Steelhouse Omaha announces May 12, 2023, opening; Advance Base, Jim Schroeder tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:03 pm July 19, 2022
Steelhouse Omaha is slated for opening May 12, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Steelhouse Omaha, the new 3,000 capacity standing-room live music venue owned and operated by Omaha Performing Arts, announced today that their grand opening has been set for May 12, 2023.

Steelhouse will be booked by Live Nation, which handles the one of the largest catalogs of touring rock bands in the country, so the opening performer could be just about anyone you could imagine, though no doubt it will be someone who will appeal to the widest possible range of audiences. Look, I’m not expecting LCD Soundsystem. Still, if Steelhouse can book just six quality touring indie acts per year, I’d be happy.

And just as they wind down construction on that $104 million project, OPA announced last week a new $103 million Center for Arts Engagement that will be built in that vacant lot on the east side of the Holland Performing Arts Center. This one is more of an education center, and will include rehearsal space, workroom and classroom space.

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Pageturners Lounge has another pop-up shows tonight, this time featuring Advance Base, the project from Owen Ashworth formerly of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Ashworth has some heavy credits, including contributing to Sun Kil Moon’s exquisite Benji album from 2014. Joining him tonight are Vera Deborah and Jim Schroeder (David Nance Band, UUVVWWZ). $10, 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Opa! New downtown venue is moving right along despite COVID-19…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:59 pm May 6, 2020

by Tim McMahan,

Well, Kevin Coffey is back at the Omaha World-Herald (Yay!), and today reports that Omaha Performing Arts will begin construction of its new $109 million live music venue by the end of summer, according to this article in today’s paper.

That construction schedule was reaffirmed Tuesday in front of the City Council by an attorney representing Omaha Performing Arts,” Kevin wrote. “The city is considering paying for some of the public infrastructure work related to the privately funded music venue.

The venue was announced just last November via a press release (see the Lazy-i story here), leaving more than a few people scratching their head wondering if we really needed yet another live music venue when the ones we already have are struggling to drawing audiences.

Now, during these Days of COVID when independent music promoters and venues are just trying to keep the lights on as they wait for the pandemic to subside, the idea of moving forward with another venue seems foolhardy, especially for a non-profit like Omaha Performing Arts, which suspended all performances at its venues since March 14 through at least mid-May. I wouldn’t be surprised if those postponements stretch into the summer months.

Ah, but when you have the donor power that Omaha Performing Arts has, something like a pandemic isn’t going to slow you down. BTW, Kevin pointed out that the organization rebranded itself “O-pa” last fall (an obvious nod to Omaha’s historic Greek roots?).

The City apparently is going to reimburse O-pa for up to $1.1 million of public improvements during a time when the city budget will be suffering a rather massive shortfall due to loss of tax revenue as a result of the pandemic.

I’ve been told that this project is somehow tied to national promoter Live Nation, who could be involved in booking this new venue. No doubt O-pa doesn’t have the in-house firepower to book the kind of artists needed to fill a 3,000-capacity venue when it opens sometime in 2023. By then, COVID-19 should be merely a painful memory (right?)…

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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.


Look! A new $109 million music venue downtown. Wait, what?; David Nance Group, Long Hots tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:31 pm November 7, 2019

The new Omaha Performing Arts live music venue would cost a cool $109 million.

by Tim McMahan,

By now you’ve probably seen the press release wherein Omaha Performing Arts announces plans to build a $109 million music venue located from Dodge Street to Capitol Avenue between 11th and 12th streets in downtown Omaha. If not, go here now. We’ll wait…

The facility, with a capacity of 1,500 to 3,000 and no fixed seats is slated to open in 2023. According to Kevin Coffey’s article in the Omaha World-Herald, the venue “could accommodate a standing-room crowd for a rock concert or a thrust stage and seating risers for an immersive opera performance.”

A few questions come to mind:

— Who exactly is the target audience for this facility? Is it classical music aficionados or rock fans? Is OPA going to book it? Do they know anything about booking rock shows?
— What hole does this fill that the current arenas as well as the already-announced 1% indoor-outdoor music venue in La Vista doesn’t fill? (Kevin does a great job at the end of his article listing all the existing / coming facilities).
— Why does it cost $109 million?

Seems a bit crazy, but I guess downtown developers are eager to figure out ways to get people to come downtown? And there are plenty of local millionaires (billionaires?) with money burning a hole in their pockets.

From the OPA press release: “We believe the Live Music Venue will significantly improve music opportunities available in Omaha, especially for the key audience demographic of 21 to 45 years old. This proposed O-pa campus expansion provides an excellent fit with the renovations underway along the Riverfront, and will further enhance Omaha’s downtown entryway.”

There’s an argument that this new venue will also somehow help keep young people in our fair city (or attract more young people). As someone aptly put it in one of the many Facebook threads about this topic: Maybe they should take $1 million of the $109 million and apply it to developing the talent that’s already here. Because, folks, we’ve lost a shitload of talented folks over the past couple years, more than than I can remember losing in the past decade. And I don’t think they left because they didn’t have a $109 million venue to perform at.

Anyway, read the OPA press release here.

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David Nance Group returns to The Brothers Lounge tonight and they’re bringing along some Third Man Records label-mates: Long Hots form Philly. You won’t want to miss it, and it’s just $5. Starts at 10 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Dereck Higgins and the life of an artist (in the column); pro panel (Mogis, Fink, Whipkey, Olson), songwriting comp winners tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:27 pm May 11, 2015

Dereck Higgins

Dereck Higgins

by Tim McMahan,

Dereck Higgins has been the topic of a number of cover stories and feature articles over the past year, all of them lauding his musical and artistic achievements. Good stuff, but I noticed none of the stories talked about the struggles Higgins deals with as a working artist and musician whose sole income comes from his music and art.

He talks about those challenges and the decisions he made to get where he is in this month’s Over the Edge column, which you can read online right here at

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As mentioned last week, tonight I’ll be moderating a panel of local professionals involved in the music biz, all of whom you’re probably very familiar with: Mike Mogis, Orenda Fink, Matt Whipkey and CJ Olson. They’ll be providing insights about the music industry from each of their unique perspectives. Mogis from the studio; Olson as an A&R dude; Matt and Orenda as singer/songwriters.

In fact, the audience (which can include you, as this is free and open to the public) is singer/songwriters who took part in the Omaha Performing Arts songwriting contest held in conjunction with their presentation of the Broadway musical Once down at the Orpheum starting tomorrow night. Think of this as a mini-seminar with some of the area’s most successful talent as your teachers.

The panel starts at 6:30 at The Waiting Room and is free. It’s followed by performances from the winners of the OPA songwriting contest. Come on out and see me sweat under The Waiting Room lights.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


HN announces full Good Living Tour lineups; Once songwriting contest (and I’m on the panel); Matt Pond PA tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm May 7, 2015

Matt Pond PA

Matt Pond PA at Slowdown Jr., May 11, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

First, if you haven’t already, check out this week’s podcast. Reviews of albums from Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, John Klemmensen and the Party and Simon Joyner, with special guest Chris Aponick, plus a HUGE concert announcement (that we made online here yesterday and that you’re going to get sick of hearing about). Check it out.

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Over the course of what seems like a month (But was only a week or so) Hear Nebraska has  announced the line-ups of its Good Living Tour — a series of concerts the org is putting together in towns west of Omaha and Lincoln. It’s kind of like musical missionary work.

Actually, that’s a very pretentious way of putting it. It’s not as if the people in small towns don’t have access to the internet, where music lives these days. You can’t point to their lack of a terrestrial radio station that plays local music on rotation because, well, Omaha doesn’t have one of those, either.

That said, it’s safe to say that someone in West Point or Valentine is out of touch with indie rock bands in Omaha and Lincoln because the vast majority of people in Omaha and Lincoln also are out of touch with these same bands. Brad Hoshaw and John Klemmensen may draw a few hundred people to their album release shows; but that leaves about 800,000 people in Omaha who still don’t know who they are.

And as I’ve said before (broken record) the next time you’re in line at Hy-Vee tap the shoulder of the person in front of you and ask if they know who Cursive or Conor Oberst is, or for that matter, what Hear Nebraska is. Let’s not kid ourselves. The organization still has a lot of work to do to get the word out in its own back yard, let alone in rural Nebraska.

Still, this is a cool project that sits at the heart of what Hear Nebraska is all about. It’s rare for the folks in these towns to see these bands perform. Check out these dates and line-ups, gas up and take a road trip:

July 17 — Imperial
The Talbott Brothers
See Through Dresses
The Bottle Tops

July 18 — Ogallala
Lloyd McCarter

July 19 — Gering/Scottsbluff
McCarthy Trenching

July 20 — Valentine
Kris Lager Band
All Young Girls Are Machine Guns

July 21 — North Platte
M34n Str33t
Brad Hoshaw
A Ferocious Jungle Cat

July 22 — Kearney
Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers
The Seen
Mike Adams and Friends

July 23 — West Point
Rock Paper Dynamite
John Klemmensen and the Party
Dustin Prinz

July 24 — Nebraska City
A Summer Better Than Yours
Kill County
The So-So Sailors

July 25 — Grand Island
Simon Joyner & The Ghosts
Icky Blossoms

More info, including times and venue locations, are available right here at

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When I agreed to be the moderator of next Monday’s “pro panel” discussion sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts that’s being held at The Waiting Room (Mike Mogis, CJ Olson, Orenda Fink, Matt Whipkey, 6 p.m, free!) I didn’t know I also was volunteering to be a judge in a songwriting contest. I, uh, don’t usually like music contests, of any kind. Songwriters competing against each other, what’s the point? Is one song really better than another? In this case, yes.

The contestants were told to use the Broadway musical Once as an inspiration (the touring company version is currently performing the musical at the Orpheum). I listened to 50 entries, all posted on YouTube, along with a panel of judges. The obvious choices floated to the surface, and the top 20 songwriters who entered will be performing on stage after the panel discussion. The top two won something coveted by a lot of musicians (local and otherwise): Recording time with Mike Mogis at ARC Studio. Impressive.

So the winners were: Luke Heffron, 17, of Omaha won for “Forget Myself” in the 13-18 Age Division, and Drew Nenemen, 29, of Omaha won for “Another Love Song” in the 19-29 Age Division.

My general observations after going though this process: There are a lot of Jack Johnson / Dave Matthews / Taylor Swift fans out there (especially Jack Johnson fans). I was more impressed with the 13-18 age category entries as well as those who performed with a full band rather than sitting in their bathroom with a guitar on their lap. There’s a lot o’ young talent in this town, and you’ll get to see some of the best on Monday. It should be fun night.

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Tonight, it’s the return of Matt Pond PA. Seems like ol’ Mr. Pond has been coming through Omaha every few years for the past couple decades. This time the show is part of the band’s 10 Year Anniversary tour in support of one of their most beloved albums, Several Arrows Later. Each night, not only will Pond and crew play the album in full, but also a sampling of songs from their upcoming album The State of Gold, which will be released later this year. Opening is Young Buffalo and our very own See Through Dresses. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, listen to Matt Whipkey’s Underwater album on a $250,000 sound system that includes a $100,000 turntable. The free event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Sound Environment, 11021 Elm St. Whipkey says beer and wine will be provided. Bring your checkbook; you’ll want to go home with one of those turntables…

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.