Saddle Creek to release Culxr House, adds New York offices; new Nathan Ma; Cog Factory merch benefits Omaha Girls Rock…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 9:40 pm June 7, 2021
A scene from Culxr House.

So now Saddle Creek Records has a New York City office?

Yep, according to their Twitter feed. Add it to the Los Angeles offices, and Omaha offices, of course. Once upon a time Saddle Creek even had a European office in London. Not sure if they still do; wouldn’t be surprised if they reopened it.

Bigger news is that Saddle Creek will be releasing Culxr House: Freedom Summer – a collaborative project showcasing a host of talent from Omaha all tied to innovative community hub Culxr House. The LP, out July 30, features Marcey Yates and Xoboi, along with J. Crum, Mars Black and lots more.

Available digitally and via a limited edition vinyl run, 50% of the album’s profits will be shared between the artists involved, with the other 50% donated directly to the Culxr House venue that brought this project to life,” according to the Creek site.

The first track from the album, “Inherit the Earth,” by Marcey Yates and Xoboi, already dropped. Order the album from the Saddle Creek site.

I think this marks the first album Saddle Creek released with a connection to Omaha since The Faint’s Egowerk came out in March 2019.

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Nathan Ma has a new track out called “Midnight” produced by Young Guv, and featuring The Upper Las Colonies Pyramid Band (Noah Kohll, Young Guv, Colin Duckworth, Bobbie Lovesong and James Matthew VII). It’s just under three minutes of Big Star-flavored pop you’ll want to check out. When’s Nathan coming out with a full-length?

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The fine folks at Ink Tank are selling a crapload of cool Cog Factory gear, including T-shirts and hoodies. Orders are being taken through June 18 and all proceeds will benefit Omaha Girls Rock, so everybody wins. Check out the selection and order yours 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


More on 1%’s acquisition of Sokol Auditorium (and who will book it); BFF tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 7:15 am June 4, 2021
Marc Leibowitz, left, and Jim Johnson outside Sokol Underground circa 2003.

I wrote about 1% buying Sokol Auditorium (with a couple partners) for The Reader three weeks ago, but because The Reader is a monthly, the story ended up getting scooped by the Omaha World-Herald. Such is the the sad realities of publishing a monthly newspaper.

That said, there’s much in my story (that went online yesterday) that isn’t the Herald’s story, and some stuff included in the Herald story not in mine, including how much money was involved — $1.6 million was the purchase price with plans to pour another $2.5 million into renovations, according to the OWH. That’s a big chunk, but a far cry from the $105 million (though I’ve heard final costs could exceed $150 million) for the Omaha Performing Arts “Steelhouse” project.

The Reader article includes more details about facility upgrades as well as the future of Sokol Underground. Go read it.

Some interesting facts that I didn’t have room for in The Reader article include that Mammoth likely will handle the bulk of bookings at the The Admiral. Based out of Lawrence and KC, Mammoth has been around forever.

“Mammoth is much bigger than we are,” said Marc Leibowitz in the interview for the story. “We have one buyer, they have seven and are going to take a bigger role in booking. We’re the ones in Omaha, so we’ll have a bigger role in facility management, staffing and day-to-day.”

Leibowitz went on to say Mammoth books the whole territory, and can route tours through the area. You may not realize it, but Mammoth has been booking in Omaha longer than 1%, including bringing shows to Sokol Underground back in the day as well as Cog Factory, working under monikers that included Avalanche and Hunt Industries.

A glance at their Facebook page shows Mammoth books a lot of shows at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, and at their primary venue, KC’s Uptown Theater, including St. Vincent Oct. 7. They’ve also got a Future Islands show at Liberty Hall Sept. 29. I always thought they were more into metal shows, and I think they booked a lot of them at Sokol Underground post-1%. Fact is, they’re going to have to book a wide variety of styles if they’re going to fill The Admiral on a regular basis. Mammoth is clearly working with the big-name indie bands; and though there will be no Sokol Underground for the smaller touring indie acts I love, there’s still Reverb, The Waiting Room, Slowdown and who knows who else…

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Here’s the story:

History in the Making
Sokol Auditorium to become The Admiral Theater

As important as Saddle Creek Records and its bands were to the Omaha music scene, so were Sokol Auditorium and Sokol Underground.

Located on South 13th Street in the heart of Omaha’s Little Bohemia, Sokol Auditorium was a barn of a venue. Owned and operated by the Sokol organization — a Czech-American group dedicated to the sport of gymnastics — the giant concrete structure was indeed a gymnasium as well as a balconied ballroom that hosted polka dances, wedding receptions and the occasional rock show. In the late ’90s and into the early 2000s, the facility’s basement — named Sokol Underground — was home to live touring indie rock bands, including acts that would make Omaha famous — Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Faint — and national indie stars like Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Interpol and Guided by Voices.

Those shows were booked and hosted by 1% Productions — the dynamic duo of Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson — who called Sokol Underground their home until they opened their own club — The Waiting Room in Benson — in 2007.

Now more than two decades later, 1% Productions has bought Sokol Auditorium as part of a trio of investors that includes Kansas City’s Mammoth Productions and Lincolnites Sean and Becki Reagan, formerly of Orange Whip Productions, who now operate The Bourbon Theater in Lincoln. In fact, all three of the above parties also purchased The Bourbon earlier this year.

For Leibowitz and Johnson, the acquisition of Sokol Auditorium is a dream come true.

“Sokol Auditorium was where we produced our first show (Ani DiFranco in 1997),” Leibowitz said. “We wanted to buy it since ’97, but it was never for sale.”

During the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sokol organization received an unsolicited offer to buy the building from an out-of-state promoter. Sokol then approached 1%, suggesting they also put in an offer. In the fall of 2020, with their partnership, they did. After much consideration by the Sokol organization, their offer was accepted, and they closed the deal on April 1.

I didn’t ask Leibowitz the price, but he did say it will cost more money to renovate the facility than what it cost to buy it.

Renamed The Admiral Theater as a sort of tribute to the classic movie houses that once populated Omaha (another 1% project, a La Vista-based venue/amphitheater about to break ground, is called The Astro), Leibowitz said rehab work will commence as soon as permits are in hand and will include a lot of modernizing to bring the building up to code. That means installing an elevator, fire suppression, an alarm system and modern HVAC. They’re also renovating and enlarging the bathrooms, adding real dressing rooms, production offices, showers and other amenities artists want.

“We’re rebuilding the infrastructure for the curtaining and rigging that was almost 100 years old,” Leibowitz said. “The sound and lights are being sold. We’ll have brand new sound and lighting. We’ll fly the PA from the roof of the building.”

The auditorium’s “tumbling room,” built over the entranceway steps, is being converted into a “VIP experience” that will require club membership for access. The VIP room, which will have its own bar and bathrooms, will open onto the auditorium’s balcony.

Speaking of bars, a “proper bar” will be constructed along the auditorium’s north wall that will include much higher-end offerings than the old Sokol.

“We’re trying to fix as much of the customer experience as possible,” Leibowitz said, “but we can’t fix the parking yet.”

The auditorium’s parking lot can support only a fraction of an audience that can attend a show. Leibowitz has plans to clear as many spaces as possible for customers, but “part of going to a show at Sokol is parking in the neighborhood,” he said. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

And while the name will change — in fact they legally cannot use the Sokol moniker — Leibowitz said they won’t completely erase the old Sokol.

“There’s going to be things that remind you of the historic nature of the building,” he said. “We’re keeping as many old touches as we can.”

The target for The Admiral’s grand opening is February 2022.

So what about the old Sokol Underground? Leibowitz said the facility’s basement that once hosted hundreds of indie rock shows (and also once had a four-lane bowling alley) will be treated as a separate business. “It’s not going to be a music venue,” he said. “We’re demoing it at the same time as the auditorium, putting in infrastructure, HVAC, elevator and bathrooms, and then we will sit on it a little while.”

Leibowitz sees the irony of no longer hosting shows in a room that played a big role in establishing 1% Productions, but he also can’t see a need for yet another 300-capacity club in Omaha.

The Admiral Theater, with a capacity of 1,400, will fill a unique entertainment void.

“The Holland Center’s capacity is around 1,900; the Ralston Arena around 3,500, Sumpter is around 2,500. Sokol has always held a unique position in terms of capacity,” he said.

In fact Leibowitz said many shows booked at smaller venues over the years would have been hosted at Sokol Auditorium if the venue wasn’t universally considered a dump.

“If the Sokol as an entity would have invested in their facilities, there wouldn’t have been a Waiting Room or a Slowdown, but they never did,” Leibowitz said.

Now it’s happening. The decision to go all-in on Sokol was a gutsy move taken at one of the most challenging times in our country’s history, when no one was sure what would happen with live entertainment. Leibowitz shrugs off the risk.

“I like our business, the music industry and our venues,” Leibowitz said. “The timing wasn’t great when the Sokol deal came up, but how do we not do it? It was our dream venue, something we wanted to do back when we were doing 20 shows a month in the Underground. We always thought it would be amazing if we could own this place.”

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

It’s the first Friday of June which means Benson First Friday. It’s a special Pride Month edition, which explains all the little Pride flags along the sidewalks throughout Benson. There’s lots of art throughout and DJs at a couple places but no live indie rock. See the full lineup of events here.

Show-wise, Matt Whipkey opens for The Samples Saturday night at The Waiting Room. $50, 7 p.m. Rex Granite Band is at Reverb Lounge Saturday night. $10, 7 p.m. That’s about it for shows. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. The world may be reopening, but rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t quite caught up with it. We’ll get there… Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Bull Nettles at Dr. Jack’s, and a return to live shows…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:11 am May 31, 2021
Bull Nettles at Dr. Jack’s Drinkery, May 29, 2021.

It’s so weird going inside anywhere without wearing a mask let alone a club, but that was the sitch Saturday night at Dr. Jack’s Drinkery, the bar formerly known as The Brass Knocker.

I had a mask in my jacket pocket not knowing the bar’s masking protocol. I could have left it at home. No signs on the door and no one inside wore a mask and there was no evidence we’d ever been in a pandemic. In fact, had I put on my mask I would have have been the subject of much pointing and maybe even a confrontation. No doubt people who still feel like wearing a mask inside clubs will feel intimidated to not wear one – no one wants to be the center of attention.

I’ve been long vaccinated, though that doesn’t guarantee I’ll never get COVID, only that I might not die from it. Which leads one to wonder how many people in the room Saturday night have had their shots…

Enough about the pandemic. I haven’t been in this club in well over 20 years, back when it was the Brass Knocker. My recollection of the layout is rather foggy, but I seem to remember there was a staging area for karaoke, which is now gone. Instead, on the other side of the bar is a small “stage” set-up with old-fashioned PAs stacked on either side. Though Dr. Jack’s hosts shows, you can tell the place wasn’t designed for live music (but then again, neither was O’Leaver’s).

As The Mudpuddles ripped through their set, I wandered outside through an open overhead door where a bunch of people were hanging out drinking. The patio is actually nicer than the club’s interior, which was a bit ramshackle.

Bull Nettles, the trio trio that features Travis Linn (a.k.a. Travis Sing) on lead vocals and guitar and Doug Kabourek on drums (and “Steve” on bass), kicked into gear at around 10:30 for a set that featured mainly songs from their new EP, The Last Days of Empire, whose release they were celebrating Saturday. They call their sound “cow punk” but it’s really alt country, and live reminded me more of Centro-Matic than Frontier Trust, because Travis actually sings (vs. Gary Dean Davis’ barrel holler).

It’s a quibble, but the mix was not good unless you really wanted to enjoy a band’s rhythm section. Travis and his guitar at times got lost, which was a shame because both are among my favorite things on the EP. Also lost with this crowd was Sing’s clever, biting political lyrics, which make seeking out the Bandcamp page and following along with the lyrics a smart go. It’s hard to write political stuff without sounding preachy, but Sing pulls it off better than most these days.

Among the highlights was a rousing version of stand-out track “No Higher Ground,” and album opener “Howl & Whine,” along with nice version of Creedance’s “Don’t Look Now,” and an old At Land song by Doug Kabourek.

If you missed the show you’re out of luck with these guys, as they posted on their Facebook page afterward that this would be their last gig for the foreseeable future. “We never really intended to be a live band, plus there are radical changes afoot for one of the bandmates.” A pity.

Not a bad way to come out of a pandemic, but I’m still waiting for the city’s real clubs to book some decent live shows. And it could be awhile.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Those Far Out Arrows, Jack McLaughlin tonight; Bull Nettles (album release show) Saturday; live shows are back!

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 9:44 am May 28, 2021
Those Far Out Arrows at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 8, 2017. The band plays tonight at The Sydney.

Oh my gawd, live shows are back!

They’ve actually been back for awhile — most venues reopened weeks ago — but this weekend is the first time there are shows I actually want to write about.

As we all know, the city dropped its mask mandate earlier this week; and while people no longer are required to wear masks in businesses, each establishment will have its own masking policy. I spoke to one local venue owner who said he’s taking the mask signs down at all his clubs, if only because most restaurants and other establishments are. That said, each club will be different, and I’ll have one with me when I go out this weekend.

And I have no doubt people still will wear masks in the clubs. I went to HyVee the other day to pick up a six-pack and about half the shoppers wore masks. It’ll be a hard habit to break for some.

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Tonight at The Sydney it’s the long-talked-about return of Those Far Out Arrows. The band released an album last year called Fill Yer Cup that includes the weird, funky single “Snake in My Basement” that’s become something of an underground hit among a number of my friends.

Also on tonight’s bill at The Sydney is the soulful hip-hop of Marcey Yates. This gig has been sold out for a couple weeks, but I’m told by a little birdie that a few tickets will be available early at the door. $10, 10 p.m.

. ) ) ) .

Also tonight, singer/songwriter/rockstar Jack McLaughlin is headlining at The Slowdown (on the big stage!) with Bokr Tov and Magū. McLaughlin has a new track out called “Interpret It All,” that features Mitch Gettman on guitar, Nate Van Fleet on drums and Dan Artz on bass. Says McLaughlin, “I bought and renovated a house by O’Leavers during the shut down and built a recording studio in the basement….that’s where we are at in the video.” Like I said, this is a main room show (thanks to COVID). $10, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Township & Range plays at The Down Under with Eddie Spencer. It’s a free show that begins at 9 p.m. Here’s where you can point and laugh at me: I didn’t know that Travis Sing was the frontman in T&R.

In fact, Sing (whose performance name is Travis Linn) is also the frontman in Bull Nettles, a new “cow punk” trio in the vein of Frontier Trust with Doug Kabourek on drums and “Steve” on bass (I don’t know who Steve is, but he’s good). Travis Sing is great on lead vocals and guitar, and their new EP, The Last Days of Empire, blew me away. This is the rural punk-ish album with a political edge you’ve been waiting for.

I really wanted this record to come out in the late summer/early fall last year to coincide with the election, but obviously that didn’t happen for numerous reasons,” Sing said. “I lean left, but I think there’s plenty on the left to criticize, too. This record is likely to piss off people on both sides.”

Yeah, there’s a Frontier Trust flair to the EP, but this one also will appeal to fans of Filter Kings and Social Distortion. The band is celebrating the EP’s release tonight at Dr. Jack’s Drinkery, 3012 No. 102nd St. (102nd and Maple (the old Brass Knocker)). Also on the bill are The Mudpuddles and Danny Burns. $5, 8 p.m.

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That’s all I got. If you go out this weekend, be safe, and don’t be afraid to wear a mask if you want to. Staying alive is pretty cool.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Khruangbin, Thundercat, Japanese Breakfast headline Maha ’21…

Category: Blog — @ 7:21 am May 21, 2021
Get your lawn chairs out. The Maha Music Festival is back July 31.

Those who know me and know where I work now know why I haven’t written extensively about the 2021 Maha Music Festival. The line-up was announced Wednesday night, along with the presenting sponsor.

Still, I have an opinion about the line-up (though to be clear, it’s mine alone). All in all, it’s pretty damn good, especially considering we’re coming out of a national pandemic.

Japanese Breakfast, who adorns the cover of the brand new issue of Under the Radar (“The Protest Issue”), is an act I’ve dug for awhile and definitely look forward to seeing and hearing live.

Thundercat, the last band a lot of people saw before the world shut down (at Slowdown), is coming back to Omaha. As is local favorite Drive-By Truckers. Then there’s the yeehaw stylings of Shovels & Rope, who I know has a lot of local fans.

As for the headliner, Khruangbin, I’m only familiar with a couple singles that have gotten airplay on Sirius XMU (“Time (You and I),” “So We Won’t Forget”) – slick, catchy, light-as-air pop tunes, and quite a contrast to the rest of the droning, World-dub jams on the band’s latest album, 2020’s Mordechai (Dead Oceans), some of which sounds like the nondescript, drug-infused noodling they play between bands at large concerts. Hey, but what does it matter? I never stick around for the Maha headliner, anyway.

This year’s locals are Matt Cox & the Marauders, Edem Soul Music, Dirt House, J. Crum, Kethro, and Crabrangucci.

The one-day fest is July 31 at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village. Tix go on sale this morning at 10 a.m. at the Maha festival site — $65 advance / $75 DOS. VIP tix are $155 advance and $175 DOS. Because of COVID-19 they’re limiting capacity at Stinson Park, and conversely, limiting the number of available tickets. So if you’re into it, you better get them tickets while you can. After being shut in for a year, people are starving for entertainment, and it won’t surprise me if this one actually sells out.

. ) ) ) .

Wish I could point you to some rock shows this weekend, but it’s still too early for touring shows and even good local gigs, despite the fact that all the clubs are open. Next week Omaha’s mask mandate will very likely go away for those vaccinated, and I have a feeling clubs will follow suit and not require masks wearing. Watch as the “must wear masks” signs begin to disappear along with the plexi-glass shields.

How quickly will people return? Here’s what I wrote about the return in the current issue of The Reader:

I Haven’t Given Up
We’re all waiting to get back to the clubs, aren’t we?

The Reader; May 4, 2021

I haven’t updated my daily local music blog,, in over two weeks, which is long enough for people to question whether it’s still “alive.” I’ve been writing the blog for (my god!) 23 years. I haven’t given up. There’s just so little to write about music-wise right now.

Omaha’s two major clubs for indie music — The Waiting Room and Slowdown — both have reopened. But with few bands touring yet, their offerings are (how to put this) somewhat lacking: cover bands, live professional wrestling, comedians, local productions of bad musicals. There are a few exceptions, but nothing on the indie music radar or that piques my interest.

It’s the way it’s going to be for a while. All the quality local bands simply haven’t played together in a year out of caution and responsibility, and musicians are just now getting vaccinated. It could be a month or two until they start practicing again, and who knows what has changed in these musicians’ lives over the past year of crippling isolation?

Staying in touch with one another via Facebook is a far cry from the up-close-and-personal relationships one forges by living in a pot-smoke-filled van for two months on the road. “Jamming together” by recording tracks alone on an iPhone and then sending them around to bandmates to add their parts just isn’t the same as having to breathe in each other’s vicious BO during a hot, cramped band practice in the bass player’s basement.

When these bands finally do reunite for the first time since spring 2020, there could be camaraderie and rejoicing, or picking up right where they left off, or the worst case scenario — a new realization of just how much they actually hated each other and how they should never have played together in the first place.

And then there are those bands that won’t get back together at all because one of the musicians had to figure out a way to make money after losing his or her job and now is stuck in a new career they never had to deal with before all this happened.

Some will have new relationships, maybe new family members, certainly new responsibilities; and suddenly the idea of making music will seem frivolous.

And a sad few may finally have convinced themselves they’re too old for this rock and roll lifestyle, which is something that even in my 50s has never crossed my mind.

Sometimes it’s the little things that keep you going.

I was pushing my shopping cart through the crowded parking lot of the Saddle Creek Baker’s after my usual Sunday-morning grocery haul, dodging dirty SUVs across the bumpy tarmac, still wearing my mask.

As I approached my VW, I looked up across the lot and there was a guy I recognized from one of the local rock bands — a tall dude in his 30s with long brown hair who plays a mean guitar and has been a staple in the Nebraska underground music scene for the past decade or more. He had just stepped out of his car with his wife or girlfriend or whomever. Also wearing a mask, he looked up across the lot and saw me loading my car and did a little head nod and wave. I did the same in return.

As I returned my cart to the corral I thought, “Huh, he remembers me,” as if I was a prisoner who that morning had been released after 20 years in the state penitentiary. I hadn’t been forgotten … by someone I’d never formally met and who likely was mistaking me for someone’s dad.

One of the biggest questions about life after the real passing of the Pandemic of 2020 (because that’s what they’ll call it 100 years from now after we’re all long dead) is whether people will go back to the same lives they lived before. It has to be a question gnawing on the minds of owners of movie theaters, restaurants and music venues.

Restaurants I’m not so worried about. People already are returning to their favorite places, even if they have to wear a mask to go to the bathroom. If we never questioned the food we bought as take out during the pandemic (and why we didn’t, I still don’t understand — what made us think the cooks back in the kitchen were wearing masks and diligently washing their hands like surgeons?), we’re sure not going to question it afterward.

Movie theaters are another matter. People have become so used to watching streamed content from their home theaters or on their iPads they might balk at paying $10 to sit in an auditorium with a bunch of filthy patrons to watch the same thing they can watch in their underwear on Disney+.

And then there are music venues. Rock and roll or whatever you want to call popular music continues to reinvent itself from generation to generation. Kids will continue to go to clubs to see their favorite bands just like people are returning to sports facilities as quickly as the local ordinances will let them.

Still, there are those few who are getting a little older, those who were always looking for an excuse to stay home on a Friday or Saturday (or weekday) night. They’ll be the last to return if they do at all.

I used to see bands three or four nights a week when the scene was more “indie-music friendly.” Five hours of sleep was plenty. But right before the pandemic struck, I’d limited myself to weekends or “can’t miss” shows. Now I wonder if I’ll be able to once again stand elbow-to-elbow at, say, O’Leaver’s, next to people young enough to be my grandchildren.

Fact is, I can’t wait. I miss my extended family — the club owners, the bartenders, the punk rock regulars and that guy in the Baker’s parking lot who I don’t really know. And besides, I’m going to need something to blog about.

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

First published in the Reader, May 4, 2021. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


One step closer…; Petfest, Maha to return; Dolores Diaz/Live at O’Leaver’s…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:19 pm May 14, 2021
Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016. The band’s debut album, Live at O’Leaver’s, was released on vinyl today.

I was out and about in Benson late afternoon yesterday, hours after the CDC announced new mask guidelines that say you don’t have to wear a mask indoors if you’ve been vaccinated. I expected it to be like VE Day, with people kissing in the streets. Instead, while a lot of people were maskless on the sidewalks, a lot also still wore masks.

I talked to a masked Maple Street proprietor who had a “masks required” sign on his door. He hadn’t heard the news, and wasn’t bowled over by it. “We’re still requiring masks until we’re told otherwise,” he said, adding that he’d been vaccinated (and also had COVID last year). “Let’s see what happens. If cases start spiking again, the masks will be back.”

Maybe, maybe… And though I’m a bit giddy at the prospect of putting my masks away, I also can’t imagine, say, shopping at the Saddle Creek Baker’s without one (but maybe that has nothing to do with COVID…).

And maybe it’s a coincidence, but suddenly show announcements are popping up again. Last week Petfest announced that it’s coming back Aug. 14 outside of Pet Shop, and the line-up is pretty staggering. It includes Those Far Out Arrows, Lightning Stills, Anna McClellan, And How, Leafblower, Benny Leather and tons more. Full line-up here.

Not to be outdone, Maha announced it’s hosting a one-day music festival July 31 at Stinson Park, with limited capacity. No word on the line-up yet, but no doubt the announcement is imminent. Make your headliner guesses in the comments below.

Speaking of Those Far Out Arrows, that May 28 show at The Sydney is now officially sold out. If you’re like me, you didn’t even know there were tickets for sale!

The moral to the story is if you want to go to a show in the coming weeks / months, you better get your tickets when you can. People are starving for entertainment, and until they pull back on all restrictions, shows are going to be at limited capacities. Looks like I’ll have to wait until Petfest to see the Arrows…

One final note: Today Live at O’Leaver’s, the debut album by Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club, was released on vinyl. The album can be picked up at your local record store (try the new Grapefruit!). Or you can order directly from the 15 passenger Bandcamp site. As someone who was there, it’s worth it if only a memento of another amazing night at The Club.

Now if only O’Leaver’s can remove those booths from their “stage” and get the “Live” thing rolling again…

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


#BFF & #BSS this weekend (Brion Poloncic (ex-Cactus Nerve Thang)) at Little Gallery; Kasher launches Home Phone; Grapefruit Records opens; and it’s Bandcamp Friday…

Hey there, here’s that column I mentioned last week about not updating my blog in so long and how it will live forever (or at least until I don’t). It’s published in the May issue of The Reader, and online here. Go read it!

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Brion Poloncic’s Weird Therapy opens at The Little Gallery Saturday.

It’s an anomaly similar to the perfect aligning of stars in the sky — both Benson First Friday and Blackstone Second Saturday are this weekend.

BFF you know about. BSS is a new art effort in Blackstone where galleries host openings. To celebrate, The Little Gallery Blackstone (formerly in Benson) is hosting Weird Therapy – a collection of 130 small ink-on-paper works by Brion Poloncic.

Local punk rock fans with a sense of history will remember Poloncic from his work the bands Tomato a Day and seminal Grass Records act Cactus Nerve Thang. Poloncic’s art is as mind-blowing as his music.

The show runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at The Little Gallery Blackstone, 144 So. 39th St. (inside The Mansion just north of Night Owl). The event is free, distance controlled, and wear a mask! Free beer! Come by and say hello.

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In music news, Tim Kasher of Cursive and The Good Life launched a new Patreon called Home Phone. The archive project is a mix of new songs under the Home Phone moniker: “Short, catchy, to-the-point jams – unreleased songs I’ve written for Cursive / The Good Life / solo material that never saw any light of any day,” Kasher said of the project.

The online subscription service costs $6 a month (or $5 a month with annual subscription). The Patreon site will also include live streams, and if this goes the way of other Patreons I’ve seen have, Kasher will be doing all kinds of outlandish things online in no time. Check it out at

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In other Kasher news, there’s a massively long video interview with Tim by Bringing It Backwards – the online interview show of American Songwriter magazine. The nearly hour-long interview delves deep into the history of Kasher’s music, Cursive, Saddle Creek Records and more. Check it below.

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Azure Ray has dropped yet another track from their forthcoming album, Remedy, out in June on Flower Moon Records. This one has a good beat, you can dance it, check it out.

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Grapefruit Records opens today in the Old Market.

Simon Joyner’s new record store in the Old Market, Grapefruit, is slated to open today at 11 a.m. The shop, located at 1125 Jackson St., Suite 5, will sell new and used records, and the space will also be the world headquarters of Joyner’s Grapefruit Records label.

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And lest I forget, it’s the first Friday of the month which means Bandcamp Friday – that day when Bandcamp waives fees on its download sales. Go to Bandcamp and buy some stuff!

That’s all I got. Have a great weekend!

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Grapefruit Records to open in Old Market; Saddle Creek signs Indigo De Souza; new Cursive interview…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 3:20 pm April 23, 2021

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated the ol’ blog. In fact, I just wrote a column that’ll be published in the May issue of The Reader saying that it’s been a long time since I updated the ol’ blog, but that I haven’t given up — there just hasn’t been anything to write about music-wise (which is basically the lede to the column).

As I continue to point out, ain’t been a whole helluva lot of rock shows to write about, but there has been some news.

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I just discovered via his Instagram page that Omaha singer/songwriter Simon Joyner is about to open a new record store in the Old Market that will also act as the world headquarters of his Grapefruit Records label. The new shop is located at 1125 Jackson St., Suite 5, which appears to be the old Antiques Annex space on 12th street.

Joyner says the store will open either May 1 or May 7, depending on how preparations go, and will feature new and used records. The shop marks the 3rd record store in the Old Market, joining Homer’s and Vinyl Cup. Hey, just like ol’ times…

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The other hometown record label, Saddle Creek Records, has been on a roll lately.

Their most recent release from just-signed act Spirit of the Beehive, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH, was bestowed with the “Best New Music” honor from Pitchfork, who gave the album a massive 8.3 rating. If you haven’t heard the album yet, grab some headphones and some LSD and enjoy. It’s a… challenging listen, but people love it.

On a more pop-flavored level, Saddle Creek this week announced that it signed Asheville, NC, singer/songwriter Indigo De Souza and is rereleasing her 2018 debut album, I Love My Mom, April 23. De Souza’s sound is more in line with the indie sound you’d hear on something like Sirius XMU — poppy, fun, accessible.

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A week or so ago out of the blue music blog Vinyl Writer Music posted an interview with Cursive’s Matt Maginn.

Matt covers the usual history/influences/Ugly Organ topics before he gets to what’s next for Cursive. He said he’s spent his off time repairing “a couple of bars/pubs in our beloved hometown….” and then goes on to say “Musically, it’s a bit more depressing. We have thrown around lots of long-distance ideas, but we have really not had the time to focus on them….

…I think we will start writing again as soon as it is safe and ideally get back on the road as soon as possible too. We are playing the Psycho Festival in Las Vegas, which we are really looking forward to at the moment. It will give us a chance to feel a little normal again and remember we are a band.

We had to cancel a lot of good shows when the pandemic struck, so we are itching to get out there and play. It sounds like a dream right now to actually return to a life that involves writing, rehearsing, and playing live. It’s funny how one year can really change how you feel about your existence and purpose in the world.

Read the entire interview here.

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That’s all for now. I’m hearing various and sundry things about upcoming music events. Things are happening. We’re almost there. Get vaccinated and we’ll get there sooner.

Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Pitchfork’s 36 ‘Best Live Music Venues’ surviving COVID, includes Slowdown; Moderna’d (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 8:13 am April 7, 2021
The Slowdown is a survivor.

Everyone’s favorite indie music tastemakers, Pitchfork, published an article Monday where it interviewed operators of 36 independent music venues on surviving COVID-19. Among them was Jason Kulbel of Slowdown.

The article gives a (very) brief history of the bar, described as being best know for “Modernizing live music in Omaha.”

Before the pandemic, Kulbel had hoped 2020 would be one of the most successful years in Slowdown’s history,” says writer Andy Cush. “Today, they’re operating with a reduced staff and plan to resume limited-capacity shows with local bands in April.

Kulbel gives a rather bleak view of what lies ahead.

Said Kulbel in the article: “‘Reopening is going to be really hard, because everything that you had before is gone. The staff is gone, the shows are gone. We’re opening with all local stuff, which is fine, but it’s not going to bring people out, it’s not what people really want to see as a whole. So you’re going to be opening as a skeleton of yourself. It would almost be easier just to open a brand new place.’”

Would it really?

Kulbel goes on to cite Against Me! as one of his favorite shows, though it’s not his favorite band. Read the full Slowdown section here.

Other Midwest venues featured in the Pitchfork article include First Avenue, Wooly’s in Des Moines, and The Hideout in Chicago.

Check out the full article here.

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Speaking of COVID-19, my column in this month’s issue of The Reader is about my experience getting Moderna’s and how the anti-vaxxers are going to really screw things up for the rest of us. Mark my words, we’re going to be wearing masks for a long time because of the conspiracy theorists and their reticence for getting shots.

The column is online here and, of course, in print wherever you find your copy of the The Reader.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Slowdown returns tonight with Journey tribute; it’s another Bandcamp Friday, recommendations…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 11:09 am April 2, 2021
Is it Bandcamp Friday?

Tonight’s Journey tribute show (Recaptured) at Slowdown is the club’s first indoor show in 385 days. And as you might have guessed, the rules have changed since their last show.

Guest and staff are required to wear masks when entering and moving around the club. A mask is recommended but not required if you’re seated at a table. See all the COVID rules here.

This is in line with most other venues’ rules. One new one that I haven’t seen before at Slowdown: Re-entry is not permitted. This is a curious addition, and I’m not sure why it’s there. I have a feeling there will be a few other surprises as part of the post-COVID era…

Anyway, it’s a $15 general admission show, but you can also buy balcony seating at $25. A glance at the seating chart shows that most table seating is considered balcony seating, but there must be tables further back that are not “balcony”? Show starts at 8:30.

Not to be outdone, The Waiting Room has a Garth Brooks tribute show tonight that’s $15 and starts at 8:30 p.m.

That’s it for shows this weekend. We’re all still waiting for some indie local and national shows to return, but that’s a ways off. Get vaccinated. That might change the equation.

Speaking of vaccinations, my vaccination journey is outlined in my column in this month’s issue of The Reader. Find it. It’s not online yet.

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It’s another Bandcamp Friday, which means Bandcamp today is waving its fees taken from your download purchases from their website. Most labels are following suit.

For what to buy locally, I point you again to this article, that lists a ton of local stuff available on Bandcamp.

There are others who always have new merch, including Lightning Stills, Flight School, Simon Joyner, Problems, and Dereck Higgins. There needs to be a Nebraska online marketplace where one can easily find links to new music released by Nebraska artists.

Here’s some stuff I’ve been listening to that you should check out/buy today on Bandcamp Friday:

Parannoul, To See the Next Part of the Dream – This Korean-language shoe-gaze act got a rave write-up in Pitchfork and is indeed mesmerizing. You can’t understand what they’re singing, but when it comes to shoe-gaze, what else is new? Bandcamp link.

Cassandra Jenkins, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature (Ba Da Bing!) – This is one of the break-out recordings of early 2021. Lead track “Michelangelo” is a heart breaker. Bandcamp link.

Wild Pink, A Billion Little Lights (Royal Mountain) – Gorgeous indie from NYC. As good as this sort of thing gets. Bandcamp link.

Kneeling in Piss. The Columbus, Ohio, band has a new EP coming out (not out yet) called Types of Cults that is like next-generation Parquet Courts. They’ve been around for awhile. A new favorite. Bandcamp link.

Mixtape for the Milky Way – The latest by Minneapolis’ Jeremy Messersmith is a sweet collection by one of the country’s best singer/songwriters. Bandcamp link.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.