Who are The Derby Birds?

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:01 pm May 13, 2014
The Derby Birds

The Derby Birds

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Look, I know who The Derby Birds are. I’m asking if you know who they are.

The Derby Birds are Tony Bonacci (ex-Hyannis) – vocals, guitar, keys, percussion; Gabriel “Tonko” Burkum – upright bass, electric bass guitar; Michael Hulstein – lead electric guitar, and Jon Seevers – drums.

I know this because I got an email out of the blue from Bonacci with a link to this band’s 13-track debut, available here on Bandcamp. Other than that, I haven’t seen this recording or this band mentioned anywhere. I mean anywhere. If they’ve played out somewhere it’s news to me.

So, unless you know Tony or any of the other members of the band, there’s no reason you should have heard of The Derby Birds. And that’s a shame because the record is pretty good. Bonacci has never sounded better, and the music is (for the most part) upbeat and fun, though it can become a bit overwhelming taken in all at once. The tracks fit in well when they show up in “shuffle mode” with the rest of my 2nd Quarter playlist. Check out the embed at the bottom of this post.

Anyway, it brings up the whole question of why a band would create a recording and then not promote it. Maybe Tony sent this link to all the local writers and they all just ignored it or didn’t get around to listening to it (I’m told Omahype mentioned it).

Why not play live? Is there a reason why The Derby Birds aren’t playing the occasional showcase? Only Tony (and the rest of the band) can say for sure.

We live in a digital era where, if you have the equipment, talent and know-how, you can put out your own stuff, but that doesn’t mean anyone will listen to it…

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


  • This album is some of the best music I’ve ever heard come out of Omaha. I like to think of Tony’s take on the music business as mirroring Harry Nilsson… And maybe that only makes it cooler? Regardless- love it.

    Comment by Graham Burkum — May 13, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

  • The Derby Birds are playing at Barley Street on June 14

    Comment by hipme — May 13, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

  • TONY!!! See: Ojai and skypiper.

    Comment by Kal — May 13, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

  • There’s no shame in not having heard the Derby Birds record. Let no one have empathy for bands that are drumming up sympathy with crowd-funded campaigns long before they have cut their teeth on shows.

    The real shame is in Omaha musicians’ unwillingness to endure the “slow bleed out” method of raising money; that is, you pester your friends and fans to come to your shows and pay tiny covers. It takes forever, but you’ll eventually get to make a record (the fun part) on theirs and your dime. By then you’ll find yourselves actually pulling it all off live, which is why you became musicians.

    Comment by Collin — May 13, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

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