Back from NYC (and a night with Hedwig); The Slowdown in The Washington Post…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:42 pm September 8, 2014
The set for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco on Broadway. Getting a shot during the performance was impossible as vultures were circling, warning people that photos were not allowed...

The set for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco on Broadway. Getting a shot during the performance was impossible as vultures were circling, warning people that photos were not allowed. I still managed to sneak this one.

by Tim McMahan,

I have nothing of a music-related nature to report from Manhattan, as I spent the long weekend going to the US Open, The Yankees and seeing the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, which I guess could count.

(Hedwig, btw, was pretty awesome. Former Omahan and Creighton Prep grad Andrew Rannells starred. Rannells made his name in the original version of Book of Mormon on Broadway (in which he won a Grammy) and is sometimes featured as the character Elijah on the HBO series Girls. He took over the lead from Neil Patrick Harris a few weeks ago. We had amazing second-row aisle seats and I came this close to being the subject of the lap dance during the infamous “Sugar Daddy” number.)

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Sounds like I missed one heckuva an Afghan Whigs show while I was gone. I guess you can’t have everything.

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Interesting piece in today’s The Washington Post about The Slowdown and urban renewal. Read it here. The story relies heavily on the work of Michael Seman of Shiny Around the Edges, who wrote an academic paper about the same subject published in 2010 (which you can read here).

The Post doesn’t add much new to the discussion, other than centering the story on local band Lot Walks, who I’ve never heard of prior to the booking mentioned in the story. Needless to say, the Post article should bring some attention to this rather new band. Wonder how they got picked to be the centerpiece?

The story seems to imply that The Slowdown complex saved the NoDo area from decay, and mentions almost as an aside the $131 million ballpark that now overshadows everything down there, and, one could argue, was the real reason, along with the CenturyLink Arena (which isn’t mentioned in the article at all) for the majority of the development in that area, specifically all the freakin’ hotels.

From the article:

In 2006, the city partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to draft a full-scale redevelopment plan: “North Downtown should evolve into Omaha’s newest and most exciting neighborhood…”

The anchor, all parties agreed, should be the greatest music venue in Nebraska. The young and hip would ideally flock there, dine at nearby restaurants and rent loft spaces in old factories.

What the writer left out (or didn’t know) was that The Slowdown’s eventual location was the second choice. The original choice was just a few blocks from Sgt. Peffer’s, at 1528 N. Saddle Creek Rd., but that Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel were driven away by the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood Association and a couple local businesses who didn’t want the noise and traffic and congestion. You can read about that bit of forgotten history (including thumbnails of the original blueprints) here. That area is now a blight of rental storage units, run-down car washes and hole-in-the-wall auto garages, while NoDo has become the subject of national articles in The Washington Post. In the end, everyone got what they wanted.

Speaking of The Slowdown, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve seen a show down there. My next stop might be PUJOL Sept. 14 or the amazing Jessica Lea Mayfield Sept. 15.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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