Brad Hoshaw’s doing a Kickstarter; Jeremy Messersmith, BOY to highlight Day 2 of Lincoln Calling; Willie Nelson tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm October 16, 2013
The ironically named duo BOY headlines Lincoln Calling's Day 2 festivities at The Bourbon Theater.

The ironically named duo BOY headlines Lincoln Calling’s Day 2 festivities at The Bourbon Theater.

by Tim McMahan,

A few days ago Brad Hoshaw launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of his new album with his band the Seven Deadlies. You can read the details here (including some sweet premiums). Seems like Kickstarters is for presales more than anything these days, a way to pre-pay for an album and get the money in the hands of the artists when they need it most. Kickstarter takes some of the risk out of making records. Some.

Hoshaw is an enigma to me and has been since I first saw him perform all those years ago. His band’s debut album is one of the best collections of songs to emerge from our fair city. The sad part is that it never caught the attention of anyone outside of Omaha. It should have. So who’s fault is that? Well, I guess it’s Hoshaw’s, right? Why didn’t he get this record in the ear holes of the industry people who make decisions in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, Hollywood, etc.? It’s easier said than done, and virtually impossible without the right connections. Maybe he tried.

Making a good record has never been enough to break through to something bigger than playing well-attended Omaha shows, especially if your music is written to appeal to something broader than an indie music audience. At least there’s a path with indie. There’s a chance of getting reviews of your record in the handful of “important” indie websites, and if you’re lucky, in Paste or Pitchfork. And then on from there. There is no similar path for mainstream-targeted music, and Hoshaw’s songs certainly fall into that category.

At the very least, his music is picture-perfect for use in commercials, film or television. Who else thought “Carpenter” was the perfect song for a Sherwin-Williams commercial? But for that to happen, someone in charge first has to hear the song. I’m not sure how you do that. Hire an agent? Maybe, maybe…

Anyway, the first step is still to create the music, and this Kickstarter is where you come in. Check it out and give ol’ Brad a hand.

* * *

Speaking of songwriters who deserve to be heard by a larger audience, Jeremy Messersmith is playing Day 2 of Lincoln Calling tonight at The Bourbon Theater. Messersmith — like Hoshaw — is a mastercraft songwriter who knows his way around an infectious hook and a clever lyric.

And Messersmith is breaking through. He recently signed with Glassnote Records, whose stable of acts includes Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Chvches and The Temper Trap. Messersmith used to just give his music away via his website. I don’t think that’ll be happening with any new material, nor should it.

Messersmith opens for German duo BOY, whose music has been compared to Feist. Check it out below.

That Bourbon show is $15 and starts at 8 p.m. The rest of the Lincoln Calling line-up is at their website, here.

Meanwhile, back here in Omaha, there is virtually nothing interesting going on except for the Record Club at the Saddle Creek Shop, which tonight features Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger. Hosting tonight’s installment is none other than Dan McCarthy of McCarthy Trenching, who will lead the discussion after the album’s play concludes. The needle drops at 7. More info 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Hoshaw musical, Whipkey 3, Ground Tyrants tonight; The Millions reunion, Noah’s Ark, Lash LaRue Toy Drive Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:57 pm November 30, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to the usual weekend listing, singer/songwriter Brad Hoshaw dropped me a line about a musical that premieres tonight. The production, presented by Blue Barn’s Witching Hour Theatre Company, is called “Grass So Tall, Sky So Black.” It’s being billed as an “old time ghost story musical.” The production’s original music is a collaboration between Hoshaw and Elizabeth Webb, which they’ll be performing live during “this exploration of movement, masks and storytelling.”

Opening night is tonight at 11 p.m., and the show wraps up at midnight, Hoshaw said. Five additional performances have been scheduled over the next three weeks (12/1, 12/7, 12/8, 12/14, 12/15). It’s at the Blue Barn Theatre, 614 S. 11th Street. Admission is $10 at the door. Sounds like weird fun.

And now, the usual stuff…

Over at the Barley Street Tavern tonight, The Whipkey Three and The Ground Tyrants play a show with Ten O’Clock Scholars. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is, of course, The Millions reunion show at The Bourbon Theater, which you read about yesterday here or here at The show, which has no opening acts, starts at 9:30. The band will be playing two 45-minute sets. Cost is $10 Adv.,/$12 DOS. Attendance is required for any or all fans of The Millions, as this collective may never grace a stage again.

Also Saturday night, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship plays at Slowdown Jr.  with See Through Dresses (Sara Bertuldo (Millions of Boys, Conduits), Matt Carroll, Nate Van Fleet and Robert Little) and Dirt, a self-proclaimed “three-piece-indie-fuzz-rock-phenomenon” Check ’em out below. $7, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night is the annual Lash LaRue Toy Drive at The Waiting Room, this year featuring Secret Weapon, Cannonista, & The Blacktop Ramblers. Admission is $10 or an unwrapped toy of equal value. Proceeds go to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Show starts at 9.

Have a weekend, y’all.

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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.


Recap: Lincoln Calling beats last year’s crowds; Brad Hoshaw returns…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:54 pm October 18, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Looking at the numbers, last weekend’s Lincoln Calling festival was another success. Jeremy Buckley, who organized the event, which featured 100-plus bands and 16 DJs over five nights at 10 venues in downtown Lincoln, said overall attendance was about 4,850, slightly higher than last year’s numbers.

“Overall, I think the whole weekend went about as well as I could’ve  asked for,” Buckley said. “We had a few shows with only about 30 to 40 (in the crowd), but they were either at Zen’s Lounge, where only one band performed a night, or the Black Market, a vintage clothing store that hosted early free shows.”

But other than that, Buckley said at least 50 people attended every show, and 19 of the shows had more than 100 in attendence. “The biggest events were Friday (500) and Saturday (600) nights for DJs at the Fat Toad,” he said. “Those shows only had a $2 cover.”

As is the case every year, Buckley said participating bands took home some cash for their efforts. After he pays off the remaining bands and his advertisers, he said he’ll sit down with friends and begin brainstorming next year’s Lincoln Calling. “I’m actually looking forward to it already.”

* * *

Brad Hoshaw, Spirit of the Lake (self-release, 2011)

Brad Hoshaw, Spirit of the Lake (self-release, 2011)

We were sitting around the table at last week’s Reader music writers’ meeting wondering whatever happened to Brad Hoshaw. None of us had heard from him in a long time — he hasn’t played live in ages and his last formal album came out a couple years ago.

Then the next day as if on cue, Hoshaw posted a link to a new album on his Facebook page. Spirit of the Lake is “a collection of songs written over the past four years at a cabin on Lake Michigan,” Hoshaw wrote. “Most are collaborations with other songwriters from all over the country. I am releasing these home recordings because I’m hoping to raise the money to go into the studio and re-record these same songs with full instrumentation.”

We’re talking homemade bedroom recording heres — just Hoshaw and his guitar and his crazy knack for writing catchy hooks. You can check out all the songs for free on his Bandcamp page, where you can also purchase and download the album for a mere $5. Check it out.

* * *

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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 279: Lincoln Invasion recap; Benson hostel benefit tonight; now open ’til 2 a.m…

Mercy Rule at The Waiting Room, July 9, 2010.

Mercy Rule at The Waiting Room, Lincoln Invasion, July 9, 2010.

by Tim McMahan,

Lincoln Invasion organizer Jeremy Buckley e-mailed late yesterday to say that bands who took part in this year’s festival took home $80 each vs. $30 each at least year’s event — quite a bump in pay. Yeah, I know, $80 ain’t much, but at least it’s something, especially considering that the bands had to make the drive from Lincoln — most of them in gas-guzzling Econolines. Ain’t nothing wrong with getting paid…

Column 279: Attack from Star City!!!!

Live Review: Lincoln Invasion, Pt. II

Another Lincoln Invasion has come and gone. And so the question begs to be asked: Which city — Omaha or Lincoln — has the better band roster?

But before we get to that, Lincoln Invasion organizer Jeremy Buckley chimed in to say that last Friday night’s “festival,” featuring more than 20 Lincoln bands at six Benson venues, was a moderate success. “The attendance numbers will be impossible to calculate completely accurately, but if we assume that every patron paid $8 to attend ($5 got you into one venue) then we had about 326 paid,” he said. “So that would be the low end for overall attendance. For last year I’d have to guess but I’d bet we had about 300 paid over the course of two days. So yeah, better all around. Here’s to hoping next year we have even better luck, though this year was more than we could’ve expected.”

Fewer bands but higher attendance should have translated into more money per band — that’s right, unlike the OEAA Benson festivals, bands actually get paid to play Lincoln Invasion via a split of the overall door take — a novel idea. Here’s my recap:

Singer/songwriter Ember Schrag closed out the early bill at Benson Grind. With her ’70s chop haircut and plaid skirt, Schrag reminded me of one of the Tuscadaro sisters — Leather or Pinky, I’m not sure which — but sounded like Regina Spektor backed by a bass player and Omahan Gary Foster on drums. Her easy-going acoustic ballads had the rural flair of Basia Bulat and the sophistication of Suzanne Vega, though Schrag sings as well or better than either of them. Too bad an ever-present buzzing from the PA effectively killed my buzz throughout her set.

Next up down at The Barley Street was Shipbuilding Company, a five-piece with keyboards and wobbly voiced frontman Mike Elsener (ex-Head of Femur) on acoustic guitar. Their music seemed to target a slacker / Pavement / low-fi crowd, and most of the time just missed the mark as it wandered over a baroque landscape that was a bit too frilly for my taste. That is until their finale, when the keyboardist pulled out a melodica and it all came crashing together on a roaring indie pop rocker that I’d like to hear again right now.

Masses at The Waiting Room was an endurance test. The guitar-heavy four-piece launched its set with some spacey, trance-y stuff that quickly shifted into catchy math. But it was all downhill after that, as the instrumental-only outfit poured it on way too heavy, and turned into a messy cacophony of noise where everything blurred into everything else until you began to wonder if they knew what they were doing. Did I mention it was loud — thunderously, painfully loud? People escaped onto the sidewalk in front of the club holding their ears, catching a break from the throbbing, raw din that rolled and rolled and rolled always at the same plodding, Excedrine headache pace. How about some dynamics, boys? Without it, you’re just making intricate, painful noise. The set became a sonic wrestling match between the band and the crowd, and by the end it felt like a bully standing on your neck, testing to see how much more you could take.

After the feedback cleared, the crowd slowly funneled back into The Waiting Room for legendary ’90s band Mercy Rule. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about the trio other than their sound never seems to age? Earnest, stoic working-man guitarist Jon Taylor hasn’t lost his angry touch, nor his love for ear-bleeding volume.  So just like every other Mercy Rule shows from back in the day, lead vocalist Heidi Ore’s delicate crooning was lost and buried beneath the guitar-fueled tonnage — and it’s still a shame.

The band took the opportunity to try out a few new songs that were harder and harsher than anything from a catalog that spans 20 years. But it was the old familiar songs that the crowd fully embraced and none more so than set closer “Summer,” where Heidi belted out the tune’s signature line, “I love summer when it’s HOT, HOT HOT.” Mercy Rule continues to be one of Nebraska’s most dynamic and fun bands (and most photogenic, thanks to their trademark floor-mounted flood lights). Their heroic anthems are as relentless as a semi-truck barreling down on you, growing ever larger in the rear-view, about to crush everything in its path. If we’re lucky, it’ll never slow down.

Last stop was at The Barley Street Tavern where punk duo Once A Pawn closed out the evening. Drummer/frontwoman Catherine Balta’s voice kinda/sorta reminded me of Gabby Glaser of Luscious Jackson belting out her punk rants in a slightly atonal caterwaul, while guitarist/co-pilot Eric Scrivens gleefully spun in circles like a dog chasing its tail. As cute as they were angsty, the duo’s Achilles heel was the similitude of their compositions — after awhile, they all began to sound the same, but I guess you could also say that about The Ramones.

So which music scene — Omaha’s or Lincoln’s — has the better collection of bands? These days, Lincoln has the upper hand when it comes to sheer variety, especially when Omaha seems content with its ever-growing parade of Americana folk bands. I guess we’ll have to wait until after this weekend’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards Summer Showcase before we can deterimine a real winner.

* * *

Moments after posting yesterday’s blog update, the listing for the $299 “buy now”-priced pair of Concert for Equality tickets on ebay disappeared. I guess the seller must read Lazy-i or the tickets sold. Then this morning a different pair went up on ebay (here), this time for a buy-now price of $315!

* * *

Earlier this year (or maybe it was late last year?) Singer/songwriter/musician Brad Hoshaw shared an idea with me: To create a musicians’ hostel out of his Benson apartment where out-of-towners could find a cheap, clean, safe place to sleep while in town on tour. If Benson is going to become Omaha’s version of Austin’s 6th Street, there has to be a lodging option besides asking from stage if anyone can spare some floorspace, or spending precious tour revenue on a hotel room located miles away.

Well, months later the Benson Musicians Hostel is open for business. Located at 6051 1/2 Maple St. Apt. #2, the hostel has bed-space for six people, though more can crash on the floor if need be. The price is $10 per bed or $40 for your entire posse. Amenities include a kitchen, stereo (w/turntable and records), an empty “mini-bar” and, of course, a full bathroom.  Judging by the photos on the hostel’s Facebook page, the place looks rather cozy. Sayeth Mr. Hoshaw: “Other than providing a convenience for those that bring art/entertainment into our city, my hope is that the bands will linger in the mornings and spend money on Maple St, before they leave town. Thus helping the retail shops, restaurants, auto mechanics, grocery stores, etc.”

Bravo! To help get the ball rolling, a fundraising concert is beind held tonight at The Barley Street Tavern to raise cash to cover some basic operational expenses and add amenities such as a washer/dryer and WiFi. The cover is $5, and there will be a donation jar on the bar.

The performance line-up:

9 p.m.: Chad Wallin
9:30 p.m.: All Young Girls are Machine Guns –
10 p.m.: Doug Flynn (Comedian)
10:15 p.m.: Brad Hoshaw (Brad Hoshaw & the Seven Deadlies)
10:45 p.m.: Jake Bellows
11:15 p.m.: Justin Lamoureux (Midwest Dilemma)

Midnight: Cass Brostad (Cass Fifty and the Family Gram, Traveling Mercies)

12:30 a.m.: Andrew Bailie (It’s True!, Riverside Anthology, The Wholes)

* * *

The new 2 a.m. closing time for Omaha bars begins tonight. As I reported earlier, One Percent Productions has no intention of pushing band start-times back at its shows. Only time will tell if their approach will also make sense for less-savory places like O’Leaver’s (where I definitely could see shows going later) or fancy-smancy Slowdown (very unlikely  — they rarely run past 12:30 now). In the end, it’s much ado about nothing, at least for me.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.