Live Review: Wagon Blasters, Half Trust, Gerald Lee, Jr.; Vinyl Williams, Dendrons, Cat Piss tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 8:24 am February 27, 2023
Wagon Blasters at Grapefruit Records, Feb. 24, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Prior to Friday night’s in-store CD release show by the Wagon Blasters for the release of the In Frontier We Trust singles compilation CD I asked the originator of both bands, Gary Dean Davis, why he was having the show at a record store. I attended a Simon Joyner performance at Grapefruit last year (Simon runs the place) and found it quaint, cozy and more than a little cramped.

I suppose punk rock has always been about doing things in unconventional ways and places,” Gary said. “Over the years many of my favorite shows were in unconventional places. Many of which were at record stores: Firehose at Homer’s during a blizzard in ’87, Brimstone Howl also at Homer’s, Man or Astroman at Drastic Plastic, the Almost Music shows (a long defunct record store in Benson/Blackstone), along with a multitude of basement and even apartment shows I’ve played at or seen. I supposed the best reason is that people are there to listen to music.”

And thus was the case Friday night at Grapefruit. A small PA was set up in the corner of the store and the crowd of around 40 or 50 listened either standing or sitting among the bins of vinyl records. Yes, it was cozy and cramped, but it was also a lot of fun. 

Gerald Lee, Jr., at Grapefruit Records, Feb. 24, 2023.

Gerald Lee, Jr., a.k.a. Lee Meyerpeter, the frontman of a score of bands from the ‘90s through today (including Cactus Nerve Thing, Bad Luck Charm and Filter Kings) played a solo set with electric guitar that included tunes from all these bands (yes, including Cactus). Lee drops a slight country twang into everything he sings, whether it’s a punk song or a whiskey-fueled ballad. He closed his set with Filter Kings’ classic “100 Proof Man,” a song that was always destined to be covered by The Highwaymen but never was.

Bill Thornton and Gary Dean Davis – Half Trust – at Grapefruit Records, Feb. 24, 2023.

That was followed by a short set by Gary Dean Davis and Bill Thornton on acoustic guitar – playing as “Half Trust,” – tunes from Frontier Trust. Both seated, Gary explained that the CD was made so his kids could listen to their dad’s Frontier Trust songs in their cars, which is exactly what I did after the show. Mastered by Doug Van Sloun, the songs on In Frontier We Trust never sounded better. I think I own all of the 45s in which the CD was derived and can attest that the mix is brighter and more urgent than the vinyl. Gary, I’m sure, will be disappointed to hear that as he believes vinyl is the perfect medium, and maybe he was right… 20 years ago. 

You can order a copy of the CD directly from the Wagon Blasters’ Bandcamp page for a mere $10.

Finally, the rest of the Wagon Blasters took the stage, plugged in and played a rousing set of fan favorites with Gary providing his trademark stage jumps and between-song “Thanks!” Oh, what a night. 

. 0 0 0 . 

The rock continues tonight as psych-pop band Vinyl Williams headlines at Slowdown Jr. The band’s last album, Cosmopolis, was released last year on Requiem Pour Un Twister.  Chicago indie band Dendrons co-headlines the bill, which also includes Omaha’s own Cat Piss and The Dirts. That’s a lot of music for $15. Show starts at 8 p.m. 

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Wagon Blasters, Domestica, Minne Lussa tonight; The Rural Alberta Advantage Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 8:26 am February 24, 2023
Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016. The band plays tonight at Grapefruit Records in the Old Market.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s a Speed! Nebraska Friday night takeover in more ways than one tonight.

First, tonight at Grapefruit Records, 1125 Jackson St., our favorite local record label, Speed! Nebraska, is celebrating the release of In Frontier We Trust, a CD compilation of all the great Frontier Trust singles (four 45s-worth). It’s a project that Frontier Trust frontman Gary Dean Davis said was fun putting together. “We actually used a 45 as the master for the Highway Miles EP,” Gary said. Mastered by genius engineer Doug Van Sloun with cover art by Chris Harding Thornton, the CD will be like a time machine that takes you back to Omaha/Lincoln circa the mid-‘90s when Frontier Trust invented tractor-punk and sat at the forefront of Nebraska’s first golden age of indie rock. 

And here’s the best part – everyone who attends tonight’s CD release show gets a free copy of the CD. How can you beat that? 

Well, Gary Dean Davis’ latest band, Wagon Blasters, is headlining the show, which means we’ll get treated to a couple Frontier Trust classics in the “Half Trust” style with Bill Thornton on guitar.  Opening the show at 8 p.m. is Filter Kings frontman  Gerald Lee, Jr. Entry is $10 at the door.

Grapefruit Records is a fun room for a show, and Gary says Simon is even building a drum riser for the occasion. 

But that’s not the only Speed! Nebraska show happening tonight. Across town in Benson at Reverb Lounge, Lincoln power-punk trio Domestica headlines a rare (these days) Omaha show. Domestica’s previous incarnation, Mercy Rule, released singles on the Speed! Nebraska label, and often were Frontier Trust show mates at rock shows in the mid-‘90s. Ah, those were the days… 

Opening for Domestica is Mike Saklar’s The Sun-less Trio; Minne Lussa owns the middle slot. 9 p.m. start time, $8. 

If you’re crafty (and reckless) there’s a chance you could double-dip and catch both shows. 

The other red-hot show this weekend is Saddle Creek Records band The Rural Alberta Advantage headlining at Slowdown Jr. Sunday night. The band is on the road supporting The Rise EP, released last spring, which marked the return of founding member, keyboardist Amy Cole. Singer/songwriter Georgia Harmer opens at 8 pm. $22.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend. 

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.