Shawn Foree (Digital Leather) interview (in The Reader), second DL single drops…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:58 pm August 13, 2020
A still from the “King of Idiots,” the new single/video by Digital Leather.

I picked up the August issue of The Reader while I was also picking up a pizza last night at La Casa. This month’s Over the Edge column is an interview / story with Shawn Foree of Digital Leather, where he talks about his new album, New Wave Gold (out next month on No Coast Records) and life during the pandemic (and testing positive for COVID-19), among other things.

Foree’s new album is my favorite since 2009’s Warm Brother (Fat Possum Records) and has a similar detailed feel to the recording, which you can get a gander at by listening to the second single, whose video dropped yesterday — that is if it’s still online. The first video was yanked by YouTube copy write police a few days after it went online, presumably due to the stolen footage used (and there appears to be plenty in this new video as well).

Anyway, read the story in the printed version of The Reader (People do still read printed stuff, don’t they?) or go to the online version right here.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


A Brief History of Nebraska Indie (in The Reader); Lupines, The Shaky Calls tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:44 pm March 19, 2019

The music calendar in the May 6, 1997, issue of The Reader.

by Tim McMahan,

The Reader is celebrating 25 years in its March issue, on newsstands now. I was assigned to write a brief history of the music scene over the past 25 years, which just went online today.

As the story’s intro explains, the piece focuses on Nebraska’s indie scene from the perspective of my coverage over the past 25 years, and hence, is in no way comprehensive. BJ has a piece that focuses on Omaha’s blues history, and Houston Wiltsey has a piece from his perspective as a newer (two years?) music reporter.

Anyway, check it out. It’s a fun, and rather brief, read considering the ground that needed to be covered.

* * *

Tonight Omaha garage rock giants Lupines return to fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them are Bismark, ND band The Shaky Calls, who describe their sound as low-fi rock ‘n’ roll — that’s a pretty apt description based on this Bandcamp recording. Putter & Co. open at 9 p.m. $5.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Reader’s Top 20 Omaha Bands list; First Aid Kit tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:38 pm June 13, 2018

First Aid Kit at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2014. The band plays tonight at Sokol Auditorium.

by Tim McMahan,

The June issue of The Reader is on newsstands somewhere (I have yet to find one) and is also online (here). Included is the annual Top 20 bands list, derived from music staff input (which isn’t reflected in the story, but is how it happened). The list is limited to Omaha bands, which was pretty much the case for years’ past (actually, The Reader forgot to publish the list last year, come to think of it, and you were stuck with just my list).

You can read the 2018 list by flipping to page 32 on the print or the electronic edition. With two exceptions, my personal list matches theirs, though I would have also included Closeness, Jason Steady and Digital Leather, all of whom released new recordings in the past year and have played/toured, etc. Who would I have dropped from The Reader‘s list? I’m not sayin’…

This isn’t a “best of” list as much as list of favorite bands that were active in the past 12 months either through touring, performing and/or recording. What does it mean when a publication says something is the “best” anyway?

* * *

The last time First Aid Kit came through town was at The Waiting Room in 2014 (review of that one here.)(Although First Aid Kit’s Klara Söderberg did make a special guest appearance on an Omaha stage in 2016 as a member of The Standby Club…). The band’s fanbase has continued to grow to the point where tonight they’re playing at Sokol Auditorium. If you like great harmonies, you’ll love this show — no one does it better. Opener JS Ondara is from Minneapolis by way of Nairobi. $30, 8 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Saddle Creek at 25 — a look at the label’s past, present and future; Oquoa, Ojai tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm June 11, 2018

The Saddle Creek staff circa 2003, from left, Matt Maginn, Jason Kulbel, Jadon Ulrich, Jeff Tafolla and Robb Nansel. Photo by Ryan Fox.

by Tim McMahan,

The June 2018 issue of The Reader — The Music Issue.

The June issue of The Reader — The Music Issue — is out. Or at it’s online. The cover story is a lengthy piece written by me about Saddle Creek Records on its 25th anniversary, and includes comments from label chief Robb Nansel, new A&R rep Amber Carew and recent label signee Stef Chura.

Titled Saddle Creek at 25 with a subtitle “The label that defined indie cool over a decade ago is suddenly cool again,” the story focuses not so much on the label’s early years (which you can read about here and here) as much as how they survived though the changes impacting the music industry, and how they’re positioned for the future.

As detailed in the story, I characterized (and Nansel generally agreed) Saddle Creek’s history in three eras — the time up to and including the label’s biggest successes, the awkward middle years right after their heyday when they began booking non-Omaha-connected acts, and the “New Era” they’re currently enjoying hallmarked by the success of roster acts Hop Along and Big Thief and a handful of other up-and-comers.

Nansel and Co. touch on the label’s history but also talk about adjusting to technology’s negative impacts, how the philosophy behind who they sign hasn’t changed and the future.

You can read the story online right here.

The interview with Nansel took two hours and was around 20,000 words of transcribed copy, so yeah, there’s out-takes, which I’ll likely post in the coming days, along with the full text of the story (for posterity’s sake, and to ensure that if The Reader ever goes belly-up there will be another copy online). Among those out-takes are Nansel’s self-proclaimed biggest success and biggest disappointment. You’ll have to wait to read the answers.

Anyway, give it it read, and pick up a copy of the printed version at your favorite news stand. Also included is The Reader‘s controversial list of Omaha’s Top 20 bands. More on that here in the very near future (including my own list)…

* * *

Pageturner’s summer concert series continues tonight with Oquoa and Ojai. The fun starts at 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Behind the wheel with Matt Whipkey; Diet Cig, The Spook School tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:42 pm February 6, 2018

Matt Whipkey behind the wheel of his Town and Country.

by Tim McMahan,

This month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader is a feature on Matt Whipkey’s new album, Driver, which Whipkey will be celebrating with a pair of shows later this month at Reverb.  You can read the story online here, or in the printed version of The Reader, which should be on newsstands now or in the very near future. Or you can just read it below…

Uber Confessions
Rocker Matt Whipkey’s new album captures life behind the wheel.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, the next time you call for an Uber or Lyft after a hard night of partying, you’ll get Matt Whipkey.

He’s the guy who drives the black 2010 Chrysler Town and Country. The guy with the perfect hair.

“OK, here’s a weird one I had last night,” Whipkey said during some off time on a drizzly Sunday afternoon at Zen Coffee. “This woman grabbed me too many times during the ride. I felt uncomfortable. She was in her 40s or 50s and told me she’d just done drugs. She didn’t tell me which ones, but by the way she was acting I can only guess. It happens. I wasn’t scared.”

But there have been plenty of times when he was scared.

“One time I picked up these guys at Oscar’s at around 8 p.m. It was three dudes. Two of them were average people, but one was huge, six-nine, a big guy, bigger than everybody. He was intoxicated and excitable. They were going to this strip club, American Dream off 72nd and F, and this guy gets excited and says ‘We’re gonna see naked chicks’ and he starts jumping up and down, shaking the whole car, then grabs my shoulders and starts shaking me, lifting me up and down. We’re on the Interstate doing 80. I said, ‘You’ve got to stop him.’ But this guy could easily have taken all three of us.”

Whipkey, one of the smoothest talkers you’ll ever meet, somehow calmed the monster and got him to put him down. “You get really good at conflict avoidance, de-escalating the situation,” Whipkey said. “I dropped them off and reported it to Uber immediately. The sad thing was that it was on his friend’s account, and that guy — not the big guy — will get banned from Uber for it.”

Whipkey’s been driving for Uber and Lyft for two years as a side hustle from his regular job teaching guitar lessons and being a rock star. As a result, he’s got a million stories about life behind the wheel hauling drunks, druggies, bigots, homophobes, horn dogs, celebrities and normal folks like you and me.

“I’ve given rides to the most down-on-their-luck people to the most desolate places in Omaha and also given rides to billionaires to their private air strips. It’s a strange equalizer. For that fraction of time, it doesn’t matter. It’s my car. I’m driving you. There’s trust there.”

Matt Whipkey, Driver (self-release, 2018)

It’s a job that inspired the songs on Whipkey’s latest album, the double LP Driver, which he and his band will showcase Feb. 23 and 25 at Reverb Lounge. The collection is 14 portraits of loneliness, desperation and inner monologues (along with a Beatles cover), all of which rock, at least most of the time.

Whipkey, known for his catchy, guitar-fueled pop songs and bombastic stage presence, stretches in new directions on this record, most notably with the album’s opening and closing tracks that bookend the collection with warm, acoustic touches and unexpected keyboards. The songs contrast nicely with riff-rock ballads that underscore Whipkey’s guitar prowess and his tight backing band consisting of Travis Sing, bass; Scott Zimmerman, drums; Korey Anderson, guitars; and keyboard player J. Scott Gaeta.

The thread that ties it together is Whipkey’s breathy, growling vocals, which do their best to coax every last drop of emotion from these lonely stories, like the longing “Amy Knows” about a woman who just transferred to Omaha and has “fourteen days to fix a lifetime” and the rocking, Nugent-esque screamer “The Driver” where Whipkey keeps a tight stranglehold on his blazing ax.

Whipkey spent a good nine months recording the album with Scott Gaeta at Gaeta’s Music Factory Productions studio, laying down tracks when he wasn’t on the road. During that same time, he also recorded his previous album, the 2017 pop collection Best New Music. All of this came shortly after opening 30 dates for music legend Dwight Yoakam on his 2015-2016 tours.

The week prior to this interview, Whipkey opened for ’70s legacy act America in Sioux City, Iowa. He hopes to get more of those kinds of large-stage gigs, though he’s just as determined to get his music heard in his home town.

“The goal was to make the best record with the resources we had,” Whipkey said. “I don’t have the national mentality of ‘This song is going to take you to the next level.’ I want this to take me to the next level as a songwriter and as an artist. If you think in that regard, it will translate into other areas where people will recognize that you’re growing and doing something that no one else is doing.”

Matt Whipkey and his band perform with Stephen Sheehan Friday, Feb. 23, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Whipkey will perform a second show at Reverb Sunday, Feb. 25, with Charlie Ames at 6 p.m. Both shows are $10. For more information, go to

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge it’s the return of Diet Cig. The band has made Omaha a regular tour stop of the past few years, even making a special appearance at 2016’s Maha Music Festival. This tour marks the first time the band is playing as a 4-piece, as the duo will be joined on stage by Anna from The Spook School (bass) and Karli from Plush (keyboards/vox). The Spook School will actually open tonight’s show, along with Great Grandpa. $15, 8 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with the Maha bands (in The Reader); David Nance Group, Taiwan Housing Project tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:38 pm August 7, 2017

David Nance at The Sydney, July 7, 2017. He plays tonight at Brothers Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

The August issue of The Reader is on newsstands now. In it is a 4,000-word preview of this year’s Maha Music Festival compiled by yours truly. I say “compiled” because I took the easy way out and sent all the bands my Ten Questions survey. Seven of the 10 replied (Boo to you Run the Jewels, Belle & Sebastian and Sleigh Bells).

Anyway, I have no idea if/when The Reader will place the tome online, though I intend to post all seven interviews here at Lazy-i over the course of the next couple weeks. Keep watching. And pick up the printed version if you’re near a drop-off kiosk. I got my copy at LaCasa on Grover St.

Aug. 19 is a packed day for shows, with Maha, Lady Gaga, Darius Rucker/Jocelyn and now Digital Leather at O’Leaver’s. BTW, where’s the Maha after party this year?

* * *

David Nance Group is back from the road and he’s playing tonight at Brothers Lounge. Joining him is Philly’s Taiwan Housing Project (Kill Rock Stars), a collaboration between Mark Feehan of Harry Pussy and Kilynn Lunsford of Little Claw. Alcools opens. $5, 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



The Reader’s ‘Best Band’ list (well, just mine, actually); Com Truise, Face to Face tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:44 pm June 5, 2017

by Tim McMahan,

The Reader‘s Music Issue hit the stands this week. In it you’ll find my massive 10-year retrospective on The Waiting Room and The Slowdown, featuring interviews with the owners, including their favorite shows at their respective venues. It’s generally a look at what’s happened with the clubs over the past decade and how they’ve managed to not only survive, but thrive during a down-time in the music industry. It’s a long read, and I’ll be posting my version of it at Lazy-i on Thursday (which happens to be the anniversary of The Slowdown’s opening in 2007). But you can read The Reader version online here.

Each year as part of this music issue The Reader has put together its list of Top 20 local bands, plus newcomers to keep an eye on. Well, this year they didn’t print the list, though they asked me to send my list which focuses (mostly) on indie, understanding that someone else from the staff would provide their list that would include hip-hop, mainstream rock, blues, etc. (but I’m not sure anyone did).

So for the sake of consistency, here’s my list of favorite local indie (and other) bands, as of June 2017, to be used in the unpublished Reader Top 20 list:

In Alpha order…

Bien Fang — Gritty, angry indie rock.
Chemicals — Exceptional progressive jazz.
Clarence Tilton — Alt country that leans closer to Wilco.
Closeness — Ethereal electronic melodies via The Finks.
Domestica — Heidi and Jon and Pawl still going strong… and loud.
The Faint — A blank wave Omaha tradition continues.
High Up — Strutting soul with attitude.
Josh Hoyer — THEE Nebraska Bluesman.
Brad Hoshaw — No one writes a hook quite like him.
Simon Joyner — Omaha’s legendary singer-songwriter.
Icky Blossoms — Eclectic electric dance rock.
Leafblower — Everyone’s favorite drunks at the party.
Lupines — Howling, majestic garage rock.
David Nance — Acid-fueled psych-garage.
Conor Oberst — The voice of his generation.
Matthew Sweet — Don’t call it a comeback.
McCarthy Trenching — His stories are our stories.
See Through Dresses — Post-punk post-shoegaze indie.
Thick Paint — The reason for black-light posters.
Those Far Out Arrows — Rock beasts making old new again.
Twinsmith — As indie as it gets.
Uh Oh — Sly indie bordering on poppish punk.
Wagon Blasters — (Classic) tractor punk madness.
Matt Whipkey — AmerIndieRocker

I would beseech you to find these acts, buy their merch, go to their shows. You will not be sorry. These are the ones I mention when someone asks, “What are you listening to from Omaha these days?

Yes, there are a number of regulars missing, either because they’ve been (mostly) inactive in 2016 or because they’re gone. But many are still out there, working on new stuff. Most will be back in 2017 (hopefully). If you’re wondering why your band isn’t on the list it could be because I either haven’t heard it or it’s not my up of tea (as Dave Sink used to say). If you’re pissed, make your own list. It’ll be as relevant as mine.

* * *

A couple shows tonight…

At Slowdown Jr, it’s electronic music from Com Truise (Ghostly International). Clark opens. $17, 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at Lookout Lounge ’90s punk band Face to Face (Vagrant, Fat Wreck Chords) headlines. Chicago punkers Counterpunch opens. 7 p.m., $25.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


TBT: Sept. 25, 2006: Iron rises at Slowdown; Reader website redesigns; Chasm, Bib, The Vibrators tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 22, 2016

#TBT: Guess what this is...

#TBT: Guess what this is…

by Tim McMahan,

On this Throwback Thursday, from Lazy-i, Sept. 25, 2006. Can you believe it’s been 10 years?

Finally, after months of sitting dormant, serious work has begun again on the Slowdown compound. I was surprised to see steel beginning to go up last week from my office window and felt compelled to take a few snappies as I drove by the property yesterday afternoon (see above photo). If the 24-Hour Fitness on 77th and Cass is any indication, once the steel arrives it’s only a matter of weeks before the whole damn thing is framed and walls become enclosed, and before you know it, they’ll be working on the interior. I’m hearing from various sources that one of the retail bays is now spoken for by a coffee shop, though the folks at Slowdown deny that any tenant has signed a lease. At first blush, a coffee shop seems like an ill fit for an indie music venue, offices and film house, until you realize that there will be a couple hotels right across the street (to the north, which I suspect at the rate they’re going up, will be open for business before the first band takes the Slowdown stage). I’ll continue to take pics as construction progresses. — Lazy-i, Sept. 25, 2006

* * *

A quick note in case you have noticed it (and why would you?): In the last week or so, The Reader launched a new website design at This one actually makes sense, especially if you’re reading it on your phone. In addition to being easier to read, the site is responsive, which means it looks just as good on your phone as your tablet as your desktop. Take a look.

* * *

A couple hot ones tonight…

At The Brothers Lounge, KC heavy stone band Chasm headlines with metal dudes Super Moon and one of the area’s most talked about noise-punk bands — Bib. Come see what all the hype is about. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, UK punk legends The Vibrators headline at Lookout Lounge. The full docket includes Tiananmen Squares, Buggy Lewis and The Rabbit Grenades. $8, 8 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.


The Reader’s top bands list(s); Saddle Creek signs Sam Evian; Charly Bliss, Lightning Bug tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm June 16, 2016

Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

I recently was asked by one of the many local music festival organizers (and there’s a lot of them these days) if I had any recommendations for local bands to play his festival. I sent him the following list, and told him he couldn’t go wrong with any of these bands and musicians.

The Reader compiles this list annually, usually in late winter toward the end of the year. But this year Reader publisher John Heaston decided to move the annual Music Issue up to June, and asked me to supply a list of my favorite bands. So, I submitted the following acts who — in my humble opinion — are making unique, heart-felt, personal, smart and (above all) kick-ass music, either live or on recordings.

Some of these names have been around for years (even decades). Some debuted within the last 12 months. All are worth your time and effort to seek out, both in the clubs and in the local record bins.

Without further ado, my 2016 favorite local artists lists (six months early):

Anna McClellan
Bien Fang
Brad Hoshaw
Clarence Tilton
Digital Leather
Dumb Beach
The Good Life
Hand Painted Police Car
High Up
Jeff Runnings
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Little Brazil
Matthew Sweet
Matt Whipkey
Relax, It’s Science
Sam Martin
See Through Dresses
Simon Joyner
Super Ghost
Thick Paint
Those Far Out Arrows
Uh Oh
Wagon Blasters

A few caveats: Bands had to be active. The Faint, for example, haven’t done much this year, but look out for later this year. Same holds true for Conor Oberst, who (other than his fun country covers project) has been relatively dormant after last year’s cancellation of that Desaparecidos tour. I suspect we’ll see more out of him later this year.

My list is “indie centric” because that’s the kind of music I listen to. That being the case, Reader colleague BJ Huchtemann, who focuses on blues and R&B, provided The Reader with her list of favorites for 2016:

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
CJ Mills
Hector Anchondo Band
Jack Hotel
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Kris Lager Band
Matt Cox
Michael Campbell
Sam Ayer & The Love Affair
Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
Tim Budig Band

Both lists are in the current issue of The Reader. If you or your band is missing, I wouldn’t worry about it, because, let’s face it, lists are only good as conversation starters, and little more…

* * *

Yesterday Saddle Creek Records announced its latest signing, a band out of Brooklyn called Sam Evian, the latest project by musician Sam Owens.

According to “Sam Owens of Celestial Shore, (is) going by ‘Sam Evian’ for his solo project because there is apparently an entirely different New York musician named Sam Owens who locked down an internet presence first and because ‘bottled water is weird and totally irresponsible (kinda like playing music) but that one tastes the best to me.‘”

Celestial Shore’s 2014 album, Enter Ghosts, was released on Hometapes and got a rousing 6.8 rating from Pitchfork. The Sam Evian track that Saddle Creek shared yesterday reminds me of a cross between Kurt Vile and Foxygen. Good stuff.

Saddle Creek label exec Robb Nansel said they’ve “been talking to him for over a year… just waiting for him to make the right record and he finally did!” and “He’s had some other projects in the past that were on our radar; and everything came together with this one.”

“Sleep Easy” is the first track to be shared from Premium, the debut Sam Evian LP, scheduled for release by Saddle Creek this year. The label is on something of roll lately, striking gold with their last two recruits, Hop Along and Big Thief. Will Sam Evian continue the streak?

* * *

Tonight at Reverb Lounge Brooklyn grunge-pop 4-piece Charly Bliss headlines. On their latest single, “Ruby,” they sound like a cross between Weezer and Breeders, though frontwoman Eva Hendricks has some distinctive Cyndi Lauper overtones to her vocals.  Lightning Bug opens. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

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.


The Reader gets new blood; remembering Tom Rudloff; Ten Questions with We Were Promised Jetpacks…

by Tim McMahan,

The Reader has a new managing editor. It’s David Williams, the former editor at Omaha Magazine and their family of publications. This new addition is a big deal for Omaha’s favorite arts and entertainment monthly, and long overdue. John Heaston and Eric Stoakes have been handling all the editorial decisions at the pub for a long, long time.

Also joining The Reader staff is another Omaha Magazine refugee: Super talented music write James Walmsley. James has been writing music profiles for Omaha and Encounter for some time, including this rather well-written profile of little ol’ me that appeared in Encounter. Walmsley’s title at The Reader will be something like Music Contributing Editor.

These additions represent surprising growth for a print publication in a time when word of magazines and papers shutting their doors comes on a daily basis. In fact, the June issue of The Reader looks to be the fattest in recent memory. It’s the annual “Music Issue,” and highlights a run-down of all the best places in town to buy vinyl. Also included is my annual list of favorite bands, as well my column that recaps the history of Cultural Attraction and local music legend Mike Tulis on the occasion of his 50th birthday. I’ll be posting a link to that column in the coming days, but you can read it right now in the printed edition of The Reader, available wherever fine journalism is sold.

* * *

I would be remiss to not mention the passing of Antiquarium proprietor and all-around good-guy Tom Rudloff. I first met Tom when I was a nerdy young lad, probably around 12 or 13. My mother drove me to the bookstore where Tom was selling a large collection of comic books. Among the one or two I bought that day was a copy of Avengers No. 4, the first appearance of Captain America in the Silver Age, a comic book I still own.

Over the years I got to know Tom through my writings about Bill Farmer, a local artist who I profiled in a couple cover stories for The Reader (You can read one of those profiles online here). Tom and Bill always were very patient with my questions about art and the lives of those who make it and, in Tom’s case, support it through running an art gallery.

Tom was known for holding court inside the bookstore, offering coffee and conversation to anyone who wanted to drop in. The kids and record hounds headed to Dave Sink’s record store in the basement probably wondered who that tribe of intellectuals was gathered just inside the entryway. They could be intimidating, though Tom never was.

Tom was funny and smart and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He will be missed.

* * *

We Were Promises Jetpacks at Mohawk Patio, SXSW, March 19, 2010.

We Were Promises Jetpacks at Mohawk Patio, SXSW, March 19, 2010.

We Were Promised Jetpacks has become something of an indie staple. Seems like every year I journeyed to Austin for South By Southwest since 2009 the Scottish 4-piece was playing the festival, drawing large crowds for a sound that takes a guitar-fueled indie dance vibe (see Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club) and injects it with an emo sensibility that Cursive would approve of. The band continues to tour its 2014 release, the exquisite Unraveling (FatCat Records), making one assume that they must be working on new material. Find out if that’s the case when they play The Slowdown Monday, June 6.

I asked WWPJ to take the Ten Questions survey. Guitarist Michael Palmer stepped up to the challenge.

1. What is your favorite album?

We Were Promised Jetpacks: Right now, it’s The Wilderness by Explosions In The Sky. We’re just off a support tour with those guys and they’re the nicest people and the best band. Love them. All time favourite (yup, that’s a ‘u’ in there – don’t take it out) is probably Kid A or something.

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Happy Birthday.” We once all started singing it to a friend of a friend on a night out, it was going great, then we all got to the “dear…” bit and, at the same time, realized that none of us knew her name. So we all just sort of stopped…

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

The part when you start writing a new song, and play it together the first few times. Before you have to talk about changing things. That part.

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

Not getting to see certain people for long stretches of time.

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


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

Glasgow, because afterwards I don’t have to get into a van. It’s not that getting into a van afterwards isn’t sometimes amazing, it’s the not having to that makes it special.

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

Glasgow. Early on. There was a show where there were only like 10 people there and none of them cared at all. So we thought it would be funny to all kick our shoes off at the same time. It was. It was hilarious actually. Never mind.

8. How do you pay your bills?

I’d like to point out here that I used “where there were” in a sentence above and it was awesome. We pay our bills the usual way, I guess.

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

One where you get to leave at 5 p.m. and go to your own home EVERY SINGLE DAY! That’s the answer to both halves of the question, by the way.

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

I hear that there’s a $200 million development plan for land off the I-80. But that’s just because I went to and read one of the headlines. I love that there’s an, great work guys!

We Were Promised Jetpacks plays with Tokyo Police Club Monday, June 6 at The Slowdown. Tickets are $16 Adv./$18 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to

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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.