Soundtrack to a Pandemic (the top 40 Nebraska recordings 2020); Flight School, Lightning Stills, Simon Joyner new music…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 1:02 pm December 4, 2020
Some artwork for the top Nebraska releases in 2020.

So Bandcamp Friday (today) is the day in which you can purchase downloads via Bandcamp, and all the money goes to the artists because Bandcamp is waiving their cut. With that in mind, I pushed online my column in this month’s issue of The Reader. It’s a listing of 40 Nebraska recordings released during this, the Year of Our Covid 2020. Included in the story are links to all 40 recordings on Bandcamp, wherein you can buy, download and listen to the best our state has to offer.

You know, The Reader didn’t do a “music issue” this year, and as such, didn’t publish a Reader Top 20 (and the next whatever). This list of 40 releases is as good as it gets considering no one was out performing or touring this year. These artists threw their wares to the masses anyway, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to support their album releases with live shows.

With that in mind GO TO THE STORY NOW and check out the list, click through the links and download/buy some music and support local area artists while hearing some damn fine sounds. Another way to help the artists out is by sharing The Reader story on your social media channels so others can discover what we already know.

Couple more things…

Flight School is a musical project of studio engineer/musician/genius Ian Aeillo. Ian doesn’t like it when I call him a genius, he thinks I’m funnin’ him, no matter how many times I tell him I’m not. The guy just can’t take a compliment. Fact is, Ian was involved in a number of the 40 recordings I mentioned in my Reader column.

Anyway, this morning, Flight School dropped its latest digital full-length effort, This Will Get You There. It’s 21 songs Ian wrote for his favorite vocalists, none of which sing on any of the tracks, leaving you with just Ian’s fine instrumental music. I asked him to list the “favorite vocalists” on the Bandcamp page so we could try to guess who went with which song, but he wasn’t having it. Buy/download/listen here.

Also online today, Lightning Stills (a.k.a. Craig Fort and band) released his entire debut EP Sings His Songs, which wasn’t expected to drop for awhile, but this being Bandcamp Friday, he said ‘what the heck.’ Check out the recording here, buy and download!

And for one day only (today), Simon Joyner is making available for download at Bandcamp Ten Songs (Home Demos for 2021 Album). These are demos recorded on his phone over the past few months that he’ll use as reference while working on songs, but the sound quality is hella good (certainly better than those early Sing Eunichs! recordings!). Go, buy, download here.

That’s it. If you’re going out, wear a mask (as if I had to tell you that!). Have a great weekend!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Flight School (Ian Anthony Aeillo), #BFF tonight; Pro-Magnum, Pine Ridge Toy Drive Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:37 pm December 6, 2019

Ian Aeillo at Hear Nebraska’s Take Cover at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014. He’s the subject of a sound/art exhibition at The Sydney tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ve talked about Ian Aeillo before on this blog, about his role in the Nebraska music scene both as a producer, creator, musician and influencer, employed (these days) at The Sydney in Benson. Aeillo’s music history goes back literally decades to a band called The Golden Age that, at the time, was hot-rumored to be thee next big band on the then-fledgling (though already successful) Saddle Creek Records label. I remember asking the label execs at the time about signing the Lincoln band and received the tertiary wayward nod/no response that greeted all such questions directed to the Nansel/Kulbel braintrust. They always held their cards close to the vest, though one couldn’t ignore the fact they were both in the audience at Sokol Underground one night when The Golden Age was playing a rare show in Omaha. Talent scouting?

Well, nothing ever came of any of it, and The Golden Age eventually faded away or disappeared or broke up. Tracks from the legendary unreleased Jealous Love album were deleted from YouTube a long time ago. Aeillo would go on to work with a number of bands, including Lincoln outfit Eagle*Seagull as well as countless others recordings at ARC Recording Studio where he once worked as a producer.

Poster for tonight’s Flight School exhibition.

He does his knob twirling these days at The Sydney, where you can find him most nights working as a sound engineer. But tonight Aeillo will be playing a different role as the featured artist for The Sydney’s Benson First Friday festivities. There’s a lengthy Facebook post where he describes what the event entails, but at the very least, those who drop in will experience either the playing over the PA or a live performance of his work as Flight School, a multi-media rock-punk-jazz recording odyssey all of which is available via Bandcamp. There will be other equipment set up as part of the “experience/installation” that’s been dubbed “An Evening w/Ian Anthony Aeillo (Flight School)” The experience runs from 5 p.m. til 2 a.m. at The Sydney, and admission is free.

It’s all a part of Benson First Friday.

Since you’ll be in Benson anyway, why not stop at The Little Gallery, 5901 Maple Street (the east bay of the Masonic Lodge Building), where tonight is the opening of the 5th Annual Little Show. Featured is the work of more than 20 local artists, all showing works 12 x 12 or smaller at a price point of $100 or less. Just in time for holiday shopping. The show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Come on by.

That’s it for tonight.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Johnny Vredenburg and the rest of the boys from Pro-Magnum headline at The Brothers Lounge. Also on the bill are KC metal band 34. $5, 10 p.m.

Finally, the annual Toy Drive for Pine Ridge is happening at The Waiting Room Saturday night. Featured performers include Satchel Grande, Pony Creek, Garst and Vago. Admission is a new, unwrapped toy or $10. All proceeds will be used to deliver toys to the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Show starts at 8 p.m.

And believe it or not, that’s all I got, except to mention the fine folks who ran Almost Music as well as EZ Records are having a record show at Reverb Lounge at noon on Sunday. It’s free and always fun.

If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Where did all the critics go? (in the column); new (timely) Flight School track, Ghost Foot preview…

Category: Column — Tags: , , — @ 1:37 pm November 21, 2019

Listening to albums the way god intended…

by Tim McMahan,

I’m catching up on a couple columns that appeared in The Reader over the past couple months but only just went online. First is this month’s column. I’ve written variations on this theme a number of times over the past 15 years, this idea that digital music has forever changed the way we listen to music. But this time I include critics.

When I was much younger I used to love to peruse the album reviews in Rolling Stone, SPIN, Option, Magnet and a slew of other printed publications. The only one of the above that still exists in printed form is Rolling Stone, and their reviews are little more than capsule summaries with a star rating. As I say in the column, while I rely on Pitchfork and Stereogum as well as the never-aging grand bard of critics Robert Christgau (you can now subscribe to his writings online here), I’m just as apt to catch recommendations in Facebook and Twitter as anywhere else. In fact, you may recognize a couple people I namecheck in the column as folks whose opinion I value (It wasn’t until after I filed the article that I realized, hey, 99 percent of my column’s readers have no idea who I’m talking about).

Anyway, read the column in the current issue of The Reader, on newsstands now, or online right here.

The October column also is online, which asks the question: “Does the art change once you discover that the artist is an asshole?” Woody Allen, Ryan Adams and Aziz Ansari are subjects of discussion, among others. I have always separated art from the artist. Social media is now making that more difficult, as we all know. And in the end, it might be yet another reason why it’s time to unplug your Facebook account. You can read that column online right here.

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If you’re involved in music at all in Omaha you already follow Ian Aeillo in Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t, you need to. Ian, who is a veteran musician and something of a scene legend, is the sound engineer at The Sydney and also works with bands on occasion.

One of them is Louisiana band Ghost Foot, who will be playing at fabulous O’Leavers this Friday night. Ian shared a new track by Ghost Foot called “Leaving Omaha,” which is destined to join the ranks of other Omaha-themed songs by the likes of Counting Crows, Moby Grape and Desaparecidos.

This one’s less a celebration of our city and more of a sordid snapshot taken by someone who lived to tell about it, with the lyrics:

Leaving Omaha

I’m leaving Omaha
With just my clothes
And all the powder
I put up my nose

I lost my girlfriend
I lost my wife
I lost my billfold
In that great good life

I’m leaving Omaha
Dead sick in my shoes
With a big head
All filled up with blues

I lost a song there
I lost a dream
I gained a nightmare
A few friends and a scene

But the sun
The sun is still shining
And the rain
The rain will still come

Let the bombs
All fall on the big world
As ashes
We all will become

Here’s the track, below. See them sing it live Friday night at O’Leaver’s.

Then there’s Ian’s project Flight School. After photos of Trump’s childlike handwritten notes exploded on the internet like a sad American meme yesterday morning, Flight School took those notes and created “I Want Nothing,” a track that accurately captures this moment in our country’s unfortunate history. As Mr. Trump would say, enjoy:

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Flight School reappears just in time for Halloween; Rose Thomas Bannister, Digital Leather looking for help…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:31 pm October 30, 2019

by Tim McMahan,

“Monster Mash” by Flight School.

No doubt if I had kids I would be aware of just how excited they are on Halloween’s Eve. After all, I was a kid once and I loved Halloween. But what do you do if your kids are getting a little out of hand before — or after — Halloween (because all that sugar, right?)?

Well, your favorite studio project, Flight School, has the remedy. Today Ian Aeillo (Nebraska’s answer to Alan Parsons) released a doozy of a cover of Bobby Pickett’s holiday classic, “Monster Mash.” The 7-plus minute Ambien-fueled anthem features Luke Pettipoole and Sarah Bohling on vocals, and is sure to draw down the energy level of anyone who experiences it. I promise you’ll never hear this song quite the same way again, and there’s no question I prefer Ian’s version over the original. Check it below:

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You might remember Rose Thomas Bannister by her old name, Ember Schrag, the moniker she used when she lived in Nebraska. These days she calls Brooklyn home, and now Bannister has a new album in the can called The Little Wren, which she hopes to release on vinyl. So… Kickstarter. Bannister already hit her $3,000 goal, but the campaign continues for a another day or so. I’ve always considered Kickstarter to be sort of presale event. Check it out here.

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On the other hand, Shawn Foree has a ways to go until he reaches his $2,000 Go Fund Me goal for his next record, which he thinks is “the strongest album I’ve done.” It’s the follow-up to Feeet, the limited-vinyl album released this past January by German label Stencil Trash Records and the 8-track tape re-release of 2007’s Blow Machine. What does Shawn have up his sleeve this time? The quicker you donate, the quicker we’ll find out.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.