Closeness’ formation a matter of the heart; review: Posse 7-inch; STRFKR, Matt Harnish (Bunnygrunt), Wagon Blasters, Bloom tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm March 15, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Today a story from Orenda Fink about the formation of Closeness, the new project she shares with her husband Todd, was published at talkhouse.com. I’m not sure this was reported before, it probably has been, but this is the first time I’ve run across it, and never so eloquently.

Orenda writes about her long-term heart ailment, something that’s plagued her since her days in Little Red Rocket, and how matters only worsened over the years, leading to Todd insisting she get it checked out. Good thing he did and she did, because the docs quickly put her under the knife. I’ll let Orenda describe what happened next, but the outcome not only is a healthy Orenda, it was impetus for her finally forming a band with her husband, something she’d thought about for years.

Read the story here, then go out and buy a copy of the the new Closeness album, Personality Therapy (2017, Graveface). And if you’re in Austin this week, check them out live.

* * *

I’m listening to the first release of Saddle Creek Records’ new “Document” series, featuring Seattle band Posse — the single “Kismet” b/w “Keep Me Awake.” The A-side is slow, dark and atmospheric, and includes a sweet Gilmour-esque guitar solo toward the end. I prefer the B-side, which has its own ripping guitar solo in the middle and which you’re going to have to pay to hear. With vocals handled by Paul Wittman-Todd and Sacha Maxim it strikes near to Painful-era Yo La Tengo territory, except that whoever’s playing that guitar blows Ira away.

The black vinyl single comes with a folded one-sheet that includes a history of Posse Seattle practice spaces that have seen the wrecking ball (or flood waters). The package is definitely worth $8. When’s the next one, Saddle Creek?

* * *

Some noteworthy shows for a Wednesday night…

Tonight trippy Portland indie pop band STRFKR (Polyvinyl, Badman) headlines at The Waiting Room with labelmates Psychic Twin. $20, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Matt Harnish from well-known (by some of us, anyway) ’90s indie band Bunnygrunt does a solo show at Brothers Lounge. Joining him are opening acts Wagon Blasters, Noah Sterba and Googolplexia. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Harrisburg post-hardcore band Bloom headlines a show with Bishops (the Bob-Mouldish garage rock band, not the ska band), Gogfermour and Medlock. $5, 9 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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O+S returns with new album; tomorrow’s LVL UP show moves to Sweatshop…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:45 pm February 27, 2017

O+S has a new one coming out this spring.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

How about those Oscars? Can you even imagine f-ing up that much on such a giant stage? On the plus side, it’s nice to see something other than politics dominate the 24-hour news cycle.

Back to music…

Last week, O+S — Orenda Fink and Scalpelist (Cedric LeMoyne of Remy Zero) — announced they will be releasing via Saddle Creek Records a new album called You Were Once the Sun, Now You’re the Moon. The album, which is slated for this spring, is the follow up to their delectable 2009 self-titled debut, which is probably my favorite non-Azure Ray Orenda Fink release.

The new album was produced by O+S and Birmingham’s Jeffrey Cain, and mixed by the incomparable Andy LeMaster (who remembers Now It’s Overhead?). It also includes musical contributions from Joey Waronker (Atoms For Peace, Beck), Zac Rae (Death Cab For Cutie, Fiona Apple) and David Levita (Tim McGraw, Alanis Morissette), among others.

The first single, “Hold You Down,” was posted on SoundCloud. Check it out:

* * *

In other news, that long-awaited LVL UP show, which had been slated for Milk Run, has been moved to Sweatshop Gallery, which makes me think we’ve seen the last rock show at the old Milk Run space on Leavenworth. Palm, Bed Rest and Thick Paint open the 9 p.m. show tomorrow night. Tickets are $10 today, $12 tomorrow…

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Vinyl drove Homer’s sales increases in 2016; Closeness new EP on Graveface 2/24…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:40 pm January 12, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt sent out his annual sales letter to the media a few days ago, and it’s good news: Homer’s business was up 4.5 percent in 2016.

“Vinyl drove the increase, though lifestyle helped,” Fratt said, referencing so-called lifestyle products — i.e., non-recorded products (i.e., trinkets).

Vinyl sales boomed by a robust 18 percent, and new vinyl sales overtook new CD sales in gross dollars. That’s because vinyl costs about $25 per unit, while CDs cost on average around $11.  In fact, CD sales slumped 2 percent last year at Homer’s partially due to retail price declines, Fratt said. Overall CD unit sales were basically flat, off by only 110 units.

“But unit sales in new CDs were were well over two times that of new vinyl,” Fratt said.

Despite that impressive 4.5 percent year-over-year business increase, Fratt says Homer’s has no plans for expansion in 2017. “Running one great store matters more than a handful of average stores,” he said.

Fratt also had some thoughts on my “vision of 2017” that said vinyl sales will plateau in 2017 nationally. He said that peak won’t be reached until 2019 or 2020.

“While the increase (in vinyl sales) is not as great as the last couple years, it’s still significant,” Fratt said. “Add the fact that boomers are now digging out their turntables and playing records again. It’s really quite stunning how wide the demographic is buying vinyl now. So lots of gas still in the tank on vinyl.”

And, Fratt added, Homer’s sold 150 8-track tapes in 2016. Somehow I can’t see that medium making a return.

Top vinyl sellers for Homer’s in 2016: Twenty One Pilots: Vessel and Blurryface; David Bowie, Blackstar; Adele, 25; Radiohead, Moon Shaped Pool; and Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.

Top CD sellers for Homer’s: Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface; Rolling Stones, Blue & Lonesome; Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby; Chris Stapleton, Traveller; Kevin Gates, Islah; and David Bowie, Blackstar.

* * *

Todd and Orenda Fink as seen in negativeland…

Closeness, the dreamy electronic duo of Orenda and Todd Fink, will release their debut EP, Personality Therapy, Feb. 24 on Graveface Records. The Savannah label counts Xiu, Xiu, Whirr, Dosh, The Appleseed Cast and Black Moth Super Rainbow among its roster.

Check out the first single below. BTW, the Finks will be performing at SXSW this year….

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Orenda Fink, Domestica; Kasher track part of Polyvinyl singles club; Cully joins Beach Slang…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 1:50 pm December 13, 2016
Orenda Fink at The Waiting Room, Dec. 9, 2016.

Orenda Fink at The Waiting Room, Dec. 9, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Nice crowd at last Friday night’s Mobilize Omaha event at The Waiting Room. Booths were set up throughout the club where local non-profit agencies told their stories and asked for volunteers. These are strange times we live in; uncertain times. No doubt non-profits will play a more important role if (or, more likely, when) the government turns its back on those in need.

Orenda Fink, who was the night’s final scheduled performer, talked about how important Planned Parenthood is not only for reproductive health services, but also as a provider of basic women’s health services. The agency is constantly under attack; and those attacks will only increase as our country turns a darker shade of red in the coming weeks. If you have the cash, by all means, give what you can to Planned Parenthood, who will likely see its funding cut-off as the new administration takes over the White House. Strange, sad times indeed.

It’s easy to forget that Orenda, who’s involved in a number of projects (High Up (who you can see Thursday night at Slowdown Jr.) and Closeness (with Todd Fink) immediately come to mind) is a one of the city’s hallmark solo performers. She proved that again Friday. Standing alone on stage with her electric guitar Orenda belted out a set of that included early solo material, Azure Ray songs, and a few covers including tunes by Harry Nilsson (“Everybody’s Talkin'”) and David Bowie (an aching version of “Lazarus”).

Domestica at The Waiting Room, Dec. 9, 2016.

Domestica at The Waiting Room, Dec. 9, 2016.

Like I said, Orenda was the last scheduled performer, to be followed by a “special guest.” Turns out that special guest was Lincoln power-punk trio Domestica. Heidi, Jon and Pawl took their places and proceeded to blow the crowd away.

Unfortunately, unaware that they would cap off an evening of mostly somber indie/folk music, my other half didn’t bring earplugs (whereas I never leave home without them). She pulled the hood of her winter coat over her head in a vain effort to block the thunderous power of Doemstica in full flight, but to avail, and we ended up leaving after their first anthem. Next time, Heidi and Co…

* * *

These updates at Lazy-i may be a bit unpredictable for the next few weeks as I slog through a busy holiday season, which also happens to be a frantic year-end time at work. I’ll post whenever there’s a crack of light in my schedule.

A couple news bits:

Polyvinyl Records is launching another “Singles” series, wherein subscribers can receive a year’s worth of 7-inches mailed directly to their doors by the likes of Beach Slang, Japanese Breakfast, Modern Baseball, Twin Peaks, Joyce Manor, Jay Som, Diet Cig, Mothers, Owen, Ra Ra Riot, Sonny & The Sunsets and Saddle Creek Records artist Tim Kasher of Cursive and The Good Life fame.

All the singles were recorded on a 4-track Tascam cassette recorder to capture that classic, made-in-the-bedroom feeling. Subscribe here at the Polyvinyl site for a mere $120. You get some nice chochkes with your purchase.

BTW, I’ve been asking Saddle Creek to try doing one of these “singles-of-the-month” deals for years. I’d be the first in line. Come on, guys.

Speaking of Kasher and Cursive, Cully Symington, former Cursive drummer, has joined Beach Slang, according to SPIN. Cully has pulled drumming duties for a variety of bands including Afghan Whigs and Okkervil River.

Sounds like Beach Slang has been through the ringer this year, according to the SPIN article.

So who’s playing drums with Cursive when they inevitably get back together for another album? My vote is for Clint Schnase…

* * *

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.

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Orenda Fink, Anna McClellan tonight; Lodgings, Leafblower, Low Long Signal Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:51 pm December 9, 2016
Anna McClellan at O'Leaver's, Dec. 3, 2015. She plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Anna McClellan at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 3, 2015. She plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

We’re entering a dead zone for shows — the weeks leading up to Christmas, bleak cold days where it takes massive effort for people to venture out into the arctic cold. Like what we’re experiencing right now. The only worst time for shows is after the holiday and before spring. But we’ll get to that, eventually.

There’s a couple big benefit shows happening this weekend.

Tonight there’s an “amplification concert” (my term) called Mobilize Omaha at The Waiting Room. A handful of nonprofits will be presenting their messages to an audience who will also see performances by Orenda Fink, Anna McClellan, Masonjixx, Kait Berreckman and a “surprise guest.” It’s organized by Planned Parenthood, but your $5 donation will be split among all participating non-profits. Starts early, at 5 p.m. and suggested donation is $5, but you can do better than that.

Tomorrow night it’s back to The Waiting Room, this time for a benefit for Youth Emergency Services featuring performances by Low Long Signal, Armful of Tiger Lilies, Slow Stoics, The Clocks, & Port Nocturnal. Tickets are $5 today, $7 DOS. Show starts at 9.

Also Saturday night, they’re calling it “Dad Rock Night at Milk Run.” The line-up ain’t exactly dad-rock-like: Lodgings (members of NAWAS*, Son Ambulance, Head Of Femur, UUVVWWZ, Sound of Rails); Leafblower (members of Little Brazil, NAWAS, New Lungs, Face For Radio), The Sleeperhits and Mike Saklar (Sun-Less Trio, Comme Reel, No Blood Orphan, Ravine). All four acts for just $5. Starts at 9 p.m. at Milk Run.
     * Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship

Also Saturday night, The Brothers Lounge is hosting a Toys for Tots concert featuring DSM5, Jump the Tiger and Mim Aparo (Anthems). $5 or a toy gets you in. It’s a great cause. Starts at 8 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section.  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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Decemberists, Nas headline 80/35; those busy Finks (Closeness, Cho-Cho & Dasheen)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:49 pm April 6, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.41.16 PM

80 / 35 Festival

The folks behind Des Moines’ 80/35 this morning released the lineup for their July 8-9 music festival.  The Friday night headliner is hip-hop legacy artist Nas; Saturday night’s headliner is Decemberists, who played in Omaha last year.

The 2016 festival also features electronic jam band Lotus, recently reunited Canadian indie rockers Wolf Parade and Atlanta punk rockers Black Lips. Eclectic San Francisco pop group Thao & The Get Down Stay Down; Minneapolis queen of pop and hip-hop Lizzo; Jeff Austin Band, featuring the former Yonder Mountain String Band leader; and the poetic storyteller of The Hold Steady, Craig Finn, round out top of the bill.”

*yawn*

Read the whole list here. More names to be added in May. One assumes this bodes well for the Maha Music Festival. Hopefully Team Maha got all the good bands first. We’ll find out soon.

* * *

The Finks — Orenda & Todd — recently announced a couple new projects which you may or may not be aware of.

Cho-Cho & Dasheen is a collaboration between The Finks, Jake Bellows, Morgan Nagler and a number of local musicians the band met while recording in Jamaica. The band’s first release is a 7” titled Cool Pool Reggae, due out on Record Store Day, April 16, limited to 500 copies. Is this a real project or a vacation project — i.e., will we ever see Cho-Cho & Dasheen perform live?

A project we’ll definitely see perform live is Closeness, described as “moody electronic songs written, performed and produced by Todd and Orenda Fink.” The duo’s first live performance is April 30 at O’Leaver’s with Thick Paint and Spaced_Bar.

Busy, busy, busy. I assume Todd also will be playing with Digital Leather tomorrow night when the band opens for Har Mar Superstar at The Waiting Room.

OK, so what’s going on with The Faint?

* * *

One show worth mentioning: Brad Hoshaw is doing three hours of acoustic music tonight at the Harney Street Tavern. The performance starts at 9 and is free. Will Brad be rolling out a cover of “The Fightin’ Side of Me” in honor of the legend?

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.

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Contemplating summer days (Stir, Decemberists, etc.); New Jake Bellows videos; Orenda Fink tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:49 pm February 11, 2015
Orenda Fink plays tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson.

Orenda Fink plays tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The news lull continues, which explains why updates have been spotty lately. When I don’t have something to write about, I’m not going to post an update, and lately there hasn’t been much to write about regarding local indie music. At least nothing definitive.

From a national indie perspective, one of the bigger announcements was the continuation of The Replacements reunion tour, with shows now slated for Denver April 19 and Chicago April 29 and 30. Why not Maha in August? You never know, though I don’t see it happening. I suspect we’ll be getting a Maha headliner announcement in the very near future.

I was a tad bit disappointed that Replacements won’t be in Austin for South by Southwest this year, mainly because I will, once again, be attending the annual confab / endurance test. Expect the usual coverage at thereader.com and (of course) right here.

And there very likely also will be a podcast from Austin, but more about podcasting later (I still have to figure out how to do it).

In other outdoor festival news, Stir Cove announced a slew of lackluster summer dates including Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes, Colin Hay of Men at Work, the godawful Hozier and novelty star Weird Al. Looks like my string of avoiding Stir Concert Cover shows will continue in 2015.

One outdoor concert I will be attending (in addition to Maha) is The Decemberists at Sumtur Amphitheater May 29.  Where the f*** is Sumtur? Way out in Papillion out by Walnut Creek Lake. Where’s that? It’s 20-some miles south of Dodge on 108th St. No opener named, yet. Decemberists have been touring with Alvvays, and two days before the Omaha date Decemberists are playing at Red Rocks with Courtney Barnett. Barnett alone is worth the 8-hour drive to Denver.

* * *

Hey, here’s some news: Mouser just posted three new videos by Jake Bellows. You can see them all here or check out the YouTube embed below (which connects to the full playlist). Good ol’ Jake.

* * *

Tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson it’s Orenda Fink live and in concert. She is, in my opinion, the kind of artist perfectly suited for this very intimate venue. Expect a special performance. Opening is Thayer Sarrano & Mike Schlesinger. $8, 9 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.

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Saddle Creek signs Philly band Hop Along, Twinsmith; Halloween w/ Noah’s Ark, See Through Dresses; Orenda Fink Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:15 pm October 31, 2014
Hop Along joins the Saddle Creek Records stable...

Hop Along joins the Saddle Creek Records stable…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I was out of touch all day yesterday at meetings and stuff, but I did see the message from Saddle Creek that went out announcing the label signed Philly band Hop Along. I’m listening to the band now on Spotify (or at least I think I am). And I like what I’m hearing. Very indie-sounding. Almost post punk. Breathy female vocals. Kind of reminds me of Helium, Mary Timony’s old band, though it’s more upbeat. Not a hint of mandolin or pedal steel or anything that could be mistaken for alt-folk or alt-country. Like I said, me likee.

Let’s be honest, that alt-country/alt-folk label is more of a Nebraska thing than a Saddle Creek thing. Icky Blossoms, PUJOL, Twinsmith have nothing to do with alt country. Sure, Rural Alberta Advantage gets lumped in with the alt-country-folk thing but even they are far from country. (And I don’t want this to come off as me hating on alt-folk/alt-country/Americana, we just have a lot of it around here and most of it is pretty boring).

Data from Creek: “Hop Along will enter the studio this week to begin work on their Saddle Creek debut, which will be produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., etc) and released in the Spring of 2015.”

The band’s last album, 2012’s Get Disowned, was released in the U.S. on Hot Green Records (It was apparently the label’s fourth release?) and overseas via East London label Big Scary Monsters Records, who counts among their roster Cursive.

More trivia: The band’s singer, Frances Quinlan joined Weezer on stage in Philadelphia at The Trocadero last weekend to sing “Go Away” with Rivers Cuomo and company.

It’s a pretty exciting signing for Saddle Creek and the first non-Omaha band that they’ve signed in years that I’m looking forward to hearing live. Hopefully they’ll come to Omaha some day.

Also announced yesterday was probably the local scene’s worst kept secret: That Twinsmith has been signed by Saddle Creek. Everyone knew this was a done deal for awhile.

Sayeth Creek: “This fall the band hit the studio with Brandon Darner and Luke Pettipoole of The Envy Corps to record their sophomore effort and first full-length on Saddle Creek. You’ll be able to hear the results in Spring of 2015.” Will rock stardom ensue? Time will tell…

Check out some Hop Along below:

I talk to people all the time who hate St. Patrick’s Day. They call it “amateur night” and so on, and that’s fine. I love St. Patrick’s Day, but what did you expect? Just look at my name.

Well the kind of venom people spew for St. Patty’s is what I feel for the adult-version of Halloween. I get how folks like to dress up and put on make-up, but costumes just ain’t my bag, and if you have to wear one to see the show, well, I guess I’m staying home.

But you shouldn’t. Especially considering who’s playing tonight.

Reverb’s got a first-clash bash happening tonight headlined by Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship with See Through Dresses and the always entertaining Darren Keen. I’m hearing STDs are doing an all-cover set. No idea if this is a costume-optional gig (but it probably is). Who knows, I might drop in dressed as Painfully Awkward Robb Lowe. $8, 9 p.m.

Tonight’s gig at The Brothers, on the other hand, is a straight-up costume bash. On the bill is Omaha’s newest stoner rock sensations Nightbird along with Blowing Chunks and Lincoln’s Ron Wax (Ron Albertson ex-Mercy Rule, ex-Liars). $5, 9 p.m.

And of course the masquerade will be happening at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight, hosted by Members of the Press, who go on at 11. $5.

November starts tomorrow. Celebrate with Orenda Fink as she headlines at The Slowdown. Joining her are New York band Matteah Baim And The LCs (Kobalt / Dream Drive) and our very own Anna McClellan. $8, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, 24 Hour Cardlock headlines at O’Leaver’s with The Pink Flamingos and Dirty River Ramblers (yee-haw!). $5, 9:30 p.m.

And Edge of Arbor (Jessica Errett’s band) is celebrating a CD release at Reverb Saturday night. Joining them are The Derby Birds and Tara Vaughan Band. $7, 9 p.m.

Have a happy Halloween…

* * *

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.

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A traveling we will go…; Voting is Cool (Orenda Fink, Simon Joyner, more) Wednesday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:01 am October 13, 2014
Voting Is Cool, featuring Orenda Fink and Simon Joyner, is Wednesday night at The Slowdown.

Voting Is Cool, featuring Orenda Fink and Simon Joyner, is Wednesday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m off to Chicago for a few days of bizness, but there’s not much going on around here show-wise anyway.

I’ll be back in time for the big Voting Is Cool concert at The Slowdown Wednesday night, a free gig brought to you by ballothero.com. Performers include Orenda Fink, Simon Joyner, Sean Pratt, Anna McClellan and Edem. Show starts at 8 p.m.

This is turning out to be a very strange voting season. The more you know, the better off you’ll be before you enter the voting booth (and you will enter the voting booth, right?).

* * *

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.

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Was there a Conflict of Interest in the OEAA nomination process?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:06 pm September 17, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

OEAAs...

OEAAs…

Yesterday’s post outlining the nomination process for the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards (OEAAs) resulted in a number of people suggesting there was a conflict of interest since Board President Emily Engles works for a number of bands nominated in various categories. As OEAA Board President and facilitator of the nomination process, was Engles in a position to influence the final list of nominees?

To help clarify the issue, I asked Engles, via email. Here’s what she said:

Me: Which OEAA-nominated bands and performers do you work for?   

Engles: The Decatures – booking/promo; Stonebelly – booking; Mitch Gettman – booking/promo (this partnership started Sept 3); The Willards Band – booking/promo.

Me: What do you do for those bands/performers, and do they pay you?

Engles: Yes, these bands pay me a monthly fee. E3 Music Management is registered with the State of Nebraska..I have also done some “freelance” work for Hector Anchondo and Matt Cox…referrals and connecting them with the right people, mostly.

Me: How were you involved in the nomination process, specifically in categories where bands you work for were nominated?

Engles: As OEAA President and a member of the music committee within the board, I serve as facilitator. I make sure each committee (Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Music) have the list of nominees, meet deadlines, gather contact information, etc. A music review committee of board members and music voting academy members gathered to go over the full list of nominees (like I said in an online comment, we look at the entire list down to those with only one vote, not just the top six). We make sure the artists are in the correct category (many fans put a band in both rock and hard rock or both country and Americana, not knowing where they may fall) and look at the entire list for who may be moved up once those bands that should not be in a category are removed.

In regard to the categories where bands I work for were nominated, I remove myself from the discussion about who should be moved up once the incorrect bands are removed. I allow the other four members to make the final decision…I do not push or make the final call as I might in other categories.

Engles suggested I reach out John Heaston for a formal statement from the OEAAs in regard to the organization’s conflict of interest policy. “We have board members who are also in the arts and may be nominated,” Engles said. “We have voting academy members who may also be nominated…it is requested they remove themselves from actively participating in such categories, just as I did in regard to the bands I work for.

“The bands I work for are nominated because they are talented and work hard to make an impact on the Omaha music scene,” she wrote. “I work hard for them and they work hard for me.”

To clarify further, Engles pointed me to the nomination statement from the OEAA website, which you can read here.

* * *

A final thought…

When you turn art into a competition, you are saying one work of art is better than another work of art. Conversely, you’re saying something isn’t as good as something else. All art is subjective. I might think Bob Dylan’s voice is mercurial; you might think it sucks. The truth is in the eye — or ear — of the beholder.

I can make you a top-20 list of my favorite Nebraska bands. You can agree or disagree with as much of it as you want, understanding at the end of the day it’s just one man’s opinion.

And when you create a non-profit organization that’s designed to recognize the brightest local talent through an awards program, there’s going to be people who disagree with your choices.

However, when the area’s best-selling local albums by the three local performers who draw the largest local crowds are not nominated for the Album of the Year, Singer/Songwriter of the Year or Artist of the Year, people are going to ask questions.

I asked the questions yesterday. The answer was very clear. All three artists were considered during the nomination process, and Conor Oberst, The Faint and Orenda Fink simply didn’t make the cut. The nominating committee felt they’re not as good as those nominated for Best Singer/Songwriter; their records were not as good as those nominated for Album of the Year, and as artists and musicians, they simply didn’t do as much musically as the people who were nominated for Artist of the Year. The OEAA nominating committee has spoken.

Do you agree with them?

* * *

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.

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