Live Review Matt Whipkey, Charlie Ames; Ten Questions with Palehound (@ Slowdown Jr. 2/27)…

Category: Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm February 26, 2018

Matt Whipkey and his band at Reverb Lounge Feb. 25, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Matt Whipkey helmed two album-release shows this past weekend — one on Friday night and a second in the early evening yesterday for old folks like me, I guess. In fact there were a lot of older people seated at tables in the Reverb’s stage room, making the concert feel more like a matinee performance than a rock show, though Whipkey did all he could to give the room a rock show vibe.

Whipkey and his core band of Zimmerman, Sing and Anderson (a perfect name for a law firm) ripped through a set of songs off his new double-LP Driver, which currently stands as my favorite Whipkey release. Like an episode of Storytellers Matt gave background between every song while he feverishly re-tuned his guitar (We were told that the songs off Driver have a variety of “tonal colors” that required alternate tuning).  Unlike on the recording, there were no keyboards at these weekend performances, which (to me) gave the set a more rocking feel.

One of those between-song stories was Matt telling the crowd about a convo he and I had during our interview. I had told Matt that, while I like the song “Fred, You’re Dead,” that it would be perfect candidate to be revamped into a punk song, especially considering the political nature of the lyrics. Lo and behold, Matt pulled out a punk verson of the usually slow, dour song, and it, indeed, ripped. The punk “Fred…” would make a perfect 7-inch single just in time for Record Store Day. Come on, Matt!

Charlie Ames at Reverb Lounge, Feb. 25, 2018.

Opening Sunday evening was singer/songwriter Charlie Ames, who performed an acoustic set of originals. Ames had a striking voice and a nice guitar style on a set of broken-hearted pop songs of the woe-is-me variety. A very talened dude, I’d love to see him write a set of songs that stretched him more creatively.

Palehound plays at Slowdown Jr. Feb. 27, 2018.

Ten Questions with Palehound

Led by singer/songwriter Ellen Kempner, Boston’s Palehound released their sophomore album, A Place I’ll Always Go, on Polyvinyl Records last summer (which received a 7.3 rating from Pitchfork, for those who care about such things).  Since then, the indie combo also dropped a new 7-inch release — “YMCA Pool” b/w “Sea of Blood” — as part of Saddle Creek Records’ Document Series singles program.

Having recently finished a U.S. headlining tour, which included shows with Big Thief, Jay Som, Mitski, and M Ward, Palehound launched a co-headlining tour with Weaves that brings them to Slowdown Feb. 27. We asked Kempner to take our Ten Questions survey. Here’s what she had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

Ellen Kempner: I definitely don’t have one! My favorite album of this week has been Jolene by Dolly Parton.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I hate “Blurred Lines.”

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

Getting to travel and see the country in a way I never would be able to without music.

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

Being anxious about shows/people liking our music.

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


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

Hometown Boston shows are great because our friends are there.

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

Fort Worth, Texas,  the only people we played for were the two teenagers who were in the other band that played.

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?

(No comment.)

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

Cooking!! I love cooking and used to work as a cook in a restaurant and loved it. I wouldn’t wanna be a professional runner.

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

Honestly my answer will be really bad cuz all of them just have to do with Conor Oberst.

Palehound plays with Weaves and See Through Dresses Tuesday, Feb. 27, at The Slowdown front room, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $10 Adv/$12 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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