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.


Dave Sink memorial vid online, OEAAs; new Sam Martin/Sean Pratt EP; Touch People DJ sets…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:02 pm February 18, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

What’s that? You skipped the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards ceremony last night at The Hilton? Well, you’re not alone. The only regret is missing the Dave Sink tribute as part of his Lifetime Achievement honor. Well, don’t fret because the tribute video shown at the awards show is online right here at YouTube:

As for the rest of the show, here’s this year’s top music “winners”:

Album of the year: Icky Blossoms, self-titled
Artist of the Year: Icky Blossoms
New artist: Universe Contest
Rock: Snake Island
Hard rock: Bloodcow
Alternative/indie: Cursive
Singer-songwriter/folk: All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
DJ/electronic: BASStoven
Country/Americana: Matt Cox

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Sam Martin & Sean Pratt, Kids, Beat Your Vegetables (self-release, 2013)

Sam Martin & Sean Pratt, Kids, Beat Your Vegetables (self-release, 2013)

Capgun Coup’s Sam Martin and Sean Pratt just put out a 5-song EP on Bandcamp called Kids, Beat Your Vegetables. It’s two Martin songs and two Pratt songs and the duo covering the ’20s standard “Tonight You Belong to Me.”  My favorite track is “Big O’le Child,” which betrays my aged taste for melody rather than dissonance. It’s a real foot-stomper. You can listen to the whole thing below, but head on over to their Bandcamp page and buy the download for a mere $5. You’ll feel better for it.

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Speaking of online music, Touch People is putting DJ sets online at his Soundcloud channel. I’m currently listening to this one:

More to come…

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Looks like we’re in for a blizzard this week… batten down the hatches.

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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.


Black Joe Lewis, The F***ing Party, Gordon, Dim Light tonight; Ladyfinger, Criteria (in Lincoln) Saturday; Dave Sink tribute Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:47 pm February 15, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s your weekend line-up, though it’s mostly a Friday-night line-up because there ain’t much happening the rest of the weekend.

The top touring-band show is Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears at The Waiting Room tonight. This is straight-up funk, blues, rock ‘n’ roll brought to you by Lost Highway Records. I’m surprised this hasn’t sold out already. Snake Island opens. $15, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, just down the street at Sweatshop Gallery (just south of The Barley Street) The Fucking Party is celebrating its LP release as part of their Very VD Valentimes Art Show. According to the event inviteFive dollars includes all you can drink beer, art, and music!” Wait, what? Free beer with your $5 cover? How can you beat that? Well, add Baby Tears and Dark Satellites to the line-up, along with some sweet art by the likes of 10 artists. I’m surprised this hasn’t sold out already. Starts at 9.

Happening right frickin’ next door at The Barley Street (They should have just closed off the street and combined the two shows) is Dim Light with K.C. psych act The Devil and Omaha sludge/stone rockers Megaton. $5, 9 p.m.

What’s that you say? You want to stay away from Benson tonight? No prob. Head over to O’Leaver’s tonight for Gordon (break-out act of 2013?) with Worried Mothers (unpredictable hi-jinx bordering on bat-shit crazy) and Adult Films (surf rock Omaha style). $5, 9:30 p.m.

And then comes Saturday and there ain’t dick going on in Omaha.

So you might want to drive to Lincoln not only for the final night of Lincoln Exposed, but also for the Ladyfinger album release show at The Bourbon Theater featuring a rare performance by fellow Saddle Creek Records band Criteria. Headcase-noise-explosion band Masses opens.  $8 if 21+; $10 if 18-21 (confusing!). 9 p.m.

One more thing…

Looks like the OEA Awards show is Sunday night at the Hilton Grand Ballroom. I’ve read/heard virtually nothing about this event other than there will be a special award and video tribute for the late, great Dave Sink, which by itself would be worth the $27+ ticket price. Show starts at 6 p.m. Good luck to the nominees, whoever they are… Waitaminit. The Reader‘s Chris Aponick, who’s all about The OEAA’s, wrote this bitchin’ summary of nominees.

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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.


Some final words on Dave Sink; The Lemonheads, Lonely Estates tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:43 pm January 26, 2012
Dave Sink

Dave Sink in better days...

by Tim McMahan,

This week’s issue of The Reader features a cover story that compiles remembrances of Dave Sink from the musicians and friends who knew him best. And while portions of the article have appeared on other websites over the past day or so, none collect more comments from the people who made a mark during the era in which Sink was most influential. The contributors: Brian Byrd, Simon Joyner, Craig Crawford, Pat Buchanan, Bernie McGinn, Conor Oberst, Robb Nansel, Gary Dean Davis, Tim Moss, Matt Whipkey, Jake Bellows, Patrick Kinney, Adam J. Fogarty, Gus Rodino and Brad Smith. You can read the article online right here, or find a printed copy around town.

The issue also includes my remembrance of Dave, which I’ve posted below:

Remembering Dave

It began in November 1992. I was a few years out of college at UNO, already working full time at Union Pacific, but still writing about underground music, something that I’d begun doing as the editor of the college paper and as a freelance writer for The Metropolitan and The Note, a Lawrence, Kansas, regional music paper that had expanded its coverage to Omaha and Lincoln.

One of my first assignments for The Note was writing a piece on Dave Sink, his record store in the basement of The Antiquarium, and his record label, One-Hour Records. By the time of our interview, One-Hour already had released singles by Culture Fire (Release), Frontier Trust (Highway Miles) and Mousetrap (“Supercool” b/w “Fubar”), as well as Simon Joyner’s landmark full-length cassette, Umbilical Chords. One-Hour was a big deal both to the editors down in Lawrence and to me.

The audience for indie and punk music in Omaha was microscopic. At this point in its history, Omaha’s live music scene was dominated by top-40 cover bands that played a circuit of local meat-market bars along 72nd St. College music was heard mostly in college towns — something that Omaha certainly wasn’t. But Dave didn’t care. He had no aspirations of getting rich off One-Hour.

From that article:

“It’s fun empowering people,” said the 43-year-old entrepreneur who used to prefer classic rock to punk. “These are good people with good ideas and lots of energy. I knew these guys as really cool people long before I knew them as musicians.”

The advantage to being on One-Hour? “Possibly nothing,” Sink said. “We’re in an infant stage. But this is how Sub Pop got started and a lot of other quality punk labels. Any band we press is going to get 200 promotional copies of their single shipped to radio stations and ‘zines across the U.S. and Europe. The bottom line is we’re a medium for a band to reach a broader audience.”

Sink said Omaha had never had as many good original bands as it does now, whether the city knows it or not. “Unfortunately, most of the time they’re playing shows for each other. Omaha has a very talented music scene that is woefully underappreciated.”

Funny how, despite the success of Saddle Creek Records, little has changed.

After that story ran, I continued to drop into Dave’s store. He would pick out an armful of albums and singles for me to buy, and that’s how I discovered a lot of the bands that I would end up writing about in The Note (and later, in The Reader). He was always willing to give me the inside scoop on something that was going on musicwise. And much to my surprise, he read a lot of my stories, and was always willing to tell me when he thought I got it right, or got it wrong. A former editor at the old Benson Sun Newspaper, Dave’s perspective on my writing went beyond his music knowledge. As a result, he was always in the back of my mind whenever I wrote anything about music (and still is). I guess I didn’t want to disappoint Dave. Actually, no one did.

Toward the latter days of his involvement in the record store, Dave became more and more disillusioned with modern music. I’d go down there ask him what was good and he’d start off by saying, “Nothing, it’s all shit,” but eventually would find a few things for me to buy. He was more into jazz by then, and (of course) baseball, which we’d talk about at great length, along with his perspective on art and literature and film.

Funny thing, it didn’t matter that Dave was 20 or 30 years older than the kids buying the records. They all respected and sought out his opinion, and Dave was always happy to give it. My favorite Dave line when he didn’t like something: “It’s not my cup of tea.” It was that simple.

As the years went on, Dave quit showing up at the store, and then eventually it changed hands and moved out of the basement. Meanwhile, Saddle Creek Records bloomed, Omaha became nationally recognized as the new indie music “ground zero,” and I slowly lost touch with Dave.

And then along came Facebook. And there was Dave again. Over the last couple years we reconnected online, but mostly about baseball. Dave, a long-time Royals rooter, hated the fact that I’m a Yankees fan, a team he said was ruining baseball. I would argue that, in a market like Omaha, being a Yankees fan was downright punk – people hated you for it, that it was a lonely existence not unlike being a punk fan in the ‘90s. He never bought that argument.

I tried and I tried to get Dave to do that all-encompassing interview about the glory days of One-Hour and The Antiquarium. I told him how much he influenced everything that Omaha’s music scene had become, that I wanted to tell his story and put him on the cover of The Reader. Of course he would have none of it. He would kindly turn down the requests, saying he didn’t do anything, that he was only a record store owner and that the focus should be on the bands, not him.

Despite that, I think he knew how important he was to everything that’s happened here. He certainly was important to me.

* * *

If I had to venture a guess, I’d bet that Dave wasn’t a Lemonheads fan.

Not coincidentally, neither am I. But that shouldn’t stop you from going to see The Lemonheads tonight at The Waiting Room, where the band will be performing It’s a Shame About Ray in its entirety. I’m told that Evan Dando was a bit fussy the last time he came to Omaha. What will he do this time? Opening is Meredith Sheldon. $15, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, power pop in the form of Lonely Estates and the Beat Seekers at The Sydney. 9 p.m., $5.

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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.