Album Review: Mitch Gettman’s Tilde; Gettman, Whipkey, Speed!, Nance, Uh Oh Saturday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:19 pm September 15, 2023
Mitch Gettman at The Waiting Room, May 2, 2014. He plays Saturday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan,

The weekend’s upon us, but first, a record review…

Mitch Gettman, Tilde (2023, self-released) — It’s hard not to look at this double-CD 20-song collection as anything less than a culmination of where the Omaha singer/songwriter has been heading since he began his musical journey more than a decade ago. Tilde is a mish-mash of styles, an audio resume, as if Gettman was trying to prove he can play anything your heart desires. He goes from somber piano ballad to Beatle-esque pop to shoe-gaze to Americana to indie to funk to hip-hop, and that’s all on the first CD. 

In fact, Gettman said he’s been working on Tilde since 2018, starting as a single-disc project that eventually expanded to single disc plus EP and then double album. Listeners would be hard-pressed to understand the rhyme or reason behind the song order. Gettman says disc 1 (the first 10 tracks, for those who will be downloading/listening via Bandcamp/Spotify) “is more akin to my past releases — singer-songwriter, alternative, indie rock-type stuff; while disc two is more experimental and suggests where I might be going from here on out as a musician and a songwriter.”

The line of demarkation between the two collections is faint. Disc 1 feels more like a song-o-matic pick-your-style conglomeration, but also contains some of his best work, including the epic rockers “Outside the Lines” and “Empire”; shoe-gaze killer “Must Be Killing Me,” the Wilco-esque “Still Hold On” and gorgeous keyboard-driven lovesong “Heroine.” But Disc 1 also includes various and sundry experiments in hip hop and funk as well as curious cover of The Carpernters’ “Sing.” 

DIsc 2 (tracks 11-20) are more cohesive as a collection, as Gettman leans into heavier territory with songs that range from psych to traditional rock to gorgeous, cinematic tracks (“Foraging in Torus,” “Atilla the Hun”) where he gives his musicians room to stretch atop the repetitive arcs. It’s hard not to play “spot the influence” as you go. The FM-ready “Daily Routine” and “Pitfalls Ahead!” are so reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac you wonder if it’s a tribute, while the softer indie tracks feels like a nod to Alex G and the rhythm-fueled stuff could be influenced by Tame Impala. 

It culminates in the final track, the 11+ minute “Goldie,” that shifts from a standard indie rock song with a funky bass line into something you might find on a Khruangbin album. Again, Gettman gives himself and his sidemen room to roam with great effect. The album is a showcase of Getmann’s musicianship as he handles guitar, bass, keys and an assortment of soundmakers throughout, with help from drummers Nate Van Fleet and Adam Stoltenberg, who are central to the album’s success, along with contributions from Paul Jensen, bass; Skye Junginger, tenor saxophone; Ryan Call, upright bass; and Blake Deforest, trumpet. Gettman and Stoltenberg get production credits and the whole thing was recorded at various Omaha and LA studios. 

As a whole, the record is something of a marvel and one of my favorite albums produced locally (or elsewhere) from the past year. The nature of modern music listening allows fans to pick and choose and make their own album out of 90-plus minutes of tracks that have no real central theme or concept (lyrically, Gettman sways between the usual lovesong stuff and reflections on the mundane nature of life – his life – Gettman is the everyman trying to get through his day, and the only thing keeping him going is that special someone – not groundbreaking stuff, but pop lyrics rarely are). I could whittle my choices down to a single, 12-song album but my choices would no doubt differ from yours.

With literally thousands of albums being dropped on Bandcamp every Friday, the odds Tilde will be “discovered” and heard by the audience it deserves is rather slim. When asked (in this day and age when anyone can record and release music online) why record labels are essential, I will point to this as an example. Had this album been released on any small or mid-sized indie label, it would at least get heard by critics, tastemakers and influencers. Self-released albums are doomed to be heard only by a friends-and-family audience. If that becomes the case with Tilde, it would be a shame.

. 0 0 0 . 

And you have a chance to hear Mitch Gettman and his band play songs of this marvelous album Saturday night at the release party at The Slowdown. Also on the bill is Matt Whipkey. Goodview opens the show at 8 p.m. in the front room. $12.

That same night, there’s a Speed! Nebraska showcase at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Lincoln super group Domestica tops a bill that includes Wagon Blasters, Bad Bad Men and Clarence Tilton. It says it starts at 8 p.m., but this is O’Leaver’s after all. Here’s hoping it starts late so I can swing by after the Gettman show. Oh yeah, it’s also free.

Saturday is busy. Saturday afternoon is the Little Bo Backyard Bash – the 3rd annual Little Bohemia Bash on the corner of 13th and William in the Dundee Bank parking lot. This year includes live music, art, activities, food trucks, beer, cocktails and many other surprises. All proceeds go to the Little Bohemia Business Association. Among the live music is Dave Nance Band (7 p.m. set time), Uh Oh (6 p.m.) and the Polka Police. It’s free (I think). More info here.

What about tonight? The only thing on the radar is a weird little show at Reverb featuring Nashville indie band Safari Room. The band’s frontman, Alec Koukoi, reached out to say he grew up in Omaha. Joining him is Bad Self Portraits. Sazcha opens this show at 8 p.m. $18.

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

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


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

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

by Tim McMahan,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Bandcamp Friday again and here’s where you should spend your money; masked #BFF tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:07 pm July 3, 2020
The brand-spankin’ new SPEED! Nebraska T-shirt available at their Bandcamp page.

Once again, Bandcamp is waiving its fees today on all sales to help artists trying to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. So today your purchases at Bandcamp mean even more to your favorite bands. Saddle Creek Records and a lot of other labels are also passing along digital revenue to their artists.

Here some other great Bandcamp pages to check out and buy-buy-buy stuff:

SPEED! Nebraska — Home to recordings by the likes of Wagon Blasters, Mercy Rule, Frontier Trust and The Mezcal Brothers, among others, as well as a ton of super-cool merch like the brand new SPEED Nebraska T-shirt shown above.

Max Trax Records — Home to Little Brazil, Leafblower, Pro-Magnum and a ton more, as well as more sweet, sweet merch. Omaha’s third biggest label? Probably not, but pretty cool.

15 Passenger — Home to Cursive, Criteria and campdogzz as well as the wee lad Tim Kasher. Lots o’ digital and vinyl and cool merch, because you need something cool to wear to O’Leaver’s.

Simon Joyner — Simon always has special deals on Bandcamp Fridays. This time it’s a CD of Hotel Lives Demos from 1999-2000, limited to 100 copies, and a CD of an unreleased 6-song EP collaboration with The Bruces called A Pleasure Then, from 2003, limited to 75 copies. Tons more.

Dereck Higgins — The Omaha legend has a mountain of music available, including his just-released 4-song EP STRENGTH.

Digital Leather — Shawn Foree is nothing less than a diabolical genius if not a musical one, and you can’t go wrong by buying any of his releases.

Flight School — Did I use the word “genius”? It’s a word I reserve only for the truly gifted, like Einstein, Picasso and Flight School. Don’t get lost down this rabbit hole of a website without spending some money.

Matt Whipkey — I think it’s safe to say Matt not only is talented but also prolific, based on this page. Tons of music reaching back to his days with The Movies and Anonymous American all the way to his latest project, the incendiary Unexplained Death.

David Nance — Including David Nance Group, a ton here from his ground-breaking Peaced and Slightly Pulverized to his take on Beatles for Sale. Weird fun!

I’m sure I missed someone/something. If I missed your Bandcamp page, put it in the comments section…

* * *

Tonight is what I’m guessing to be the first Benson First Friday during these Days of COVID. A number of Benson galleries are giving it a try using capacity limits, mask requirements and basically no food and drink inside the galleries.

Among those participating is The Little Gallery, 5901 Maple Street (the east bay below the Masonic Lodge building), which tonight is hosting the opening of Silent Spring, a group show featuring new work created under quarantine by Joe Addison, Alex Jochim, Caitlin Little and Trudy Swanson. The opening runs from 6 to 9 p.m. If you go, you might find this masked man sitting outside somewhere.

That’s it for the weekend. Hard to believe it’s July and we still don’t have live rock music, but that’s just the way it goes. Keep wearing a mask when you go in public and we may get live music back on our stages sooner!

Have a great weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Speed! Nebraska celebrates 20 years; Her Flyaway Manner, See Through Dresses, OEAA showcase tonight; Felice Bros. Saturday; Pro-Magnum Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:48 pm October 21, 2016

The Speed! Nebraska executive team, circa 2006. The label celebrates its 20 year anniversary Saturday night at The Brothers Lounge. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

The Speed! Nebraska executive team, circa 2006. The label celebrates its 20 year anniversary Saturday night at The Brothers Lounge. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

by Tim McMahan,

I dropped the ball. The immensely talented Andrew Spellmon reached out earlier in the week and asked if I would contribute my thoughts to a story he was working on for Hear Nebraska. His one and only question:

What is Speed! Nebraska’s legacy/impact on the local/national scene?

I immediately responded to Andrew saying I’d be happy to comment. The deadline was Wednesday night. And things being what they are in my life these days, I completely forgot to send him anything. It didn’t slow ol’ Spellmon down, however, and yesterday Hear Nebraska published a very lengthy, detailed story called “Racing at 45 RPM: SPEED! Nebraska reaches 20 year milestone.” You can read it right here.

The feature includes “stories and memories” from the artist and collaborators who have taken part in the Speed! Nebraska history, including Jon Taylor (Domestica, Mercy Rule), Dan Jenkins (Ideal Cleaners), Lee Meyerpeter (Filter Kings), George Peek (Solid Jackson), Mike Tulis (co-creator of Speed! and member of The Monroes), as well as people like Dan Schlissel, who created competing label -ismist and now runs Stand Up! Records, and Trey and Lallaya Lalley, who ran the Capitol Bar & Grill and now run The Brothers Lounge.

Stellmon didn’t need me at all. Go read the story right now because it’s good.

Ten years ago, when Speed! Nebraska was celebrating its 10-year anniversary, I penned this story for The Reader that highlighted the label’s origins. At the time,  Speed! was enjoying its high-water mark. Or as Jesse Render, the label’s “special project coordinator,” put it: “We’re like a family. You do whatever job needs to be done. This is kind of the Golden Age of Speed! Nebraska.”

So to answer Stellmon’s original question, I’d have to say Speed! Nebraska’s legacy is not only the 37 vinyl and CD releases that it put out over the course of 20 years, it’s also the people who made the music heard on that stellar catalog of rock ‘n’ roll. Most of them are still doing it, and doing it well. Certainly Speed! Nebraska record executive Gary Dean Davis is going strong, as is the rest of the executive team mentioned in that 2006 article.

In fact, you can see for yourself Saturday night at The Brothers Lounge when Gary’s band, Wagon Blasters, is joined by Mike Tulis’ band, Lupines, for a 20 year anniversary celebration that should be epic in its awesomeness.

What else is happening this weekend?

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s another group is celebrating a 20th anniversary — Lincoln band Her Flyaway Manner. Watch as these fossils sling their guitars over their walkers and wheel chairs for a set that should go down in geriatric history. Joining them are Jump the Tiger and Wrong Pets (members of Little Brazil). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, See Through Dresses headlines at Milk Run. Joining them are New York band Haybaby (Tiny Engines Records) and The Way Out. No price listed, show starts at 9 p.m.

And lest we forget, tonight is the annual OEAA nominee showcase in Benson featuring more than 40 bands playing at six venues. Your $10 wristband gets you in to all shows all night. More info here.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is the aforementioned Speed! Nebraska 20th anniversary bash at The Brothers Lounge. Wagon Blasters vs. Lupines. $5, starts at 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, The Felice brothers headline at The Waiting Room. They’re out supporting their latest, Life in the Dark (2016, Yep Rock). Shelby Earl opens. $15, 9 p.m.

Finally Sunday afternoon is the Benefit for Standing Rock at O’Leaver’s. The line-up includes Dark Diamond, DJ Machmuller, Noah Sterba and Pro Magnum. The benefit kicks off at 3:30 p.m. $5. Find out more about the benefit right here.

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

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Speed! Nebraska showcase; Make Believe to launch (local) record store…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm July 15, 2013

Domestica at O'Leaver's, July 13, 2013.

Domestica at O’Leaver’s, July 13, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

If you’re even passibly interested in post-punk, especially bands with a ’90s Homestead-style flair, you’ve got to check out Domestica. The band’s history is legend. Born out of the ashes of classic Nebraska band Mercy Rule, Domestica is a power-punk trio whose forte is guitar-driven buzz-saw rock songs about living and loving in the great, dusty Midwest. At the trio’s core is Capital-city-based husband/wife combo of bassist/vocalist Heidi Ore and guitarist Jon Taylor — the First Family of Nebraska punk.

Domestica has been around for a while, taking a brief hiatus when Mercy Rule returned for a short time a few years ago. The band’s last recording was the digital-only Domestica 2, released last year. Based on what I heard Saturday night at O’Leaver’s, it’s time for them to get back into the studio. Now with former Sideshow drummer P. Tisdale (I don’t know if he spells it Paul or Pawl, I’ve seen it both ways) they’re playing on a whole new level.

I’ve heard Heidi sing at least a couple dozen times over the decade, and she’s never sounded better than Saturday night. Part of the reason is, believe it or not, O’Leaver’s new PA, which does a good job with separation. I usually can’t hear Heidi because she’s buried beneath Jon’s guitar. This time she gave Jon a run for his money. In fact, I would have preferred Jon turn it up a bit more. He tweaked it about halfway through the set (but I could have used even more).

The set’s final song was (I believe) a new one. The band rarely leans back on riffs, preferring to keep with a short-shock chorus/verse format. On this one they repeated the guitar/bass lines in a way I can’t quite remember hearing before. I’d love to see them take off on a riff and repeat it over and over and over. Domestica as a jam band? Not quite…

Before they left the stage, they gave out one final treat. Earlier in the set a woman ran up to Heidi and told her it was her birthday, and (I think) made a request — Mercy Rule classic “Summer.” Heidi rolled into a verse of the song by herself as the rest of the band joined and transformed it into something slutty and psychedelic. Happy Birthday indeed.

Before Domestica I caught Sons of O’Leaver’s set, which was as cock-sure as always. They’re like Omaha’s unique version of The Replacements minus the booze and drugs (well, minus the drugs anyway). Don’t get lost in the fog of rhythms — both guitarists have some of the most clever guitar licks you’ll likely hear at The Club. Pay Attention!

This was the annual Speed! Nebraska showcase featuring all S!N bands. Missing from the festivities, however, was label co-founder Gary Dean Davis, who it was announced from stage, was at UNMC recovering from surgery. More details I cannot say, other than it sounds like Gary’s going to be all right.

On the other hand, I never heard why this year’s Soapbox Derby was cancelled, though I did hear rumors of a fill-in event in the near future involving other juvenile modes of racing transportation…

* * *

What’s this, a new local-focused record store?

The news of this new venture came via Facebook yesterday, headlined “Make Believe Music Shop Grand Opening (and free 2nd St. Creamery Ice Cream)“.

“Make Believe Music Shop and 2nd St. Creamery are coming together to celebrate the latest venture from the people who brought you Make Believe Studios in Little Italy. Just as the studio serves Omaha-area bands, so too will the record store, aiming to line our shelves with primarily Nebraska artists. Opening day is set for Friday, July 19.”

The shop is asking for help getting area musicians – as many of the 1,000 local artists as possible – into the store the first few days to bring in their records to sell.

“In addition, there will be free ice cream, BBQ and cold drinks. Join us in celebrating a new addition to the Omaha music scene.”

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Twinsmith, Gordon, Josh Rouse tonight; Speed! Nebraska showcase, Snake Island Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm July 12, 2013

A still from the Twinsmith video for "The Thrill."

A still from the Twinsmith video for “The Thrill.”

by Tim McMahan,

Well, it looks like another O’Leaver’s weekend, with the “little bar that could” putting on two of the hottest local indie shows Friday and Saturday.

Tonight it’s the Twinsmith CD release show for the band’s self-released debut. Consisting of former members of Betsy Wells and drummer Oliver Morgan (formerly of Little Brazil), Twinsmith has a modern indie-pop style that combines touches of Band of Horses, Beach House and Vampire Weekend. Check out the Lovedrunk video for “The Thrill” below. Opening is the always entertaining Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, and hot next-wave band Gordon (get there early). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, 2012 Maha Music Festival alum Josh Rouse plays at The Waiting Room. Matt Whipkey opens. $20, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Barley Street, John Klemmensen plays with a handful of locals including John Larsen, Andrew Jay and Morse Code (from Plattsmouth). $5, 9 p.m.

Finally, tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s a $2 show featuring Detroit band Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. Local newcomer Phantom Scout opens. $2, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night, it’s back to O’Leaver’s for the annual Speed! Nebraska Records showcase. In year’s past this was accompanied by a soapbox derby, but I guess so many racers are still on the DL that they’re skipping it this year. No matter, the party continues with The Killigans, Sons of O’Leaver’s Domestica and The Filter Kings. Good times. $5, 9 p.m.

The other big local show Saturday night is at The Waiting Room where Snake Island is hosting its tour kick-off and album release show for their Make Believe Recordings debut, Evil Music. Their month-long tour will take them to Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and more. Opening is Lincoln’s Universe Contest, Plack Blague and Eric in Outerspace. $8, 9 p.m. Check out the new Snake Island video for “Evil Music.”

Meanwhile, The Sweatshop Gallery (right next to the Barley Street) is hosting Milwaukee’s Rio Turbo, described as “TRASHY Dance PARTY, Frontman of CATACOMBZZ.” Opening is local legend Solid Goldberg and Jailbate. $5, 9 p.m.

It’s back to Sweatshop Sunday night for what could be the strangest show of the weekend headlined by San Francisco’s Bad News. According the invite: “The cross-geographical pair, Sarah Bernat and Alex Lukas weld industrial hymns out of gritted synth tones, mutilated samples and darkly protracted guitars. Working within limitations, the two have an affinity for hardware, dead-panned vox and loaded, unpredictable live performances. Bad News has proved their penchant for unsavory frequencies, achieved with artful brutality and control of their uniquely industrial sound.” Opening is the death metal guitar of Fathr^ (Dapose from The Faint), Violator X, Ruby Block and Progress. $5, 9 p.m.

Last but not least, this weekend marks the grand opening of The Berry and Rye, a new craft cocktail bar brought to you by Loom-inaries Brent Crampton and Ethan Bondelid, in the former Myth space at 1105 Howard St. We’re talking fancy frickin’ awesome drinks. To be part of it, you need to make a reservation at 402.613.1331.

Did I forget anything? Add it to the comments section. Have a hot weekend…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 349: Speed! Nebraska Turns 15; The Lupines (members of Brimstone Howl, The Third Men) debuts tonight; Jake Bellows & Co. at Film Streams…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:38 pm November 10, 2011

The Speed! Nebraska Posse

The Speed! Nebraska posse circa 2006, from left, are Mike Tulis, Gary Dean Davis, Jesse Render and LIncoln Dickison. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Column 349: Speed! Nebraska Turns 15

by Tim McMahan,

When the invitation went out via Facebook for this Friday night’s Speed! Nebraska 15th Anniversary rock show at The Brother’s Lounge, the first thing that went through my mind was: Has it really been five years since we did that Speed! Nebraska 10-year anniversary cover story in The Reader?

That story, published June 28, 2006, recapped the history of the vinyl-loving record label that’s home to a handful of the area’s best local bands, including Ideal Cleaners, The Filter Kings, Domestica, The Third Men, Students of Crime and label chief Gary Dean Davis’ band, The Wagon Blasters.

In that article, Wagon Blasters drummer (then Monroes drummer) Jesse Render declared that it was The Golden Age of Speed! Nebraska Records. Five years later and Davis says that Golden Age continues.

“Not much has changed,” Davis said over the phone, while one of his three precocious children made noise in the background. “At that time I was feeling good about the fact that there were a lot of bands on the label. The amazing thing is that in five years, that’s continued.”

In many ways Davis and his label cohorts have always been ahead of their time. Since its first release — a 7-inch by long-defunct band Solid Jackson called “Fell” b/w “In a Car” — the label has focused on releasing vinyl. Except for punk fans and audiophiles, vinyl was viewed as a novelty and a waste of money… back then. Today, almost every mid-major indie band — along with a number of major-label superstars — releases music on vinyl as CD sales continue to decline.

“Vinyl may be back, but it never left for us,” Davis said.

Regardless, he added that the so-called “vinyl renaissance” hasn’t had much of an impact on Speed! Nebraska’s sales. “If you can get a turntable into someone’s home, that’s in our best interest,” he said, “but I don’t know if it’s filtered down to what we do.”

But it’s never been about sales. Having music released on vinyl is “the musicians’ dream,” Davis said. “Talking to the guys in our bands and others who have not had vinyl releases, it’s the ultimate. Elvis put out records. Johnny Cash put out records. In a sense having a record puts you on the same level as those guys. The reason you got involved with music was from listening to records.”

He pointed out that today, fewer people are even releasing CDs thanks to the impact of digital downloading. “If you’re going to do a release and make it download-only, you could put out a new record every day, right?” Davis said. “It’s a watering down of what it means to be a musician. The time involved with putting out a record — recording and mixing and mastering and sending it to the plant and waiting for them to come back and then doing the cover — there’s a lot of stages to that finished project vs. the general immediacy of the times we live in.”

Davis equated it to the difference between getting a letter in the mail and receiving an e-mail — or between receiving a birthday greeting on your Facebook wall and getting hand made birthday cards from his students at St. Stanislaus, where he’s the principal. “A Facebook happy birthday is nice, but a handmade card — I mean, I keep those,” he said. “Someone spent time and thought enough to do it. There’s something more special about that.”

So don’t even bother asking Davis about Spotify. He doesn’t know what it is and doesn’t care enough to find out. It isn’t because he’s some sort of neo-luddite anti-technology snob; he just thinks making vinyl records is, as Wilford Brimley used to say, “The right thing to do.”

And keep doing it he shall. This past year, Speed! Nebraska released a new CD by Ideal Cleaners, Far As You Know, and the tasty 10-inch vinyl compilation Speed! Soapbox Riot 300, which included a song by every band currently on the label’s roster. Davis said future plans include a possible 7-inch by The Filter Kings, more by Ideal Cleaners, and a full-length by Domestica, while Davis’ own band, The Wagon Blasters, is currently writing songs, though they’re in no hurry to put something out.

“Playing in a band is still fun and a nice thing to do, but if I have to do something with the kids…” Davis said. “All the guys in the band understand. We do this because it’s fun. There’s never any tension about it. Once we have enough songs, we’ll go into the studio.”

I ended that 2006 cover story by asking Davis where Speed! Nebraska will be in 2016. So it just made sense to ask him again if he thought the label would be around in five years.

“Oh yeah, definitely, whether I’m playing in a band or not,” he said. “I want to keep doing the label in some capacity, whatever it looks like. As long as we continue to have something to say in our records and music and the aesthetic and presentation, we’ll continue to do it.”

The Speed! 15th Anniversary Celebration is Friday, Nov. 11, at The Brothers Lounge, 38th & Farnam St., featuring performances by Ideal Cleaners, The Wagon Blasters, Domestica, Techlepathy and The Filter Kings. Show starts at 9 p.m., cover is $5. If you go, consider bringing Davis an anniversary card, preferably one that’s hand made.

* * *

Debut performances by bands are always special events. And none more so than the one taking place tonight when The Lupines trot onto the “stage” for the first time at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The band consists of some local heavy hitters: John Ziegler of Brimstone Howl, the legendary Mike Tulis of The Third Men, Mike Friedman, who’s played alongside Simon Joyner, and Javid Dabestani of Bright Calm Blue and Broken Spindles. Opening the show is Detroit garage/psych/grit band Gardens (Alive Naturalsound Records). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, down at Film Streams, it’s a screening of silent film The Adventures of Prince Achmed with a new original score performed live by Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova), Ben Brodin (Before the Toast and Tea, Mal Madrigal) and Ryan Fox (1989 Chicago Cubs, Our Fox, The Good Life). Tickets to the 7 p.m. screening can be purchased from the Film Streams website: $8 for Film Steams members, $10 for students, and $12 for the general public. Go!

* * *

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 335: Speed! Riots! Saddle Creek Shopping! 120 Minutes!; Honey and Darling tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm August 4, 2011

Column 335: Speed! Nebraska Riots! 120 Minutes Returns! Tony Bonacci Directs!

by Tim McMahan,

Filling in some blanks as we head into two weeks’ of MAHA Music Festival coverage…

Speed! Soapbox Riot 300 EP (Speed! Nebraska, 2011)

Speed! Soapbox Riot 300 EP (Speed! Nebraska, 2011)

I mentioned that I was in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado, last week enjoying some well-deserved R ‘n’ R (that’s rest and relaxation, not rock ‘n’ roll). Because of that personal holiday, I missed this year’s Speed! Nebraska Soapbox Riot — the third annual race held at Seymour Smith Park. We’re talking grown men rolling down steep tarmac hills in homemade racecars. It doesn’t get any more “American” than that.

After I got back from The Rockies — still a little bummed that I missed the derby — I discovered stuffed inside my mailbox a copy of Speed! Soapbox Riot 300, the companion compilation 10-inch record that commemorated derby day. In addition to being a sort-of competitors’ guide to the event, the record represents the hottest young acts on the Speed! Nebraska label, an entity now in its 15th year of operation.

Side One — a.k.a. “Heat 1 – Rally Champs” — launches with Riot organizer and label executive Gary Dean Davis’ tractor-punk revivalists Wagon Blasters doing “Here Comes Scat Pack,” a chomp-chomp rock tune with a dusty, cascading guitar line and GDD screaming the reframe “Accelerate, accelerate, four-on-the-floor!” That’s followed by The Really Rottens (Charlie Johnson and Benny Kushner from the Mezcal Bros.), The Filter Kings (fronted by guitarist Josh Dunwoody), and Domestica (The 2011 version, featuring Heidi Ore, Jon Taylor and new drummer Todd Johnson).

Side Two — a.k.a. “Heat 2 – All Americans” — features the newest addition to the Speed! Nebraska family, Students of Crime (Wagon Blasters’ Robert Thornton’s other band), followed by The Third Men (label executive Mike Tulis and Co. covering Big Star classic “Back of a Car”) and Lincoln power-punk trio Ideal Cleaners gassing up a hot-rod titled “The Ghost of Rat Tail.”

We’re talking seven of the finest country punk songs coming to you at 33-and-a-third RPMs, tucked into a screen-printed sleeve and limited to just 300 copies — a must-have for any music fan or soapbox derby enthusiast. If you missed the race, you can get a copy for a mere $10 at The Antiquarium record store in the Old Market. GDD tells me you can also order it by going to, clicking on the original Soapbox Riot record in the “Buy” section and writing “300” in the message area.

* * *

Saddle Creek ShopAnother event I missed while in The Rockies was last week’s grand opening of the new Saddle Creek Shop at 721 No. 14th St. in the heart of the Slowdown complex. In addition to selling more Saddle Creek merch than anyone can imagine (a literal warehouse full), the shop also carries a variety of new vinyl releases. I’d love to tell you more about their selection except the storefront is only open from 10 to 6 weekdays — when all of us who can afford new vinyl are at work. Looks like I’ll get my first gander at the shop Aug. 11 when Tim Kasher does an in-store celebrating the release of his new EP Bigamy: More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions. The EP’s official release date isn’t until Aug. 16, but The Shop will have CDs and vinyl on hand at the event.

* * *

120 Minutes on MTV2

The most influential indie-music TV show of the past 20 years finally returned to the cable airwaves last Saturday night. Yes, I’m talking about 120 Minutes now on MTV2. The program runs at midnight on the last Saturday of every month (actually, it’s the Sunday morning after the last Saturday, but who’s counting?).

As if the show never went off the air, there was ol’ cueball-headed VJ Matt Pinfield interviewing Dave Grohl, P.J. Harvey and Danger Mouse while cuing up videos from new acts like Cults and Givers along with chestnuts by Pearl Jam and Radiohead. The best way to watch 120 hasn’t changed since it launched in 1986 — record it so you can skip the commercials. The only difference now, of course, is that you’ll be recording with a DVR rather than a VHS tape deck — some things do change. Fast forwarding cuts 120 Minutes down to about 45 minutes of actual content, especially if you’re skipping lame videos by the likes of Mumford and Sons

Just like the old days, I “discovered” a couple new bands by watching the inaugural return episode — North Wales act The Joy Formidable, and Worcester, MA, band Dom. But instead of running out and buying those bands’ latest CDs the next day, I merely added them to my Spotify playlist and listened to them before I went to bed. Like I said, some things do change…

* * *

Finally, The Benningtons’ frontman Tony Bonacci just finished directing and shooting a short film called “Telephone” that you can view right now on Vimeo. Written by Sam Martin and Jesse Mckelvey of Capgun Coup (who also contribute a song to the soundtrack), the nearly 10-minute short tells the story of what happens when a young blond firecracker (played by Emma Penrose) goes on an accidental date with a creepy old dude (Scott Dombeck channeling Steve Buscemi but without Buscemi’s charm). Snarky dialogue and screaming ensue.

The short was edited by none other than Academy Award winning film editor and Omaha native Mike Hill (Apollo 13Night Shift). How did Bonacci get Hill to work on his project? “I’m friends with him,” Bonacci said. “He really loves the film, actually. He’s a hilarious guy.”

* * *

Seems like it’s been awhile since Honey & Darling have done a show, what with frontwoman Sara busy with her other band, Millions of Boys. You’ll get a chance to see H&D tonight at The Barley Street Tavern with Costa Mesa acoustic outfit I Hate You Just Kidding (Mazzy Star meets a ukelele) and new local act Family Picnic. 9 p.m, $5.

And, of course, The Flaming Lips are playing over at the boats tonight (Stir Concert Cove). Tix are still available for $46.50 via ticketmaster. 8 p.m. start time.

* * *

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.



Comme Reel CD release, Icky Blossoms tonight; Speed! Nebraska soapbox riot, Saddle Creek Store grand opening Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:59 pm July 22, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Finally, the weekend.

Comme Reel

I’m listening to the new Comme Reel CD right now, the one that’s being celebrated with a release show tonight at O’Leaver’s. It’s warm and groovy, the perfect jazzy soundtrack to these 100-degree days. The band features Marc Phillips (Students of Crime, ex-Carmine, ex-Carsinogents) on drums and bass and Chris Esterbrooks (Mal Madrigal, ex-Philharmonics, ex-Carsinogents) on bass and keyboards, along with frontman Mike Saklar (No Blood Orphan, ex-Ravine, ex-Ritual Device) on guitar, vocals, bass and pedals. Though they’ll be playing their songs live tonight, the CD is worth seeking out if not for the songs and performances than for the recording itself, whose specifics Saklar documents in great detail in the liner notes — recorded to 8-track analog tape; mastered to 2-track tape and then pushed to state-of-the-art technology. It sounds fantastic. This is the best recording Saklar’s been involved with since his Ritual Device days. The show’s line-up is almost as impressive: Techlepathy, Benjamin Brodin, Dirty Fluorescents, Colin Hotz, Cricket Kirk, Melissa Dundis and No Blood Orphan. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight at The Waiting Room, Icky Blossoms headlines a show with Talking Mountain and Sun Settings. Icky Blossoms is a dance-driven re-imagining of Flowers Forever, featuring Derek Pressnall of Tilly and the Wall fame along with Nik Fackler (InDreama) JJ IDt, Sarah Bohling, Dylan Strimple and Craig Dee. They’ve got a new song, “Temporary Freakout,” which you can check out on their band page. Catch this band before they explode. $7, 9 p.m.

Soapbox Riot 300

What drives a full-grown man or woman to construct an engineless four-wheeled vehicle, strap on a helmet and then “drive” the rickety jalopy down a steep, blacktopped incline at breakneck speeds? Some would say courage; others would say stupidity. Now in its third year, the Speed! Nebraska Adult Soapbox Derby attempts to answer that burning question this Saturday at Seymour Smith Park. Beer and food will be available for the citizens who choose to attend these free gladiatorial matches. Blood-covered survivors will meet that evening at O’Leaver’s for a concert featuring Speed! Nebraska artists Domestica, Filter Kings, Third Men, Wagon Blasters and the Students of Crime. The show also is a release party for a new 7-band 10-inch record featuring all of the bands playing, plus Ideal Cleaners and the Really Rottens. Again, the soapbox derby is being held Seymour Smith Park Soapbox Track, 72nd and Washington Sts., 11 a.m. racetime, absolutely free. Post-race concert at O’Leaver’s, 50th & South Saddle Creek Rd., $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tomorrow, the brand-spanking new Saddle Creek Shop is celebrating its grand opening. If you haven’t heard about this (and who hasn’t?) it’s a new record store run by the label that deals in Saddle Creek swag along with a generous selection of new vinyl from a plethora of non-Creek bands. The celebration, which starts at noon and runs until 6 p.m., features performances by Orenda Fink (Azure Ray) and The Mynabirds, along with DJ sets from Todd Fink (The Faint), DJ M Bowen (Commander Venus) and Derek Pressnall (Tilly & The Wall). Free food, commemorative merch, door prizes, what more do you want? Get down there and buy some vinyl, people.

Also tomorrow night at Harrah’s Stir Lounge, Darren Keen plays with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns and Lincoln band Irkutsk. $5, 9 p.m.

Finally Sunday night, Colourmusic (Memphis Industries) plays with Morning Teleportation and Landing on the Moon at The Waiting Room. $8, 9 p.m. Highly recommended.

* * *

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 280: So Long, OEAAs; MAHA lineup complete; Concert for Equality sold out; Speed! Nebraska hangover; Techlepathy, East of the Wall tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

BTW, a quick glance at Craigslist yesterday showed Deluxe Concert for Equality tickets were being offered for as much as $200 each, while general admission tix were being offered for $100 each. There are 25 listings there now, and most are “want to buy” ads.

Column 280: Goodbye, OEAAs…

It’s better than beating a dead horse…

I just finished writing a 1,000-word critical review of this past weekend’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards showcase in Benson, and then I threw it out.

It dawned on me after adding the -30- (a traditional, out-dated way of ending news stories) that I should take the same tact that I take for bands that I don’t care for — just don’t write about it. There’s no point in tearing down the OEAAs. The bands that participate aren’t indie bands, aren’t bands that I cover in my column and website, and aren’t the kind of bands Nebraska has become nationally known for.

In truth, the OEAAs don’t target any specific “type” of band. The organization’s showcases are open invitations to anyone willing to play for free, with apparently no criteria that eliminate anyone from consideration. As a result, the showcase has become a two-day open mic night, where truly talented performers like Ember Schrag, Ground Tyrants and a couple others, get lost in the overwhelming fog of mediocrity.

Even the annual awards process has become somewhat misguided. As an OEAA Academy member, I found myself not voting in a number of categories last year because the nominees simply didn’t fit the category definition — and I’m not talking about from a genre standpoint, but as representing the best bands from the Omaha/Lincoln area in a specific category. I have no interest in voting for the least mediocre among five mediocre bands, while the area’s real talent — the bands that release albums on nationally distributed record labels, the bands that go out of state on tours — are consistently ignored by the process or refuse to participate.

When the OEAAs began four years ago as a non-profit, there was some discussion that money generated from the effort could some day support a scholarship fund or some other worthy cause. But that never happened. Conceivably, money raised from the showcases is funneled into covering costs involved in putting together the annual awards banquet — a program that’s supposed to showcase the best and brightest, but where the best and brightest rarely perform.

Despite all of this, there’s no question that folks enjoy the OEAA showcases and awards banquet, whether I do or not. Who am I to begrudge anyone for having a good time? So with that, I wish the OEAAs the best of luck as I resign my position as an Academy Member, put down my gun and slowly walk away…

* * *

Speaking of the OEAA’s, the MAHA Music Festival filled its final opening slot for bands performing on the Kum & Go Local Stage from those participating in last weekend’s OEAA showcase. In an open vote of OEAA patrons, the winner was R&B act Voodoo Method, a band that harshly clashes with the national acts chosen to perform on the main stage. I guess that’s what the MAHA committee gets when it leaves a decision as important as who will perform at their concert up to someone else.

* * *

If you were on the fence as to whether or not to buy tickets to the Concert for Equality, being held July 31 in Benson and featuring Bright Eyes, Cursive, Desaparecidos, Lullaby for the Working Class, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Envy Corps, David Dondero, The So-So Sailors, Conchance, Simon Joyner, Flowers Forever and Vago, along with some TBA superstars, you can forget about it. The event sold out last week. Deluxe Tickets, which originally cost $50 each, were being listed on ebay for $315 a pair last week, and I suspect you’ll see even higher prices as the event gets closer. Could the concert be moved from one of Benson’s side streets to Maple Street, freeing up more tickets? We’ll have to wait and see.

* * *

Finally, I skipped Day 2 of the OEAAs to attend the Speed! Nebraska showcase at a crushed-full O’Leaver’s — the epilogue to the Soapbox Riot soapbox derby held at Seymour Smith track earlier that day (and won by Wagon Blasters’ frontman Gary Dean Davis). Speed! Nebraska Records boasts arguably the best roster of pure rock bands in Nebraska — including Mercy Rule, Ideal Cleaners, Techlepathy, The Third Men, Mezcal Brothers and Wagon Blasters, all of whom performed that night (and none of whom played the day before at the OEAA showcase). Note to the MAHA committee: Any of those bands would have been an amazing addition to the Kum & Go stage. Maybe next year?

* * *

It’s a night of nightmare music at Slowdown Jr. tonight with Gunnison Beach, New Jersey noise band East of the Wall (proggy, syncopated rhythms, monster vocals, loud), Name (crazy fast guitars, metal, screaming), Masses (pounding instrumentals, violently loud, torturous), and Techlepathy (intricate, tense, free-fall explosions). Earplugs highly recommended. $8, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.