#TBT: The 49’r keeps the music coming (from 2005); Zammuto, Dosh, Caravat tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:05 pm September 11, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

With nothing newsworthy happening — and this being “Throwback Thursday” — let’s dip back into the Lazy-i wayback machine to Sept. 1, 2005, and an interview with The 49’r’s Mark Samuelson shortly after word leaked that his bar would be cutting back on live music. Mark tells us why and gives us a brief Omaha music history listen at the same time…

The 49’r Takes Five — Sept. 1, 2005
You can’t stop the music at the midtown tavern.

The 49'r

The iconic sign for The 49’r…

Within the past few years, The 49’r has established itself as one of the city’s more important music venues, hosting a few national acts but mostly concentrating on providing a stage for up-and-coming local bands. It’s arguably the best place to see snarling, hard-ass rock and punk from bands like The Monroes, Anonymous American and Race for Titles.

So when word leaked out a few weeks ago that The Niner was cutting back on live music, it came as a disappointment both to the bands and the fans of those white-knuckle acts.

Rumor and conjecture did abound. Had The 49’r reached the end of the live music business cycle? A cycle that goes something like this: A bar suffers from a lull in business. A few bands that hang around the place ask if they can play some gigs there, and the owner figures why not, it could help drum up some business. More bands are booked and crowds grow like kudzu. Before long, folks start coming out just because they dig the bar, the staff and its jukebox, and before you know it, the live music becomes a nuisance for the regulars who just want to drink in peace. Seeing an opportunity to cut costs, the venue puts an end to the stage show.

That theory, in this case, is only partially correct, says Mark Samuelson, owner of The 49’r. During the height of his nightclub business, Samuelson ran four successful Omaha bars simultaneously: The Partners on 42nd and F, the legendary Howard St. Tavern in the Old Market, its “upstairs bar” called The White Rabbit, and the good ol’ 49’r at 49th & Dodge.

Today only The Niner remains, which Samuelson still operates along with his other businesses, Aksarben Fixture and Supply, an ATM business, and some real estate ventures. The degree in which he operates The Niner, however, has changed. Samuelson says he’s somewhat removed from the bar’s day-to-day operations.

“I listen to my help,” he said when asked about the shift in the venue’s live music policy. “I think we got over-saturated, and every band wanted to play here. The staff was hearing that we were doing a little too much music. Now we’re only choosing the best bands that really draw people.”

He pointed out that The Niner’s live music policy differs from the way the Howard St. was run. Back then, Samuelson said he started booking new music acts because blues was such a tough sell. And it didn’t take long for the club to become a national tour stop for tomorrow’s superstars.

“We had the Smashing Pumpkins come in for a $140 guarantee and two vegetarian pizzas,” he said. “It’s crazy to think about that today.”

Unlike the Howard St, The 49’r doesn’t offer guarantees. Instead, bands take home whatever cover charge they can generate. “So if you’re just playing for the door, it doesn’t make sense for the big bands to come here,” he said.

There are exceptions, however, such as when the staff wanted to bring in New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain. “If they have a good idea, I just stay out of the way,” Samuelson said. So far, it’s worked well.

But if anything, The 49r’s biggest draw is its location in the heart of Dundee, or as their matchbooks used to say: “In the middle of everything and no place to park.”

“We’re not in the middle anymore. We’re downtown,” Samuelson said, laughing. “We’re so busy because we have so many people who live close to here. The .08 (drinking) law is really hurting a lot of clubs. No one wants to risk it.”

Better to tie one on at The Niner and safely stumble home then to get behind the wheel of a car.

So does the bar’s already-packed weekends without bands spell the end for The Niner’s live music? Hardly. In fact, Samuelson said the venue will get back into the swing of things later this fall. “It’s gonna pick back up,” he said. “I anticipate doing more than just a couple of shows a month like we’re doing now.”

And really, how could he ever stop? For it was at The 49’r back in the early ’70s that a 15-year-old Samuelson’s own band, Hat Trick, had its first gig. Ironically, the band’s second gig would be at The Howard St. Tavern. — Sept. 1, 2005.

* * *

Well, we all know what happened next. The 49’r would get sold to CVS in 2010, but the actual deal would get tied up by Ben Gray in the Omaha City Council. Then, for reasons that are still unclear, Gray would change his vote and the walls came tumbling down. Hard to believe it’s been five years. I think about The Niner every time I drive past that CVS on Dodge Street, or see Ben Gray at some public function or on TV….

* * *

OK, a couple shows worth mentioning tonight.

Over at The Waiting Room it’s Zammuto, featuring Nick Zammuto, a co-founder of classic indie band Books. Zammuto has a new album, Anchor, on Temporary Residence. Opening is Dosh (Anticon, Graveface Records). $12 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Caravat, featuring David Ozinga and Teal Gardner of UUVVWWZ, headlines a show at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Laughing Eye Weeping Eye and L. Eugene Methe. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

In this week’s column, Pt. 2 on my Lumo Lift experiment. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.


Column 289: Land of Talk; Live Review: School of Seven Bells; CVS wins; Menomena, Suckers tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm September 22, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Land of Talk It's Okay

A capture from Land of Talk's video for "It's Okay."

Column 289: Government Issue

Paying for Land of Talk’s work of art.

It was at least six months ago, maybe longer, that I stumbled across the video for Land of Talk’s song “It’s Okay.” It was being hyped on Saddle Creek Records’ website, the band’s label.

I grew up watching videos. I remember when MTV was fresh and new and actually played music videos. And though the videos being produced in the late ’80s weren’t exactly masterpieces of cinematic art, they were entertaining and fun and a good way to kill time between classes or hangovers. Well, time, as it’s been known to do, marched on, and videos became passé, especially when the MTVs and VH1s of the world set them aside for plague-like reality-TV programming.

So I’d long ago given up on music videos as being anything more than expensive, dopey commercials. And then along came that Land of Talk video. It opens with a close-up of a masked warrior whose long black hair — more of a mane — is floating overhead as if underwater while the song’s opening notes pulse forward on a cushion of beats. From there, the mini film is a pastiche of slow-motion black-and-white images of gravity-defying science-fiction landscapes, crows soaring above floating mountaintops, flaming wolves darting through misty forests, and always at the center, the masked, horse-mounted warrior with hair flowing for miles overhead, creating a star-specked sky cutting through the daylight. Finally, horse and rider come to the edge of the earth and leap slowly into space before igniting into flames. This wasn’t your typical five-guys-and-a-camera-doing-goofy-shit video; it was a visualization of a nature myth set to a modern beat. View it on YouTube here.

The video blew my mind and made me reconsider not only the song but the album and the band. Sure, I knew about Land of Talk; I’d listened to Some Are Lakes, and thought it was a pleasant, soft-pop indie-rock effort, nothing more. But after watching the video, I dug through my iTunes to find the album and listen to it again with fresh ears. And isn’t that what videos are supposed to do? It turns out I wasn’t alone in my admiration. The 5-minute masterpiece was nominated for “Video of the Year” at the 2010 Juno Awards — sort of the Canadian version of The Grammy’s — and was chosen as one of the five best music videos of 2009 by Time Magazine.

So how did a little label like Saddle Creek, and an under-the-radar band like Land of Talk, afford to make such a video? Its combination of live action and special-effects animation must have cost a fortune.

“Going in, I was very disenchanted with the whole idea of making a video,” said Land of Talk frontwoman Lizzie Powell Monday night while driving to Chicago on a tour that will bring them to The Slowdown this Thursday, Sept. 23. She said videos had become “fast-edited, sexy, nonsensical shit. And I was protective of that song and never wanted anyone to interpret it in video form.”

But when “It’s Okay” was chosen by production company WeWereMonkeys for the video treatment, Powell had little choice but to relinquish control to director Davide Di Saro. “It turned out to be one of the best creative relationships I’ve ever had,” she said, adding that when she saw the final product, “We were floored, we were speechless, it brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud to be a part of it.”

So who fronted the cash to make it happen? None other than the Canadian government through the Department of Canadian Heritage and a program called FACTOR, The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings. Powell said FACTOR and other government-sponsored arts organizations are vital to every independent Canadian band’s’ survival.

“All of these organizations are there to support independent artists,” she said. “Land of Talk would not exist without the government. It’s at the core of our band and most of the Canadian bands touring out there to the states and abroad, from Broken Social Scene to Arcade Fire — any bands that have not signed away their masters abroad.”

Without that government grant money, we probably wouldn’t be seeing Land of Talk Thursday night. “We wouldn’t be able to tour in a 15-passenger van and go out for three weeks,” Powell said, adding that the financial support goes beyond what a record label can provide. “Record labels are screwed now with the transition to the digital age.”

In fact, she doesn’t know how independent bands in the U.S. do it. “What you have in the States is not sustainable,” Powell said. “I feel horrible for bands with talent and skill that can’t get off the ground and get on the road. It’s heartbreaking, and at the same time, it makes me proud that we can afford this, but I’m not completely waxing Canada’s car right now.”

That’s because arts funding has been cut back under Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Powell said. “Harper’s government is spending more money on military than arts and eduction,” she said. “It’s something we’re trying to save and protect; it’s a wonderful thing to defend. Cutting funding for arts and culture is very short-sighted.”

Are you listening State Senator Gwen Howard? Howard plans to introduce a bill in the Unicameral that will suspend Nebraska’s “1% for Art” program. Talk about short-sighted.

Powell said if Land of Talk doesn’t win any more grants, we probably won’t be seeing videos like “It’s Okay” for songs off the band’s new album,Cloak and Cipher. But if it programs like FACTOR are eliminated, we may not see any more bands like Land of Talk.

* * *

School of Seven Bells at The Waiting Room, Sept. 22, 2010.

School of Seven Bells at The Waiting Room, Sept. 22, 2010.

Last night at The Waiting Room felt inspired by The Cure. In fact, the opening band, Active Child, sounded so Cure-like that I thought Robert Smith was in the house. I only caught their last two songs (I missed out on the harp solo): the first song was a pure Cure rip; but the last one featured falsetto vocals a la The Temper Trap and was… pretty. Still, just keyboards and guitar. No drums, no bass, and they could have used that bottom end.

School of Seven Bells was a four-piece — a guitarist, two women vocalists (one on keys/synth, the other sometimes adding a second guitar), and real live drums supported by electronic beats/handclaps. The music was dreamy dance stuff, with both girls adding angelic harmonies. Their slower numbers again owed a lot to the Cure’s later lush music. By now Disintegration has become a sort of benchmark album for so many bands. Just a few years ago, it seemed everyone sounded like Pavement. Before that, it was the Pixies. But a certain cadre of today’s bands seem enamored with Smiths, The Cure and MBV (see tomorrow’s interview). And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The best moments came when guitarist Benjamin Curtis was allowed to run wild run free. His tone was amazing; it reminded me of every great soaring guitar solo of ’80s post-New Wave/dream rock era. The Deheza sisters sounded like what you’d imagine Azure Ray would sound like fronting a dance band. Unfortunately, too often the vocals were buried in the mix and sounded limp, like an afterthought. As with the opener, the sound would have benefited from more bottom end (no bass again). The 70 or 80 people on hand spent the night huddled by the stage, but few if any danced, except for one girl who spent the evening with her arms in the air. Maybe that’s why they didn’t come out for an encore after their 45 minute set concluded. A pity. I could have listened to them for another hour.

* * *

So the City Council approved the CVS pharmacy. Goodbye, 49r. Here’s the WOWT coverage.

One last thought on CVS… I can say as a resident of the Memorial Park neighborhood, which abuts Dundee, that other than the cursory walk-through upon its grand opening, I will never step foot in that CVS store. Never. And judging from neighbors and other Dundee residents, I won’t be alone. A hollow threat? You don’t know Dundee very well. Very clannish; very grudgeful; some might say angry. This isn’t like when Wal Mart moved in at the expense of The Ranch Bowl, where people vowed to never shop there. I knew that wouldn’t make a stitch of difference. Wal Mart attracts every bit of human trash in every city it inhabits, people who wouldn’t care if Wal Mart ran a white slavery ring out of its appliance department, as long as they could still buy their 10 cubic foot bricks of toilet paper. CVS, well, that’s another matter. It has zero competitive advantage over Walgreens. It won’t even be convenient to access. And now they’ve pissed off the neighborhood in which it resides, a neighborhood that has a long, long memory. I do not wish them luck.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, Portland experimental rockers Menomena returns supporting a new album on Barsuk Records. This is what I said about them when they came through way back in June 2007:

Though not nearly as crowded as the prior evening, there was a large draw to see Menomena (pronounced Men-Naw-Men-Naw — like phenomena — not as I stupidly pronounced it, Men-Oh-Meen-uh). The trio featured a drummer/vocalist, keyboard/guitarist/vocalist, and frontman/vocalist/guitarist/saxophone player. Huge sound for a trio. Everything seemed keyed off the drums, which were big and brawny, the kit set up at the front of the stage so all three members could watch each other throughout the set. Trying to think of what they sounded like, the guy next to me said, “Man, it’s like early Peter Gabriel.” Bingo. Especially when the drummer sang the leads, the keyboards were in loop and the frontman added harmonies or played an odd line on baritone sax, it was 1980 Melt-era Gabriel all the way. Other times, when the keyboardist held the vocal spot, Menomena resembled early Death Cab or a more conventional indie band. They were at their best when being unconventional, however, which was most of the evening

Opening the show tonight is Williamsburg band Suckers (Frenchkiss Records) and Tu Fawning. $12, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.


CVS/Niner Circus today at 2; School of Seven Bells, Hole fundraiser tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:17 pm September 21, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

An e-mail went out today from Voice Omaha focused on today’s Omaha City Council meeting that will decide the fate of The 49’r and (some say) the fate of Dundee as a residential neighborhood if the council approves plans to build a CVS pharmacy at 49th and Dodge. Voice Omaha is a “non-partisan group dedicated to creating a more inclusive, just, transparent, sustainable and culturally vibrant Omaha by actively supporting leaders, policies and projects that advance this vision.” The CVS pharmacy proposal apparently doesn’t fit into that vision, as the e-mail asked readers to not tolerate a “corporate-run Omaha.” The letter said:

“Not only were the New York developers unwilling to negotiate to create a structure more suitable for urban neighborhoods, they took to veiled threats and coercion to get the job done. One of the more active opponents of the development was contacted by the principal developer and told ‘we know where you work and we know where you live.’ City Council members were told CVS would pull plans for additional sites, including the location at 72nd and Maple already in process, if the 49th and Dodge location is blocked.”

Strong stuff. While I’ve heard rumor of the above-mentioned threats, I haven’t seen it stated in print, until this e-mail arrived. The Voice Omaha letter went on to ask readers to contact Ben Gray, Thomas Mulligan or Franklin Thompson and urge them to vote against CVS. I guess they gave up all hope on changing bitter ol’ Garry Gernandt’s mind (Rosenblatt is dead, Garry, let it go).  You can read the entire letter online at the Voice Omaha website.

My guess is that the two votes — one to reconsider the previous vote and the other to approve the CVS proposal — will be handled as promptly as possible just so the council members can get the issue behind them. After all, there’s no public hearing on the matter, and it’s clear that everyone has made up their minds. Still, if you want to go down there and be seen (but not heard), the circus starts at 2 p.m.

* * *

There are two shows worth your time tonight:

At good ol’ Sokol Underground it’s a benefit concert for the new Hole in downtown Benson. Money raised presumably will go toward fixing up the new location, which is in the basement of the building just east of 60th St. on Maple. Headliner is NYC punk band Star Fucking Hipsters, while the undercard includes Eastern Turkish, Youth and Tear Gas and Bombs Blast. The $10 show starts at 6 p.m. Here’s some more background on the new Hole.

Also tonight, School of Seven Bells plays at The Waiting Room with Active Child. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

Tomorrow: Land of Talk

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.


Pine Ridge live… Cursive at the Niner, Orgone, Christmas tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm September 20, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

T’was a quiet weekend. The only music of which that I did partake was watching Cass Brostad record a song at The Waiting Room yesterday afternoon during the all-day recording marathon for the Lash LaRue Pine Ridge Live recording. Cass and her band (a guitarist and drummer) belted out a sweet Americana-flavored folk-rock song again and again and again. I left during the third take. I’m told that was the SOP throughout the day — each act was given a handful of takes, performed from TWR stage, which Jim Homan recorded from the soundboard, while over the bar the Bears and Chiefs games were blaring on the flat panels (with the sound off, of course). I’m looking forward to hearing what got laid down when the CD becomes available this holiday season.

* * *

There’s a good selection of shows going on for a Monday night this evening.

On top of the list is the second sold-out Cursive show at The 49’r. I didn’t go last night and won’t be going tonight, seeing as I was out of town when the tickets went on sale, and they got snapped up rather quickly. Opening tonight’s show is Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. This could be the last chance to pull together the troops before tomorrow’s City Council Meeting, where the fate of the 49’r will be decided. It would be a good time for frontman Tim Kasher to give a fire-and-brimstone speech from the Niner stage, asking folks to show up at the meeting in a dramatic show of force. Will it make a difference? I doubt it, but at this point in the battle, there’s not much left to do. There has been talk of a potential lawsuit against the city, but that would require some cash that no one seems to have. The only other option is to let Councilman Ben Gray know that his actions will result in a sizable, organized effort to campaign against him when it comes time for his re-election. When the wrecking ball finally swings, it’ll be Gray who will be remembered and blamed for aftermath.

Also tonight, LA-based Funk/Soul/Afrobeat band Orgone is playing a show at the Studio Gallery, 4965 Dodge Street. Brought to you by the Loom crew and uber DJ Brent Crampton, it promises to be a sweaty good time. 8 p.m., $7.

And finally, downtown at Slowdown Jr., Olympia-beat hip-hop act Christmas plays with Sam Martin (Capgun Coup) and The Yuppies. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.


Column 288: The Hole moves, Worker’s Takeout opens and Mousetrap returns; Ben Gray’s inner struggles (The 49’r, bleak); LotM tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 15, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I went to the new Worker’s for lunch. The line was out the door. The Italian Beef was delicious, though next time I need to remember to order it “dry.”

Column 288: New Beginnings

The Hole moves to Benson; Worker’s Takeout reopens downtown.

When the all-ages music venue The Hole opened in its new location in February, there was hope that it could become this generation’s Cog Factory — the legendary ’90s-era bunker where kids (and some adults) saw national touring punk and indie bands perform alongside their local heroes. It was a tall order for The Hole’s owners Anna and Donny Diederich, and booking agent Lucas Wright. But as summer leaned toward fall, it looked like they were onto something. The Hole had regular bookings, was attracting good audiences, and was beginning to gain a national reputation as a viable all-ages option for touring punk bands.

But it all ended last Friday when the landlord that owns the building where The Hole was located at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar) changed the locks and told them to get out. The eviction was easy, since the Diederichs had never signed a lease on the building.

The reasons were… sketchy. The landlord had completed refurbishing apartments above the venue, and wanted to move in, said Anna Diederich. “At first he told us we could only do shows on weekends.” Then there was the dispute over the building’s basement, which Donny and some of his friends cleaned out and fixed up. “(The landlord) said by doing that we devalued the property, and that we threw things away that we shouldn’t have,” Anna said.

The eviction had come with little warning. “He gave us a week to get out,” Anna said. “We tried to renegotiate, and he gave us a couple days extension, but when Friday afternoon came around, he called and said the locks had been changed and that we could come back later for our PA equipment.”

It didn’t matter to the landlord that Wright, who goes by Black Heart Booking, had touring bands booked at The Hole Friday night. Wright and Deiderich both said the landlord feared that the final show would turn into an orgy of destruction, even though both had been very clear that nothing like that was going to happen. At the last minute, Wright moved the show to a local house. And that looked like the end of The Hole.

But it wasn’t. Anna said Monday that The Hole will reopen in a new location in downtown Benson. “We just made the deal today, and can move in in a couple days,” she said. “We just need to come up with the deposit.”

The new location is in the basement of a building located on Maple Street just east of the Subway sandwich shop. “It’s right across the street from the Community Center and catty-corner from the thrift store,” Anna said. “The door to the venue is in the alley off 60th St. It’s a back-door entrance only, which is kind of cool.”

Anna said the first step will be to clean out the 2,000-square-foot space, decorate and then add the stage. The couple, who also ran the Convicted skate shop, which had moved to the Diamond Bar building a few months ago, said they also intend to have a small skate shop in their new Benson location. “We want it to be more like a venue that sells skateboards,” Anna said. “We’ll start off small with just boards, trucks and wheels. We kept the signs from the old store — Convicted is not going to die, that’s for sure.”

To help pay for their initial start-up costs, a benefit show for the new Hole is being held at Sokol Underground Tuesday, Sept. 21, headlined by NYC punk band Star Fucking Hipsters, and featuring local punk acts Eastern Turkish, Youth and Tear Gas and Bombs Blast. The $10 show starts at 6 p.m.

Like before, The Hole will be booked primarily by Anna and Donny with help from Black Heart and whoever else wants to book the room, Anna said. It will remain an all-ages venue, designed as a place where kids can come and hang out. “All-ages venues end up being non-profits,” she said. “You’re not making money off alcohol; you’re doing it just for the music, and that ain’t easy.”

* * *

Speaking of new beginnings, it was only this past June that Worker’s Takeout, located next to O’Leaver’s on south Saddle Creek Rd., went out of business. The shop, owned and operated by Ladyfinger and So-So Sailors frontman Chris Machmuller, had gained a reputation for its amazing pressed Cuban pork roast sandwiches and other hot and cold treats, but it wasn’t enough to keep the doors open.

Then out of the blue, Worker’s reopened at 16th & Dodge in the ground floor of the former First National Bank downtown headquarters. Worker’s is sharing the space with Scooter’s Coffee, so now you’ll now be able to grab a latte with that Hot Italian Beef or Chicago dog. Machmuller said the shop will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; but there will be no weekend hours. The menu will stay as it was “with a few enhancements.” Can downtown delivery be far behind?

* * *

One final bit of good news: I got an e-mail Monday afternoon via Facebook from Craig Crawford, bass player for legendary Omaha punk band Mousetrap. “It looks like mousetrap 2010 will happen at The Waiting Room on Dec. 23 (again), with a possibility of a show in Lincoln as well,” Crawford said. “Same line up, with a possibility of some deep cut songs.” Last year’s line-up included frontman/guitarist Patrick Buchanan (of course) and drummer Mike Mazzola, and was arguably one of the band’s best performances in its 20-year history. Can they top it? Stay tuned…

* * *

It’s not all good news.

Yesterday Omaha City Council meeting, Councilman Garry Gernandt supported Ben Gray’s motion to reconsider the building of a CVS Pharmacy at 49th and Dodge, the site of The 49’r Bar, which means the proposal will be voted on again at next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, without a public hearing.

In addition, The Omaha World-Herald reported this morning in this article that Gray will flip his original vote against the proposal and will now support the CVS proposal. No real reason was given by Gray in the article other than to say that his first vote “was not consistent with what I normally do,” which makes it sound as if Gray had an argument with himself when he got home after the first vote:

“So what did you do?”

“Well, I voted against it.”

“What!? Are you stupid? Do you know what that could do to economic development in Omaha?”

“I… don’t know. I guess I didn’t think…”

“You’re damn right you didn’t think.”

“Look, I’m sorry. There were all those angry people at the meeting, staring at me. I mean, I shop at Walgreens. I guess it was not consistent with what I normally do, but what’s done is done.”

“Well then you better undone it.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“You’ll get on that phone right now to Channel 7 and tell them that you’ve had a change of heart and want to change your vote.”

“But… It’ll look like someone from CVS got to me and made me change my vote by threatening to pull out of Omaha if the Dundee proposal isn’t passed. It’ll make me look like a pussy.”

“I don’t care what it makes you look like. You’re going to get on that phone right now and get the ball rolling.”

“Yes dear…”

There are countless more diabolical (and reasonable) theories as to why all of this is happening, but they all boil down to the same thing: economic coercion by CVS — you’ll either allow us to build at 49th and Dodge or we’re stopping construction on the 72nd and Maple CVS location. That’s certainly what was implied in this WOWT story that appeared online yesterday.

If that threat was indeed made to any City Council member, it was an empty one. Any “economic development” by CVS will come at the expense of Walgreens or other pharmacies (such as Kohll’s). I think I can speak for most of the people I know when I say Omaha already has too many pharmacies. If CVS decided to take their ball and go home because the City Council wouldn’t approve their Dodge St. plan, no tears would be shed. Even if CVS had vindictively stopped construction at 72nd and Maple (which is highly unlikely) the worst thing that would come of it is that an already vacant corner would remain vacant.

Does any of this matter? Not really. It’s obvious that the City Council is now going to vote yes to what amounts to an invasion of CVS stores throughout Omaha, supposedly centered around a “flagship” store on 49th and Dodge that will be the least profitable of the bunch. Regardless of the “Old Lincoln Highway” argument or the “ruining the neighborhood feel of Dundee” argument, it’s just a bad location to build a pharmacy – an area with poor foot traffic next to a major throughway that will make access difficult. They’ll see.

And while there will be no public hearing on the matter, there’s nothing stopping those who oppose CVS from showing up at next week’s City Council meeting as a show of numbers against the proposal. Even though it probably won’t make a difference.

* * *

Landing on the Moon once again returns to O’Leaver’s tonight with Millions of Boys (Sara from Honey & Darling), Tina Sparkle and Jared Grabb. $5, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

Tomorrow: An interview with Titus Andronicus where Patrick Stickles talks about all those comparisons to Conor Oberst. Oh boy…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.


The Hole is deep-sixed (for now); no public CVS hearing; Hoshaw, Blue Rosa tonight; Jenny/Johnny, Jakes-fest Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:38 pm September 10, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight’s Laura Stevenson and the Cans show at The Hole will be the venue’s last…  at least at its existing location.

Lucas Wright, who books shows at The Hole under the moniker Black Heart Booking, e-mailed saying that if you drive by the venue, located at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar), you’ll find lots of construction equipment and city workers replacing sewer pipe.

“Last Tuesday a pipe burst and flooded the basement of the Hole, and the owners basically kicked out Anna and Donny (Diederich) so they could remodel and clean up the damages,” Wright said, adding that it was easy to do since the Diederichs never signed a lease.

The building owner also recently finished renovating the apartments above The Hole, and plans on renting them out, Wright said. “I guess he tried telling Donny he could only do shows on Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate the potential new tenants, which Donny didn’t like at all. So I think he was basically looking for an excuse to oust them.”

Wright said the Diederichs are now looking at a spot in Benson in the 60th and Maple area (next to the Subway sandwich shop). “(It’s) quite a bit bigger (3,700 sq ft), so maybe this will all work out for the best in the end,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wright is busting ass trying to find other venues for the shows he had scheduled at The Hole, “which is proving somewhat difficult as two of them are coming up right away.”

So tonight’s show at The Hole is the venue’s last hurrah. It was only last February that it opened at the Diamond Bar location (read about its origins here). Help it go out in style. Also on the bill are Lincoln punkers Thunderbolts, Fargo metal/punk act Animal Lover and Omaha acoustic punk band Ogdenville. $6, 8 p.m.

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A brief update on yesterday’s 49’r/CVS item: KETV had reported that if the resolution to reconsider the proposal to build a CVS pharmacy at 49th and Dodge passes (which goes in front of the Omaha City Council on Tuesday), there would be a public hearing the following Tuesday. Now WOWT and Omaha.com are reporting that there won’t be another public hearing, merely another vote on the CVS project at the Sept. 21 City Council meeting. Councilman Ben Gray, who wants the Council to reconsider the deal, said on WOWT last night that he hasn’t changed his mind (he voted against it) and that he just wants new information to be considered. I don’t buy it, and I’d say things aren’t looking good for the Niner…

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The weekend is upon us. Here’s a rundown of shows on my radar screen:

Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies are playing tonight at The Stir Lounge in Council Bluffs (at Harrah’s). I have a feeling Hoshaw will be rolling out new material. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr tonight, it’s the Blue Rosa CD release party with Honey and Darling and Dim Light. $6, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Satchel Grande and Conchance play at The Waiting Room. $7, 9 p.m.

Benson will be hopping Saturday night. Jenny and Johnny (as in Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley fame and Johnathan Rice) are playing at The Waiting Room Saturday with Love As Laughter. $15, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, just around the corner (literally) is the fall “just because we can” block party hosted by Jake’s Cigars & Spirits on Military Ave. The line-up for the show:

  • Flowers Forever
  • Noah’s Ark was a Spaceship
  • Her Flyaway Manor
  • Dim Light
  • Brad Hoshaw
  • Conduits
  • Gooses
  • Awkwords
  • Butler & the Gentlemen
  • Landing on the Moon

No price is listed for Jakes-fest on Jake’s website, but I’m hearing it’ll run $10 and starts at 5 p.m..

Also Saturday night, Saudi Arabia (Shanks) is playing at O’Leaver’s with Brimstone Howl and La Casa Bombas. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And then Sunday at O’Leaver’s it’s The Answer team with Big Science and Ketchup & Mustard Gas. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.


Ben Gray reconsiders The 49’r’s stay of execution; AutoPilot Art benefit (Capgun Coup, Conchance, Dapose, more) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:25 pm September 9, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

And just like that, the execution of The 49’r could be back on.

Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray this morning said he’s going to ask the Council to reconsider CVS Pharmacy’s plans to build a store at 49th and Dodge where the Niner currently stands, reports KETV.com. Last week the Council voted 4-3 against CVS and everyone thought that was the end of it. Gray was among the “nay” votes. So what would make Gray change his mind? No doubt CVS has (had?) plans to do a full Walgreens-style invasion of Omaha, including building new stores in Gray’s district. Did the Dundee Uprising put a sour taste in CVS’s mouth?

KETV asked if CVS threatened to pull out of the Omaha market because of the Dundee rejection. Gray said he had a conversation with the mayor about the issue,” said the KETV.com story, which went on to quote Gray saying “There was no pressure there. It was his opinion that I ought to revisit it — especially since there was some things he realizes I didn’t know early on.” Sure sounds like Gray is trying to deflect some of the heat for his decision onto Suttle.

The item to reconsider the CVS proposal will be on next Tuesday’s City Council agenda, KETV said. If approved, a public hearing will be held the following week. So here we go again, maybe…

On a side note, the two Cursive shows at The 49’r Sept. 19 and 20 sold out in the blink of an eye.

* * *

Autopilot Art is a small clothing business owned and operated by Alexia Thiele, who has been designing clothes for the past six or seven years for her friends and folks in bands around town. Her materials include repurposed everyday textiles like curtains and table clothes. You can check out some of her work on the Autopilot Art website.

Anyway, tonight there’s a benefit event at Slowdown in support of AutoPilot that will include apparel sales, tie-dying, silk screening, a raffle and live performances from a slew of local bands and musicians, including Capgun Coup, Conchance, Dapose (The Faint), Honeybee, La Casa Bombas, Jason Meyer (Talking Mountain) and some “special guests,” along with DJ action by Jacob Thiele and friends. Get the full skinny on the event’s Facebook page. Show starts at 8 and will run you $8. It’s a great opportunity to support a local fashion artist/icon and, of course, have a good time.

Also, tonight may be the last Omaha show for Scott Severin and the Milton Burlesque for the foreseeable future. Severin sent an e-mail last week saying tonight’s show at The Lift Lounge on 96th St. would be one of the final shows before an “extensive (?) hiatus.” Severin and Co. go on at 8, $8. The Severin Burlesque’s last show is slated for Saturday at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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.