Lazy-i Interview: Brad Smith talks about Benson’s Almost Music; Lincoln Calling Day 3, Rig 1 tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:52 pm October 17, 2013

In this week’s column, an interview with Brad Smith of Benson record store Almost Music. Brad talks about his days spent working at The Antiquarium, time spent in a veal-fattening pen at H-P, and his new life selling vintage vinyl. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here, or, heck, you can read it below:

Benson’s Almost Music Serves Vinyl, along with Coffee and Conversation

by Tim McMahan,

The story of Almost Music, the vintage record store that just opened at 6569 Maple St. in Benson, is the story of a guy who escaped a life caged in a cubicle to pursue a dream he’s held for 20 years.

Brad Smith got into the record business way back in 1993 at age 20 when he joined the staff of the legendary Antiquarium Record Store in the Old Market. Tucked away in the basement of a massive bookstore on Harney Street, The Antiquarium was the touchstone of the Omaha music scene throughout its heyday in the mid-‘90s.

Smith joined a staff that included Chris Deden, singer/songwriter Simon Joyner and The Antiquarium’s legendary frontman, Dave Sink.

“Dave was the mouthpiece, the spokesperson,” Smith said. “That’s what he liked to do — drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and BS with people. Chris and I actually worked really hard because we had to make up for the fact that Dave didn’t.”

While Smith, Deden and Joyner broke their backs keeping the shelves stocked, Sink stood behind the counter and shared what he knew about the music business (and baseball) with young bands, young record labels and, yes, young music journalists. Sink and the store played a central role in creating a scene that spawned Saddle Creek Records and bands such as Bright Eyes and Cursive.

Technology eventually drove Smith out of The Antiquarium in 2000. He and Deden had set up a website called Starsailor Records and began selling rare albums on a new online marketplace called eBay. Smith said Sink viewed the Internet as a passing fad.

“Dave’s quote was, ‘This is the new CB radio. It’s hot right now, but you’re wasting your time.’ The whole idea of cyberspace was a hard concept for someone Dave’s age to grasp.”

As you might guess, a career selling records isn’t exactly lucrative. Smith said his years at the Antiquarium brought in just enough to pay the rent. “I was single and so were Chris and Dave,” he said. “It was enough to make a meager living for a single person. I would have made a better living if I hadn’t spent so much on my own record collection.”

Needless to say, things changed when Smith had his first daughter, Matilda, in 2001. Now with a child to support, he felt he needed a more substantial career, one that actually supplied health insurance. Smith had earned a degree in Business Administration from UNO while working at The Antiquarium, which helped him land an insurance job and eventually a credit analyst position at Hewlett-Packard in 2007. By then he’d met his current girlfriend, Sarah Gleason, who had two kids of her own, Nora and Jack. Together, the couple had Dorothy, who just turned 3 and a half.

Even with a “regular job,” Smith said there was no real security at H-P. Shortly after he joined the company, the bottom fell out of the economy and the layoffs began. “We went from four floors of employees to two,” Smith said. “We had waves of layoffs every nine months. I survived four of them.”

His number finally came up in April of this year. By then, he already had the idea of opening Almost Music. “I knew a record store could be successful if I did it right,” Smith said. “Even before I got laid off, Sarah said, ‘You have to do it.’ She knew I hated sitting in a cubical all day. Once I got laid off, there was no excuse not to.”

Smith already had begun accumulating inventory when the storefront became available. Located a few blocks west of the heart of Benson, Almost Music shares the space with Solid Jackson Books, a satellite location of Jackson Street Booksellers. The bookstore’s name is an homage to ‘90s rock band Solid Jackson, which released a record on a label run by Deden and Joyner.

“I really wanted to do something like The Antiquarium, where it’s not just a retail shop, it’s a place to hang out and have discussions and have a cup of coffee,” Smith said. “That wasn’t feasible without the bookstore.”

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6, Almost Music sells an eclectic mix of vinyl — everything from high-end collectables (a Sun Ra album from 1968 is priced at $350) to clean, cheap copies of albums by bands like The Go Go’s and Fleetwood Mac.

“I try to make it a well-curated selection,” Smith said. “The Antiquarium did the same thing. We had our cheap section and kept the good stuff separate. Ninety-eight percent of our albums is really clean and in nice shape. You don’t have to check the condition.”

On a trip to Almost Music last weekend I picked up a rare copy of a Smiths 12-inch single (“Barbarism Begins at Home” b/w “Shakespeare’s Sister”) and Richard Thompson’s Hand of Kindness LP, while Teresa snagged Claudine Longet’s debut album and Queen’s The Game, both for $2.

It’s only been open three weeks but the shop is already doing well. Smith said the store isn’t the couple’s only source of income. Sarah also has a part-time job, and they both intend to take advantage of insurance available through the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

Still, was opening the store scary?

“Oh yeah,” Smith said. “I kept looking for a job I couldn’t say ‘no’ to. It never happened because my heart was never in it. My heart was in this.”

Almost Music and Solid Jackson Bookstore celebrate their official Grand Opening this Saturday, Oct. 19, from 7 to 10 p.m. . Festivities include live performances by Simon Joyner and Noah Sterba of The Yuppies. Come on down, have a cup of coffee and listen to some good music.

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

First published in The Reader, Oct. 17, 2103. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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The bar-hopping begins tonight at Lincoln Calling as the festival will be in full multi-venue mode with acts performing at six venues throughout the Star City.

Here’s tonight’s Lincoln Calling sched:

Bourbon Theatre
Early show
Gallows Majesty
Haggard Mess
6 p.m., $5 for 21+, $7 for 18-20

Late show
Desert Noises
Rock Paper Dynamite
The Kickback
9 p.m., $8 for 21+, $10 for 18-20

Duffy’s Tavern
The Whipkey Three
Tie These Hands
8 p.m., $5 for 21+, $7 for 18-20

Zoo Bar
The Renfields
John Klemmensen and the Party
Christopher the Conquered
Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies
Jack Hotel
The Bottletops
5 p.m., $5, 21+

Yia Yia’s Pizza
Burning Down the Villager
10 p.m., no cover, 21+

Mix Bar and Arcade
Bass Invaders w/
Trill Ferrell
9 p.m., no cover, 21+

Fat Toad
Nick the Quick
9 p.m., no cover, 21

For more info go to

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Also tonight, Rig 1 headlines at The Waiting Room. The hip-hop project is led by Ian McElroy of Desaparecidos fame. Backing him as part of Rig 1 is Clark Baechle (The Faint) and Dustin Bushon (FVTHR^). For a taste, check out “Walking Zombie” from the North of Maple release. Openers are Nuit and Touch People. $7, 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Millions/Antiquarium/Titus Andronicus followup; Desaparecidos on Carson Daly tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 3:00 pm October 2, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

A few follow-ups to yesterday’s blog entry:

— Turns out The Millions used to play in Omaha all the time, most notably at the long-gone Sharkey’s (which became The Music Box which was torn down to make room for a 24 Hour Fitness). Alas, those shows somehow flew under my radar, though I often frequented Sharkey’s.

— That Titus Andronicus show Nov. 21 is being held at Sokol Underground, not The Sandbox. Also on the bill Ceremony, Slut River and Gordon.

— Kevin Coffey has another report on the closing of The Antiquarium in the Omaha World-Herald, which you can read here. The key bit of information:

(Co-owner Joseph) Tingley and Brian Byrd would like to reopen the store after clearing their debt and if they can find a new location with lower rent.

“We want to reopen at some point,” Tingley said.

Maybe you guys can find cheap digs in Benson? It could use a record store.

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Desaparecidos is slated to perform tonight on Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC. Also scheduled on the telecast: Brother Ali and The Iran Job. Check your local listings and set your DVR/Tivo.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Closing Antiquarium marks the end of an era; Millions announce reunion, rarities album; Desa in the NYT…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:35 pm October 1, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Antiquarium Records, 417 So. 13th St.

Antiquarium Records, 417 So. 13th St.

The Antiquarium announced yesterday via its Facebook page that it’s closing its doors.

“Well this is a little out of left field but the store is closing,” said the Facebook post. “Hopefully we will be reopening at some point but our debt has got a little out of control and we just can’t go on anymore for the time being.”

These are hard times for record stores, let alone one that caters to vinyl lovers, local music and underground bands. The shop’s legacy goes back decades when it was operated by the late, great Dave Sink and is arguably one of our music scene’s most influential businesses. The legacy was underscored in the remembrances written upon Dave’s passing last January (read them here).

“Of course there is a sale as well,” the Facebook entry continues. “All CDs are a buck a piece. All dollar records are a quarter. Everything else is 50% off. Come get killer deals and say goodbye.”

How long until all the record stores are gone?

BTW, an Oct. 19 benefit concert at The Sandbox is being organized by Black Heart Booking to help the store’s proprietors pay down their debt. Bands who want to get involved should email

* * *

Speaking of The Sandbox, it just announced that Titus Andronicus is scheduled to play there Nov. 21. It’s a Slowburn Production. Now let’s see if they can keep from moving the gig to another venue…

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The Millions, sometime in the '90s.

The Millions, sometime in the ’90s.

Seminal Lincoln post-punk indie band The Millions, who disappeared around 1995, announced via its Facebook page that it’s reuniting for a show Dec. 1 at The Bourbon Theater. The reunited Millions will feature original members Lori Allison, Harry Dingman III and Marty Amsler. Drummer Brandon McKenzie will take over drums from original drummer Greg Hill, who isn’t participating in the reunion.

“The band is playing this one time only show to celebrate the release of Poison Fish, a 21-song CD of rare and unreleased recordings from the earliest days of the band,” says the announcement.

I have to admit being only peripherally familiar with The Millions back in the day since it seems like they rarely played in Omaha. In fact, I ordered a used copy of their first release, M Is for Millions, last night from for $1.99 after watching a video of the single “Sometimes” on YouTube.

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Thumbing through my copy of the Sunday New York Times Magazine what did my wandering eyes should appear but a feature on Desaparecidos. The story, online right here, reported nothing we haven’t already read in other articles. The biggest news was the fact that the NYT Mag printed the article at all considering that Desa has no current plans for either a new album or additional touring. Seems like Desa is getting more press now than it did a decade ago. Will it be enough to coax Conor into doing more Desa shows?

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.