#SaveOurStages legislation gets heavy push this week (and now it’s your turn to help)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:07 pm July 27, 2020
A screencap from the WOWT-TV report that shows how The Slowdown could be configured once it reopens.

You will begin noticing (if you haven’t already) a heavy push to write your congressmen and ask them to co-sponsor or support pending legislation designed to help save the live entertainment industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I mentioned last week, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) along with a ton of musicians and promoters are pushing for a couple pieces of critical legislation, and need to get something passed before The Hill’s the August recess, which begins Aug. 7.

First thing’s first: Go to https://www.saveourstages.com/ and voice your support for the Save Our Stages Act (S. 4258, introduced by Sens. Cornyn and Klobuchar) and the RESTART Act ( S. 3814/H.R. 7481, introduced by Sens. Young and Bennet in the Senate and U.S. Reps. Golden and Kelly ). Adding your voice involves filling out a simple form (or writing your own heartfelt text in the space provided) that automatically goes to your respective senator/representative based on your zip code.

Gotta do it TODAY, as in RIGHT NOW, as in it will only take a minute. If you’ve already done it, do it again.

Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel talks about it in this WOWT report from last week.

And here’s a bunch of venue owners talking about being on the verge of going out of business.

As The Slowdown says in a grim Facebook post: “There is no way we want Slowdown to end. It is too soon. It is also not too late.”

People are making this sound like end-of-the-world stuff, because quite frankly, it is. You are going to be shocked at the number of venues that will shutter as a result of the pandemic, and then you’ll wish you’d have done something about it. Here’s your chance.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Sen. Deb Fischer responds to music industry ‘take action’ letter; legislation introduced…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 2:23 pm June 11, 2020
Daughter at The Slowdown, Nov. 19, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few weeks ago I begged you to write your representatives in Washington via the the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) website, asking them to start paying attention to how COVID-19 is destroying the live music industry and to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Well, last Wednesday I got a response from Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. The reply pretty much was what I expected — a templated letter that outlined past COVID-related legislation, introduced with, “Congress and the Trump administration have taken a number of steps to restore confidence to the American people.”

A few hundred words later toward the end of the letter it read, “Rest assured I will keep your thoughts in mind regarding the impacts on the live entertainment industry.

OK, this doesn’t give me confidence that Deb’s going to do much to help the live music industry recover financially post COVID other than keep it in her thoughts. Certainly she doesn’t mention introducing or supporting a bill, etc. Does that mean you shouldn’t submit a letter via the NIVA website? No. The more our representatives hear from us, the more likely they will begin to realize their constituents are concerned about this issue.

And since I sent my note, a piece of legislation has been introduced: S. 3814, the ReStart Act, introduced by Senators Todd Young (R-Indiana) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado). According to NIVA, who supports the legislation, the act:

— Finances the equivalent of six months’ worth of payroll, benefits and fixed operating costs.

— Allows for flexible use of loan proceeds and loan forgiveness with no minimums on the percentage dedicated to any one expense.

— Expands eligibility to ensure access for small businesses that have many part-time employees.

— Allows up to 90% loan forgiveness for businesses with fewer than 500​ ​FTEs (full time employees) ​and high revenue loss.

— Implements a generous 7-year payback schedule, wherein principal payments are not required for two years and interest payments aren’t due for the first 12 months.

So with that in mind, I’m going back to the Take Action form and sending another letter to my congress people. Hey, it can’t hurt.

No doubt an intern in Deb’s office is responsible for keeping track of how many of these letters are received, and after that number exceeds some imaginary threshold, senators like Fischer will begin paying attention. Or not.

Read more about how COVID-19 is impacting the live music industry in this new NIVA fact sheet. Among its tidbits: According to a survey of NIVA members, ​90 percent of independent venues report they will close permanently in a few months without federal funding. ​Current PPP funding will not solve the crisis.


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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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One Percent says tell Congress to #SaveOurStages; new Shiner (after 19 years)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:19 pm May 5, 2020

It’s time to write congress and tell them to save the live music industry.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ve been waiting for this NIVA thing to take off and maybe this is the week it happens.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group of more than 1,200 independent music venues and promoters in all 50 states, which I wrote about here.

Today, One Percent Productions joined those venues and promoters nationally urging folks like us — music lovers who go to rock shows — to write Congress and ask them to protect the live music industry and everyone it touches by providing financial support necessary for it to survived and reopen after COVID ends.

When this crisis began, independent music venues were the first to close, and we will be the last to open. While completely shuttered, we have no revenue, our employees and artists are without jobs, and normal bills keep coming, regardless,” wrote One Percent Productions, which runs Reverb Lounge, The Waiting Room and brings in the best touring indie bands to perform throughout our city.

They’re asking us to go to nivassoc.org/take-action and send a message to our senators and congress people.

Yell it, scream it, clap your hands, and pound your feet like you’re calling the band back for an encore! Please help us ensure we survive by using your voice now (and tell a friend or 100 friends!). #SaveOurStages.

NIVA sent out its initial call for legislation a couple weeks ago. I haven’t heard whether it resulted in any actual legislation. But once that legislation is written or added to another bill, it’ll be even more critical for us to lobby our representatives to support it. The first step is to get off your ass and go to nivassoc.org/take-action and tell them to start legislating this sucker…

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Kansas City band Shiner has a new album coming out this Friday called Schadenfreude, their first album in 19 years. Check out the first singles, “Paul P. Pogh,” and “Life as a Mannequin.” Just like old times…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes cancels tour through mid-June; why aren’t artists backing NIVA efforts? Old Cactus Nerve Thang, new Beauty Pill, PUP…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:58 pm April 27, 2020

D.C. band Beauty Pill has a new single from a forthcoming album.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last Friday Bright Eyes sent out a press release saying it is cancelling or rescheduling a number of U.S. dates beginning in May through mid June.

From the release: “Regretfully, yet predictably, we have had to re-think many of our upcoming tour dates. We hope to be in a better position to gather and celebrate at a later date.

No surprise here. Hey guys, when’s the album coming out?

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What I am surprised about is why artists haven’t jumped onto the NIVA efforts to drum up legislation to help venues, promoters and artists sidelined by the COVID pandemic. NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, which I wrote about here last week (take a look).

I assumed this week we’d see a bunch of artists voicing support for NIVA’s lobbying effort, which will no doubt impact them and their careers greatly. And yet, I haven’t seen a word on social media or elsewhere from artists lending their support. Or maybe it’s too soon for them to act? Certainly amplifying NIVA’s current efforts can’t be a bad thing.

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A couple new songs came through my email this morning.

Beauty Pill is a D.C.-based indie rock act that’s been kicking around since 2002, born out of the ashes of another band I dug called Smart Went Crazy. The band has a new album coming out May 8 on Northern Spy Records called Please Advise. “The Damndest Thing” is the second single. Check it out out.

The last concert I saw before the lock down was PUP at The Waiting Room March 4. Fun show. The band today released its first new song of 2020 called “Anaphylaxis.” Check it:

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I almost forgot…

Once upon a time there was an Omaha band called Cactus Nerve Thang. It consisted of Lee Meyerpeter, guitar/vocals; Pat Dieteman, drums/vocals and Brian Poloncic, bass/vocals. Their sound was a sloppy mix of lo-fi noise, rock, grunge and punk. Their one and only album, Sloth, was recorded in ’93 at Junior’s Hotel in Otho, Iowa, and released on Grass Records, and featured what many believe to be one of the ugliest album covers in the history of recorded music (though I don’t think it was that bad).

Over the weekend someone posted an old Cactus Nerve Thang performance on YouTube: “Rose,” performed live at Davey’s Uptown in KCMO, 2/19/1993. Enjoy.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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What is NIVA and why (and how) is it trying to save the live music industry?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:45 am April 24, 2020

The National Independent Venue Association is trying to save the future of live music as we know it.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Jason Kulbel who runs The Slowdown yesterday forwarded me a copy of the letter written by NIVA that was sent to Washington outlining how the live music industry and its participants will quickly go the way of the dinosaur unless Congress does something now to help support them during and after the COVID pandemic.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, a just-formed organization that currently has more than 900 charter members in 50 states, including all the legendary clubs we know and love like 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue, Bowery Ballroom, Mohawk in Austin and of course our very own Slowdown, The Waiting Room/Reverb/Sydney and fabulous O’Leaver’s.

The first half of the letter, which you can read in its entirety right here, explains the role music venues, promoters and artists play in our economy, our culture, the very fabric of our country. Next it outlines the problem — how venues were the first to close and likely will be the last to reopen, and how everyone involved is being impacted, and how historic, iconic institutions could be forced into permanent closure.

Finally, the letter outlines solutions, including flexible and abundant federal loan programs, tax relief, unemployment insurance, mortgage and rent forbearance, debt deferral and recovery funds.

Those recovery funds and tax credits will help venues comply with new health guidelines when they’re allowed to reopen.

Another key provision: “Establishing national guidelines for resuming and continuing large gatherings in a safe manner to ensure uniformity throughout the industry.” This is critical because without it, there’s no way artists and promoters could schedule tours without knowing which states’ venues are able to book shows; without national guidelines each state would do its own thing and that would be a mish-mash, patchwork approach.

Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t appear to support those kinds of national guidelines, leaving it up to the states to decide. Oh what a mess he’s made.

I was skeptical when I saw this letter, figuring most members of Congress don’t know a thing about the entertainment industry. But Kulbel wisely pointed out that Congressional staffers know what’s going on; they frequent venues and understand what role they play in communities. He’s optimistic.

Kulbel continues to book shows at Slowdown despite the constant wave of cancellations so the club will have something in place when allowed to reopen, hopefully sometime this summer. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for legislation that includes the above provisions. No doubt some smart congressman or senator will include them in a bill or create a bill that adopts these provisions, and when he/she/they do, it’ll be your job to reach out to your representatives and lobby for their support.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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