Live Review: America, Matt Whipkey at The Holland Center…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:10 pm June 19, 2022
America at The Holland Performing Arts Center, June 18, 2022.

by Tim McMahan,

What are you going to be doing at age 70? Would you be satisfied flying around he country to venues like The Holland Performing Arts Center (or Memorial Park, for that matter) playing songs you wrote 50 years ago to people who just want to hear the songs you wrote 50 years ago?

Sounds pretty good to me, though at what point do become more of a performer than an artist? The last studio album by America, who played at Holland Center Saturday night, was Lost & Found, released in 2015, and included tracks recorded as far back as 2000. And their Holland set included the album’s opening track, “Driving.”

But looking around at the audience made up mostly of fans who could have bought their ‘70s albums when they were first released, I wondered how many wanted to hear anything other than the hits.

And man, America has a lot of them. They kicked off the night with “Tin Man” from their ’74 album Holiday, which was followed by “You Can Do Magic” from their ’84 album View from the Ground (and their last big U.S. hit), and then my personal fave, “Daisy Jane,” from ’75’s Hearts.

Looking like a hip college professor, co-frontman Gerry Beckley, age 69, handled most of the vocals alongside Dewey Bunnell (the guy on the Horse with No Name, age 70), and both sounded in fine voice, backed in harmonies by three other latter-day traveling members. The third original core member of America, Dan Peek, passed away in 2011, but had left the band in ’77 never to return.

Surprisingly Beckley and Bunnell never mentioned their old compatriot, though he was seen in some of the vintage images shown on the big screen throughout the set. I guess when you play 100 shows a year for 52 years, mentioning an old band member every night would get redundant, though last night’s gig was likely the first time many in the audience have seen America perform.

The show is part of the 50 Year Anniversary Tour, no longer marking 50 years of America, but 50 years of their debut album, released in ’71. To celebrate, the band played three songs from the debut in succession, including their first hit, “I Need You.” If you’re my age, you’d recognize it immediately.

They were followed by one of their most popular hits, “Ventura Highway,” (no doubt the influence to “Theme from The Californians”). It’s FM gold, and the crowd went wild. Then came old sad sack “Lonely People,” which would be the last hit for awhile, as the band then played a number of songs I didn’t recognize. The crowd responded respectfully, waiting patiently for the next hit.

Instead, the got a cover of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” in honor of Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, as well as a cover of “California Dreaming.” This is how you fill a 90-minute set, but let’s be honest, the crowd would have been just as happy to only hear the hits and those covers, which alone would encompass 11 songs — just the right length for a park festival, but maybe not long enough for a theater gig like this (though I would have happy).

In the end, the fans got what they wanted, as the set closed with anti-war song “Sandman” and mega-hit “Sister Golden Hair,” that got them on their feet. The band left their biggest hit of all, “Horse with No Name,” as the encore (of course).

Matt Whipkey at The Holland Performing Arts Center, June 18, 2022.

Opening the show was singer/songwriter local hero Matt Whipkey, who made the most of his just over 30-minute set. With acoustic guitar and accompanied on keyboards by longtime sideman Scott Gaeta, Whipkey charmed an audience of strangers with songs off his recent album, Hard, as well as a few chestnuts (such us my all-time fave of his, 2008’s “Separation,” which kicked off the set at 7 p.m. sharp).

You’d expect to see some nerves showing from a guy who typically plays to crowds of 100 or so at local bars, now standing in the spotlight in front of a few thousand. But Whipkey made it look like a walk in the park, getting the crowd laughing between songs, even making fun of the giant “Matt Whipkey” sign that blared behind him throughout the set.

Paraphrasing here, Whipkey quipped, “I love playing at O’Leaver’s, it’s one of my favorite places, but this is a little bit better,” with Gaeta quickly adding, “It smells better, too.”

The highlights included “Mayday” and “Overboard” from Hard, “Underwater” from the album of the same name, super-old song “17,” and his cover of “Drive My Car,” also dedicated to McCartney (afterward, I heard some guy behind me playing the Beatles’ version on his phone). It was a great way to kick off the evening, and another in a series of career highlights for Whipkey.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Matt Whipkey, Jeremy Mercy tonight; Cable Network album release, Clarence Tilton Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 9:32 am January 14, 2022
Cable Network celebrates the release of their new album, Cable Network II, Saturday night at Slowdown, Jr.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, looks like Covid is kicking our ass again. That means mask mandates all around if you’re headed to a show this weekend. Actually, I can’t imagine attending a show without a mask, anyway.

In fact, tonight’s Matt Whipkey show at Reverb Lounge is a No Vax/No Entry affair, so bring your Covid membership card along with your masks. Matt will be introducing a new line-up for this gig with Korey Anderson on guitar, Vic Padios (The Brigadiers, Calico, The Gymnastics) on bass, Scott Gaeta on keys, and Scott “Zip” Zimmerman back behind the drum kit. Opening is Jeremy Mercy and the Rapture Orphans. $10, 8 p.m.

Tomorrow night at Slowdown Jr. is the album release show for Cable Network, a band is fronted by Slowdown soundguy Charlie Ames with Braden Larson, guitar; Ben Rickers, bass; Charlie Encell, vocals; Jordan Opeary, vocals, percussion and Pat Stutzman, drums. It’s going to be a crowded stage. The album, Cable Network II, is a follow-up to their debut EP that came out in December 2020. Also on the bill is Omaha alt country band Clarence Tilton; Jack McLaughlin opens the show at 8 p.m. $8.

Also tomorrow night (Saturday), Omaha tribute band Bennie and the Gents is hosting another in a series of David Bowie tribute nights. This one also is No Vax/No Entry and starts at 9 p.m. $10.

That’s all I got. 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Matt Whipkey at The Jewell; the week ahead…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 7:56 am November 15, 2021
Matt Whipkey and his band at The Jewell, Nov. 12, 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

You could tell Matt Whipkey was proud of the band he assembled for last Friday night’s album release show at The Jewell, and he should be.

Standing beside him on the crooked stage were two of the city’s best guitarists — Korey Anderson and Corey Weber — his longtime sideman/keyboardist Scott Gaeta, percussionist/vibrophone player Scott “Zip” Zimmerman, who for decades sat behind the kit but for Friday was replaced by whizkid drummer Nate Van Fleet (who’s on a personal farewell tour before he moves to Los Angeles early next year), and flying in all the way from Denver was none other than Bobby Carrig, who also played alongside Whipkey for decades.

Whipkey never had it so good, and I think he knew it, because also supplying sonic mojo was the room itself. The Jewell has a reputation for being one of the better sounding rooms in Omaha, designed for live jazz shows. And sound good it did. This was the first time I’ve seen Whipkey live where I didn’t have to wear earplugs, the sound was so balanced and clean.

Matt brought his A game, performing all the songs off his new album, Hard (2021, Unusual) to a seated crowd who gnawed on $28 plates of rubber chicken from their candle-lit tables. Sort of like seeing a band at a Holiday Inn lounge, but with perfect acoustics. Not exactly a rock club vibe, but Whipkey knew that going in.

Highlights for me were when he let the band lean back and do their thing, like at the end of Hard standout number “Big Noise” that saw Whipkey trading solos with the KCoreys. The other golden moments came during the “greatest hits” part of the set, where he rolled out tasty versions of 2008 Whipkey Three track “Separation” and the acoustic guitar-fueled title track from his 2015 album Underwater.

This was my first time at The Jewell, and for the most part, it was a positive experience, though I recommend eating at one of the many Capital District restaurants before arriving, as the overpriced food was pretty awful. But who eats at a jazz club, anyway? The room would be a great place to host small, intimate singer/songwriter shows as well as jazz. Rock shows aren’t out of the question, though you’re pretty much confined to your table, and that ain’t very rock ‘n’ roll, is it?

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Busy week for shows.

Tomorrow night ‘80s alternative band The Fixx plays at The Waiting Room. These guys have been touring for decades on the strength of two albums from the early ‘80s whose hits still get airplay on classic rock stations. They haven’t put out an album since a 2014 live album. Joining them is ‘90s alt rockers Fastball. $35, 8 p.m.

Tuesday night, Flaccid Mojo (consisting of two members of DFA Records artist Black Dice (the two that don’t sing)) swing by Reverb Lounge for a set of experimental beat-heavy distortion synth noise. Opening is Problems a.k.a. Darren Keen. $12, 8 p.m.

Tennis return to The Slowdown Wednesday night. Molly Burch opens. This is a main room show and it’s No Vax No Entry, so bring your stuff. $20, 8 p.m.

And then along comes the 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Nate Van Fleet headed West; Matt Whipkey (and band) tonight; Lemonheads, See Through Dresses, Jeremy Mercy Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:26 am November 12, 2021
See Through Dresses with Nate Van Fleet behind the kit at The Waiting Room, way back on Nov. 30, 2013. The band plays Saturday at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan,

Red hot news before we get to the calendar, and it’s news of an unfortunate nature (for Omaha, anyway)…

This weekend’s shows are among the last times you’ll be able to see one of the area’s best drummers perform live. Nate Van Fleet, best known as the drummer for indie rock band See Through Dresses, is moving to Los Angeles after the first of the year. Nate confirmed the news last week: “I’m looking forward to meeting some new faces and making some new musical experiences. Hoping to be back in Omaha as often as possible, though,” he said.

Nate’s filled his calendar with a number of shows before he leaves, including two big ones this weekend with Matt Whipkey and See Through Dresses. But on top of that, Nate’s other band, Big Nope, will open for Criteria and Little Brazil at The Waiting Room Nov. 27 in what may be a tri-fecta for Van Fleet fans. Finally, Nate will be playing as part of Bug Heaven Nov. 28 at The Sydney.

Since he first emerged as a member of STD, Van Fleet has been been recognized as one of the city’s most versatile drummers, becoming the go-to guy for the area’s best rock bands. In fact, that Nov. 27 show could be very special, as Van Fleet drummed for Criteria and Little Brazil. Will he be on stage for all three sets? I don’t know for sure because I haven’t confirmed the bands’ line-ups, but I would not be surprised.

No doubt Van Fleet will become a sensation in La La Land. It’s just a matter of connections and getting seen by the right people. With all the other Omahans who have fled to the West Coast in the past few years — and his unmistakable talent — he’ll have no problems.

Congratulations Nate, and whoa to all of us back in Omaha, as the city’s Great Talent Migration continues…

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So let’s start there. Tonight at The Jewell in the Capitol District Matt Whipkey is playing two shows with a massive band that includes Van Fleet, guitarists Korey Anderson and Corey Weber, keyboardist Scott Gaeta, bassist Glen Smith and percussionist Scott “Zip” Zimmerman. The event is the release of his new album, Hard (2021, Unusual), in vinyl format (which Whipkey will have on hand for sale). You read about the album here. Tickets to both the 6:30 and 8:30 shows are still available for $15.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) The Lemonheads return to The Waiting Room with Heyrocco. See Through Dresses opens this one at 8 p.m. Is the first STD show since the lock down (I think). Tickets are $30, show starts at 8 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Jeremy Mercy and the Rapture Orphans headline at The Sydney in Benson. Mercy has new music out, and what I heard of it is very good. Joining them is The Rare Candies. No price listed for this one but it’s probably around $10. Starts at 9.

Finally, BFF is hosting an event called Magic 8 Ball After Party (I don’t get the reference). That said, live performances include Cat Piss, Blood Cow and DJ Kobrakyle. The show is free if you’re a member of BFF (join!) and $10 for everyone else. Starts at 9.

And that’s all I got. 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Matt Whipkey interview (in the column); Maha under new management; here comes Destroyer and COVID news…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:44 pm November 3, 2021
A screen cap from the Brothers tribute video from M34N STR33T, titled Monster

by Tim McMahan,

So, The Brothers is gone. I didn’t make it out to the farewell shows last weekend. I didn’t get tickets before the sell outs, and while Trey and Lallaya graciously offered to put me on the list, The Brothers was never the kind of place to have a list, which is one of the reasons I liked the place. 

My final thoughts: What’s next for the Lalleys? We’ll have to wait and see, but they’re way too young to retire. Here’s hoping it’s something music-related, but they deserve to do as much fishing as they want.

And what will happen to The Brothers’ building? No doubt it’ll go to the highest bidder (though I’m hearing GreenSlate isn’t in the mix).

Check out the video tribute by M34N STR33T, below…

. ) ) ) .

My feature column on Matt Whipkey and his new album, Hard, went up on The Reader website this morning. You can read it here. Matt talks about what did and didn’t go into his “divorce album,” and lists some of his favorite break-up records. My favorite, Beck’s Sea Change from 2005, didn’t make his cut. See what did. And go out and buy tickets to his Nov. 12 album release show at The Jewell. Matt has vinyl in hand that will be sold at the show.

. ) ) ) .

Last week the folks at the Maha Festival announced that long-time Executive Director Lauren Martin stepped down at the end of October. Lauren’s been involved in Maha since it launched in 2009 and has been the ED since 2015. She’s a big reason why Maha is one of the best-run festivals in the country.

I asked why she’s leaving, and Maha Marketing & Comms Manager Rachel Grace said, “She is seeking opportunities that allow her to prioritize her family/personal goals while serving the community.”

Grace now leads Maha along with Operations Manager Emily Cox. No word on 2022 but there will be a festival next year. When and where has yet to be announced.

. ) ) ) .

One Percent today announced Destroyer is booked at The Waiting Room April 28, 2022. Tickets at $22 go on sale Friday at 10 a.m.

One last note: I just discovered this story that appeared online at The Reader Oct. 20. In it, reporter Sam Crisler talks to a number of venues in town about COVID-19 protocols, including CHI Center and One Percent Productions.

From the article:

“We’re trying to get back to where we have bigger crowds, but at the same time, the touring bands that can draw the bigger crowds just aren’t back on the road right now,” (1%’s Marc) Leibowitz said. He estimates around half of the artists that would typically draw sizable crowds to his venues have chosen to stay home so far.

This is beginning to turn around, judging by the dozens of emails I get every day from larger bands announcing tours.

Also from the article:

Leibowitz said he thinks nationwide standards for concertgoers need to be put in place. The variability in COVID-19 requirements from venue to venue and state to state is discouraging artists from touring in the first place, he said.

“If there was an understanding with people that if you want to see music, you have to do X and Y, then they would be better off,” Leibowitz said. “I think it would make less tours cancel.”

I couldn’t agree more. Even in Omaha there is no COVID-related standard for live shows. The restrictions appear to be driven by the artists themselves — touring acts that insist on proof of vaccination are getting their wish (Destroyer, for example, is a “no vax no entry” show). The same restriction doesn’t appear to exists for local artists’ shows, however, but it probably could if locals insisted on the vax-proof restriction….

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New Hartford/Focht, Whipkey, Lightning Junkyard, Shaun the Loud; #BSSF?…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:03 pm January 8, 2021
Hartford/Focht have a new record.

I’ve been waiting all week to write about these releases because I thought we were coming up on another Bandcamp Friday, but it turns out that Bandcamp is skipping January and relaunching the promo in February. Why skip January? Who knows. Regardless, I can’t wait another month to write about these new tracks and releases, so…

First up is the new one by Hartford/Focht. The core of the band is the singing duo of Matt Focht and Crystal Hartford, but as Matt said in a super-long IM in Facebook, “Our band is basically backed up by Head of Femur and Ben Armstrong’s father on piano and organ. (We) also had special guests like the Mike Mogis and the Fink sisters.” Sort of an indie folk supergroup if you ask me.

The self-titled album was recorded and mixed in Omaha this past November at The Library and ARC by Adam Roberts, and mastered by Dan Dietrich at Wall to Wall in Chicago. In addition to originals by Focht, there’s renditions of songs by Lowell George, Rick Roberts, Laura Nyro, Larry Murray, Al Kooper and Bob Dylan (“I Shall Be Released”). The whole album has an early ’70s Laurel Canyon vibe, thanks in part to Hartford’s Joni-esque vocals and the overall arrangements.

Wherein I like the covers, the originals really shine, like “Chico Hot Springs,” “Standing in the Light” and “Capitol Sunset.” Check it out here on their Bandcamp page and buy a download. It’s also at the usual streaming services.

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It’s been awhile since we heard from Matt Whipkey. There have been trials. There have been tribulations. And coming out of all that is a new album due later this year.

I wrote and recorded an entire new album throughout the course of this last year / quarantine. The tracks were completed via email with my good friends and collaborators Scott Gaeta and Ian Aeillo. When I thought it was finished it was screaming for something more.”

Here’s an early sneak peek – a track actually written back in 2016, long before the troubles. Best sounding Whipkey track I think I’ve heard. So yeah, Whipkey’s back.

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What do you get when you mix broken-bottle country with an Omaha punk superstar? You get Lightning Stills and Junkyard Dan on the new track, “Passed Out on the Bar.”

Lightning Stills is Craig Fort (actually a punk dude in in his own right), while Junkyard Dan is Dan Maxwell of Little Brazil and Leafblower fame. I think this is the first time I really heard DMax’s vocals in all their glory. Yeah, he’s sung on plenty of albums, but the mix and the contrast with Fort make his vox stand out like never before.

This one comes with a video that’s pretty weird, actually. Can’t wait to see these two on an Omaha stage.

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Finally, Shaun the Loud sent an email to me out of the blue and I’m glad he did. I hadn’t heard of him, though he released an album on the late Eric Medley’s Tremulant Records last year. Shaun the Loud is Shaun Sparks. And while 2019’s Galaxy Particles was a twangy singer/songwriter band-driven collection, Sparks has gone almost all digital on this new one, thanks, in part, to the pandemic.

The result, the self-released Cosmic Barbecue, sounds like a dance album sung by one of Glen Campbell’s sidemen. Sparks said his teenage kids along with a few contributors, including a handful of players, Christopher Steffen, who mixed the album, and Doug Van Sloun, “encouraged the electronic thing.”

The original concept of the project was to make dance music but it took a life of its own from there, mainly because Idk how to make that and I’m normally into songwriting, so that’s why there’s more emphasis on beats, synth and bass lines rather than the more songwriter-y structure in the previous release,” he said.

Call it a singer/songwriter electronic dance music, if you will, and definitely worth checking out, but not on Bandcamp. Sparks’ albums are released on Distrokid, which includes every streaming service but Bandcamp.

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It’s the second Friday of the month and you know what that means — Blackstone Second Friday or #BSSF.

Well, I don’t know if #BSSF is a thing yet, but maybe we can get the ball rolling, especially tonight when The Little Gallery Blackstone hosts an opening reception featuring the works of artist Jeanne Pittack. Titled “Heimweh,” the show features Pittack’s black-and-white photography.

It’s the first new opening at the new Little Gallery space in Blackstone, located at 144. So. 39th St., which is inside the Blackstone Mansion just east of Night Owl. The show runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and admission is free. Masks are required, as is social distancing, and there’s a 5-person limit inside The Little Gallery. See you there.

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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Unexplained Death on cassette; new Love Drunk: Bogusman…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:22 pm September 18, 2019

The Unexplained Death cassette…

by Tim McMahan,

The debut recording of Matt Whipkey’s new poli-punk project, Unexplained Death, dropped last Friday in cassette and digital formats. I’m seeing more and more artists opt for cassette releases, I assume because it’s a physical format (other than CD) that artists can create themselves. The cassette is a run of 100, each with unique, hand-made cassette sleeves comprised of altered versions of classic ’80s album art. Just look what Matt did to Robert Plant.

The songs represent a sort of new direction for Whipkey. Though he’s known mostly as an Americana folk-rock guy, Matt always punctuated his albums with a few heavier rock songs. This collection is his take on punk — fast and hard and purposely distorted/low-fi — with lyrics about the current state of local and national politics. Whipkey said it was because of the songs’ timliness that he didn’t shop the recording to labels — he wants to get his message to the masses now.

The full album is being streamed here at Bandcamp, where you can order a copy of the cassette for $10 (comes with download key). And look for the band’s stage debut sometime next month…

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Love Drunk, the live one-take video project helmed by Django Greenblatt-Seay, is back and better than ever. Django dropped video #141 last Saturday. It features Lincoln punk band Bogusman performing “Magic Hands” at the VS. Arcade Bar in Lincoln. I’d heard of neither Bogusman nor VS. prior to this video and now I want to check ’em both out. Now maybe someone can get Bogusman to play in Omaha? Check it below.

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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.



Unexplained Death (a.k.a. Matt Whipkey and band) takes on the Ricketts family…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:32 pm February 13, 2019

A screen cap from the new Unexplained Death video for “Wall Street Pete (Daddy’s Money).”

by Tim McMahan,

Matt Whipkey has been working on a secret project for a number of months. He’s known for a style of music that falls somewhere in the folk rock / Americana / alt country / singer-songwriter genres. The new project, going by the name Unexplained Death, is Whipkey’s take on punk as only he can.

His first angry solvo has been hurled at Pete Ricketts and the Ricketts family in general. Called “Wall Street Pete (Daddy’s Money)” it throws the Ricketts spaghetti agaisnt the wall. See what pieces stick below.

I asked Whipkey, “Why punk, why now?”

“Look at the world; it’s a flaming shit storm. In all directions, fireballs of shit flying,” Whipkey said. “A lot of musicians are speaking out against the current state of affairs and that is great, but a lot of these songs are borderline lullabies.”

Whipkey’s abrupt change in musical style also is the result of too often being hung with the “Americana, singer/songwriter” genre tag. “I’ve carried it for a long time,” he said.

So is what he’s doing punk? Probably not in the truest sense. This song and others off the upcoming collection fall closer to Replacements-style indie rock.

“When I was learning to play guitar, these were the kind of jams I first figured out,” he said. “Fast and loud is definitely part of my nature. In no way am I claiming to be a punk purist. I still like melody too much. But the energy it carries has always been a part of my identity.”

The Unexplained Death songs were mostly recorded in Whipkey’s unfinished basement. “I did the drums for some songs at Scott Gaeta’s (studio),” Whipkey said. “I mixed all the songs and even played everything (sans drums).”

He’s looking for a record label to put it out, but, “I have little hope because the music industry is also part of that flaming shit storm.”

We’re all still waiting for the first Unexplained Death rock show; do you hear that Lookout Lounge and The Brothers?

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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.


Weekend in Review: Almost Music (Pagan Athletes, Wagon Blasters), Matt Whipkey; No Thanks, Hussies tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:51 pm February 4, 2019

Matt Whipkey and his band at Reverb Lounge Feb. 2, 2019.

by Tim McMahan,

It was a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at Almost Music Saturday night around 8 p.m., the store filled with revelers celebrating the unfortunate demise of an Omaha music store. Some of the book shelves had been moved out of the Solid Jackson side to make room for the crowds watching the bands. In back they were doling out what can only be described as “doses” of the Nite Owl “punch” that indeed packed one. It was a happy though solemn affair as we were all happy to see the bands and each other, and sad that it was the last day for Almost Music and Solid Jackson, a store that will never be equaled (Unless Brad decides to open one again some day).

So crowded was the store that we couldn’t see Pagan Athletes, who were performing on the other side of the room. The synth/drummer duo was knocking out crazy futuristic jams, hyper-kinetic instrumentals that held the crowd in a trance with its jittery swing. The fine young man standing next to me drinking the blood-colored punch from a coffee cup said the band consists of John Wolf’s sons! Wolf is nothing less than an Omaha music legend behind such great bands as Cellophane Ceiling and Bad Luck Charm (among others). No doubt talent runs in the family. Check out some Pagan Athletes demos below.


Wagon Blasters at Almost Music’s farewell show, Feb. 2, 2019.

Speaking of legends, Pagan Athletes was followed by Wagon Blasters, the next evolutionary step in the ever mutating genre of Nebraska Tractor Punk. Gary Dean Davis was in his usual fine form, as was the rest of the band, who I could barely see while standing  atop a three-foot step ladder, where I took the above photo (I never got a clear shot of Pagan Athletes).

We only hung around for a couple Blasters songs, overcome by ennui generated by the knowledge that we wouldn’t be able to stop into Almost Music again on Saturdays after lunch at Noli’s. Brad, we salute you (and by the way, you hit the nail squarely on the head with that Rat Columns album — primo!).

We headed cross town to catch Matt Whipkey’s set at Reverb Lounge. Whipkey has been performing in a variety of bands and projects for almost two decades, and while rock has always been the staple, his style has varied from Americana to heavy metal (or close to it). That variety makes for a fine selection of songs and styles, which we got a heathy sample of Saturday night.

It’s become known in some circles that Whipkey has been working on a secret project, and sure enough he rolled out one of those songs last night — a punk version of “Fred, You’re Dead” (of which there’s a slower version on his last album, Driver). When will Whipkey reveal this full punk project? Only time will tell…

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Tonight Cam Stout celebrates her birthday at The Brothers Lounge. I don’t know who Cam is, but I like her taste in music, as the bands No Thanks and Hussies are both performing in her honor. $5, 10 p.m. Happy Birthday, Cam…

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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.


King Tuff, See Through Dresses, TFOA, HFM, #BFF tonight; Almost Music-fest, Matt Whipkey Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:46 pm February 1, 2019

Almost Music calls it quits with a huge rock show this Saturday.

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to it, tickets went on sale today for both the March 21 Better Oblivion Community Center (Conor Oberst/Phoebe Bridgers) show at The Slowdown and the two-night stand by The Faint at The Waiting Room May 24 & 25. Better get on it before tix are gone…

Now, on with the weekend…

Sub Pop recording artist King Tuff plays tonight at Slowdown Jr. King Tuff a.k.a. Kyle Thomas was a member of Ty Segall’s band The Muggers. The Reader‘s Houstin Wiltsey has an interview/feature with King Tuff online right here, which you should really check out before the show. Australian psych-rock band Stonefield opens at 9 p.m. $17.

Also tonight See Through Dresses kicks off its latest tour with a show at The Sydney in Benson. This is a big one that also includes Those Far Out Arrows, Lincoln’s Her Flyaway Manner and the always awesome Tyrone Storm. Music starts at 10 p.m and it’s the usual $5. Get there early and check out the multi-artist art opening that benefits the amazing Youth Emergency Services. More info here. It’s all part of Benson First Friday (#BFF).

Speaking of BFF, if you’re in Benson for the festivities, swing by The Little Gallery (my wife’s place) and check out this month’s opening featuring the art of Bob Matthews. The Little Gallery is at 5901 Maple St. in the east bay of the Masonic Lodge building. Stop in and say hello. We’re there from 6 to 9 p.m. More info here.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the Almost Music Going Out of Business Music Festival, a stupendous line-up of bands that starts at 4 p.m. Get in on the music and leave with some bargains as the store will have deeply discounted vinyl available. It’s free, though donations are welcomed; it’s BYOB; and Nite Owl is preparing a “special punch” for the occasion. And it’ll be a good chance to say goodbye to Brad and thank him for all he’s done. Here’s the set times:

Bad Actors (first show): 4:15-5:00
Eric in Outerspace: 5:15-6:00
Kyle Jessen: 6:00-6:45
Putter & Co.: 6:45-7:30
Little Ripple: 7:30-8:15
Pagan Athletes: 8:15-9:00
Wagon Blasters: 9:00-9:45
Houma: 9:45-10:30
Conny Franko: 10:30-11:15
BIB: 11:15-midnight

Also Saturday night Matt Whipkey headlines at Reverb Lounge. Will Matt roll out a few new (punk) songs during his set? You’ll have to go and see. Hot new band Garst opens at 9 p.m. $8.

That’s all I got. 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.