Live Review: Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club; So So Glos tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:51 pm May 23, 2016
Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016.

Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You wouldn’t have thought Saturday night’s show at The Waiting Room was only the second live gig for Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club. But then again, we’re talking about a band filled with music veterans doing what they do best.

The band, which includes Conor Oberst and his wife, Corina Figueroa, surrounded by some of the best musicians in town (read about the band’s origins here), fancies itself as a country & western act but really falls into the Americana / country rock category. I was reminded of Robbie Robertson and The Band throughout Saturday night’s set, how each member sang lead on a handful of C&W classics not so much in an effort to replicate the original’s sound, but to adapt its style to a modern construction.

That said, you could point to a handful of players that added a level of authenticity to the proceedings. First on the list was pedal steel player Mike Mogis, because let’s face it, pedal steel makes everything sound country, and as a world-class producer, Mogis knows his way around any genre. Dan McCarthy’s keyboards also brought a classic western feel to the arrangements, and then, surprisingly, Matt Maginn’s bass work included all the note bends heard on the honky-tonk circuit.

Maybe most authentic of all was Figueroa, who sang leads on about half the songs. Figueroa’s rough-edged voice is pure Tammy Wynette. What she lacks in range she makes up for in heart, throwing herself into every note, leaving little doubt that she loves this music. Joining Figueroa was a new face to the Standby Club — First Aid Kit’s Klara Söderberg, going by the stage name of Greta Soundmountain, whose spot-on pitch brought everything into focus.

The band split their performance into two sets with a brief intermission. The first set featured a lot of the same songs played this past January at O’Leaver’s (which you can hear online here). The highlight was a new song featuring Phil Schaffart, who was absent during their debut performance. Schaffart, a giant of a man with a high voice reminiscent of Neil Young’s, covered John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.” Gorgeous stuff.

Another new song from the first set was “Stay a Little Longer” by Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys. If you’re wondering how I know this with zero background in country music, the secret involved tapping song lyrics into Google.

The band took five and then came back with a rocking version of Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses” featuring Miwi La Lupa on lead vocals. Figueroa and Greta sang a duet of Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,” which was followed by Oberst belting out the Felice Brothers’ “Rockefeller Drug Law Blues.”

As he did in January, Oberst performed Randy Newman’s “Jolly Coppers on Parade.” He was in good voice, looking a bit isolated and laid back playing guitar at stage-right in crumpled jacket and jet-black fright-wig hairdo. He led the band on the night’s final song, a round robin version of the Dylan song he sang in January, but sharing verses with his cohorts.

Saturday night’s show was well attended. No idea of the final number, but it was crowded throughout the bar, and the event had a rock concert feel to it despite the C&W content. Was it “real country”? It was certainly more real than the mainstream “bro-country” that dots the charts these days, though the overall tone felt more like something Levon Helm would admire.

I have no doubt if the entire band had the capacity to tour, Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club could do well on the road, but Oberst said there were no plans for anything like that. This one’s just for fun, something to share with his friends and his fans before he hits the road again for a handful of solo dates this summer, topped by three days at the Austin City Limits Festival in October. After that, who knows.

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Brooklyn punk rockers So So Glos headline. Opening is Canadian band The Dirty Nil and our very own Montee Men. $5, 9:30 p.m. This one should be fun.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: First Aid Kit, Willy Mason; Guided By Voices tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 10:35 am June 3, 2014
First Aid Kit at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2014.

First Aid Kit at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

We thought we’d beat the crowds and get a table for last night’s sold out First Aid Kit show at The Waiting Room, but by the time we got there at around 7:15 all the tables and seating were occupied, mainly by old people (and when I say old, I mean older than me). The crowd ran the spectrum in age, from the X-crossed hands of the under-21s to the elderly. I saw women who must have been pushing 70 in the crowd. But mostly it was women in general. First Aid Kit attracts a large female audience, which I guess isn’t surprising.

The duo has graduated to major-label success with the pending release of Stay Gold, which comes out on Columbia next Tuesday. Powering their popularity is their blend of folk and country, and their tightly intertwined harmonies that recall the better days of a Nashville long gone.

If you think about it, women have taken over pop music. The best and brightest stars — whether in indie or commercial radio — are all women, whether it’s Warpaint and Courtney Barnett, or Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. The biggest arena concert news these days isn’t the return of Pearl Jam, it’s last weekend’s Cher concert or the just-announced Lorde show at Stir Concert Cove.

Anyway, last night’s show kicked off with a solo electric performance by singer/songwriter Willy Mason, who played a tight 40-minute set as people filed into the club. Mason’s brassy voice has deepened dramatically since he emerged a decade ago. As proof, he played the standout track “Oxygen,” from his Team Love debut, the Ritalin-referenced lyrics betraying his lost youth. Last time Mason came through was as a solo artist, too. I’d like to see him with a band.

First Aid Kit took the stage at the stroke of 9. The Swedish duo were backed by a drummer and a guy on lap-steel and other instruments, while the sisters provided the guitar, keyboards and heavenly voices. The crowd stood motionless as they played through a set list that drew from their two previous albums and the upcoming LP.

While I like their last record, The Lion’s Roar, there’s only a few songs that really stand out for me. Among them, “King of the World,” which they played early in their set. And their other “hit,” the country music tribute “Emmylou,” which they saved for the last song of the evening, during their encore. In between the set ebbed and flowed. Whenever it got too boring they spiced it up, at one point walking to the edge of the stage to sing a tune microphone-less, somehow managing to bring the ambient noise in The Waiting Room down to a whisper.

The duo’s new music falls in line with what they’ve released in the past. The standout among the new stuff is the title track, “Stay Gold.” The rest may need time to grow on me. All said and done, the show was over by 10:30, a reasonable time for a Monday evening, and the elderly.

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I have no doubt that tonight’s show, Guided By Voices at The Waiting Room, will go well past 10:30 and into the wee hours of the morning. As of this writing, tickets were still available. If you’ve never seen GBV, you will be well-rewarded in making the $30 per ticket investment. Pollard and Co. leave it all out there on stage. When they played The Black Cat in DC on May 24 they played 48 songs including three encores (see setlist). Good thing this show starts at 8 p.m. with opener Bobby Bare Jr.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Catherine Herrick leaves Beggars; Conor in the OWH; First Aid Kit tonight (SOLD OUT)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:54 pm June 2, 2014
First Aid Kit is playing tonight at The Waiting Room.

First Aid Kit is playing tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Who is Catherine Herrick and why should you care if she’s leaving Beggars Group?

Music writers depend on publicists to help line up interviews with artists, get pre-release albums and get “on the list” for shows when the talent they represent comes through town. In most cases, our access is only as good as the publicists we work with. If the publicist is a boob (and there are plenty of them) interviews drop through the cracks, records aren’t received and — worst of all — we get left off lists (and there’s nothing more demoralizing than asking if you’re on the list only to be told “Nope, nothing here.”).

None of those things happened whenever Catherine Herrick was involved. Herrick has worked the past 10 years as a publicist for The Beggars Group (which includes Matador, XL, Rough Trade and 4AD, among others). She is one of the best publicists I’ve worked with over the course of my 20-some years as a music journalist. And in many ways, she carries a share of responsibility for those labels’ success.

Catherine was iron clad, a go-to person that writers could count on for keeping us in the loop and following through on everything we needed help with. You could count on her — and that’s the best thing you can say about any publicist.

Needless to say, I was bummed when Catherine announced last week that she’s leaving Beggars Group. The good news is that she’s headed out on the road with her band, The Everymen (Earnest Jennings Records), and will be playing at fabulous O’Leaver’s July 6. That gives me a chance to thank her in person for all the help she’s given me over the years, and to wish her well-deserved good luck…

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As we prepare for Wednesday’s Conor Oberst concert at Sokol Auditorium (as of this writing, tickets are still available), Kevin Coffey at The Omaha World-Herald weighs in with his own Conor interview, which you can read here.

And if you haven’t already, you can also read my Q&A with Conor right here at TheReader.com.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s the long-awaited Omaha debut of First Aid Kit. The band is no stranger to Omaha, having recorded their last two albums (including the upcoming Stay Gold, out next Tuesday on Columbia) at ARC.

Opening for First Aid Kit is the second person ever to sign to Team Love Records — Willy Mason (Who, btw, was the subject of the very first installment of my Lazy-i print column in The Reader 10 years ago — check it).

I’m happy I got my tickets early for this one, as it’s SOLD OUT. Show starts 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i