Sara Bertuldo (See Through Dresses) on racism and exploitation in art; Thick Paint, Anna McClellan tonight…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

In my November column in The Reader, I wrote an essay titled “With the Best of Intentions: Yellow face, the N-word and a divided music community.” The column discussed accusations of racism made toward members of the Omaha music community. If you haven’t already, read the column now to understand the context of the rest of this post.

As an addendum at Lazy-i.com, I also posted a Q&A with Simon Joyner about the controversy, which you can read here.

After I posted links to both the column and the Q&A in Facebook, a number of people reacted, saying I didn’t capture both sides of the issue. Someone suggested I ask See Through Dresses front woman Sara Bertuldo for her thoughts on the matter, and Bertuldo indicated she’d be willing to do an interview or answer questions.

See Through Dresses was on tour at the time, so I suggested we do it via email (as I’d done with Joyner’s Q&A), and sent Sara the following questions to be published with her responses as a post in Lazy-i.

My questions:

— What was your reaction to: Joyner’s song, Noah Sterba’s song, Harouki Zombi?

— Do you think the artists in question have done anything wrong or were trying to intentionally hurt anyone through their actions?

— Is it OK for artists and musicians to broach these sorts of topics in their work? Why or why not?

— Were you satisfied with the apologies or explanations offered by these artists about their choices?

Sara sent her responses late last week in the form of the following essay:

The first reaction is anger.

Imagine someone says something bad about you. What you did. What you said. Or maybe what you wore. How would you feel? I’d feel pretty angry. Is it really bad? Was it something to feel ashamed about? Did you make a mistake? Can you apologize for it? Should you?

Now imagine someone says something else bad about you. Only this time it’s something undeniably true, like something about your identity. Or the color of your skin or shape of your eyes. Something you can literally do nothing to change. How does it feel? I know I was angry. 

When you react with anger, people say things like “don’t take it the wrong way” or “it’s a joke” to minimize it. What it feels like when that happens is that they minimize me and my experience.

Racism.

It’s a scary word to a lot of people.

My experience with racism is like a book I carry with me. That book is a heavy weight that sits on my chest. And every time I experience something like this, that book opens. It is filled with my memories of prejudice. Memories of being asked if I was Chinese or Japanese in elementary school, being told I “act white,” being fetishized, and learning my mother withheld our language from me to make me more American. She did this to help me fit in. She was treated poorly because of her accent when she immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s. When she had children she promised herself that wouldn’t happen to them.

Racism.

Racism is a normal word to me.

I believe it is embedded in all of us and the only way we can fix it is by educating ourselves.

I’m really tired of absorbing everything and keeping silent. It makes me feel sick.

There was a time that I let things slide. I kept quiet because I wanted to preserve some sort of peace. Talking about it was way too real. And people say things that make you question how you feel. To make you quiet. But all these little things that have been said just add up. Every single thing I hear or read, it just eats at me.

Link: http://seethroughdressesband.com/post/161006916559/

I had written something before detailing my experience post-Harouki Zombi stuff. I personally left out names. I didn’t want people to feel attacked. I did not want them to feel the way I felt. I was so angry when this all started, but I tried to let go of that for a moment and write my story. I felt by offering a personal account on what it feels like to be a person of color I could help them see how upset I was. I thought my way for me to change someone’s views was through compassion and not anger.

But months later, it keeps coming up so here we are again.

So to Orenda, Noah, and Simon:

With all due respect, yes, you are all artists. And you are all white. You benefit from things I do not. You absolutely have the freedom to do whatever you wish in your art. But if you are so progressive minded, if you are as compassionate as your friends say you are, please treat our culture and words with reverence. Keep making art, but please do not exploit us. I don’t believe there was intent to cause harm. But the fact of the matter is, you did. I believe it’s more meaningful to take a step back and listen now. Listen to us.

I resent this whole ordeal. I am upset it’s taken so much time from me. I spent so much time thinking about it, crying about it. I’ve cancelled band practice over it, been depressed about it at work, and now I’m out on tour writing about it when I should be enjoying where I am.

And to the people that were so outwardly angry about it, I sympathize with that anger. I really do. People called them bored, childish, social just warriors… You know why marginalized people react that way sometimes? It’s because people don’t listen to us. And it happens again and again.

Here is one marginalized person’s opinion. Because we coexist in this community, I thought you should hear it. You can take it or leave it.

I find solace in my friends and family that support me. I can only work on the people I care about or people that want to be better and if you don’t want to learn from this, that is totally fine.

I’m sorry if that sounds angry, but if anger is all you see then you’re missing the point.
— Sara Bertuldo

Thanks, Sara, for the thoughtful comments on a very difficult subject.

* * *

Tonight at Brothers Lounge it’s the return of Thick Paint. The band has been on the road for awhile and swings back into Omaha with Anna McClellan, who just leaked the first single, “Heart of Hearts,” from her forthcoming album Yes and No, due in February on Father/Daughter. Dilute also is on tonight’s bill. $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.

Lazy-i

Simon Joyner on ‘As Long As We’re in Danger’ – Q&A…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:44 pm November 14, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Simon Joyner, Step Into the Earthquake (2017, Shrimper)

A follow-up to yesterday’s entry

Prior to leaving on his European tour at the end of October, I asked Simon Joyner about his song “As Long As We’re in Danger,” mentioned in the column that appears in this month’s issue of The Reader, which you can read online here. In fact, if you haven’t read it yet, please do so now to put the following in context.

Joyner posted the song’s lyrics on his Facebook page, along with comments about why he wrote it and what it means. As mentioned in the column, the timing almost seemed like Joyner was making a pre-emptive move to head-off any controversy surrounding the song’s lyrics. So I asked him about it.

Was the song written before the blow-up over Noah Sterba’s song?

Simon Joyner: The song was written a year ago, during the election year, long before any blow-ups in Omaha on social media that I was aware of. It takes awhile to get an album recorded and then manufactured and released but it is, in fact, an older song.

Was publishing the lyrics and the explanation a way to get the issue out in the open rather than wait for those who might be offended to discover it?

Due to the corrosive nature of social media, I wanted to contextualize my song before it could be taken out of context by anyone who wanted to misrepresent its themes and intentions. So that’s why I posted the song and explanation. But Facebook and Twitter, it’s like Telephone, things spread and get presented out of context and editorialized for new people on so many different threads where my statement and the full lyrics couldn’t be seen for context. Knowing it would happen either way, I at least wanted to set the tone on my own page. The song is unambiguously targeting racists and racism in the country, xenophobia generally speaking, and the identity politics that are used to divide us. I hoped that by explaining who the narrator was in the song and exactly what my intentions were and what I was targeting, it would help direct the conversation so we could start in the place of recognizing we’re on the same side here on the broader points the song addresses. Whether or not people agreed that I should have used the word in my effort to paint a scathing portrait of America at its ugliest, I wanted them to know that the rage in the song is directed at those who hold those feelings and I wanted them to know I think this is an age-old American trait, not something new.

Most people at least understood my intentions and appreciated that I was commenting on our culture even if some thought that using the word to expose those painful realities was insensitive or unnecessary. I’m sensitive to those views and found that criticism valuable. But some people promoted the idea that the use of the n-word even in a song obviously against racism made the song racist and made me a racist. That’s a really irrational take. I’m not a racist and neither is the song. I was describing the world we actually live in, not the one we aspire to live in. That’s why I used the word in the song but would never use it in my life.

Do you have any regrets using the N-word in the song or posting the lyrics/explanation?

I don’t regret posting the lyrics and explanation at all. I think it made space for a lot of good dialogue on very important issues and that was really encouraging. Once the lyrics of the song were taken out of context on different threads and people started targeting me rather than discussing the issues the song brings up, it took a turn and followed a predictable corrosive path we are used to seeing on social media platforms. It became obvious that most of the people commenting at a certain point hadn’t read the lyrics of the song but were reacting to things they were hearing and seeing posted which weren’t accurate. The conversation is over when it gets to that point. But I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water, I had a lot of good discussions with people who wrote me directly and I saw a lot of people really engaging the topics on my thread too and being respectful of those with different opinions. Even for the brief window of time that was happening, it was nice to see.

Do I regret the word choice in the song? I am definitely sorry that people experienced pain because of my word choice. I know the n-word is a painful reminder of the racism black people have experienced personally throughout their lives. Since the object of my song was to target the racism all around us, within our institutions and out of the mouths of actual racists who have been emboldened by the current administration, I was especially sad to hear that even some of the people who agreed with the points I was making also felt hurt over how I chose to make those points.

When I wrote the song I thought about the master/slave dynamics at the root of modern racism and on display in the NFL, for example. Colin Kaepernick hadn’t yet begun his kneeling protest when I wrote the song but I think the overwhelmingly negative reaction to his dignified, respectful protest, makes those master/slave dynamics all the more apparent to the naked eye. We have the manager of the Cowboys telling his players if they kneel, they don’t play, using threats to suppress their first amendment rights. So, although I was tempted to use a euphemism or a weaker word about how America feels about black people, and spare myself the controversy, I thought I’d be letting America off the hook. When people talk about moving away from use of the word, I always assume they mean in our lives and public discourse, which I totally agree with. But that’s aspirational, it hasn’t happened yet, not everyone in our lives has gotten that memo. So as long as we have people still talking that way and thinking that way, and more importantly, systems still designed to marginalize people of color, it seems important to be able to call attention to it and to use the language these people are actually using if we want to depict how vile this thinking really is. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for us to have extreme reactions to art we experience, I think it’s good, but I personally don’t enjoy making art that creates painful reminders for people. So, in that sense, I regret using the word, but I wonder if I’d have been doing black people a disservice to suggest in my song that America feels less harshly towards them, when all evidence points to the contrary.

From what I can tell, you’ve stayed out of the fray on your Facebook post, standing back and letting the critics voice their concerns. Why haven’t you reacted online (or have you been responding privately to these critics?)

I stated on Facebook that I didn’t think social media was a healthy place to have real dialogue about important issues and encouraged people to write me directly if they wanted to discuss my statement and my song. I responded to anyone who wrote through direct message or email and I did have some good discussions that way. But it’s impossible to reply thoughtfully in real time when so many people are commenting on something. A mob mentality can develop really quickly on all sides so it gets pretty gross. People will say things to one another that they’d never say to the other’s face. So much of it is because their “friends” are watching too. You get the feeling that people are addicted to shaming more than they are interested in convincing anyone of anything in particular or reaching an understanding of different viewpoints. It’s not interesting to me at all to watch people behave that way. It’s depressing. So, I stay out of that stuff in general. If I hear about someone I know writing something or saying something that surprises or concerns me, I call them up or text them or email them to talk to them directly. I think people deserve that courtesy and respect and no one deserves to be publicly humiliated. People seem to love it though and some are building identities around this behavior.

Finally, after your European tour, do you intend on hosting a local album release show for Step Into the Earthquake?

I don’t know. I don’t have anything set up in town yet but we’ll see if it works out with everyone’s schedule when we get back from this tour.

* * *

It’s worth noting that there have been a couple national reviews of Step Into the Earthquake that mention the controversial lyrics. Dusted Magazine went as far as publishing a portion of them in its review. So did AllMusic.com in its review. We’re still waiting for that Pitchfork review, however…

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

With the Best of Intentions: Harouki Zombi, Noah Sterba, Simon Joyner and a divided music scene (In the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:41 pm November 13, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before you read my column in this month’s issue of The Reader that briefly outlines the recent controversy surrounding Orenda Fink, Noah Sterba and Simon Joyner, this note: I was reticent about writing on this topic for fear that it would only stir the pot all over again.

In fact, I told Orenda Fink when the controversy surrounding Harouki Zombi flared up this past summer to keep a low profile and wait for it to pass. Now here I am writing about it. The reason I moved forward was because of  Joyner’s own lengthy defense of Sterba and Orenda (It’s linked within the column).

So without further ado, here’s the column, which you also can read in the November issue of The Reader, on newsstands now. More tomorrow, including comments from Joyner about his song “As Long As We’re in Danger,” the language he used, and its timing…

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Kevin Morby (@Reverb 8/28); Brad Hoshaw live at Ted & Wally’s…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:04 pm August 24, 2017

Kevin Morby plays at Reverb Monday, Aug. 28. Photo by Adarsha Benjamin

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before you read the answers to his Ten Questions survey, let me try to explain singer/songwriter Kevin Morby’s connection to Omahan Simon Joyner. Morby may be best known as the bassist for indie band Woods (though he also formed a band called The Babies), which has recorded seven albums on Woodsist Records, which has released albums by Kurt Vile, The Oh Sees, Real Estate aaaand... Simon Joyner. In fact, Joyner performed at the label’s “Woodsist Festival” a couple years ago.

So it’s a shame that Joyner won’t be at Morby’s show Aug. 28 at Reverb (because Simon’s currently on tour with David Nance). The good news is you’ll be able to hear Morby perform songs off City Music, his new LP on Dead Oceans Records. The album is an urban counter-point to his 2016 rural collection Singing Saw. That record pulled from Dylan and Cohen for influences, while City Music was influenced by Lou Reed and Patti Smith (and has similarities to Kurt Vile’s output).

1. What is your favorite album?

Kevin Morby: Skeleton Blues by Simon Joyner.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Any song not by Simon Joyner.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Having played with and met Simon Joyner.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

That I’m not as good as Simon Joyner.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Simon Joyner

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Omaha, Nebraska, because maybe Simon will come.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Last night and everywhere that Simon Joyner was not in the audience.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I am a full time musician to cover the bills, and devout Simon Joyner fan as hobby.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

Simon Joyner guitar tech is attempt. Something I’d hate to do is be a cop.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

That Simon Joyner lives there.

Kevin Morby plays with Shannon Lay Aug. 28 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $12, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com 

* * *

Last night Brad Hoshaw played an acoustic set as part of the Mode Shift Membership Kickoff outside of Ted and Wally’s in Benson (you can still sign-up for Mode Shift here). It was good weather, a good crowd and a good time.

Moments into his set, I thought of capturing Brad’s performance via Facebook Live (with Brad’s nod), which you can view below. It dawned on me that if an artist were to tap into the right Facebook channel, FB Live sessions could be an effective way to get their new music heard in a format unique from their recordings. Maybe after hearing a couple new songs from Brad’s just completed Four New Songs EP listeners will wander on over to bradhoshawmusic.com and buy the CD. The following live acoustic version couldn’t be more different than the well-produced studio recording (that features a full band, strings, piano, etc.).

It’s also cool to see fans tap into the feed during the broadcast, from around town and around the country. There was close to 100 views during the live session; the session now has about 300 views… 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Simon Joyner on the way…; Tuesday morning music ramblings (whatever happened to Superstar?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm June 20, 2017

What I presume is the soothing artwork for Simon Joyner’s new double LP Step Into the Earthquake, available late October from Grapefruit Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Simon Joyner announced last week that his label, Grapefruit, is taking pre-orders on his new double-album, Step Into The Earthquake. The record feature’s Simon’s deft band, the Ghosts (which includes David Nance and Noah Sterba) and longtime-collaborator Michael Krassner. The original message said the album is slated for release Oct. 20, though the website is saying “late October.”

There are two versions available for pre-order. The $70 Deluxe Edition of Step Into The Earthquake is limited to 50 copies, and will contain:
-The gatefold double-album wrapped in a screenprinted and die-cut paper outer-sleeve,
-A limited edition signed and numbered broadside of the song “I’m Feeling It Today” suitable for framing, designed and printed by Sara Adkisson Joyner,
-A bonus vinyl LP (signed, numbered, and limited to 60 pressed) of The Phoenix Demos, which features piano and guitar duo versions of songs from Step Into The Earthquake recorded with Michael Krassner at his home in Phoenix in preparation for the album

Or you can order a regular copy of the double-LP for $24.

I think I’m getting the expensive one because, well, WTF? It’s Simon Joyner!

* * *

Last night I was going through my iTunes, trying to tighten up my list of songs I listen to on my morning jogs. Too often I listen to this playlist and something drops in I don’t recognize. And if I’m on a treadmill, I can’t go over to the hi-fi and change it, and then I’m stuck with this droning piece of drone that goes on and on…

Anyway. I’m going through my massive list of albums in iTunes and come across a band called Superstar. Their debut album came out in 1994, and I fell upon a copy of the CD when it was included in one of the monthly care packages from The Note, a magazine I wrote for way back when as an Omaha correspondent.

Superstar, self-titled (1994, SBK)

It’s one of those records that is virtually unknown ’round these parts, and probably anywhere. despite being released by SBK Records, whose claims to fame included Jesus Jones and Vanilla Ice. This record, Superstar, sounded like a tuneful, melodic version of Teenage Fanclub, which probably was what I wrote in my review for The Note. Despite being from Glasgow, Superstar had a distinctive So Cal sunset sound, very layered, very dense, with huge melodies and harmonies that I figured would put them in the same sentence as Fanclub, but never did…

I wondered whatever happened to the band. And the internet being what it is, it didn’t take long to find out. I found the ’94 album on Discogs, where (no surprise) it’s virtually worthless. But through Discogs I discovered Superstar actually recorded two more albums, neither of which I’d known about. It was on one of those Discogs pages that the band’s personnel was listed

From there, it was a simple bit of Googling before I discovered an article in The Guardian from Sept. 1, 2015, about Joe McAlinden. “His band Superstar never quite lived up to their name, despite being covered by Rod Stewart. Now, 30 years later, he returns as Linden, and he’s lost none of his melodic gift.”

From there, onto Spotfy where I found Linden’s 2015 album Rest and Be Thankful, released on Oakland label Slumberland Records. And that’s what I listened to this morning as I jogged through Elmwood Park.

OK, not much of a story, though if you’re into early Teenage Fanclub or ’90s Glasgow pop rock you can’t go wrong with Linden.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

New Simon Joyner (and others) for sale for a good cause; BFF, Mitch Gettman tonight; Wagon Blasters Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:05 pm February 3, 2017

Mitch Gettman at The Waiting Room, May 2, 2014. He plays tonight at The Barley Street Tavern.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we get to what’s happening (or what’s not happening) this weekend, let me point you to a special deal from singer/songwriter Simon Joyner. Here’s Simon, via Facebook:

Friends, I’m putting up “The Phoenix Demos: Songs for Upcoming 2017 Album” for exclusive purchase during the Bandcamp fundraiser tomorrow. Nine out of 12 songs I recorded live a couple of weeks ago in Phoenix with just guitar, vocal and Michael Krassner on piano to prepare for the new album we are about to record with the band in Omaha. Get the stripped down sneak peak at songs being considered for a new album.

“I’m only making these demos available for one day at a premium to hopefully raise some money for the ACLU Nationwide, Planned Parenthood, and the Refugee Empowerment Center. You are encouraged to pay more than the asking price if you can, it will all go to these organizations. I’m also making available “Salt Lake City House Show 10-20-16 (with David Nance).” It’s a particularly well-recorded show from the Diss Riptide living room tour we did a few months ago and the only show that David Nance joined me for the entire set!”

The sale is part of #NoBanNoWall, a Bandcamp effort with more than 200 artists and labels donating their Bandcamp profits to the ACLU and other organizations in support of immigrants and refugees. Check out the index and buy some stuff.

Also, Saddle Creek Records is donating the proceeds from its Bandcamp sales today to the Refugee Empowerment Center in Omaha.

* * *

Well, this is about as sparse a weekend for shows as I can remember.

Tonight, of course, is Benson First Friday, and I would be remiss in not mentioning the art show being held at the gallery operated by my wife — The Little Gallery in downtown Benson across the street from The Sydney on the storefront level of the Masonic Lodge. Titled Oscillating Bodies, the show features the work of Torrey Smith and Nadia Shinkunas. Opening hours are 6 to 9 p.m., free and snacks and beer/wine will be available. Swing by and say hello and buy some art. More info here.

The BFF showcase at The Barley Street Tavern features FINO, Lowercase Tres, Ben Jones and singer/songwriter Mitch Gettman. 9 p.m. $5.

That brings us to Saturday night, when you’ve got one of the most eclectic mixes to appear in one night at fabulous O’Leaver’s. It kicks off at 9:30 with Dereck Higgins Experience — the debut of Higgins’ new band project. Dereck is one of Omaha’s most well-known and talented bass players, whose history dates back to ’80s first wave act Digital Sex. Next up is the always entertaining Wagon Blasters featuring tractor-punk legend Gary Dean Davis behind the microphone. The night ends with the two-person heavy-metal grind of Big Al Band. All this for a mere $5.

Aaand, that’s it for the weekend. 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Slowdown’s upcoming indie schedule; Woods, Simon Joyner and the Ghosts, The Tallest Man on Earth tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm July 18, 2016
Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at Slowdown Jr., April 4, 2015. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at Slowdown Jr., April 4, 2015. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The most distinctive aspect of Brooklyn indie band Woods (besides their songs, which are sublime) is singer-guitarist Jeremy Earl’s high, almost feminine voice. For sheer uniqueness, it’s right up there with Yes’ Jon Anderson and is eerily similar at times on the band’s new album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, released this year on Earl’s own Woodsist Records.

You have to wonder how Earl even has time to tour considering the size of Woodsist Records’ roster, which includes Wooden Wand, Sic Alps, The Fresh & Onlys, Crystal Stilts, The Pocahunted, as well as releases from standout acts like Wavves, Thee Oh Sees, Kurt Vile and our very own Simon Joyner, whose last album, Grass, Branch & Bone, was released late last year on Woodsist.

I bring all of this up because Woods performs tonight at Slowdown Jr., and Simon Joyner and The Ghosts opens. It’s an earl(ier) show, starting at 8 p.m., $15.

Tonight’s show is a good reason to return to Slowdown after the CWS. Fact is, Slowdown is sporting an impressive calendar of upcoming indie rock events. All of the following Slowdown shows are on my radar:

July 21 — Atlas Genius, Bear Hands
July 31 — The Jayhawks
Aug. 5 — Conny Franko (a.k.a. Conchance) CD release
Aug. 12 — Protomartyr
Sept. 8 — Frightened Rabbit
Sept. 9 — Bob Mould
Sept. 24 — Junior Boys
Nov. 20 — El Ten Eleven

Not bad. The schedule for upcoming Waiting Room and Reverb shows is nothing to sniff at, either. In fact, tonight The Waiting Room has a heavy-weight show of its own: The Tallest Man on Earth. Swedish folkie Kristian Matsson has put out one hit album after another since 2008’s Shallow Grave (Dead Oceans). He’s on the road touring Dark Bird is Home (2015, Dead Ocean). Opening is Lady Lamb (formerly known as Lady Lamb The Beekeeper) whose last album, After, was released on Mom & Pop Music (Courtney Barnett’s label). $25, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Refrigerator, Simon Joyner; Lincoln Calling tix on sale Thursday; Electric Six tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:29 pm July 5, 2016
Refrigerator at O'Leaver's, July 1, 2016.

Refrigerator at O’Leaver’s, July 1, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Refrigerator is a literate indie rock band that puts its guts out there for everyone to see, but still doesn’t take itself that seriously. Case in point: Halfway through their set Friday night at O’Leaver’s, guitarist Dennis Callaci decided it was a good time to form a congo line and bounce on out to the beer garden with his brother, frontman Allen Callaci, while the bassist and drummer kept the beat in the club. And out they went doing the usual bunny hop with grins on their faces (along with the dozen or so people who joined in, hands on hips).

The show had been promoted as a special occasion based on the fact that Refrigerator has never played in Nebraska before, despite having close ties with some prominent Nebraska musicians — Simon Joyner chief among them. To me, the band is identified with The Antiquarium, which was where you’d find their albums and cassettes, along with other releases on Callaci’s label, Shrimper. Their music has the same pleasantly abrasive style of a few of my favorite ’90s indie bands like Silkworm, Grifters, a more refined Guided by Voices — smart, earnest rock with a crashing beat that gets you moving. It was a great set.

The band had a big spread of their releases available at the show — lots of cassettes and some vinyl. But with only $20 to spare, I bought a copy of Allen Callaci’s book, Heart Like a Starfish, a handsome tome and a challenging read that I began tackling this weekend. The story recaps Allen’s medical struggles involving his heart. I’m just 40 or so pages into it and it’s getting rather grim, but I know the book has a happy ending because I saw it being lived out on O’Leaver’s stage.

Simon Joyner at O'Leaver's, July 1, 2016.

Simon Joyner at O’Leaver’s, July 1, 2016.

During the opening set, Simon Joyner on electric guitar, accompanied by a drummer, ripped through a number of new songs as well as some chestnuts like “Joy Division” (or at least part of that song) and “Javelin.” Always a good time.

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Lincoln Calling Oct. 6-8

Lincoln Calling Oct. 6-8

As you may or may not know, Lincoln Calling is getting a rather massive facelift this year. The primary change: Hear Nebraska is now putting on the three-day festival, which is being held Oct. 6-8 in venues throughout downtown Lincoln. Believe me, you will be impressed by the line-up, which HN will begin to announce July 13 (they’re doing incremental lineup announcements).

That said, tickets go on sale this Thursday, July 7. Early bird, three-day general admission festival passes will be available at a discount price of $29. Once those sell out, 3-day passes will increase in price to $39 for a limited time, and will eventually sell for $49.

Sales of all-ages 3-day passes that allow entrance only into two venues — The Bay and Tower Square — also go on sale Thursday for $25. Comedy-only passes will be sold for $25.

And then there are the two specialty passes:

Trustee passes at a cost of $250 includes a three-day festival pass, access to a lounge area with comfortable seating and tables, food and drink tickets, and additional perks to be announced.

SPEED! passes at $150 (only 10 available) gets the bearers to the front of the line at every concert, and allows access even when shows are at capacity.

One-day passes may be available day of show — subject to availability. In other words, at these price points, they’re expecting to sell out those 3-day passes.

No doubt Hear Nebraska is going for a South By Southwest-type event. The difference is they’re combining national touring acts of various genres with some of Nebraska’s finest bands, all playing in multiple venues for multiple days.

BTW, I have seen the initial line-up, and yes, it rivals this year’s Maha Festival. Get your tickets Thursday morning at lincolncalling.com.

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Tonight Detroit disco-punk-new wave-garage-metal band Electric Six makes its annual pilgrimage to The Waiting Room. Joining them are In the Whale. $15, 9 p.m.

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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.

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Simon Joyner, David Nance, Uh Oh tonight; Dolores Diaz (Conor Oberst and Co.) Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:41 am January 2, 2016
Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at Slowdown Jr., April 4, 2015. The band plays tonight at Almost Music in Benson.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at Slowdown Jr., April 4, 2015. The band plays tonight at Almost Music in Benson.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Time for another very special Saturday edition of Lazy-i. Hope you had an eventful New Year’s Eve/Day.

Only Love Can Bring You Peace, Simon Joyner (Magic Helicopter, 2015)

Only Love Can Bring You Peace, Simon Joyner (Magic Helicopter, 2015)

Omaha’s unofficial poet laureate Simon Joyner celebrates the release of his book, Only Love Can Bring You Peace – Selected Lyrics (1990-2014) — published by Magic Helicopter Press, tonight (Saturday) at Almost Music in Benson. It’s the first selection of Simon’s lyrics (assembled and edited by Simon and his wife, Sara) to appear in book form, showcasing the images and characters of more than 15 albums, EPs, and rare releases, according to the website, where you can purchase your copy for $16 + s/h. But why spend more when you can buy your copy at the cover price tonight at Almost Music, and if you’re really nice, Simon might even sign it for you.

Joining Joyner and the Ghosts are L. Eugene Methe  and The David Nance Band. Your $6 cover charge can be applied to the cost of the book. In addition, Solid Jackson Books is offering 25% off any and all additional books when you buy a copy of Simon’s book. Music starts at 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Lincoln band No Tide headlines a show down at Slowdown Jr. Opening is one of Omaha’s big surprises for 2015, Uh Oh. The band’s 5-song EP, In the Glow, was a pleasant surprise — a mix of indie, pop-punk and sing-along anthems that’s sort of a throwback to a kinder/gentler time in Omaha’s alt rock past. Slacker-rockers Mint Wad Willy kicks things off at 9. $8.

Also tonight (Saturday) local punk rock legends The Shidiots play at O’Leaver’s with The Hemorrhoids and Megaton. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Then Sunday night is the big Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club show at fabulous O’Leaver’s.  The country cover band’s all-star line-up includes Matt Maginn (Cursive), Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching), Ben Brodin, Phil Schaffart (Con Dios), Miwi La Lupa, Roger Lewis (The Good Life), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and Conor Oberst. Of course the real mystery is: Who is Dolores Diaz? You’ll just have to find out Sunday night. Indie superstar Johnathan Rice opens along with Anthony D’Amato (New West Records), who has worked with Bon Iver and Megafauna, among others.

One assumes this will be a madhouse, but you never can tell. If you’re interested, I suggest you get there well before the 9 p.m. start time. Price of admission is the usual $5.

And thus ends the holidays, but not quite yet…

Lazy-i Best of 2015!

Lazy-i Best of 2015!

First, you must enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2015 comp CD. The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: Algiers, Sam Martin, Sufjan Stevens, Clarence Tilton, Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Freedy Johnston, The Mynabirds, and even the aforementioned Simon Joyner, plus lots more. The full track listing is here. Entering to win a copy couldn’t be easier, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 4!

Have a great rest of the weekend…and 2016…and rest of your life!

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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.

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Stop Having Children on a lazy October weekend; Lincoln Calling 2015 recap (and 2016)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:37 pm October 12, 2015
Stop Having Children perform at the Almost Music Terrible Twos birthday bash Oct. 10, 2015.

Stop Having Children perform at the Almost Music Terrible Twos birthday bash Oct. 10, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It was a lazy weekend for Lazy-i. Lazy in that I only saw one band perform, and it wasn’t in a club. Stop Having Children played a set at Almost Music’s “Terrible Twos” birthday event Saturday afternoon. The band was made up of Simon Joyner, David Kenneth Nance, Mike Marasco, and Dis Cretin (as he’s known in the rock world) playing some heavy shit. Whoda guessed Joyner could shred respectably alongside veteran shredder Nance?

I’m already regretting my lethargy in hitting shows last weekend, looking at the calendar. Nothing happening ’til the coming weekend, when it lights up again on Friday (and, there is a Bloodcow show Thursday, too), but more on that later…

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A quick recap of Lincoln Calling 2015, which took place a couple weeks ago. LC frontman Jeremy Buckley said it was another successful year.

I’d say better than last year,” he said. “There were shows at capacity every night from Tuesday to Sunday and I think the bands were generally happy with payouts and bar owners were pretty happy with booze sales. Biggest night was Saturday, with Friday being a close second.”

So what about Lincoln Calling 2016?

One thing that ended up working out really well this year was asking friends and peers to help with curating some of the shows,” Buckley said. “At least 10 of the lineups were curated by other people, which I think added diversity that I wouldn’t have thought of, as well as showcasing 15 of Lincoln’s regularly performing comedians and continuing our local music-oriented film festival.”

Buckley said he hopes to get even more people involved with putting LC together next year. “My hope is to have people that know bands on the local level to help with that with more fervor, so I can spend time talking with booking agents and national touring bands so we can up the amount of touring talent we’re introducing to our scene and our bands.” Hear hear!

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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.

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