Thanks for coming to the show!; Hop Along, Old 97’s tonight; Whipkey for lunch…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 2:16 pm June 4, 2015
Son, Ambulance at The Reverb June 3, 2015 -- the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

Son, Ambulance at The Reverb June 3, 2015 — the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Whoa, what a night. Thanks to everyone for coming out to the Big 50 concert at Reverb last night. It was a great way to welcome in the next half-century — great friends, great bands, great times. Now what am I going to do for 51?

The Lupines at The Reverb June 3, 2015 -- the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The Lupines at The Reverb June 3, 2015 — the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

Wagon Blasters at The Reverb June 3, 2015 -- the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

Wagon Blasters at The Reverb June 3, 2015 — the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

And there was some news at the show. All three bands either have recorded or are recording new music. When they will release it, none could say, but based on what we heard last night, we’ll all be adding lots of new music to our record collections very soon. Thanks again to the bands for playing the gig. It was a blast!

* * *

There’s another rather huge show tonight, this time at Slowdown Jr., where Saddle Creek’s latest and greatest signing, Hop Along, makes its Omaha stage debut. The band’s just-released album, Painted Shut (Saddle Creek, 2015) sits at No. 16 on the College Music Journal Radio 200 chart and No. 18 on the KEXP Variety Music Chart. Not to mention the record is getting air time on Sirius XMU, which is becoming sort of an ad hoc national indie radio station. This could be Saddle Creek’s biggest non-Omaha signing since Rilo Kiley. Here’s your chance to see them on a small stage. Opening are fellow Philly bands Lithuania and Field Mouse. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight Dallas alt-country band Old 97’s play at The Waiting Room with Oil Boom. $25, 9 p.m.

* * *

And this just in over the lunch hour, Matt Whipkey and his band kicked off this season’s Hear Omaha concert series in the Old Market (right underneath the atrocious sculpture of the Husker kid in a baseball cap). The series, brought to you by Hear Nebraska and various sponsors including First National Bank, features a different local band performing over the lunch hour every Thursday.

Whipkey rocked a crowd of around 100 consisting of dudes and women in business suits, local hipsters who live in the surrounding lofts and other tourists/curiosity seekers wondering what all the good-time noise was about. Next week Orenda Fink plays the Hear Omaha stage. Check out the full schedule here.

Matt Whipkey at Hear Omaha in the Old Market, June 4, 2015.

Matt Whipkey at Hear Omaha in the Old Market, June 4, 2015.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Big 50 concert: Son, Ambulance, The Wagon Blasters, The Lupines tonight at Reverb…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:36 am June 3, 2015
The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight’s the night at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. in Benson. It’s an early show — 8 p.m.

The amazing Lupines kick things off — one of my all-time favorite Omaha bands.

They’re followed by the tractor-punk stylings of The Wagon Blasters, a band that features the legendary Gary Dean Davis in the driver’s seat.

The evening closes with a very special set from Son, Ambulance, one of the most storied bands of the Saddle Creek era, playing music that is as vital today as it was a decade ago.

That’s three great bands for $10, and every penny goes to support Hear Nebraska, an organization near and dear to my heart. Plus, there will be cake! RSVP here.

Thanks to my wife, Teresa, for putting this together.

See you tonight!

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Pre-Birthday musings @ Hear Nebraska, the column; No Coast Fest today, Will Butler (Arcade Fire) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:16 pm June 2, 2015
Will Butler at Maggie Mae's Rooftop, March 20, 2015. He plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Will Butler at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop at SXSW, March 20, 2015. He plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It felt like the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” yesterday after Hear Nebraska posted this very kind profile/interview with myself, conducted by the esteemed Jon Taylor of the band Domestica (and Mercy Rule before that). Jon’s story talks about why I’ve spent the first half of my life writing about music and recaps some of my reporting over the years.

For the article, Jon and I met at an Old Market antique store — fitting, I suppose. He was determined to buy me a birthday present, but he just couldn’t find the right “thing.” Writing this story was gift enough. Give it a read.

Also yesterday, The Reader posted my Over the Edge column, which will appear in the June issue (which should be in the racks soon if it isn’t already). It also talks about why I still listen to new music and, more importantly, why I continue doing so despite the fact that rock ‘n’ roll is considered a young man’s sport. Give it a read here.

And a reminder that we’re just one day away from the Big 50 concert at Reverb, June 3, 8 p.m., Lupines, Wagon Blasters, Son Ambulance, a benefit for Hear Nebraska. Cake will be available. You should go! RSVP here.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

* * *

Today and tonight is the No Coast Music Festival at Westfair Amphitheater. The event is sponsored by 89.7 The River, which explains the commercial-leaning line-up (ironic, considering The River isn’t a “commercial” radio station (It’s a public radio station, in case you didn’t know)).

Here’s the schedule:

Gates at Noon.
1:30 – Twinsmith
2:30 – In The Valley Below
3:45 – Saint Motel
5:00 – Icky Blossoms
6:15 – Joywave
7:30 – Bleachers
9:00 – Cage The Elephant

It’s worth the effort to arrive early.  Details about facilities, parking, re-entry rules, etc. are here (leave your spiked bracelet at home). Tickets are $15 (despite what their website says).

It’s not the only show happening tonight. Will Butler of Arcade Fire is playing at The Waiting Room. Remember, this is Will, not Win. I caught his set at South By Southwest this year and while it in no way resembled an Arcade Fire concert, it was still plenty of fun (in a dance-music sort of way). Opening is Jo Firestone. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Oakland stoner metal band Connoisseur plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Flak, Cube, Vasty Andrews. $5, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Good Life Aug. 14; Lincoln gives to Hear Nebraska; Merchandise, Whipkey, David Kenneth Nance tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 3:58 pm May 28, 2015
The Good Life, Everybody's Coming Down (Saddle Creek, 2015). Release date Aug. 14.

The Good Life, Everybody’s Coming Down (Saddle Creek, 2015). Release date Aug. 14.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Lots to cover and virtually no time to do it. Here’s the bullet list:

The Good Life will release Everybody’s Coming Down — their fifth full-length album and first in eight years — on Aug 14 on  Saddle Creek. The band premiered the first track off the album, “Everybody,” yesterday.

From the press release:

Everybody’s Coming Down marks a vibrant sonic evolution for The Good Life. The album fully expresses the band perhaps more so than any previous release, combining and reflecting each member’s nature and strengths: drummer Roger L. Lewis’s love of classic rock, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fox’s chaotic approach to melody, Stefanie Drootin-Senseney’s propulsive yet tuneful bass parts, and Tim Kasher’s deft, complementary song writing. Viscerally hitting songs like rollercoasting anthem “Everybody” and the boisterous “Holy Shit” sit alongside psychedelic-tinged rock like “Flotsam Locked Into A Groove” and the ambient, atmospheric “Diving Bell,” as well as The Good Life’s now-known lyrical, folk-indebted pop (“The Troubadour’s Green Room,” “Midnight Is Upon Us”). Lyrically, Everybody’s Coming Down is an engrossing, contemplative mix that touches on existential and cosmic queries, ruminations on regrets and self-worth, and the power of memory versus experience.

Everybody’s Coming Down was written mainly in late 2014, and The Good Life played a few shows that August, October and December to road-test some of the new songs. Recording began in January 2015 at Omaha’s ARC studios and finished in the quartet’s respective homes, which are scattered across the US: Chicago, IL (Kasher), Omaha, NE (Lewis), Los Angeles, CA (Drootin-Senseney), and Portland, OR (Fox). The band then traveled to Dallas, TX to mix with John Congleton (St. Vincent, Baroness, Angel Olsen, Cloud Nothings) at his Elmwood Recording. A full track listing and cover artwork are below.

As you already know, The Good Life are slated to play this year’s Maha Music Festival Aug. 15, which will be followed by a U.S. tour with Big Harp.

Will Kasher write a script for this album, too?

* * *

Give to Lincoln day is happening today. And as with Omaha Gives, as a member of their Board, I beseech you Lincolnites to open your wallets for Hear Nebraska. One could argue (and more than a few have) that Hear Nebraska covers as much (or more) in Lincoln than it does in Omaha. In fact, I’ve heard one local musician refer to HN as Hear Lincoln. But seriously, I hear about more bands in Lincoln from hearnebraska.org than any other website. Help them keep it coming. Make your donations here.

* * *

Tampa indie band Merchandise (4AD Records) headlines at Slowdown Jr. tonight.  According to The Georgia Straight, the band’s 2014 album, After the End, was met with “universal acclaim, with critics and fans alike responding to its lush layers of chiming guitars and brooding melodies with comparisons to the Smiths, the Church, and Echo and the Bunnymen.” Indeed, despite its 4AD pedigree, the band has a surprisingly commercial sound. Opening the show is Cloakroom (Run for Cover Records) and local heroes Super Ghost. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Matt Whipkey and his band perform at Reverb Lounge with The Willards. It’s a warm-up show for his opening set tomorrow night for Dwight Yoakam at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Tonight’s show is $7, 9 p.m.

Finally, singer/songwriter David Kenneth Nance plays a set tonight at Almost Music in Benson. Also on the bill are Itasca, Oath and The Full Slabs. $5, 9 p.m. More info here.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Hear Nebraska raises $16k; Who is Laibach? (Spectre comes to Slowdown tonight)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:00 pm May 21, 2015
Laibach plays at The Slowdown tonight at 8 p.m.

Laibach plays at The Slowdown tonight at 8 p.m.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Thanks to all of you who opened your wallets and gave to Hear Nebraska during this year’s Omaha Gives event. I’m told more than 300 people contributed gifts totaling more than $13,000, plus the organization won an addition $3,000 for having the most unique donors for its size category.

Of course you’ll have a chance to donate to Hear Nebraska again June 3 when Reverb Lounge hosts a very special rock show. Details at the bottom of this blog entry. Seriously, mark your calendars…

* * *

So who/what is Laibach? According to Wikipedia:

Laibach (Slovene pronunciation: [ˈlájbax]) is a Slovenian avant-garde music group associated with industrial, martial and neo-classical musical styles. Laibach was formed on 1 June 1980 in Trbovlje, Slovenia, at the time SFR Yugoslavia. The band represents the music wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) art collective, of which it was a founding member in 1984. The name “Laibach” is the German name for Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana.

The band is on the road touring their most recent album, Spectre (Mute, 2014), which Pitchfork gave a lowly 4.9, saying, “The stiffly prefabricated industrial-dance grooves that Laibach habitually fall back on don’t quite cut it any more, and without a monolithic state to serve as the object of their satire, they’re reduced to mocking political fatuity. The result is sometimes all but indistinguishable from what they’re mocking.

But what does Pitchfork know? I haven’t heard the record, but I know that Laibach is renowned for its live shows, which are nothing less than arena quality. The fact that they’re coming through Omaha and to Slowdown is something of a miracle.

This is a recent live review, from Quietus, April, 2, 2015:

Their current show is dark, dense, thrilling, hilarious, a spectacle in a way precious few of the theatrical arena performances of our day so much as approach.

And

Chiefly, this set is heavy-duty ’80s electrop – damn fine heavy-duty ’80s-style electrop, at that – with the ludicrously charismatic Milan Fras’s vocals not so much guttural as dredged from the drains, and his (equally ludicrously beautiful) foil, Mina Spiler, cast as the perfect Teutonic, operatic ice-queen soprano. They assemble amid the sound of howling wind and slow percussive menace, as Riefenstahl searchlights rise from the stage and a skeletal constructivist tower weaves itself from lines of light across the backdrop screen.

One more comment from Wiki: The popular German musical group Rammstein has acknowledged influence by both the aesthetic approach and material of Laibach. When members of Laibach were asked by an interviewer about Rammstein “stealing” from them, they responded that “Laibach does not believe in originality… “

This show comes the day after Judas Priest launched this year’s Stir Concert Series. Laibach has little if anything in common the JP’s Spinal Tap pop metal, but I have to believe it would appeal to some of those who threw the devil horns last night in Council Bluffs. Maybe not. $25, 8 p.m.

* * *

Here’s that reminder I was telling you about. June 3. Be there.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Omaha Gives to Hear Nebraska; Digital Leather, Gloom Balloon, Orenda Fink tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:03 pm May 20, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.56.32 PMOn this, the high holy holiday of local fundraising — Omaha Gives Day — I’m not going to get all “guilt trippy” except to say that if you’re a musician or you run a business that involves music or you’re a music fan, you really should take a second and make a donation to Hear Nebraska.

I’m not saying this just because (full disclosure) I’m a Hear Nebraska Board Member; I’m saying it because there isn’t any other organization in this state that does what HN does for local music — from first-rate promotion of local shows to music journalism to the org’s emerging role as an important resource for putting on local shows. And now with the Good Living Tour, HN is getting bands heard in the outer reaches of the state.

As Hear Nebraska continues to grow, I see it becoming an even more crucial resource for local bands and musicians, which are at the heart of what HN is trying to accomplish.

You can be a part of it. Just go to this page on the Omaha Gives website and make a donation of any size. You’ll feel good all over.

* * *

There’s a boatload of shows happening tonight.

Top of my list (of course) is Digital Leather at The Brothers Lounge. The band has a new record, All Faded (FDH Rcords) coming out June 23 that is arguably the best thing they’ve ever done, and is destined to be in my top-10 “favorites” list of 2015. This morning CMJ premiered the first track off the album, “Cold Inside,” which you can hear below.

See them perform it live tonight. Also on the bill is Indianapolis self-proclaimed “swampydeathrock” band We Are Hex. No cover listed, but probably $5. 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Iowa invades The Sydney with Des Moines bands Christopher the Conquered and Gloom Balloon. Gloom Balloon is the debut solo project by Patrick Tape Fleming, founder of semi-legendary indie rock band The Poison Control Center. Also on the bill is Omaha’s Bazile Mills. $8, 9 p.m.

Finally, there’s a big, free Omaha Gives showcase happening at The Slowdown tonight. On the bill: Orenda Fink, Louder than a Bomb, Opera Omaha, McCarthy Trenching and Super Ghost. The fun starts at 8 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

HN announces full Good Living Tour lineups; Once songwriting contest (and I’m on the panel); Matt Pond PA tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm May 7, 2015
Matt Pond PA

Matt Pond PA at Slowdown Jr., May 11, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

First, if you haven’t already, check out this week’s podcast. Reviews of albums from Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, John Klemmensen and the Party and Simon Joyner, with special guest Chris Aponick, plus a HUGE concert announcement (that we made online here yesterday and that you’re going to get sick of hearing about). Check it out.

* * *

Over the course of what seems like a month (But was only a week or so) Hear Nebraska has  announced the line-ups of its Good Living Tour — a series of concerts the org is putting together in towns west of Omaha and Lincoln. It’s kind of like musical missionary work.

Actually, that’s a very pretentious way of putting it. It’s not as if the people in small towns don’t have access to the internet, where music lives these days. You can’t point to their lack of a terrestrial radio station that plays local music on rotation because, well, Omaha doesn’t have one of those, either.

That said, it’s safe to say that someone in West Point or Valentine is out of touch with indie rock bands in Omaha and Lincoln because the vast majority of people in Omaha and Lincoln also are out of touch with these same bands. Brad Hoshaw and John Klemmensen may draw a few hundred people to their album release shows; but that leaves about 800,000 people in Omaha who still don’t know who they are.

And as I’ve said before (broken record) the next time you’re in line at Hy-Vee tap the shoulder of the person in front of you and ask if they know who Cursive or Conor Oberst is, or for that matter, what Hear Nebraska is. Let’s not kid ourselves. The organization still has a lot of work to do to get the word out in its own back yard, let alone in rural Nebraska.

Still, this is a cool project that sits at the heart of what Hear Nebraska is all about. It’s rare for the folks in these towns to see these bands perform. Check out these dates and line-ups, gas up and take a road trip:

July 17 — Imperial
The Talbott Brothers
See Through Dresses
The Bottle Tops

July 18 — Ogallala
Twinsmith
Freakabout
Lloyd McCarter

July 19 — Gering/Scottsbluff
McCarthy Trenching
Both
blét

July 20 — Valentine
Kris Lager Band
All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
Oketo

July 21 — North Platte
M34n Str33t
Brad Hoshaw
A Ferocious Jungle Cat

July 22 — Kearney
Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers
The Seen
Mike Adams and Friends

July 23 — West Point
Rock Paper Dynamite
John Klemmensen and the Party
Dustin Prinz

July 24 — Nebraska City
A Summer Better Than Yours
Kill County
The So-So Sailors

July 25 — Grand Island
AZP
Simon Joyner & The Ghosts
Icky Blossoms

More info, including times and venue locations, are available right here at hearnebraska.com.

* * *

When I agreed to be the moderator of next Monday’s “pro panel” discussion sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts that’s being held at The Waiting Room (Mike Mogis, CJ Olson, Orenda Fink, Matt Whipkey, 6 p.m, free!) I didn’t know I also was volunteering to be a judge in a songwriting contest. I, uh, don’t usually like music contests, of any kind. Songwriters competing against each other, what’s the point? Is one song really better than another? In this case, yes.

The contestants were told to use the Broadway musical Once as an inspiration (the touring company version is currently performing the musical at the Orpheum). I listened to 50 entries, all posted on YouTube, along with a panel of judges. The obvious choices floated to the surface, and the top 20 songwriters who entered will be performing on stage after the panel discussion. The top two won something coveted by a lot of musicians (local and otherwise): Recording time with Mike Mogis at ARC Studio. Impressive.

So the winners were: Luke Heffron, 17, of Omaha won for “Forget Myself” in the 13-18 Age Division, and Drew Nenemen, 29, of Omaha won for “Another Love Song” in the 19-29 Age Division.

My general observations after going though this process: There are a lot of Jack Johnson / Dave Matthews / Taylor Swift fans out there (especially Jack Johnson fans). I was more impressed with the 13-18 age category entries as well as those who performed with a full band rather than sitting in their bathroom with a guitar on their lap. There’s a lot o’ young talent in this town, and you’ll get to see some of the best on Monday. It should be fun night.

* * *

Tonight, it’s the return of Matt Pond PA. Seems like ol’ Mr. Pond has been coming through Omaha every few years for the past couple decades. This time the show is part of the band’s 10 Year Anniversary tour in support of one of their most beloved albums, Several Arrows Later. Each night, not only will Pond and crew play the album in full, but also a sampling of songs from their upcoming album The State of Gold, which will be released later this year. Opening is Young Buffalo and our very own See Through Dresses. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, listen to Matt Whipkey’s Underwater album on a $250,000 sound system that includes a $100,000 turntable. The free event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Sound Environment, 11021 Elm St. Whipkey says beer and wine will be provided. Bring your checkbook; you’ll want to go home with one of those turntables…

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

HN kicks off tour in Imperial, selection criteria outlined; Montee Men release new track…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:47 pm April 27, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

No music for me this past weekend. That’s a first in a long while, but the situation was out of my hands. And as a result, there probably won’t be a Lazy-i Podcast this week (unless I can connect with Chris A before Wednesday).

Newswise, Hear Nebraska made the first in a series of line-up announcements for its Good Living Tour. The tour kicks off July 17 in the bustling metropolis of Imperial, Nebraska, home to HN founder and ED Andrew Norman. The lineup: Imperial natives The Talbott Brothers, Omaha’s See Through Dresses and Lincoln bluegrass/rockabilly band The Bottle Tops. The free gig is being held at The Imperial Country Club — sounds ritzy!

So how did HN come up with these line-ups? The organization published its selection criteria yesterday, which included “artistic and live-performance quality; history of successful touring (i.e., road-readiness); recent or upcoming album releases (i.e., new music); ability to play an all-original (i.e., no covers), family friendly set; proven ability to draw crowds and to self-promote; in some cases, local community ties; and innovative artistic elements…”

“We don’t expect everyone to like every band, but we aim for each audience member to connect with at least one of them.”

What more could you wish for?

* * *

In other news, brand new local act Montee Men released a new tune on Bandcamp, which you can listen to below. Montee Men is John Laughlin (Pro-Mangum), guitar/vocals; Chris Kelley (Back When), bass/vocals; and Matt Baum (Desaparecidos), drums/vocals. Talk about your power trios…

* * *

Finally, I just got confirmation of a rather massive upcoming concert, but have been I’ve been asked to “embargo” the information until given the green light. Needless to say, this is one show you’re not going to want to miss… More to come.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Hear Nebraska heads West; Matthew Sweet records demos, album delayed; Oquoa, Sam Martin, Big Al Fest tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:00 pm April 23, 2015
The Good Living Tour

The Good Living Tour

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hear Nebraska yesterday announced its first (annual?) Good Living Tour, which brings Omaha and Lincoln bands to small-town Nebraska throughout the summer.

The concert series features “27 of Nebraska’s top, all-original bands playing free, all-ages concerts across nine Greater Nebraska communities. An associated storytelling project will include Hear Nebraska’s production of a total of over 27 music/arts-related feature stories and videos highlighting the elements that make the communities great to live, work and play, especially for young people,” according to the HN press release.

Here’s the sched (for your summer vacation planning needs):

July 17 – Imperial
July 18 – Ogallala
July 19 – Scottsbluff/Gering
July 20 – Valentine
July 21 – North Platte
July 22 – Kearney
July 23 – West Point
July 24 – Nebraska City
July 25 – Grand Island

Hear Nebraska isn’t releasing the names of the bands involved in the series yet, but as a Hear Nebraska Board Member (full disclosure!) I can tell you the line-up is indeed impressive. HN will start announcing the bands April 27.

I think the biggest challenge to pulling large audiences to these shows will be underscoring the quality of the bands, many (most) of which are completely unknown in places like North Platte and Ogallala, where no doubt national mega-pop/American Idol acts, C&W and Freedom Rock is their daily music diet (You could argue that’s the same basic diet to most Omaha and Lincoln residents, as well as the rest of ‘merica). So, it’s a challenge, but no one said it was going to be easy.

Good Living Tour strikes at the core mission of Hear Nebraska, which is to “cultivate Nebraska’s vibrant, fertile music and arts community by providing resources and a voice for bands, artists and members of Nebraska’s creative class and the people and businesses that support them.” Find out more about Hear Nebraska at hearnebraska.org.

* * *

Omahan Matthew Sweet said he’s recorded “at least an album’s worth of demos” for his upcoming album (with the working title of Tomorrow Forever), which he said probably won’t be completed until this fall, according to a Kickstarter update he posted yesterday.

“At this point, anything new I write will go straight to recording stage, as obviously I am running late,” Sweet said. “I am expecting to record one more batch of fifteen songs, at which point I can start putting together an order and getting a feel for what the album is. Most likely we will do this final recording in late May or Early June. We will do a few dates in July but otherwise I now hope to finish singing and overdubbing by Sept realistically.”

Sweet original said in his Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $55,000, that the album would be completed in early spring 2015. “I know it is quite typical for Kickstarter projects to run late,” he said. “When you run a campaign, you have to pick a date to shoot for, and I’d really hoped to make it. But it has to be better that I make the best album I can and take a little longer than to rush something out.”

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Oquoa continues its month-long residency. Joining them are Thinking Machines and Sam Martin, whose latest album, A Notion in An Ocean (Make Believe Recordings) is one of my favorite local releases so far this year. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tonight also is the kick-off of the Big Al Free Music Festival at The Hideout Lounge, 320 So. 72nd St. In addition to performing, bands will have free recordings available for swapping. The fest (which runs through Saturday) is also a food drive. Bring a can of food with you — donations will go to the Food Bank for the Heartland.

Here’s tonight’s sched:

8:00 – 8:30 Adam Peterson
8:35 – 9:05 Pflames
9:15 – 9:45 ARMY of 2600
10:00 – 10:30 The Sun-Less Trio
10:40 – 11:10 Low Long Signal
11:20 Digga DJ +1 with Big AL

* * *

And if you haven’t already, check out this week’s Lazy-i Podcast. The 20-minute program features music by Wagon Blasters, Soft Moon, Blue Bird, Ladyfinger and music and an interview with Super Ghost, along with my picks for the best shows this weekend. Check it out below:

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Matthew Sweet, So-So Sailors, Little Brazil, Juan Wauters; Delicate Steve tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:38 pm March 30, 2015
So-So Sailors at 1200 Club as part of the Hear Nebraska Fundraiser March 28, 2015.

So-So Sailors at 1200 Club as part of the Hear Nebraska Fundraiser March 28, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A recap of a busy weekend of shows…

It was noted by a fellow audience member at The Waiting Room Friday night that Little Brazil might be the band I’ve seen play live more than any other band. They’ve been doing it since the early ’00s, and over the years their line-up has subtly changed, specifically on drums and guitar (Frontman Landon Hedges and bass player Danny Maxwell always have been the centerpiece). This current line-up, with Matt Bowen on drums and Mike Friedman on lead guitar, is the heaviest, the loudest, thanks in a big part to Bowen’s muscular, heavy-sticked drumming (Maybe we should start calling him Matt Bonham?).

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, March 27, 2015.

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, March 27, 2015.

I recorded the first half of their set for the upcoming podcast, and realized afterward that I recorded the wrong half. In addition to having a better mix later in the set, I missed a couple new standout songs presumably from an upcoming album. One featured a swirling two-guitar interlude that was pure Thin Lizzy, the other (the closing number) was an epic masterwork. Little Brazil is back and better than ever.

Juan Wauters at the Saddle Creek Record Shop, March 27, 2015.

Juan Wauters at the Saddle Creek Record Shop, March 27, 2015.

Saturday night started early with the Juan Wauters in-store at the Saddle Creek Record Shop in the Slowdown complex. The little store was mostly filled as Wauters took the stage behind an electric keyboard and performed a handful of sweet, loopy pop songs that were light-hearted and playful. He switched over to guitar for the last few numbers (again, I recorded the wrong half of the set). Curious to hear how Wauters did opening for Tweedy last night.

So-So Sailors' Chris Machmuller at 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

So-So Sailors’ Chris Machmuller at 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

Afterward, it was over to the 1200 Club at the Holland Performing Arts Center for the Matthew Sweet Hear Nebraska Benefit. There was some concern going in that ticket sales were light, but the club-inside-a-music-hall was well-populated. Most of the tables were filled when So-So Sailors came on at 8 p.m. for an insanely good set of witty, intelligent, urbane songs about love and life from the heart of Nebraska . Frontman Chris Machmuller is the city’s best frontman, keeping the audience mesmerized both while he sang in front of his rather large band and with his between-song patter (He’s a regular comedian, that guy).

We can speculate why the Sailors have been inactive the past few years. Life can get in the way of music, and everyone in that band is busy with jobs and family. Still, for purely selfish reasons, I covet a copy of the recording that Mach said (from stage) is basically in the can, and has been for a couple years. Maybe they’re thinking “What’s the point?” — there’s no money in releasing music anymore. Maybe they think they’ve moved past that sort of thing. Let’s hope not.

Matthew Sweet center stage at the 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

Matthew Sweet center stage at the 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

Finally, Matthew Sweet and his band (consisting of Paul Chastain and Ric Menck of Velvet Crush, and guitar-slinger Dennis Taylor) took the stage and ripped through a set very similar to what we got when they played O’Leaver’s and Vega last year. Chock full o’ the “hits.”

From my vantage point in the very center of the room the sound mix was, well, pretty bad. The bass drum was over driven, swallowing up Chastain’s bass rig — couldn’t hear a note he was playing. Sweet’s voice, however, managed to cut through the thump, as did the lead guitar’s high-flying solos. Someone afterward told me “the 1200 Club isn’t suited for this kind of heavy music,” which is like saying that any room with good acoustics shouldn’t host rock shows. Balderdash. All they needed to do was pull back on the kick drum.

Fact is 1200 Club is a pretty luscious space. Whether it’s better suited for quieter bands like So-So Sailors (which sounded exquisite) I cannot say, though I’d love to see more indie rock shows in that space, and would be willing to fork out top dollar to do so. Great room, great service, great night of music.

Look for music clips from the above performances in this week’s podcast, which will likely hit the web on Wednesday.

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Tonight at The Reverb Lounge its the return of Delicate Steve (Luaka Bop, Barsuk). $10, 9 p.m. No opener listed.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i