Record Store Day backlash? System Exclusive tonight at The Sydney…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 7:35 am April 22, 2022
System Exclusive exclusively at The Sydney in Benson tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

Why the sudden uproar against Record Store Day? “It’s a money-grab!” “It’s white privilege!” “It’s nothing but old guys with too much money to burn!

Maybe it’s only on my Facebook news feed, but a lot of people are suddenly complaining about Record Store Day, as the next installment takes place this Saturday. I don’t get the angst.

RSD started as a promotion by independent record stores to get people into their shops at a time when people weren’t coming to their shops. Now post-pandemic (or pretty close, hopefully), record stores seem to be doing pretty well. I read an interview with Homer’s Mike Fratt where he said business was great last year and looked like would be even better this year. If you’re a music fan, you should be thrilled.

I have only a modest collection of records — maybe 500? — consisting of stuff I’ve purchased beginning in 1976. I bought Boston’s debut album at age 10, and thought it was so cool when my older brothers asked to borrow it. Of course I still have that album, along with all the others, though I rarely have time to play them. Like the vast majority of music listeners these days, I do most of my listening via streaming, either from my phone, my computer, or my car’s satellite radio. So, it’s been awhile since I bought any vinyl.

When RSD started, it seemed like more of a nerd convention for music collectors who had a day dedicated to their vinyl fetish needs. But as this Axios story indicates, a lot of people are buying vinyl these days, bringing in over a billion dollars in revenue last year vs. just $119 million 11 years ago.

Now it’s not just the nerds buying “collectable” copies of limited-edition vinyl releases, it’s a broad swath of music fans. And just like everything else, once the unwashed masses get involved, it’s no longer “cool.” I highly doubt Fratt cares if it’s cool as long as it brings people to his store.

I will make it a point tomorrow to buy at least one album. I don’t know what it will be yet, but I’ll go home with something and let you know Monday. I’m sure it won’t be as cool as that first Boston album…

Check out the RSD titles here. Most stores open their doors at 10 a.m. And if you’re headed to Homer’s tomorrow morning, Fratt and Manner will have coffee and donuts for you to enjoy as you wait in line, nerd.

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BTW, wouldn’t it be cool if an artist released something on vinyl that does not and will not ever be available online? I know that goes against this whole we-are-the-world music-is-for-sharing mentality, but man, it would really give you a reason for buying that album.

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Tonight at The Sydney in Benson LA post-punk synth band System Exclusive headlines. The duo consists of Ari Blaisdell and Matt Jones, the guy behind Castle Face Records. This is pure ‘80s first wave synth pop at its finest. Opening is Specter Poetics and Omaha’s best DJ, Tyrone Storm. $10, 9 p.m.

Believe it or not, that’s it for the weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great one.

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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.


Nebraska Folk/Roots Fest announced; new Desa video; new Kasher track; Oquoa, Universe Contest, Tom Waits tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:12 pm April 16, 2015

The Nebraska Folk and Roots Festival is July 31-Aug. 1.

The Nebraska Folk and Roots Festival is July 31-Aug. 1.

by Tim McMahan,

Catching up on some old news…

Lincoln music impresario Jeremy Buckley announced last week the line-up to the 2015 Nebraska Folk and Roots Festival July 31August 1 at Branched Oak Farm, 15 minutes northwest of Lincoln.

Note that this is about half of the overall lineup. More touring bands are in the works.

Desert Noises (Provo)
Kill County (Austin, Detroit, Nebraska)
Eros & the Eschaton (Colorado Springs)
Victor & Penny (Kansas City)
The Way Down Wanderers (Chicago)
All Young Girls Are Machine Guns (Omaha)
Brad Hoshaw & the Seven Deadlies (Omaha)
Jack Hotel (Lincoln)
Lloyd McCarter & the Honky Tonk Revival (Lincoln)
Bud Heavy & the High Lifes (Lincoln)
The Bottle Tops (Lincoln)
Mesonjixx (Lincoln)
Evan Bartels & the Stoney Lonesomes (Lincoln)
Toasted Ponies (Lincoln)
Dr. John Walker (Lincoln)

Sayeth Buckley: “All access passes will be available online at and at select retail locations in Lincoln (check for locations) for $20 until the overall lineup is announced and at that point tickets will go up to $25 and daily passes will be available for $15. We expect to announce the full lineup including pre-parties in mid-May. The all access pass includes admission to all pre-parties. We will also be offering $50 VIP passes that include an all access pass, 2 meal tickets, 4 drink tickets, a t-shirt, poster and koozie.

* * *

What else…

Desaparecidos released a new rock video yesterday for the song “City on the Hill,” off their upcoming Epitaph release, Payola, out June 23. Check it. The band also announced a handful of additional tour dates in June.

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There’s a new Tim Kasher song called “Half Full” that’s currently streaming on SoundCloud (below). It’s from a Record Store Day split single with Chris Farren of Fake Problems.

From the press release: “Tim Kasher (Cursive, The Good Life) and Chris Farren (Fake Problems) wrote and recorded one song each, and then passed only the lyrics and chords to one another. Next, the two recorded their interpretations of the other’s song, never having heard the original. The results are found here. Record Store Day limited edition on gray vinyl.” RSD is going to be fun this year.

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Speaking of RSD, make sure you check out this week’s podcast for an interview with Mike Fratt about what Homer’s is doing for Record Store Day this Saturday, plus Mike’s take on how this retail holiday is impacting labels and stores. It’s below, and if you’re going to listen to it, you better hurry. The SoundCloud version got taken down because of the Modest Mouse snippet used at the beginning of the podcast!

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Omaha indie band Oquoa starts its April residency at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Joining them is McCarthy Trenching and Universe Contest. This is the first of three April shows at The Club. Now you now have no excuse for not having checked these dudes out. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight there’s a Tom Waits tribute show at The Barley Street Tavern. Among the talent taking their stab at ol’ gravel pit is Brad Hoshaw, Scott Severin, Kait Berreckman, Jeremy Mercy and the Burkum Brothers, plus lots more. $5, 9 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


When Black Friday comes, I’m gonna dig myself a hole…; Har Mar Superstar, Matt Whipkey, New Lungs tonight; See Through Dresses Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm November 28, 2014

Macauly Caulkin and Axel Rose separated at birth? One of them plays at The Waiting Room tonight...

Macaulay Culkin and Axel Rose separated at birth? One of them plays at The Waiting Room tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

If Hunter S. Thompson were still alive here’s how he would describe Black Friday: A long, plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs; a profoundly degenerate world, a living web of foulness, greed and treachery. Actually, that’s how he described the TV industry, but it seems oddly appropriate. Especially the greed part.

But Black Friday is in all our American blood now. I will only partake in the records/vinyl/albums part of the event, seeking out whatever decent limited edition vinyl I can find, though I suspect I’ll be buying most of my albums used from Almost Music or Homer’s used bins. Looking over the official RST list, there’s not much that interests me, except for maybe that American Hustle soundtrack. But by the time I get to the stores, no doubt they’ll all be gone. Oh well.

Busy night tonight.

There’ve been a lot of people excited about the Macaulay Culkin cover band, Pizza Underground, who play tonight at The Waiting Room. I’m told the shtick involves Velvet Underground covers and a few others (maybe Nirvana) done up in an acoustic style reminiscent of early Tilly and the Wall. This from someone who’s seen it before (I will not divulge his identity, but you can figure it out). Is it me or is Culkin starting to look like Axel Rose? Co-headlining tonight’s Waiting Room bill is good ol’ Har Mar Superstar (featuring our very own Denver Dalley). Opening is Rig 1, the hip-hop project of Desaparecidos keyboardist Ian McElroy. Also on the bill is Candy Boys. Is it the same Candy Boys in the video below? Anyway. $15, 9 p.m. Expect a crowd.

Also tonight, Matt Whipkey and his band play at Reverb Lounge with Edge of Arbor. Hear Matt and the boys play some new material from Matt’s forthcoming album (due in 2015). $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s a last-minute free show featuring New Lungs. No other band is listed on the bill, so we’re talking three solid hours of D-Max and Company (just kidding)(but wouldn’t that be awesome?). Starts at 10 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) See Through Dresses returns to The Reverb Lounge with local indie supergroup Oquoa and Thinkin Machines. $8, 9 p.m.

Over at O’Leaver’s Saturday night McCarthy Trenching headlines a bill that includes Anna McClellan, Annie Dee and Michael Todd. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Over at The Side Door Lounge, The Derby Birds play with The Woodwork. This one’s free and starts at 9.

And Satchel Grande headlines at The Waiting Room Saturday night with John Klemmensen and the Party and All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. $7, 9 p.m.

If I missed your show, add it to the comments section. Have a good 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Are record collectors the same as comic book collectors? (in the column); Jake Bellows tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:56 pm January 9, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s column, a discussion about 2013 music sales and industry trends with Mike Fratt, general manager of Homer’s Records. While national album sales were down, Homer’s enjoyed a double-digit increase in business vs. 2012. Read about it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here at Or, since the column is centered on music, you can read it below…

Vinyl Sales Help Homer’s Buck Industry Trend

by Tim McMahan

After spending the last two weeks writing about the current state and predicted future of the music industry, it’s time for a dose of reality in the form of the 2013 Nielsen SoundScan numbers.

Billboard Magazine reported last week that album sales suffered an 8.4 percent decline in 2013, CD sales declined 14.5 percent, even digital music sales declined last year for the first time since the iTunes store swung wide its online doors in 2003. Digital track sales fell 5.7 percent, while digital album sales fell 0.1 percent, all according to SoundScan.

The Billboard story said industry executives concede that “ad-supported and paid subscription services were indeed cannibalizing digital sales.” Call it the Spotify effect. Those same execs went on to say growth in streaming revenue offset the decline in digital sales.

But what about brick-and-mortar? That’s where Mike Fratt comes in. Fratt is the General Manager and buyer at independent record store Homer’s Music, 1210 Howard St. In the face of all the doom and gloom, Fratt said 2013 was a good year for Homer’s.

“Sales were up 10 percent, vinyl was again a big driver, up 40 percent for the year,” Fratt said. “DVDs, gift, accessory and lifestyle sales were also up.” It’s a trend that began in 2010. But it wasn’t all good news for Homer’s. Fratt said CDs saw their first sales decline at his store since 2009, slipping 3 percent.

So is it time to go all-in with vinyl? Not so fast. According to SoundScan, vinyl sales indeed rose from 4.55 million in 2012 to 6 million last year, but that’s only enough to make vinyl 2 percent of all U.S. album sales. CDs are still king of the mountain commanding a whopping 57.2 percent of the market, while digital albums sales comprised 40.6 percent.

Still, Fratt says Homer’s business plan is to continue to focus on vinyl and lifestyle/gift items. “We embarked on a project to replace all our vinyl browsers in 2013 to increase space efficiency and improve merchandising of 7-inch singles,” Fratt said.

In addition, Homers will continue to broaden its CD selection. “We have been adding new distributors that stock imports, budget and rarities,” Fratt said. “Despite potential declining sales (in CDs), customers will still expect a large selection.”

Fratt said streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora actually have driven his sales numbers. Customers often come into his store asking to buy an album that’s streaming on their phone.

He said overall, consumers’ buying habits are shifting. “As mall music stores have disappeared and mass merchants (Target, Walmart, Best Buy) reduce selection to below 1,000 different titles, music buyers are forced online to buy CDs,” he said. “This has also helped the indies.” Billboard reported that indie merchants as a whole saw a nearly 12 percent decline in album sales last year. Fratt said that number was wrong, and closer to a 5 percent decline.

“Right now, SoundScan only pulls sales data from about 60 indies nationwide and attempts to determine total national sales for indies,” he said. “Record Store Day website lists 1,000 stores in the U.S.” Fratt thinks vinyl sales were probably closer to 10 million last year. We won’t know the real numbers until a new media company begins tracking physical and digital sales this year.

I told Fratt I noticed another shift in consumer buying. More and more, record buyers are following a model similar to comic book collectors — they’re buying vinyl and limited edition hard product based on collect-ability (and maybe investment).

I speak from personal experience, as both a record and comic book collector. There is certain vinyl I collect just because I want to own it — Factory Records stuff, early copies of Smiths albums with unique cover art, for example. These are albums I probably will only listen to once, but will display in my house or just want to have. If I want to listen to the actual music, I listen to a digital version.

The amazingly successful Record Store Day in some ways supports my idea — it’s a great way for collectors to find and buy cool collectible limited-edition pieces. But I wonder how many people who buy rare or limited edition stuff actually play the recordings, especially if the music is already available online via Spotify?

The old arguments about purchasing physical seem to be dying away. The “need for a back-up” argument will disappear when people become familiar/comfortable with cloud computing. The “inferior audio quality” argument will eventually fade when technology provides a better, flawless audio file type (which is inevitable). Spotify gives access to nearly everything now, and if you’re a paying user (as I am) you can even listen when you’re away from a wi-fi/cellular connection.

So why buy hard assets like vinyl? Because you want to own it. You collect it. It’s finite. It’s physical in a world where fewer and fewer entertainment options involve physical things. If the above is true, than records stores will become like comic shops. Maybe they already are?

“Collectors certainly make up a strong customer group for us and play a large roll in RSD, but vinyl has become so big, it draws all kinds of customers, both casual and hard-core collector, young and old,” Fratt replied.

He said cloud computing, streaming and cars with internet will impact how people collect and access music, but early adopters (like me) remain a minority. “Over the last few years I’ve read that CD is dead, is dying and will be gone. Yet it is still 60 percent of album sales. So, a lot of people are still buying CDs to listen to and load onto their phone or PC.

“Vinyl is a fad,” Fratt added. “Yet, even a recent iPhone commercial started with the image of a record spinning on a turntable only to have an iPhone set down next to it. It’s 10 million new (vinyl albums) being bought (per year) and another 30 million used trading hands. Somebody’s playing this stuff, not just collecting.

“Collecting occurs in so many categories anymore. What you’re saying is not untrue. I think only a small minority sees it the way you do. Right now. We’ll see how that evolves. Ask me again next year.” I’m sure I will.

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

First published in The Reader, Jan. 8, 2014. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Tonight at Pageturners Lounge, 5004 Dodge Street, it’s a homecoming of sorts for Nebraska’s favorite wandering musical soul, Jake Bellows. On a brief tour through the Midwest, Jake is taking a evening between gigs to play a show in his hometown. If you have yet to check out Pageturners (and I haven’t, even though it’s been open for more than a year) tonight might be the perfect opportunity. The show is free and starts at 9:30.

Also tonight, Lincoln blues rock guy Josh Hoyer and his band The Shadowboxers are playing at The 21st Saloon, located way the fuck out on 4727 96th St. (south of L on 96th). This is their International Blues Challenge send-off show before they head to Memphis for a battle royale. $10, 6 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Two turntables, no microphone; Live Review: The Decemberists…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:07 pm April 19, 2011

The Decemberists at The Holland Performing Arts Center, April 17, 2011.

The Decemberists at The Holland Performing Arts Center, April 17, 2011.

by Tim McMahan,

At one point I closed my eyes and thought to myself, “This is all a dream…”

Things were getting out of hand down in the pseudo pit that formed just to the right of the DVD rack, next to the cut-out bin. Two of the Homer’s guys huddled together behind the cash register and wondered out loud if maybe it was time to call the cops. But it was too late for that. The mob had taken over 20 minutes earlier, pushing aside the heavy CD and record bins to make room for more more more people who kept pushing through the door like desperate strangers trying to get into a fallout shelter seconds after the bomb went off. I tried to ignore the chaos and focus on the turntables, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the crowd — hundreds of people — all ages — bouncing in unison to the downcast Smog track that only fanned the flames I had innocently ignited with my latent skills. No one had expected anything like this. Just a moment earlier during the Justin Warfield track (“K Sera Sera”) they had coaxed me to the top of the counter waving their arms and yelling in unison “Jump Jump Jump…” And that’s exactly what I did, falling into their outstretched arms that glided me over their heads, around the T-shirt rack and above the “smooth jazz” section. I looked up at Mike Fratt, the one who had gotten me into this, and he just shrugged his shoulders. He was as shocked as any of us when a small group of the topless women blacked-out the windows and mounted the strobes to the walls, creating a makeshift disco. Things had gotten out of hand all right, but the real shock didn’t come until I pulled back a corner of the black vinyl film window covering and looked outside and saw Howard St. filled like a soccer stadium — thousands of people with their hands in the air bouncing to the music that was piped into the street. Music that I had “selected.” Me. The DJ. Aponick, tears in his eyes (but smiling), croaked over and over “I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know…” No one did, I said as I pulled him from his knees… No one did….

Actually, my DJ stint as part of Homer’s Record Store Day this last Saturday wasn’t quite that exciting. The fine folks at the store set me up behind the counter next to a CD player and a couple turntables supplied by DJ Kobrakyle, who had “spun” earlier in the day. I brought in a bag of records and CDs and played songs for a little over an hour to a crowd of at least 20 people, none of whom knew or cared who I was. I did get a couple “bites” from listeners who asked about a few songs (“Saturn” by Evil Tambourines, “Woman King” by Iron & Wine, “Step Off” by El Fino Imperials (Mousetrap)). In my defense, I had asked before I started if it was OK to play “adult material” — stuff with cussing in it. Aponick said, “Sure, play whatever you want.” So I went ahead and played “Please Be Quiet” by Digital Leather, whose pseudo-refrain is “Shut the fuck up.” After about 30 seconds of that I was told nervously that maybe we should switch songs. So I played Yo La Tengo’s cover of Sun Ra’s “Nuclear War,” having forgotten about the choir of children who chanted, “It’s a mother fucker.” Store manager Eric kindly asked if I had any songs that weren’t laced with obscenities, but he didn’t ask me to cut it (after all, it’s a classic).

Fratt told me that RSD was a huge business day for both the downtown and Orchard Plaza stores. It’s impossible not to recognize how successful RSD has become for music retailers — it’s starting to gain a “Black Friday” vibe, at least among collectors. That said, I’ll ask the same question that I asked after last year’s success: How do you make RSD last all year long; how do you keep the fever high week after week? I think it could be done, but it’d take extreme coordination between the retailers, the labels and the artists. Too bad labels couldn’t move their national release day from Tuesdays to Saturdays, helping create a weekly RSD…

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I don’t know if Sunday’s Decemberists show at The Holland ever finally sold out. The day before, One Percent had posted on Facebook that they were just 50 shy of a sell-out. I assume the problem was the $35 price point. I can tell you that the show was worth every penny, and this comes from someone who’s not a big Decemberists fan. In fact, the only album of theirs that I own is the new one, The King Is Dead. I’ve listened to their breakthrough, The Crane Wife, a few times and just didn’t feel it. Live, the music was transformed…

The show began dead-on at 8 p.m. when Justin Townes Earle strolled on stage in front of the Decemberists’ band set-up with an acoustic guitar and a violin player and proceeded to play 30 minutes of amazing honky-tonk style acoustic country. The guy has an incredible voice, as did his violin player. He also had a handful of personal stories, many centered around his drug history, that got the crowd laughing.

I should point out here that Earle and Decemberists were the best sounding shows I’ve heard at The Holland. From my perch in front of the first balcony, the mix was unreal it was so good, and that hasn’t always been my experience at The Holland.

Decemberists’ frontman Colin Meloy is a pure entertainer in addition to a helluva singer and songwriter. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout almost two hours of music, which included most of the songs off the new album and plenty of old stuff from Crane Wife. My favorite moment was when the band brought out drums and banged along to “The Rake’s Song” lit by blood red stage lights. But that moment was eclipsed during the first encore,  “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” where the audience was prompted to scream as if being eaten by a whale, and actually did. By then, the crowd had come to its feet, a few songs after Meloy had chided them for sitting in their seats, which he said (and I’m paraphrasing) were “paid for with insurance money.”

Should the crowd have stood up the entire show, especially at a place like The Holland? If Meloy expected/wanted them  dancing, he should have returned to Sokol Underground or taken it Slowdown. It just wasn’t going to happen at The Holland. I wasn’t about to stand up and block two rows of middle-aged people sitting behind me who paid $35 a ticket to sit down and enjoy the show.

Meloy and Co. finished the night with a second encore of “June Hymn” and a standing ovation. Top-10 show of 2011…? Maybe…

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Record Store Day! Bright Eyes on Leno last night; Four-band release show tonight; Photo Atlas (Love Drunk benefit) tomorrow; Decemberists Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:47 pm April 15, 2011

Record Store Day graphicby Tim McMahan,

Tomorrow is the day all you vinyl lovers have been waiting for – Record Store Day! You can read my recap of what Homer’s has in store for this celebration of music right here. This cold April rain should end by tomorrow morning, which means you will be high and dry while waiting in line to get first dibs on the really exclusive, limited-edition stuff. In fact, the Homer’s Orchard Plaza store will open a half-hour early tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., giving you time run your shaky hands through their vinyl bins before hysterically driving downtown to the Old Market store opening.

And don’t forget The Antiquarium and Drastic Plastic also will have a selection of RSD vinyl on sale tomorrow. RSD is kind of like a treasure hunt — you don’t know exactly what you’re going to find, and product will vary from store to store, though I know Antiquarium’s selection will likely lean heavily toward major indie labels like Matador, Sub Pop and Merge.

To help commemorate the occasion, Homer’s is featuring a few highly sought-after DJ’s tomorrow afternoon at the Old Market Store. DJ Kevin “King” Coffey will be behind the turntable at noon, followed by Gunkmeister DJ Kobrakyle at 1 p.m. while yours truly will take the rear at 3 p.m., long after the RSD excitement has worn off. As an homage to High Fidelity, perhaps I’ll play “Dry the Rain” by the Beta Band… more likely you’ll hear a collection of crusty old vinyl and new mp3s. I still haven’t figured it out yet.

* * *

Some impressions of last night’s Bright Eyes’ performance of “Beginner’s Mind” (above) on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

— A trench coat in LA? A smart fashion statement, yes. Teresa’s comment: “He sure has big feet.” Indeed he does, and we all know what that means.

— Who was the guy behind the drum kit? I thought Clark Baechle of The Faint was playing drums for this go ’round of Bright Eyes. Whoever it was, he sounded terrific. In fact, the drums dominated last night.

— I wonder if everyone could hear themselves in the studio, because there were a few vocal bloopers which may or may not have been intentional.

— Leno’s comment as he went to shake Oberst’s hand after the song ended: “I missed you on the bus.” Not sure what that meant because I DVR’d the show so to fast-forward past Leno’s natterings.

— Overall, an interesting BE performance that rates up there with the rest of the band’s and Oberst’s network appearances, which you can see right here at

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There are outstanding shows every night this weekend.

Tonight at The Slowdown is what I’m calling the “Fantastic Four” showcase (which you read about here yesterday) featuring (in this order) Touch People, InDreama, Icky Blossoms and headliner Conduits. Get there early for Touch People (the show is slated to begin at 9 p.m.). And make sure you get a copy of the duo single as sort of a pre-Record Store Day vinyl purchases. Judging by the listing at, this appears to be a “big room” show. Tix are $7.

For you Lincolnites, tonight is the second night of Omaha Invasion. Check out the schedule at the bottom of this blog entry.

Meanwhile, Brad Hoshaw is doing a set tonight at O’Leaver’s with Ashley Raines and the New West Revue. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Speaking of O’Leaver’s, tomorrow night the “bar that time forgot” is hosting a benefit show for Love Drunk Studio, the red-hot video production company that began taking the scene by storm late last year. The Love Drunk team is headed on the road the first couple weeks of May for a tour of central and eastern United States, where they’ll be creating videos for bands they meet. Details of the excursion are right here. Help support the cause by going to tomorrow night’s show, which features The Photo Atlas, The Answer Team, Masses and Ketchup and Mustard Gas. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tomorrow night, Beat Seekers headline a show at The Barley Street with Blue Bird, and Travelling Mercies. $5, 9 p.m.

Finally, Sunday, it’s the big Decemberists show at The Holland. Tix are still available for $35 right here at I suspect it’ll be one for the record books. Opening is Justin Townes Earle. Show starts at 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 317: Record Store Day (April 16) is all about the vinyl; Dave Dondero, Franz Nicolay, Bret Vovk tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:54 pm April 7, 2011

Record Store Day 2011Column 317: Hot Wax Holiday

Locals indies celebrate Record Store Day April 16

by Tim McMahan,

We had time to kill before the 7:45 show at Aksarben Cinema, and having already grabbed a bite to eat decided for reasons of proximity to walk through Kohl’s Department Store, whose overly ambitious catchphrase is “Expect Great Things.” As I was strolling down one of the fluorescent-bright main aisles, somewhere between the jewelry counter and “notions,” I nearly stumbled over a stack of turntables smack-dab in the middle of the floor, marked $70 each.

And I thought to myself, well, there really is no reason for any right-headed music fan to not buy vinyl now. If a place like Kohl’s, the very essence of mid-American retail homogeneity, sells turntables (and for $70), all excuses have flown out the window.

I tell you this as a precursor to heralding that Record Store Day is a week from Saturday — April 16. Begun a mere three years ago as a “celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA” Record Store Day has become something of a holiday for collectors of music, whether it be released on vinyl or not. In Omaha, it’s celebrated by The Antiquarium, Drastic Plastic and the largest of the bunch, Homer’s Records.

“It reconnects music fans with music stores,” said Homer’s general manager Mike Fratt. “After consumer habits (were) shifted away from music stores over the last 15 years by aggressive mass merchants, this gives indie stores an opportunity to level the playing field and generate loyalty.”

If anything, Record Store Day is a reminder of what record stores used to be — way stations on the road to artistic maturity where fans discovered new music, new ideas, new possibilities that they never would have discovered on their own or on the radio. At their very core were the “record store guys,” whose job was to ask what you were into, and then point you in the direction of something you may not have considered of even heard of. It was from a Homer’s record store guy that I first discovered The Pixies, way before they became one of the most influential bands of the late-’80s early-90s.

All that, of course, was before the Internet, which while making music immediately accessible to just about everyone, also has effectively taken away most of the magic and mystery behind record collecting, while systematically crippling the industry.

But I digress.

What started as a niche concept in ’08 has turned into a full-blown industry bonanza for record stores, labels and artists. “Just about any big name has a piece for RSD this year,” Fratt said, “from Lady Gaga to the Rolling Stones, from Syd Barrett to Rush.”

And why not? When you consider that vinyl sales have nearly tripled since ’07, to 3 million units sold in 2010, you can see why major labels are beginning to get into the act, though Fratt said almost 90 percent of vinyl sales have been from indie label offerings.

He said among the highlights for RSD this year are an AC/DC 7-inch, a “test pressing” of Big Star’s Third, a pink 10-inch from Kate Bush, a 12-inch of a new Fleet Foxes tune, a Jimi Hendrix 7-inch and a Nirvana 12-inch that reissues tunes of covers previously only released in Australia years ago. “Rush has a 7-inch, as does Pearl Jam, and Ryan Adams has a double 7-inch package,” Fratt said. It’s not just vinyl. The Decemberists recorded an in-store performance at Bull Moose (an indie store in Maine), which is one of a few CD offerings this year.

“The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen both have 7-inch releases, and the Flaming Lips collect their first five albums into an LP box set,” Fratt said. “The Lips LPs no longer are available separately, so this should be a big demand — albeit expensive — item.”

He added that Warner Brothers Records has put together four, colored-vinyl split 7-inch singles that feature a different band on each side performing the same tune. “So, Green Day records a Husker Du classic with Husker’s version on the other side” Fratt said. “The others include Jenny & Johnny with Gram Parsons & Emmy Lou Harris, Mastodon with ZZ Top, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the Ramones.”

Hot stuff, and all in very limited supply. Fratt said with product available on a first-come basis, expect long lines at both the Old Market and Orchard Plaza stores. Both locations also will host special performances in the afternoon, including School of Rock out at Orchard, and a handful of DJ’s downtown (including, believe it or not, yours truly at 3 p.m.).

The Antiquarium, home of Omaha’s punk and indie music scene, also is getting in on the RSD action with limited-edition vinyl releases from a handful of larger indie labels, including Matador, Sub Pop and Merge. While you’re there, check out their large selection of used vinyl and locally produced sides from such labels like Speed! Nebraska, who’s been been carrying the vinyl torch since the mid-’90s.

So mark April 16 on your calendar, go to for more details, and get ready to celebrate vinyl. And remember, Record Store Day doesn’t have to be just one day a year.

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So again, Record Store Day isn’t this Saturday, it’s next Saturday. And yes, you read that right, I will be DJ-ing at the Old Market Homer’s at 3 p.m. that day, though I wouldn’t call what I’ll be doing “DJ-ing” in the Brent Crampton/Kobrakyle sense of the word. Fratt simply asked if I’d like to come down and spin some music for an hour, so if you’re there, you’ll hear some of my old and new faves. Omaha World-Herald music guy Kevin Coffey also will be taking over the turntable for an hour, along with DJ Kobrakyle and the international winner of the Belle & Sebastian essay contest, John Ficenac. Fun!

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The hot show of the evening is Omaha adopted son Dave Dondero at Slowdown Jr. Dave’s lastest, Pre-Existing Condition, was released on Ghostmeat earlier this year. Pitchfork gave it a 6.0. I have not heard the disc, but gotta believe it rates higher than that with normal people. Maybe Dave was docked by PF because of his long-standing association with Nebraska and Saddle Creek. Also on the bill is former Hold Steady keyboard player Franz Nicolay. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Bret Vovk is playing at The Barley Street either as The Ghost of Bret Vovk or simply Bret Vovk (as the Barley Street website has it listed). You may remember Vovk from Underwater Dream Machine. Opening is the appetizingly named Parasite Diet. $5, 9 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.