OWH tries to uncover mystery of the Hi-Fi House (but some questions still go unanswered…)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:37 pm August 29, 2016
One of the Hi-Fi House sound systems. The house was the subject of a Mike Kelly column in the Sunday World-Herald.

One of the Hi-Fi House sound systems. The private club was the subject of a Mike Kelly column in the Sunday World-Herald.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday the Omaha World-Herald got the exclusive interview with Kate Dussault about the mysterious Hi-Fi House on Farnam St. Columnist Mike Kelly wrote a lengthy piece that gave a broad overview of Hi-Fi and its services, though Kelly never really explained how it works — i.e., what exactly do members get for their membership fee, which runs from $300 per year for musicians to $1,000 per year for others —there was no breakdown of the different cost levels in the article. Many of the details — like how the house actually works — will likely come when their website gets updated (It’s live at www.hifi.house). and I’d love to get the answers via interview Kate as well.

The ultimate question that continues to bubble up after reading the column: Would you pay to be a member? What exactly do members receive? Time will tell, though I get the feeling that if Dussault pursues creating the country’s only vinyl archive (from the article: “There is no state-of-the-art, playable vinyl-record library anywhere,” she said, “and we have a chance to make Omaha home of the first.”), that 501(c)(3) status could be an eventuality, and that income would also come from sponsorships, grants and large donations. When asked how she’d fund the library in the article, “Kate Dussault smiles and says she has financial sources.” Mysterious!

Or maybe Hi-Fi won’t be a non-profit. What little is known about the model is similar to the Omaha Press Club (OPC), where working press paid one price for membership, “civilians” paid another, and so on. I remember when I was fresh out of UNO’s journalism school the OPC was considered a very exclusive thing. That’s where all the local reporters supposedly hung out. It felt elite. Of course I was never able to afford the membership fee, so I never felt comfortable going to events there, even when I was invited.

When I began freelance writing for downtown businesses — Union Pacific, ConAgra, Creighton, etc. — I learned that corporate memberships were what helped float OPC’s boat. Something changed with tax laws and membership fees no longer were considered business expenses (and tax deductible) and businesses quit paying their employees’ membership dues, and that impacted OPC.

Anyway…. OPC offered an exclusive place to meet for journalists (and corporate communicators); Hi-Fi House appears to offer a similar refuge for musicians? Though I wonder how many will be able to afford $300 a year when they no longer are making money from selling their recordings (Thanks, Internet) and are finding that rising costs are making touring difficult or impossible. Whenever I talk to bands they’re just trying to scratch together enough money for their next recording. I assume Hi-Fi will provide a lot of benefits for musicians that weren’t outlined in Kelly’s story.

To me, the concept of a national vinyl archive is interesting. While the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has extensive audio archives (check out the listing here), I’m not sure if it has a straight-forward vinyl collection. Hi-Fi could corner the market here, though they’d need more than a house, more like a massive Raiders of the Lost Ark-style warehouse to contain even a fraction of all the records that have been produced over the years, especially if their collection will be inclusive of all genres and not just rock. Very exciting.

To me, the performance and interview aspects of Hi Fi are the most enticing parts. I’ve heard nothing but accolades about the recent Tommy Stinson interview and performance.  No doubt Hi-Fi could have easily sold high-dollar tickets to that Stinson program. But instead, well, membership has its privileges.

Anyway, read Kelly’s write up here and also read my initial take on Hi-Fi house from this past April.

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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.


About that Tommy Stinson event; Protomartyr, Channel Pressure tonight; Bummers Eve Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:01 am August 12, 2016
Protomartyr at 2014's South by Southwest Festival. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Protomartyr at 2014’s South by Southwest Festival. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A brief comment about last night’s Tommy Stinson (of The Replacements) interview/performance at Hi-Fi House. Someone asked why I didn’t write about the event in Lazy-i yesterday. The reason: To my knowledge, the event wasn’t a “public event.” You had to be “invited” to attend. So writing about it would have been like presenting you with a shiny coin and then snatching it away at the last minute.

How does one get invited to Hi-Fi House events? I’m not sure. You can become a member of Hi-Fi House for an annual fee, which is applied on a sliding scale depending on if you’re a musician, a member of the local music industry, or a civilian. One assumes members are automatically invited to these kinds of events. I received an invitation, but was unable to attend due to a prior engagement.

I’m told that one of these days in the very near future I or some other member of the media will be granted an interview with the folks who run Hi-Fi House and explain their services and fees. Until then, the music clubhouse on Farnam remains a mystery, though you can always drop in and ask someone about how to get involved.

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My above-mentioned “prior event” that kept me from Stinson was supposed to keep me in Chicago all weekend, but my plans changed overnight, which means I’ll be able to go to tonight’s Protomartyr show at Slowdown Jr. This is one of the highlight concerts of the summer, in my opinion. Here’s how I described their performance at South By Southwest a couple years ago:

“The Detroit-based punk band is fronted by a guy who looks like an insurance salesman, complete with a sensible haircut and full-on business attire, but who has a singing style akin to Husker-era Mould or The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. Deadpan anger, straight-faced disgust, like an upset father with a controlled rage and a back-up band that is pure Gang of Four post punk.” 

Their last album, The Agent Intellect (2015, Hardly Art) topped a lot of year-end best-of lists last year, and received a whopping 8.2 on the Pitchfork meter. Yeah, these guys are still pretty red hot. No Thanks and Shrinks opens. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets are $12. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one sells out.

If it does, you can always go see Channel Pressure, a project featuring Todd Fink of The Faint and Graham Ulicny of Reptar (and The Faint), perform at House of Loom tonight. It’s part of a party they’re calling Flesh Danse, which also features DJ sets by members of The Faint. $5, 8 p.m.

Saturday night over at fabulous O’Leaver’s its Bummers Eve, described by writer Art Fin as “Simple, fun surf punk trio from Cincinnati with lots of reverb and distorted vocals that reminds me of Wavves, early Crocodiles, maybe Terry Malts and going back to one-chord wonders like the Ramones.” Check out “I Want Your Drugs” below. Also on the bill are The Sunks and Ridgeways. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at 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.


Live Review: Chemicals (and Hi-Fi House), Record Store Day recap; Rick Moranis tonight…

My Record Store Day 2016 haul...

My Record Store Day 2016 haul…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, another Record Store Day has come and gone and we’re all a little lighter in the wallet for it.

I purchased the majority of my booty down at Homer’s, which by early afternoon was still basking in the afterglow of the mob scene that it withstood earlier that day. Did I buy everything I wanted from the 2016 RSD collection? No, no. But I got what I needed. BTW, that Feelies recording is particularly sublime.

One of the Hi-Fi House sound systems.

One of the Hi-Fi House sound systems.

I hit Drastic Plastic next, then after my trip downtown I checked out the mysterious Hi-Fi House that was celebrating RSD with an open house of its own. Located at the old Joseph’s College of Beauty building at 3724 Farnam St., the facility is first class all the way — a huge open, carpeted space with comfortable furniture arranged in circles throughout, centered around stereo equipment set-ups, like what I was told was an $80,000 system (shown above).

Part of the Hi-Fi House's extensive vinyl library.

Part of the Hi-Fi House’s extensive vinyl library.

Behind the big room are a couple smaller ones. Inside the first is the Hi-Fi House’s album collection, or what I was told was merely a portion of the collection (which is spread out in locations around the country). A glance at the titles indicated that the music touches all genres. Some of it looked unplayed and was still sealed. There also were some interesting music-related items lying around, like a Patti Smith edition of a Pono Music Player — something I’ve never seen in real life.

Tucked further back in the building was the remnants of the Bomb Shelter Radio studio, which had been housed at Milk Run. One assumes the broadcasts will continue at Hi-Fi House. But I can’t tell you for sure as I still can’t get anyone from the organization to do an on-the-record interview. Hi-Fi House might be open but it’s still hush-hush, for now.

Chemicals at Hi-Fi House, April 16, 2016.

Chemicals at Hi-Fi House, April 16, 2016.

There was 20 or 30 people on hand at Hi-Fi House when Chemicals began its set. Of all the bands I’ve seen Dereck Higgins perform in since Digital Sex broke up, Chemicals was the most impressive. I don’t know much about jazz — or improvisational jazz for that matter — but I can still recognize great music played with fire and funk, and Chemicals was all of that. Higgins said during the set that the band was still in its development phase, but you couldn’t tell by Saturday’s performance.

The band includes guitarist Jacob Cubby Phillips and keyboardist Jake Reisdorff. Horns were provided by trumpeter Blake DeForest and the always amazing James Cuato on saxophone (and keyboards). But keeping it all together was gritty drummer John Evans crashing the beats with style and finesse, and of course Higgins himself at the center, one of Omaha’s greatest bassists holding it all together.

At first I wasn’t expecting much thanks to the long, unstructured noise collage that kicked things off, and then Evans cut through the clutter with a defined beat and Higgins dropped his bass line and we were on our way. This is modern, progressive rock jazz in the same vein as Kamasi Washington, progressive but tuneful and exciting, and well played. I’m sure there was a lot of improvisation going on, but there was no mistaking each song’s foundation and arrangement — this wasn’t random noodling. Can a recording be far behind? (Hey Hi-Fi House, why not put it out on vinyl?).

Hand Painted Police Car at Almost Music, April 16, 2016.

Hand Painted Police Car at Almost Music, April 16, 2016.

After Chemicals I strolled down to Almost Music and caught Hand Painted Police Car rip the paint off the walls while a crowd thumbed through the bins.

Then it was off cross-town to the new Recycled Sounds, sort of hidden on 76th St. across from Buffalo Wild Wings but tucked in behind a strip mall. It’s easy to miss, but you won’t want to miss it. Recycled moved from its old location in Lincoln and will become a regular stop for used vinyl (along with Almost Music). The releases are very well organized — by band by alpha — and there’s a ton of it. It’s where I found that Lloyd Cole 12-inch 4-song 45.

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge a handful of Omaha performers are getting together to celebrate the genius of Rick Moranis. Among them are Kait Berreckman, Michael Campbell, Castor, Vago, Doug Kabourek (who is the living embodiment of ’80s-era Rick Moranis) and Stephanie Krysl. Expect classic SCTV skits in the bar and the best of the best from past Canada Day events on The Reverb stage. $7, 8 p.m. Tell them Louis Tully a.k.a. The Keymaster sent you…

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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.


Little Brazil, Clarence Tilton tonight; Record Store Day, Hi-Fi (Open) House Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:51 pm April 15, 2016
Record Store Day is Saturday, April 16.

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 16.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

What’s the worst thing that can happen when the first really warm weekend of spring finally rolls through your town? You come down with a cold. I don’t know if this is an actual cold or just severe allergies or a reaction to the Kansas bonfires, but my head feels like an over-stuffed pillow this morning, and I have a Kleenix hanging out my right nose. This does not bode well as we approach another weekend of fine live indie music.

First on the list: Lookout Lounge has done it again. The midtown rock club tonight features everyone’s favorite emo punks Little Brazil. Word on the street is that the LB dudes are wrapping up a new album that will finally break through to a national audience. Find out what it sounds like tonight. Lil’ Brazil is the second band on stage. First out of the shoot is pop punk divas The Beat Seekers; last up is headliner, Kansas City’s The Architects. $8, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, in the heart of Benson, 2015 breakout C&W band Clarence Tilton headlines at The Barley Street Tavern. Also on the twang-filled bill are Rich & Germaine and Matt Cox. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight Delta Spirit dude Matthew Logan Vasquez plays at Reverb Lounge with Reverend Baron. $15, 9 p.m.

almostmusic1Tomorrow is, of course, RECORD STORE DAY! Everyone will be up and at ’em to get in line early at Homer’ for all the cool stuff. Homer’s details here.

But the real fun starts at noon at Almost Music at their new location at 3925 Farnam St. In addition to having plenty of RSD merch (Almost Music also opens at 10 a.m.) the store will feature in-store performances all day long. Here’s the sched:

12:00 – Nathaniel Hoier
1:00 – John Klemmensen and the Party
2:00 – Brad Hoshaw Music
3:00 – Bien Fang
4:00 – Hand Painted Police Car
5:00 – See Through Dresses
6:00 – Sucettes
7:00 – The Shrinks
8:00 – Ramon Speed

drastic copyDrastic Plastic also will be taking part in the RSD feeding frenzy. I’m told they have tons of RSD merch that also will be thrown to the masses at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Even the Saddle Creek Shop will be open Saturday from noon to 4 selling all kinds of Creek merch including RSD releases by The Thermals and that Fink-powered combo Cho-Cho & Dasheen.

While your downtown near Slowdown, check out Urban Outfitters RSD in-store at 2 p.m. featuring performances by High Up & Dominique Morgan, as well as free beer!

That’s all great, but something REALLY special is happening Saturday — you’ll finally get a chance to see inside the uber-secret Hi-Fi House, the vinyl listening library located in the Blackstone District at 3724 Farnam St. (in the old Joseph’s College of Beauty building). According to their description in Facebook:

We operate as a musicology lab by day serving educators and health care providers who use music to enhance the lives of their students and patients. We transform into a private club at night to serve artists, industry, neighbors and friends who love music as much as we do.

More details about Hi-F- House I cannot tell you since I’ve never been there, but I intend to drop in Saturday afternoon, and so can you.

The Hi-Fi House Open House starts at noon and “goes until the last record is played.” The day features live, in-house performances by Chemicals (yet another Dereck Higgins’ project), Ricki and Victoria (Pleiades and the Bear) and Mitch Gettmann starting around p.m.. Ticket into the door is a receipt from your purchase on RSD (any record purchased qualifies).

One last RSD-related event — Recycled Sounds records store, formerly located in Lincoln, is now open in Omaha at 322 No. 76th St. The store will have live performances starting at 5, concluding with a live set from Virgin Mary Pistol Grip at 8 p.m. According to their poster Recycled will also have some RSD merch (store opens at 10 a.m.) as well as 15% off used vinyl.

Saturday night, classic psychobilly band The Rev. Horton Heat plays at The Waiting Room with Nashville Pussy, Unknown Hinson and Lucky Tubb. $25, 8 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show (or your Record Store Day event) leave it in the comments section. Have a great *aschew!* weekend….

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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.