by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Last night the fine folks at the MAHA Music Festival announced two more main-stage performers — J. Mascis and The Reverend Horton Heat — as well as three local stage performers — Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, So-So Sailors and Lincoln instrumental-only proggers Machete Archive. They now have one main stage act and two locals left to announce. As it stands, unless Laura Burhenn joins the Sailors for their set, this is turning into a sausage party — and an older sausage at that — which makes me think that the MAHA folks are searching high and low for a young, up-and-coming female-fronted national act to fill that final spot. How hard can it be? Very hard.
Full disclosure: Hear Nebraska was responsible for picking the three local stage acts, and I’m on the board of Hear Nebraska, so I was asked my opinion. Needless to say, only one of the three bands chosen was on my short list. As much as I love Noah’s Ark, they played MAHA in year one. Hear Nebraska, which is officed out of Lincoln, wanted a Lincoln band represented this year (I’m now being told that it was the other way around — MAHA wanted a Lincoln band. Regardless of who’s idea it was, it was a good one). Anyway, that helps explain Machete Archive.
For the record, my choices were So-So Sailors, Icky Blossoms and Conduits. There’s still a chance that one or both of my two rejected bands could make the cut, but the odds are slim. One more local stage slot will be chosen by the MAHA board itself, and the fifth slot — the band who will open the festival on the side stage — will be a public selection chosen from bands participating in an upcoming Omaha Entertainment Awards talent show.
I’ve got to hand it to MAHA, though, for dropping their “battle of the bands” approach used for filling most of the local spots in years past. If you’re going to host a festival, you should have the chutzpah to pick your own bands, or at least find someone with the chutzpah to do it for you. The advantage to this approach will be obvious when we find out who plays on Red Sky’s local stage, all of whom will be selected via a battle of the bands process.
MAHA as a whole looks strong; any city would be proud of this festival’s line-up. If they can capture a new, young band for that fifth spot, they’ll have hit for the cycle.
Also, the three local bands chosen for MAHA each has been charged with putting together a showcase in the coming weeks. More on these showcases as the bands are named.
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By the way, Kid Rock was named yesterday as another main stage performer at the Red Sky Music Festival, making me 3 for 4 in the predictions category (but that will probably be the end of it). The one thing Red Sky has done right is to create a line-up that epitomizes every stereotype people have for our state. Folks in, say, New York will take one look at that line up, nod and say, ‘Well of course, it’s Nebraska.” Here’s another prediction: I foresee massive ticket giveaways in Red Sky’s future. They’ll have little choice if they want to fill that stadium. And besides, the tickets aren’t really free. Your tax dollars helped pay for them.
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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s a benefit show hosted by Make Believe Studio (the former Baseline Studio) featuring Ketchup and Mustard Gas, Lightning Bug, Flesh Eating Skin Disease, Conchance, and DJs Kethro and Dojorok. All proceeds from the show will go directly to the Bikou-En Orphanage, located in the Aomori Prefect in Japan. The orphanage houses 65 children and relies on private donation, since they receive no government support. In the wake of the tsunami, their donations have dropped nearly 60 percent.
But there’s more. Make Believe has put together a digital-only compilation recording, and just look at the contributors: Little Brazil, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, Conchance, Gus & Call, Landing on the Moon, Lightning Bug, Ketchup and Mustard Gas, Flesh Eating Skin Disease, Icky Blossoms, Sam Martin and Greg Elsasser from Capgun Coup, MC Reverie and Sun Settings.
According to Mike Gergen of Make Believe, all material is original to the compilation. “We made it a priority to have tracks that are not available elsewhere,” he said. “Everyone attending the show will be receiving a download card to get the songs through Soundtrax. There is a limit of 500 download cards. After that, it will be available through either Bandcamp or Pulley (pulleyapp.com).”
Gergen said he and three other folks at Make Believe created the compilation: Rick Carson, Jeremy Deaton and Brandon Herbel. “We were helped along the way by a slew of people who allowed us to use their music, helped us with connections to other bands, helped us get the show through the Waiting Room,” Gergen said. “We contacted the bands, recorded, mixed and mastered them at our studio, found the orphanage and put together the downloadable package.”
Pretty friggin’ impressive. Show starts at 9 p.m. and minimum donation is $6.
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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.