebraska recordings 2020); Flight School, Lightning Stills, Simon Joyner new music…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 1:02 pm December 4, 2020
Some artwork for the top Nebraska releases in 2020.

So Bandcamp Friday (today) is the day in which you can purchase downloads via Bandcamp, and all the money goes to the artists because Bandcamp is waiving their cut. With that in mind, I pushed online my column in this month’s issue of The Reader. It’s a listing of 40 Nebraska recordings released during this, the Year of Our Covid 2020. Included in the story are links to all 40 recordings on Bandcamp, wherein you can buy, download and listen to the best our state has to offer.

You know, The Reader didn’t do a “music issue” this year, and as such, didn’t publish a Reader Top 20 (and the next whatever). This list of 40 releases is as good as it gets considering no one was out performing or touring this year. These artists threw their wares to the masses anyway, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to support their album releases with live shows.

With that in mind GO TO THE STORY NOW and check out the list, click through the links and download/buy some music and support local area artists while hearing some damn fine sounds. Another way to help the artists out is by sharing The Reader story on your social media channels so others can discover what we already know.

Couple more things…

Flight School is a musical project of studio engineer/musician/genius Ian Aeillo. Ian doesn’t like it when I call him a genius, he thinks I’m funnin’ him, no matter how many times I tell him I’m not. The guy just can’t take a compliment. Fact is, Ian was involved in a number of the 40 recordings I mentioned in my Reader column.

Anyway, this morning, Flight School dropped its latest digital full-length effort, This Will Get You There. It’s 21 songs Ian wrote for his favorite vocalists, none of which sing on any of the tracks, leaving you with just Ian’s fine instrumental music. I asked him to list the “favorite vocalists” on the Bandcamp page so we could try to guess who went with which song, but he wasn’t having it. Buy/download/listen here.

Also online today, Lightning Stills (a.k.a. Craig Fort and band) released his entire debut EP Sings His Songs, which wasn’t expected to drop for awhile, but this being Bandcamp Friday, he said ‘what the heck.’ Check out the recording here, buy and download!

And for one day only (today), Simon Joyner is making available for download at Bandcamp Ten Songs (Home Demos for 2021 Album). These are demos recorded on his phone over the past few months that he’ll use as reference while working on songs, but the sound quality is hella good (certainly better than those early Sing Eunichs! recordings!). Go, buy, download here.

That’s it. If you’re going out, wear a mask (as if I had to tell you that!). Have a great weekend!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#SaveOurStages legislation gets heavy push this week (and now it’s your turn to help)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:07 pm July 27, 2020
A screencap from the WOWT-TV report that shows how The Slowdown could be configured once it reopens.

You will begin noticing (if you haven’t already) a heavy push to write your congressmen and ask them to co-sponsor or support pending legislation designed to help save the live entertainment industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I mentioned last week, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) along with a ton of musicians and promoters are pushing for a couple pieces of critical legislation, and need to get something passed before The Hill’s the August recess, which begins Aug. 7.

First thing’s first: Go to https://www.saveourstages.com/ and voice your support for the Save Our Stages Act (S. 4258, introduced by Sens. Cornyn and Klobuchar) and the RESTART Act ( S. 3814/H.R. 7481, introduced by Sens. Young and Bennet in the Senate and U.S. Reps. Golden and Kelly ). Adding your voice involves filling out a simple form (or writing your own heartfelt text in the space provided) that automatically goes to your respective senator/representative based on your zip code.

Gotta do it TODAY, as in RIGHT NOW, as in it will only take a minute. If you’ve already done it, do it again.

Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel talks about it in this WOWT report from last week.

And here’s a bunch of venue owners talking about being on the verge of going out of business.

As The Slowdown says in a grim Facebook post: “There is no way we want Slowdown to end. It is too soon. It is also not too late.”

People are making this sound like end-of-the-world stuff, because quite frankly, it is. You are going to be shocked at the number of venues that will shutter as a result of the pandemic, and then you’ll wish you’d have done something about it. Here’s your chance.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The lack of live music is killing my new music mojo…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:51 pm July 9, 2020
Public Access T.V. at Reverb Lounge, June 25, 2018.

Bear with me while I get this off my chest:

The last live concert I saw before COVID-19 struck with all its dreadful glory was PUP at The Waiting Room way back on March 5. I didn’t know at the time it would be the last live show I’d attend for the foreseeable future. I anticipated a big spring and summer of live shows with lots of new music on the horizon.

But as we all know, by the end of March one-by-one the clubs began to close and show cancellations piled up like cord wood, and by the end of April about everything was cancelled. Now we’re in July and Slowdown and Reverb are still closed, O’Leaver’s and Brothers have reopened but aren’t scheduling live music, and while The Waiting Room is hosting shows, they’re few and far between and mostly cover bands. Almost all national touring bands aren’t on the road right now.

Despite this, new music has continued to be released, including some pretty amazing recordings by Fiona Apple, Perfume Genius, Run the Jewels, Phoebe Bridgers, HAIM, Waxahatchee, Porridge Radio, Yves Tumor, Lanterns on the Lake, Destroyer, Christian Lee Hutson, Nation of Language, Car Seat Headrest and Stephen Malkmus. While some artists are holding their releases until they can tour again, others, like Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens, are planning releases in the coming months without any idea of whether they’ll be able to support them on the road.

Most of the above-mentioned acts are easy to keep up with, and if you’re tuned into Sirius XMU or college radio, you’ll have a hard time missing them. It’s the smaller, new bands — the yet-to-be discovered acts — that are getting especially crushed by COVID.

The No. 1 way I discovered new music — or for that matter, checked out new music — was by researching upcoming (and attending) live shows. And with no one out touring, it’s suddenly become harder to discover the new talent. Or a better way of putting it: It’s becoming harder to get motivated to listen to unknown acts.

Like anyone who writes about music, every day I get dozens of pitch emails from labels, promoters and artists telling me about upcoming releases. In the pre-COVID days, I’d zip down to the bottom of the emails and see if the band was headed to Omaha or Lincoln, and if so, would check out their music. No question, this was how I discovered most of the cool new stuff I’ve heard in the past.

The same process held for club calendars — I’d go through calendars scanning upcoming shows and making a point to research indie bands scheduled to appear, check out their music, etc.

But now that no one is touring, I rarely even open those emails or check calendars. What’s the point? As a result, a lot of music being releases is flying under my radar. For the first time since I started writing about music, I’m starting to feel disconnected to what’s going on with regard to new music.

So yeah, I really miss going to rock shows, I miss seeing people I know at the various clubs, but most of all I miss discovering new music the way I used to. The way things are going, it may not be until this time next year before we get anywhere close to where we used to be.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Some bars and venues prepare to reopen (O’Leaver’s, The Waiting Room); it’s Bandcamp Day (again)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:26 pm June 5, 2020
O’Leaver’s is back open for business, but no shows yet…

Oh, what a week it’s been. And the last thing that’s probably been on your minds is music and the lack thereof. But here we are with the weekend upon us and still no live music in which to partake.

Though to be honest, even if shows were booked they’d likely be cancelled due to curfews tonight and tomorrow night that will see the city of Omaha close its doors at 10 p.m. I like to think they’re being done in support of Black Lives Matter events rather than out of fear of them.

That said, things are loosening up with regard to bars and venues reopening. Bars, as you know, got the go-ahead to reopen on Monday, June 1.

The first venue to reopen: Fabulous O’Leaver’s. I got word about the reopening Tuesday from Craig Dee, who said both O’Leaver’s and Winchester are now open. They’re obviously following Douglas County Health Department guidelines, which means they have tables set up six feet apart, four to a table. And yes, the outside patio is open.

O’Leaver’s is open today from 3:30 to 9 and tomorrow from 12 to 9. Expect an announcement very soon about the launch of their new grill.

While there’s no drink minimums or charges to enter O’Leaver’s, there’s also no live music. The first show listed on their schedule isn’t until July 18 (but that could always change).

On the other hand, The Waiting Room’s first show is slated for June 19 — Shoot to Thrill, an AC/DC tribute act. Tickets are $15, but you have to buy a minimum of four tickets — which will get you a table. If you want to go alone, you can, but you still have to buy a table. The reason being, regulations require people to be seated at tables, not standing around. Hey, you’ve got three friends to share the freight, right?

Marc Leibowitz, who owns/operates The Waiting Room with Jim Johnson, said if tickets are still available at the door the day of the show (meaning it’s not sold out in advance), then they’ll sell some singles/doubles if possible.

He said the new rules brings The Waiting Room’s capacity down to just 84 people — that’s 21 tables of four.

Reverb Lounge, btw, has no shows scheduled until August, and no plans to reopen this month.

As for The Slowdown, Jason Kulbel could only tell me that the venue will not be reopening this month. And still no word from The Brothers (it’s closed, too).


Today until midnight Bandcamp is once again waiving its share of sales to support artists impacted by COVID-19. Most labels (including Saddle Creek Records) also are sharing 100% of digital revenue with artists.

But artists also are donating to BLM causes.

— SAVAK (Mike Jaworski’s joint) is donating proceeds from sales of a new 7-inch to the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.

— Simon Joyner is splitting profits among four national and local organizations (including the Union for Contemporary Art and Culxr House).

See the full list here.

That’s all I got for now. Have a great weekend…


Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Waiting Room/Reverb possible mid-June reopening; Live (stream) Review: Little Brazil, NAWAS…

Landon Hedges belts out a high note during Little Brazil’s live streamed concerted from The Slowdown last Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yet another great live streaming event from The Slowdown Saturday night with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Little Brazil.

As with last Thursday’s Slowdown show, everything looked and sounded like a network television concert production. Both bands were on point. The COVID shutdown apparently hasn’t dulling these musicians’ chops, as they sounded as good as ever.

Anecdotally — i.e., based on what I saw from the view counter on the screen — just under 100 people were concurrently watching Saturday night’s NAWAS/Little Brazil stream concert vs. around 60 for Thursday’s No Thanks/Marcey Yates stream show. Will we ever get to see these two concerts uploaded to the internet for replay? Who knows.

It’s unlikely that The Slowdown will host any more live stream concerts in the foreseeable future, especially when they’re trying to get the place ready for a (hopefully) late-June reopening.

If you didn’t read the comments from Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel last Saturday about what’s involved in reopening his club, go take a look.

One Percent Productions major domo Marc Leibowitz says Reverb and The Waiting Room also won’t be reopening on June 1, but rather sometime mid-June. He said keep your eyes peeled for a new show announcement that will mark The Waiting Room’s reopening, with Reverb possibly reopening at the same time or soon after.

Obviously all the capacity rules outlined Saturday also will apply to Waiting Room/Reverb unless Ricketts changes rules before they reopen. Again, we’re talking bars at a 50 percent capacity, venues at 25 percent capacity, all with 6-foot spacing between groups, limited numbers allowed in bathrooms, all kinds of fun rules that will be a pain in everyone’s ass but necessary until the pandemic is under control or there’s a vaccine.

I’m still waiting to hear O’Leaver’s plans (maybe we’ll find out later this week?) and also when The Brothers will reopen. You’ll know when I know.

No doubt masks will be part of the dress code anywhere you go. I like to think folks around here are smarter than, say, the idiots in that swimming pool in Branson, MO. Yes, wearing a mask is a drag, but it’s what’s going to get us through this pandemic while a vaccine is developed.


Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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On bar and venue capacity and the potential ‘challenges’ involved in reopening June 1…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:03 pm May 23, 2020
The Slowdown won’t reopen until later in the month of June at the earliest.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, as one reader quickly pointed out, I got Ricketts’ rules on bar and venue capacities backwards yesterday. My one defense: I wrote it as he said it and had maximum safety in mind.

I reached out to Jason Kulbel who owns/operates The Slowdown and asked for his interpretation. NOTE/DISCLAIMER: Jason is not a lawyer, and this is only his initial interpretation. No doubt things will be further clarified in the coming weeks.

Jason says bars can open just like restaurants with a 50 percent capacity, though all must be seated at tables and can only move around when going to the restroom or ordering food/drinks.

The Slowdown would fall under the “Venues” category — that means 25 percent capacity, with 6-foot spacing between groups. “Groups” and “tables” are interchangeable terms for argument’s sake. So for a 600-capacity rock show at The Slowdown, the current capacity allowed by COVID rules is 150. Again, groups have to be separated by six feet, which will have to be defined somehow by the venue with tape on the floors or something.

Where it gets real tricky: bathroom capacity is three at a time. Expect 6-foot distancing while waiting in line for your booze. And when the show is over, there has to be staggered exiting, which will be just plain weird.

And remember, everyone is wearing masks the entire time. How is the venue going to enforce all these rules?

All of the above equals 300% of the staff with a max potential of 25% of the business, for us AND the band,” Jason said.

Of course maybe the biggest challenge is just getting people comfortable going to shows amidst all the above regulations and general fear of COVID. Like I said yesterday, I would definitely go to a show under these conditions (especially if I could sit at a table and get table service). But based on comments I’ve heard online and elsewhere, I’m the minority.

He said Slowdown isn’t planning to reopen June 1. Look for an opening later in the month of June at the earliest.


Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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What is NIVA and why (and how) is it trying to save the live music industry?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:45 am April 24, 2020

The National Independent Venue Association is trying to save the future of live music as we know it.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Jason Kulbel who runs The Slowdown yesterday forwarded me a copy of the letter written by NIVA that was sent to Washington outlining how the live music industry and its participants will quickly go the way of the dinosaur unless Congress does something now to help support them during and after the COVID pandemic.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, a just-formed organization that currently has more than 900 charter members in 50 states, including all the legendary clubs we know and love like 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue, Bowery Ballroom, Mohawk in Austin and of course our very own Slowdown, The Waiting Room/Reverb/Sydney and fabulous O’Leaver’s.

The first half of the letter, which you can read in its entirety right here, explains the role music venues, promoters and artists play in our economy, our culture, the very fabric of our country. Next it outlines the problem — how venues were the first to close and likely will be the last to reopen, and how everyone involved is being impacted, and how historic, iconic institutions could be forced into permanent closure.

Finally, the letter outlines solutions, including flexible and abundant federal loan programs, tax relief, unemployment insurance, mortgage and rent forbearance, debt deferral and recovery funds.

Those recovery funds and tax credits will help venues comply with new health guidelines when they’re allowed to reopen.

Another key provision: “Establishing national guidelines for resuming and continuing large gatherings in a safe manner to ensure uniformity throughout the industry.” This is critical because without it, there’s no way artists and promoters could schedule tours without knowing which states’ venues are able to book shows; without national guidelines each state would do its own thing and that would be a mish-mash, patchwork approach.

Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t appear to support those kinds of national guidelines, leaving it up to the states to decide. Oh what a mess he’s made.

I was skeptical when I saw this letter, figuring most members of Congress don’t know a thing about the entertainment industry. But Kulbel wisely pointed out that Congressional staffers know what’s going on; they frequent venues and understand what role they play in communities. He’s optimistic.

Kulbel continues to book shows at Slowdown despite the constant wave of cancellations so the club will have something in place when allowed to reopen, hopefully sometime this summer. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for legislation that includes the above provisions. No doubt some smart congressman or senator will include them in a bill or create a bill that adopts these provisions, and when he/she/they do, it’ll be your job to reach out to your representatives and lobby for their support.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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