SLAM Omaha is finally dead; Lincoln Calling headliner Charles Bradley diagnosed with cancer; Jay Arner tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm October 5, 2016

by Tim McMahan,

Original SLAM Omaha logo.

Original SLAM Omaha logo.

Twenty-odd years ago, back when the internet was just getting started, when those of us who were “online” were using AOL and Netscape browsers, there was a little ol’ website called SLAM Omaha.

SLAM stood for Support Local Art and Music. The website was among the first online resources for band gig information, with a robust show calendar that was unmatched by anyone. Over time, the website became known more for its webboards than anything else. Both the Music and Cool Talk boards were hot beds for heated discussion, sometimes insightful, often hilarious. This was a time well before Facebook or Twitter when webboards were a preferred online resource for music information. Saddle Creek Records had a very robust webboard of its own; as did and a few others that have long since disappeared.

Well, time finally caught up with SLAM Omaha, too. For the past few years, the site has been limping along with no updates and only a handful of people still chiming in on the webboards. Last week the site quit working, and users were redirected to a SLAM Omaha Facebook page.

Mick Messina, who was among those who ran the site, confirmed that SLAM Omaha is, indeed, dead. After the site’s budget dried up a couple years ago, he and his wife, Melissa, paid the service fees out of their own pockets. They finally quick paying. “Very hard for us to let go,” Mick said. “We peeled that band-aid very slowly.”

Mick said Hear Nebraska and its website,, helped them realize it was time to close SLAM Omaha for good.

It’s hard to pin down the significance of SLAM Omaha in the history of the Omaha music scene. There’s no question that it played an important role during a time when Nebraska was just emerging nationally. SLAM Omaha was the online water cooler where fans and musicians traded rumors, compliments and outrageous insults about everyone involved in the scene. Oftentimes, those comments were posted anonymously, and part of the fun or frustration was trying to figure out who was saying what about whom. It was a free-form environment that — for better or for worse — will never exist again in the Facebook era. It will be missed.

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Yesterday it was reported that bluesman Charles Bradley has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and is cancelling his upcoming shows, including this week’s Lincoln Calling festival appearance.

In a statement, Bradley said: “In the past few months, I have had to cancel a number of shows due to illness, taking me away from my beautiful fans. My doctors recently discovered a cancerous tumor in my stomach. I’m getting the best medical care and we are all extremely optimistic. I will fight through this like I’ve fought through the many other obstacles in my life. My upcoming tour dates will be postponed so I can concentrate on healing. Thank you all for understanding. Music is how I share my love with the world, and the love that my fans have given back brings me so much joy. I look forward to seeing your gorgeous faces soon, and to continue to share my love through music.”

Hear Nebraska, who is organizing Lincoln Calling, quickly filled Bradley’s LC spot with The Mynabirds. No doubt front woman Laura Burhenn will have a special tribute to Bradley during her band’s performance.

Lincoln Calling kicks off tomorrow. You best get your tickets now at

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Canadian musician/producer Jay Arner headlines tonight at Reverb Lounge. Arner releases music on Mint Records. Opening is Routine Escorts. $7, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Har Mar Superstar, Pinkerton; are SLAM Omaha’s message boards dead?

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:17 pm January 2, 2012
Har Mar Superstar at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

Har Mar Superstar at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

by Tim McMahan,

Oh Har Mar Superstar, how you vex me so as you jump around stage wearing nothing but thong underwear, your sweaty mane flopping on your chubby ivory shoulders like a filthy floor mop while your gigolo posse poses so demurely, so rock star, in the background.

It’s a shtick that never gets old, or does it?

This was my first time seeing Har Mar Superstar, and based on everything I’d heard, I expected a lot. There are those ’round these parts who consider a Har Mar show to be the epitome of fine rock entertainment. His O’Leaver’s performance from years ago is still whispered about with respect (and a little fear) by the elders who are slowly poisoning themselves into senility at that famous lovable shit hole.

And I admit to being a fan of HMS’s last full length, the sexy, sultry dance romp called Dark Touches. The man knows his way around a funk-o-licious beat.

So it hurts me to say that I was a bit disappointed by last Friday night’s performance at a packed (but not sold out) Waiting Room. Har Mar a.k.a. Sean Tillmann looked and sounded like the rest of us — half-gassed and exhausted after a week’s worth of holiday bullshit. He seemed tired as he bounded on stage in his full-length macramé hoody, only half singing his “hits” surrounded by a band that included two drummers, two bass players (including former local hero Denver Dalley in trademark white v-neck T-shirt and flowing blond hair), a guitarist and the one thing that was doing the yeoman’s share of the work — a laptop loaded with pre-recorded audio tracks. In fact, most songs started with a touch of a button before the band slowly started playing along. Half the fun was wondering if/when anyone was actually playing their instruments on stage (most of the time, they were).

The routine calls for Har Mar to slowly strip away his clothes at the conclusion of each song, eventually stripping to his thong by the end of the set. Those yearning to see his gleaming buttocks were not disappointed. On any other night, I’m sure we’d all be celebrating his virile portliness with ironic aplomb, but Friday night, Tillmann just looked like he wanted to get the set over with and get back home for New Year’s Eve. He sure didn’t look like he was having fun (though the rest of his band did). Maybe he was (too) loaded? Or maybe all of his shows are like this? I don’t know, but I doubt it. You don’t rise as high as Tillmann has by phoning it in every night.

Pinkerton at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

Pinkerton at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

One band that didn’t phone it in was Pinkerton, who opened for Har Mar Friday. Fronted by Criteria’s Stephen Pedersen and featuring former Cursive drummer Clint Schnase, this band of old friends gets together at least once a year to play a set of Weezer covers for fellow adoring fans. Many a fist was pumped in the air as they tore into the band’s greatest hits, including set highlight “Tired of Sex.” Running through my mind the entire set — will we ever see Criteria again?

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And speaking of burning questions, are the SLAM Omaha message boards — one of the oldest bastions of local online music “discussion” — finally closing down? Maybe, temporarily. After a recent spate of hate, SLAM admin “Mick” posted that the boards will be taking a little vacation. “At some point even the simplest of things need to be evaluated and decisions need to be made about how they help our cool art and music community.” As of this morning, the boards were still live but users who tried to post a comment were met only with a Terms of Service statement.

If SLAM Omaha goes away, it’ll be an end of an era for a website that used to be a viable source of music news and discussion. Yes, there are a lot of options for music calendars and news now, but other than Lincoln’s Star City Scene music board, none of them have been able to generate online discussions. Hear Nebraska’s “forums” are a barren wasteland, mainly due to the board’s poor design and usability., which launched a snappy redesign over the holiday weekend (complete with “responsive design” for portable devices) only allows feedback on individual news items (as comments). And Saddle Creek Records’ old discussion area is a long faded memory.

These days all of the “discussion” is handled in well-mannered Facebook, where users actively monitor criticism and a “dislike” button doesn’t even exist. Are we better off not having some place where an anonymous critic can tell bands that they suck? Yeah, too much bitching can get old, and there should be no tolerance for personal attacks, racial/sexual comments and threats. That said, SLAM Omaha is/was one of the last places where bands could get unfiltered feedback, even if 95 percent of it was bullshit. Learning to deal with criticism — be it warranted or not — is an important part of being an artist. How you react to negative feedback helps define who you are. Unfortunately, we live in a town where criticism of anything “local” is viewed as hate, whether its constructive or not. The rule seems to be either throw roses at their feet, or go home.

But the cold hard fact is, maybe your band really does suck.

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2011 Best of Lazy-i Sampler

Hey you — yes you!

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the highly coveted Lazy-i Best of 2011 Sampler CD!  Just send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address and you’ll be dropped in the digital hat. Deadline lis Jan. 15. Enter today!

Track listing:

1. Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistake”
2. Peace of Shit, “You Can’t Let Me In”
3. Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain”
4. The Beastie Boys, “Nonstop Disco Powerpack”
5. tUnE-yArDs, “Gangsta”
6. It’s True, “I Don’t Want to Be the One”
7. The Decemberists, “Down By the Water”
8. Big Harp, “Goodbye Crazy City”
9. Kurt Vile, “Jesus Fever”
10. Low, “Try to Sleep”
11. So-So Sailors, “Young Hearts”
12. Destroyer, “Downtown”
13. St. Vincent, “Cruel”
14. Icky Blossoms, “Perfect Vision”
15. Gus & Call, “To the Other Side of Jordan”
16. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
17. Digital Leather, “Young Doctors in Love”

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.