Congress passes #SaveOurStages Act; new Bryce Hotz (Lodgings)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:48 am December 22, 2020

Maybe Christmas and Hanukah will be a little merrier for club owners this year now that the Save Our Stages Act has passed as part of the COVID-19 relief bill.

For those of you not keeping track, club owners and promoters pulled together early in the pandemic and formed the National Independent Venue Association — or NIVA — to rally the troops to contact their lawmakers to get this legislation passed. It became attached to the bigger omnibus relief package in late summer and passed in the House but — as we all know — sat on Sen. McConnell’s desk ever since, waiting for a Senate vote.

According to NIVA: “The legislation provides critical help to shuttered businesses by providing a grant equal to 45% of gross revenue from 2019, with a cap of $10 million per entity. This grant funding will ensure recipients can stay afloat until reopening by helping with expenses like payroll and benefits, rent and mortgage, utilities, insurance, PPE, and other ordinary and necessary business expenses.”

Trump has yet to sign the bill, but he will. He better. Next up, NIVA is working with the Small Business Administration to make sure the money gets distributed as the bill intended. And while no doubt this will be a great help, something tells me that more relief funds will be needed since it’s going to take a shit-ton amount of time to get that vaccine in everyone’s arm…

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You may know Bryce Hotz as the frontman to Omaha indie powerhouse Lodgings, whose 2019 album, Water Works, was one of my favorites that year. Well, encapsulated as we all are in this COVID cocoon, Hotz has been working on new solo material and yesterday released the first track, titled “All the Rain.”

It’s a sort of stoner-esque departure from the Lodgings’ material. Hotz says it’s more in line with his 2011 solo album, Fix’r Up’r, which you also can find at his Bandcamp page.

Expect Hotz’s full-length by the close of 2021. By then hopefully he’ll be hosting a real, live album-release show.

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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.


Have we taken live music for granted (in the column); it’s time to write your representative (again)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:14 pm November 16, 2020
Skeleton Crew: Conor Oberst joined Phoebe Bridgers on stage at The Troubadour in West Hollywood during the live-streamed Save Our Stages Festival Oct. 21, 2020.

The National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) is making another push for you and me to write our representatives in Washington to get the Save Our Stages Act included in the next COVID-19 relief package, which is apparently being negotiated now.

All you have to do is go to this web page and fill out the form. You can use their sample letter or write one of your own. Once you hit the submit button, it’ll go to the right offices of your Congressional representatives. It really does only take 30 seconds and it could make all the difference.

Click this, go there, and do it now.

Along those lines, the November issue of The Reader is out now with my column that focuses on the Save Our Stages efforts while asking if we’ve taken live music for granted. It’s online at The Reader website, here and I’ve also included it below. Please to enjoy:

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Have We Taken Live Music for Granted?

#SaveOurStages is a lifeline for the live music industry

As I type this I’m watching the Save Our Stages Fest (#SOSFest) on Oct. 21, a few weeks before the election. Indie phenom Phoebe Bridgers and her band are dressed in skeleton costumes played alone in the West Hollywood bar where Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt paid their dues.

Singer/songwriter pals Conor Oberst and Christian Lee Hutson joined in the streamed event. A little over halfway through the set between songs about death and loneliness Phoebe turned to the camera and said, “Click the donate button because….” After a long pause Conor chimed in: “Because we need a place to play.

That was the reason for SOS Fest. The three-day virtual festival featured 35 artists performing at 25 venues beamed directly to your computer or phone screen, with proceeds benefiting independent music venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you read this, the election is (hopefully) over. No matter who won, there’s still a shit-ton of problems to solve thanks to COVID-19. Somewhere on that long list after “figure out a way to keep people from dying (or at the very least from catching the disease)” is “figure out a way to reopen the rest of the country for business.”

While 90 percent of U.S. businesses have reopened, the first businesses to shut down — the bars and music venues — are still closed. And many could stay that way for a very long time.

Beginning in April, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) — a group of more than 2,900 independent music venues and promoters — has lobbied Congress to pass legislation that provides recovery funds and tax credits to help venues survive during the pandemic. First it was the Save Our Stages Act, which passed in the House; and now the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act is being considered in the Senate as part of the CARES Act.

NIVA asked music fans to write their lawmakers urging them to support the bills, and they have to the tune of nearly 2 million emails. (And more letters are needed. You can write your representative from this handy page on the NIVA website. It only takes 30 seconds!).

But here we are on Oct. 21 and Congress has yet to pass anything, while the future of the live music industry grows bleaker and bleaker. According to a survey of NIVA members, 90 percent of independent venues will close permanently without federal aid in the coming months.

We’re already seeing it here. The Lookout Lounge on 72nd Street closed permanently earlier this summer, and The Barley Street Tavern in Benson gave up the ghost in September. What role COVID-19 played in those closings is uncertain, though it no doubt helped rush some decisions. Now I’m told a third well known club is on the verge of shutting down.

And while two of the best stages in Omaha — The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge — have reopened, they’re only booking comedy acts and cover bands at very limited capacity shows. Downtown showcase The Slowdown held an outdoor festival in its parking lot featuring local acts just to remind people it was still there, though its doors remain locked.

With stages dark, musicians also toil in darkness. According to Business Insider, with the decline in album sales, live events provide 75 percent of all artists’ income. Strangely, thankfully, a ton of new music has been released during the lock down (including albums by Bright Eyes and Phoebe Bridgers) despite the fact that no one is touring.

Three things:

One: Legislation will pass. It has to. It may not be ’til after a new Congress is in place (or heck, it may happen before this column sees print), but it will happen. Too many people have been without for too long. The assistance needed for bars and venues to survive that’s outlined in SOS and HEROES acts will be among the law’s provisions. But it won’t be near enough.

Two: We will climb this mountain of a pandemic and come out on the other side. But it’ll take more than a vaccine. It’ll take a concerted effort by everyone, regardless of political leaning, to do what scientists say we need to do.

And three: Venues will reopen at full capacity, and bands will begin playing and touring again. But, god help us, it may not be until this time next year, or even later. And when the smoke clears, the venue landscape will look very different.

Once people feel safe again, fans will flock to clubs like they never have before thanks to a hunger for live entertainment. But you’ll be surprised how quickly people forget what they’ve been through.

The sad fact is we’ve always taken live music for granted. While ticket prices for arena shows have gone up around 30 percent over the past five years, according to Fast Company those increases haven’t kept up with prices for other forms of entertainment.

It’s the same story for small touring bands that, prior to the pandemic, were lucky to get home from tours with anything in their pockets. Ticket prices for touring indie shows have risen only gradually over the past five years, always being outpaced by the costs required to tour.

And then there are local shows.

I’ve covered live music for more than 30 years. When I started, the cover charge to see live, original bands was $5. Thirty years later, the cover at small clubs is still $5 for local shows, while some larger venues have pumped it up to a whopping $7 or $8. Try splitting that between three bands and a sound guy.

Why are we willing to spend up to $15 to see a movie, but won’t spend $15 to see a live local band, to hear music performed in front of our eyes by living, breathing musicians who put themselves out there for our amusement and/or enlightenment? At the end of a typical night at a rock club, too many local bands go home with nothing except an empty wallet and a hangover.

And yet, I’ve never talked to a band that didn’t want to keep doing it. For them, it’s all about the music. It’s certainly not about the money. Why can’t they have both?

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

Originally published in The Reader, November 2020. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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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.


NIVA / YouTube hosts #SOSFEST (and why isn’t it being aired on TV?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:49 pm October 15, 2020

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is really pushing this weekend’s streamed Save Our Stages Festival #SOSFEST. The event, co-hosted with YouTube, is an effort to drive donations to NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits “independent venues in peril.”

The three-day festival showcases performances by a lot of the country’s top pop stars that I frankly don’t give a shit about, acts like Miley Cirus, Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews (Phoebe Bridgers is the only indie act I recognize on the list). But I get it, they’re after the biggest audience possible, which means the biggest pop stars available.

Which begs the question: Why isn’t this being broadcast on network television? The Save Our Stages and other aspects of the HEROES Act benefits a lot of venues, from concert stages to Broadway stages to any stage that hosts concerts. Saving venues benefits artists, many of whom are television staples. Keeping these stages open only benefits the television industry that thrives on the talent that crosses those stages.

Instead, it’s being (*ho-hum*) live streamed. By now everyone’s tired of live-streamed performances, whether streamed from people’s bedrooms or from empty auditoriums. They’re just dead boring. I get that it’s the only option, but adding a live broadcast television element to this would, without a doubt, broaden the audience and enhance the experience.

It is, after all, a glorified telethon.

The entertainment industry is really blowing it. NIVA has been pushing for legislation all summer, yet very few artists have mentioned it on television, during broadcast performances or chat-show interviews. By now we should be exhausted of hearing about Save Our Stages; instead the average Joe on the street has no idea what it means.

I just don’t get why every musician isn’t motivated to work 24/7 to get this legislation passed. Every stage that goes dark is one less opportunity to make a living doing your craft.

Anyway, tune in if you want, or just make a donation to the Emergency Relief Fund.

#SOSFest Full Line-up And Schedule

FRIDAY, October 16
5 PM PT / 8 PM ET – Alec Benjamin, Hotel Cafe
5:30 PM PT / 8:30 PM ET – FINNEAS, Teragram Ballroom
6 PM PT / 9 PM ET – Sebastián Yatra, Broward Center 
6:40 PM PT / 9:40 PM ET – Dizzy Fae, First Avenue
7:10 PM PT / 10:10 PM ET – Macklemore, Neumos
7:50 PM PT / 10:50 PM ET – YG, Troubadour
8:15 PM PT / 11:15 PM ET – G-Eazy, The Independent
8:45 PM PT / 11:45 PM ET – Marshmello + Demi Lovato, Troubadour 
8:55 PM PT / 11:55 PM ET – Dillion Francis, Teragram Ballroom 

SATURDAY, October 17
1 PM PT / 4 PM ET – Jason Mraz, Belly Up Tavern
1:40 PM PT / 4:40 PM ET – Adam Melchor, Hotel Cafe
2:10 PM PT / 5:10 PM ET – Kelsea Ballerini, Exit/In
2:40 PM PT / 5:40 PM ET – JP Saxe, Troubadour
3:15 PM PT / 6:15 PM ET – Cautious Clay, World Cafe Live
3:55 PM PT / 6:55 PM ET – Bea Miller, Teragram Ballroom
4;35 PM PT / 7:35 PM ET – Gus Dapperton, (Le) Poisson Rouge
5:15 PM PT / 8:15 PM ET – Phoebe Bridgers, Troubadour
6:00 PM PT / 9 PM ET – Rise Against, Metro
6:25 PM PT / 9:25 PM ET – Brittany Howard, Ryman Auditorium
6:55 PM PT / 9:55 PM ET – Leon Bridges, Troubadour
7:15 PM PT / 10:15 PM ET – Miley Cyrus, Whisky a Go-Go
7:35 PM PT / 10:35 PM ET – Foo Fighters, Troubadour
8:10 PM PT / 11:10 PM ET – The Roots, Apollo
9:20 PM PT / 12:20 AM ET – Portugal. The Man, Crystal Ballroom
10:10 PM PT / 1:10 AM ET – Major Lazer, Gramps 

SUNDAY, October 18
2 PM PT / 5 PM ET – Little Big Town, Exit/in
2:35 PM PT / 5:35 PM ET – Brothers Osborne, Mercy Lounge
3:05 PM PT / 6:05 PM ET – Dave Matthews, Jefferson Theater
3:40 PM PT / 6:40 PM ET – Monica, Center Stage
3:55 PM PT / 6:55 PM ET – Black Pumas, The Parish
4:10 PM PT / 7:10 PM ET – Nathaniel Rateliff, Boulder Theater
4:50 PM PT / 7:50 PM ET – Reba McEntire, Ryman Auditorium
5:30 PM PT / 8:30 PM ET – The Revivalists, Tipitina’s
6:05 PM PT / 9:05 PM ET – The Lumineers, Boulder Theater

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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.


Save Our Stages (SOS) Act included in revised HEROES Act; review: Christian Lee Hutson…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 29, 2020

Yesterday an updated Heroes Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. This is legislation that, among other things, will extend unemployment benefits to those impacted by COVID-19. This new revision (surprise-surprise) included the Save Our Stages — or SOS Act.

To save you time reading the massive 87-page title-by-title summary document (the actual HEROES Act is 2,150 pages long, wouldn’t you hate to be a politician?), the summary language is:

Section 619: Grants for Independent Live Venue Operators (H.R. 7806, Save our Stages Act or the SOS Act)

  1. Authorizes $10 Billion for the SBA to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues.
  2. The SBA may make an initial grant of up to $12 million dollars to an eligible operator, promoter, producer, or talent representative; and a supplemental grant that is equal to 50% of the initial grant.
  3. Such grants shall be used for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.

This all seems well and good, but, of course, it has to pass the House and then the Senate, and there’s no guarantee this language will survive. Or that Trump would sign it.

Look, I know this shit’s boring to some of you but it’s super important. And if you don’t believe me, check out this list of venues that have closed as a result of COVID-19, published by Billboard last week. No Nebraska venue is on the list, though we can point to Lookout Lounge as one of COVID-19’s casualties.

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Random review…

Christian Lee Hutson, Beginners (2020, Anti-) — Kind of Sufjan Stevens, early Pete Yorn, no question Simon and Garfunkel and lots of Elliott Smith. I think of him in conjunction with Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst because he was a member of Better Oblivion Community Center. And while Oberst has a better way with words and Phoebe has a sweeter voice, Hutson is a stronger songwriter melody-wise than both of them. He writes in a quiet, indie-folk tradition, mostly confessional lyrics as if singing from a journal, which makes these songs maybe a bit too personal to reach a wider audience. They’re heart-breakers, played on chiming acoustic guitar, sung in a voice that’s more Paul than Art. The single “Get the Old Band Back Together” sounds like an out-take from XO until the drums come in and amps things up. It’s the star and a standout, along with “Northsiders,” in a collection of stars and standouts.

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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.


The Slowdown’s ‘pods’ explained (show Friday); #NIVA asks Congress #DoNotAbandonUs…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm September 17, 2020

When The Slowdown posted their announcement that they’ve teamed up with the Maha Festival folks for an outdoor concert series to be performed in the Slowdown parking lot, I tripped over the COVID stipulation that your $15 ticket gets you access to an outdoor “pod.”

WTF’s a pod?

“A pod is a 10-foot by 10-foot U-shaped space made with sections of 3-foot-tall fence (called ‘bike rack’ in the biz),” said Slowdown’s top banana Jason Kulbel. “These are spaced six feet apart. We’ll have about 40 of them in the lot.”

Ten people maximum per pod. So does that mean I could end up sharing a pod with very hip but total strangers? Could I get my own private pod for my $15 ticket?

“Maybe if you took one at the back,” Kulbel said. “We decided to do these GA instead of a ‘you need to spend $120 and buy the whole thing’ approach. We’ll have staff to help sort/seat (and note that if you like that seat, bring along a lawn chair).”

It sounds cozy. It sounds fun. Most of all, it sounds safe. And, of course, all the specifics about pods and other COVID-related regulations surrounding the live concerts are online right here on the Slowdown website.

The first in the concert series is tomorrow (Friday) at 6:30 p.m. with Clarence Tilton and Pony Creek. In addition to your lawn chair you may want to bring a cowboy hat.


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Yesterday the folks at National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), who have been lobbying you to send a plea to your Congress-person to get on board with the Save Our Stages Act, cc’d me on a letter sent to Congress with this dire message:

We write to express our dire need for assistance, and to urge you to move quickly to pass additional COVID relief. Absent a deal by the end of September, our businesses will disappear, millions of Americans will permanently lose their jobs, and entire industries will take decades to recover, if they do at all.

Some stats to back it up: According to Yelp, more than 163,000 businesses have already closed, 60% permanently. That number rises daily. More than 22 million jobs have been lost due to the pandemic and less than half have been recovered. The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that 42% of recent layoffs will be permanent losses.

Along with NIVA, the letter, which was headed with this hashtag: #DoNotAbandonUs, was co-signed by organizations Arthouse Convergence,, International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, League of Historic American Theaters Live Events Coalition, The Main Street Alliance, National Association of Theatre Owners and National Independent Talent Organization.

Things are getting scary. They already were scary for these guys, but now they’re getting very real and very permanent. If you want to do your part, go to the NIVA website and fill out the letter that will automatically be sent to your representative in Washington. Let your voice be heard before it’s too late.

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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.


James Scurlock rock ballad and who is Koso?; Maha/Slowdown concert series; Bacon supports #SaveOurStages; new Anna McClellan…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:44 pm September 11, 2020
Omaha singer/songwriter Anna McClellan has a new album coming out Nov. 20 on Father/Daughter Records.

Here’s just a big ol’ stew of music news to chew on over your live-music-less weekend…

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Call it a protest song or simply the voicing of pure rage, but yesterday the track “The Potential of Getting Violent,” popped up on Bandcamp by a band named Koso. The brooding, dark rocker is a white-knuckle indictment of those involved in the James Scurlock homicide, name-checking everyone from Jacob Gardner to Don Kleine to Jean Stothert by someone who sounds very familiar with the matter. Among the song’s most barbed lines:

So we can’t defund police
Cause murderers will run free
I know one that you missed
He murdered a man in the streets

The only information listed about Koso is that the band is from Omaha. All proceeds from purchases of the track “will be donated to the family of James Scurlock.” Check it out below.

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Yesterday Maha and Slowdown announced a partnership for a series of outdoor concerts to be held in the Slowdown parking lot in the coming weeks.

Running every Friday and Saturday from Sept. 18 to Oct. 3, the events feature a range of locals acts, and marks a reopening of sorts for The Slowdown, which has been closed since March due to the pandemic.

From the press release:

We have this large lot, the weather is still in our favor, bands are available to play, and there’s a way to do this safely,” said Slowdown owner Jason Kulbel.

We’re beyond thrilled to have the chance to help put on something fun while it’s still 2020,” added Maha Executive Director Lauren Martin. “Plus, Omaha’s live music venues are hurting badly, and supporting events like these is one way to help.” 

The set up will be a bit awkward, as is necessary with COVID-19 still blazing through our community. “The lot will be divided into individual sections, or ‘pods,’ each with a maximum capacity of 10 people,” says the press release. “Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, and face masks must be worn at all times when outside of your pod.” It’s not clear as to whether you share the pod with people you came with or with strangers. For example, if I buy one ticket, do I get my own pod or do I have to get in a pod with a bunch of strangers to fill it to the 10-person capacity? I’m sure we’ll find out before the first concert, which is next Friday, Sept. 18, with Clarence Tilton and Pony Creek.

Here’s the full schedule:

Sept. 18: Clarence Tilton/Pony Creek; $15, 6:30 p.m. start time
Sept. 19: Rhythm Collective, Ro Hempel Band, Dereck Higgins; $15, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 25: Kolby Cooper, Pecos & the Rooftops; $15, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 26: Andrea von Kampen, Matt Cox; $15, 4 p.m.
Oct. 2: PetRock; $25, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 3: Mesonjoxx, And How, Cameron Logsdon, Anginas Sada, Those Far Out Arrows, Kethro; $15, 3 p.m.

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The folks at the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Tuesday sent out yet another letter asking folks to please, please, please write your congressmen and tell them to support the Save Our Stages Act, a bi-partisan relief bill to assist independent venues as they try to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, nearly 2 million letters of support have been sent by fans urging passage of the bill.

The NIVA letter said the bill now has 144 co-sponsors. And while no Nebraska senators are among them, Nebraska District 2 Congressman Don Bacon was listed as having signed on as a co-sponsor. This, of course, comes as something as a shock, as I assumed no Republican from Nebraska gave a shit about live music, but here you go. Give credit where credit is due.

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Finally, yesterday Anna McClellan, one of my favorite Omaha musicians, announced her new album, I Saw First Light, is coming out Nov. 20 on cool indie label Father/Daughter Records (Diet Cig, Pure Bathing Culture, Bent Shapes).

From the press release: “The album was recorded over two weeks with a multitude of local cohorts, and it documents Anna’s journey from the Midwest to the east coast and back again, probing both the roots of her creative impetus and her ongoing commitment to social issues.”

Preorder here, and check out the first two tracks, “Pace of the Universe,” and “Desperate,” below:

That’s all I got. 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.


New Las Cruxes; Lookout Lounge closes; Deb Fischer responds again to RESTART; Schumer supports Save Our Stages…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:03 pm August 26, 2020
Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016. The punk venue/bar reportedly has closed down for good.

Omaha Spanish-language punk band Las Cruxes has dropped a couple new singles in Spotify — “Solo Tu” and “Para Mi.” Both are part of a new full-length coming out next month on cassette tape from CINTAS in Mexico and digitally from Afonico/Sony U.S. Latin right here in the the states. Check the single below via Spotify.

The band is having a release show Sept. 12 outside at Dr. Jacks Drinkery with The Hussies, Mere Shadow and Killer Moon from Chicago. Why aren’t more clubs doing socially-distanced outdoor gigs on weekends?


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Well, as you may or may not know, efforts by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to get legislation passed that would help the live music industry have so far failed. They wanted something done prior to Congress leaving on its summer break, but weren’t successful; and now the Senate is gone for the balance of the month.

I did get another response to the email I sent through the Save Our Stages / NIVA website. This time Sen. Deb Fischer did acknowledge the RESTART Act, but said it, “has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, of which I am not a member.” She then went on to laud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which doesn’t help most venues.

Please know I am committed to supporting Nebraska’s businesses during this stressful time and targeting aid to areas where it is needed most, and I will keep your thoughts in mind regarding the RESTART Act and the live entertainment industry,” the form letter concluded.

I haven’t heard from anyone else in Washington regarding NIVA efforts. Is Ben Sasse getting my letters? I’d love to hear his swinging repartee on why he doesn’t support this legislation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer last week announced he’s co-sponsoring the Save Our Stages Act. The legislation provides support for independent live music venues that have lost nearly 100 percent of their revenue since the pandemic began in March.  The companion bill in the House is H.R. 7806.

Said Schumer: “I’m proud to co-sponsor the Save Our Stages Act, and I’ll fight to include federal funding for independent venues in any coronavirus relief legislation.”  

Too bad he’s the minority leader in the senate, because it really comes down to what Moscow Mitch wants to do, and he ain’t doing nothing.

But like I always say, that shouldn’t stop you from going to the NIVA website and sending and email in support of both RESTART and Save Our Stages legislation. It takes less than a minute, and you may even get your own fancy (canned) response from Deb Fischer. Click this link and do your thing.

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If you’re a music fan and you think the above isn’t important, you’re going to be in for a shock over the coming months when venues begin shutting down for good. It’s already happening.

Though nothing has been officially announced, word on the street is Lookout Lounge on north 72nd Street has shut down forever. The club prided itself on booking some of the heaviest punk and metal shows in the area, and was probably one of the more active rooms in Omaha. The few times I went there was like stepping back into the ’90s (in a good way).

I don’t know what happened, but I can speculate that no shows and not being open meant no income which meant no money to pay the landlord and other costs. So many clubs were riding on a razor’s edge financially before the pandemic struck.

Anyway, that’s exactly what RESTART and Save Our Stages legislation is designed to prevent, if they could ever get one or both of them passed…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog (mostly) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Reverb Lounge remodels before reopening; RESTART venue support legislation gets final push before August recess…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:00 pm July 22, 2020
Reverb Lounge: Under Construction

The above picture was posted on the Reverb Lounge Facebook page last week and shows that there no longer is a wall separating the venue’s music performance space from the bar. The remodel is one of the reasons why Reverb hasn’t reopened yet.

Marc Leibowitz, who runs Reverb along with business partner Jim Johnson, said the wall coming down is the biggest part of the venue’s remodel. “We are doubling the PA that covers the whole space, but not many other changes really,” he said. “Reverb will now be a full-time venue. It will only be open when there is an event.”

While Reverb’s separate performance room was unique, it was also strangely antiseptic, almost clinical in nature, as if you were entering an examination room, whereas the rest of Reverb felt like a (clean) lived-in corner bar. Making the venue one large room will be as dramatic a change as when The Waiting Room “opened up” its stage area a few years back — a huge improvement. With the wall down, Reverb’s performance-space capacity will increase, which could mean larger, more popular bands playing its stage.

Leibowitz said Reverb will reopen sometime in August. Now what about The Slowdown?

Jason Kulbel, who runs The Slowdown, said the reopening date for the downtown venue is still up in the air, as the club is in the process of moving all its scheduled August shows. “The two touring shows we had postponed late last week, so that forced the hand,” he said.

Touring appears to be dead. Just glancing at band promo materials in my in-box, there are no national tours going on this year; in fact, I’m not seeing anything for 2021, either.

And beginning late last week I finally began seeing a few impassioned pleas by artists for people to write Congress to get on board with the RESTART Act (S. 3814), legislation being pushed by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). I was going to write a column about it for next month’s issue of The Reader, until I found out from NIVA that would probably be too late.

“We need to have legislation passed by the August recess or we can expect hundreds of independent venues across the country to fold,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA’s communications director. The Senate’s August recess begins Aug. 7, and the weasels aren’t scheduled to return until Sept. 8. Never mind that the country is suffering from a 100-year pandemic.

Schaefer said the list of co-sponsors “grows every day,” which is another reason for an all-out push to send a letter to our congressmen. Unfortunately, we live in Nebraska, where our red politicians could give a shit about art, culture and the future of live music.

But that shouldn’t stop you from going to the NIVA “Take Action page” and adding your name to the list of those who sent a letter urging Fischer, Sasse and Bacon to support and cosponsor S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act. If you’re gonna do it, do it now. It takes less than a minute to fill out the form.

You may get back the same form letter I got from Deb Fischer, which boasts about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

But PPP loans are only fully forgivable if companies keep all of their employees on the payroll or rehire them within eight weeks of receiving the loan, which most venues can’t do.

Fischer, Sasse and Bacon know this, but do they care?

Every year, more and more talented people, musicians, artists and young professionals are moving out of Nebraska to places like LA, Portland, Seattle and New York, and politicians are left scratching their heads wondering why-why-why?

You have efforts like Blueprint Nebraska, whose “vision” is: “Our people, land, and location will propel Nebraska to be the most welcoming Midwest state for youth, talent, investment, and commerce and a national model for continuous growth and prosperity.

What a joke. The number one reason young people are leaving this state is its political and social environment. They’re tired of living in a red state that doesn’t care about anything but its perceived “family values,” and which views the arts as some sort of frivolous, childish novelty that has no intrinsic value. The lack of support by our representatives for the RESTART Act is proof of this. Once the young artists, musicians and professionals begin to realize that things will never change, they start looking for a better place to live, a place that values what they can offer. And who can blame them?

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Write your congress person!; FXTHR^ (a.k.a. Dustin Bushon) tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:40 pm May 14, 2020

FXTHR^ live streams tonight from Low End at the Bemis.

by Tim McMahan,

There hasn’t been a heckuva lot to write about music wise over the past few weeks. At some point we’re going to start to get an idea how the clubs are going to react to COVID in regards to reopening their stages, but who knows when that’s going to happen.

You saw what Slowdown is doing in the interim, and while it’ll be a fun distraction amidst this void in live entertainment, it is by no means a true replacement. BTW, someone asked where the money’s going for those Slowdown shows, and the answer is the bands and crew, according to Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel.

In the meantime, if you haven’t gone to NIVA website and sent a letter to your reps in Washington telling them to get off their asses and help save live music, you should. The link is right here. It’ll take you 30 seconds.

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Speaking of live streams, there is one tonight being brought to you by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, specifically the folks who opened Low End late last year. Tonight they’re hosting a live stream featuring the noise/art/rock act FXTHR^ a.k.a. Dustin Bushon. Joining him is visual artist Alex Myers.

The stream begins at 8 p.m. You can watch live on Instagram: and Twitch: . More info here.

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Last but not least, due to a back-office/clerical/editorial error, my Over the Edge column wasn’t published in the May issue of The Reader, which was devoted to writers’ COVID-related experiences. The column is online, however. Read about how I’m adapting to COVID-19 and learn about a 1971 film starring Charlton Heston. Check it out. I should be back in the printed pages of The Reader next month, barring any more snafus…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


One Percent says tell Congress to #SaveOurStages; new Shiner (after 19 years)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:19 pm May 5, 2020

It’s time to write congress and tell them to save the live music industry.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ve been waiting for this NIVA thing to take off and maybe this is the week it happens.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group of more than 1,200 independent music venues and promoters in all 50 states, which I wrote about here.

Today, One Percent Productions joined those venues and promoters nationally urging folks like us — music lovers who go to rock shows — to write Congress and ask them to protect the live music industry and everyone it touches by providing financial support necessary for it to survived and reopen after COVID ends.

When this crisis began, independent music venues were the first to close, and we will be the last to open. While completely shuttered, we have no revenue, our employees and artists are without jobs, and normal bills keep coming, regardless,” wrote One Percent Productions, which runs Reverb Lounge, The Waiting Room and brings in the best touring indie bands to perform throughout our city.

They’re asking us to go to and send a message to our senators and congress people.

Yell it, scream it, clap your hands, and pound your feet like you’re calling the band back for an encore! Please help us ensure we survive by using your voice now (and tell a friend or 100 friends!). #SaveOurStages.

NIVA sent out its initial call for legislation a couple weeks ago. I haven’t heard whether it resulted in any actual legislation. But once that legislation is written or added to another bill, it’ll be even more critical for us to lobby our representatives to support it. The first step is to get off your ass and go to and tell them to start legislating this sucker…

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Kansas City band Shiner has a new album coming out this Friday called Schadenfreude, their first album in 19 years. Check out the first singles, “Paul P. Pogh,” and “Life as a Mannequin.” Just like old times…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.