Live Review: Hottman Sisters in the park; Ten Questions with Laura Gibson; The Garden tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:07 pm June 20, 2016
The Hottman Sisters at Aksarben Village, June 18, 2016.

The Hottman Sisters at Aksarben Village, June 18, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

While people are loudly muttering about a local festival that dropped the ball over the weekend (I’m looking at you River City Music Festival), another pseudo festival was carried off nicely. I’m talking about the Proseeds show at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, which happened Saturday night.

About 500 people were lazing on the green when I was there just after 7:30 to see Hottman Sisters’ set. There were food and other vendors and along with about a dozen cops — I saw more cops at this tiny one-day local show than I’ve ever seen at a Maha Festival, they were everywhere, smiling, talking to people, looking as if they were enjoying the show as much as the audience.

As for the Hottman Sisters, the duo (supported by a drummer and bassist) kicked through a set of mostly uptempo pop songs. They’re marketed as an indie rock band, but their sound lies closer to alt country, thanks to an overhanging rural lilt to their harmonies and guitar style. I think they’re going for a sort of Decemberists thing with a touch of Lilith — a predictable description, I suppose.

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Laura Gibson opens for David Bazan at Reverb Lounge Tuesday, June 21. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

Laura Gibson opens for David Bazan at Reverb Lounge Tuesday, June 21. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

Ten Questions with Laura Gibson…

Singer/songwriter Laura Gibson’s life is at a crossroads. Originally from Portland, Gibson has been releasing albums since her 2006 debut If You Come to Meet Me (Hush Records). These days she’s on Barsuk/City Slang and lives in NYC where she studied to be a fiction writer. In fact, her new album, Empire Builder, which came out in April, was inspired by the name of the Amtrak route she took while crossing the country to her new home (and bears a resemblance to a certain Simon and Garfunkel song about a couple lost in America). But shortly after she arrived, her East Village apartment burned to the ground, an experience that “will continue to be, something that shapes me for the rest of my life. I cannot separate that experience from these songs,” she said.

There is a haunting poise to Empire Builder, a solemn intimacy that’s warm and pleasant and heartfelt. Contributors on the album include members of Death Cab for Cutie, Decemberists and Neko Case’s band, an artist whose style her music most resembles.

I asked Gibson to take our Ten Questions survey, and she obliged:

What is your favorite album?

Laura Gibson: Songs of Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen

2. What is your least favorite song?

There’s a song that keeps playing at my gym that says something like, “Girl you’re beautiful because you don’t know you’re beautiful.” I don’t know its name, but I hate it.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Getting to meet and connect with people all over the world.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Being away from home so often.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Tie between coffee and wine.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

New York; Spring Green, Wisconsin; tiny German towns.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

I had a few rough SXSW shows in Austin, but they’ve became pleasant/comedic in memory. Bad shows always make for good stories.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Music: a combination of tour income, royalties and licensing for film and commercials.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

I would like to write novels and I would like to do some sort of social justice advocacy work. I would be terrible at law enforcement.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

There is such an incredible music community in Omaha, so I feel like I’ve gotten to know it through song. I’ve heard stories of tornado alerts (but no actual tornado stories).

Laura Gibson opens for David Bazan Tuesday, July 2,1 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $15. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s Orange County punk duo The Garden (Burger, Epitaph), along with local boys Shrinks and Guts. $7, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Fencing Out the Freeloaders: MAHA talks about its move to Stinson Park / Aksarben Village…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm July 6, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Yesterday’s blog post that talked about Playing With Fire’s move to Aksarben Village now also applies to the MAHA Music Festival. MAHA organizers announced yesterday afternoon that they’re following PWF’s lead and moving to Stinson Park / Aksarben Village for their Aug. 13 event.

There is a major difference between these two events, however. Playing With Fire is a free concert. The MAHA Music Festival is a $30 ticket. How does MAHA keep freeloaders from just watching and listening from the sidelines? That was one of the questions posed to MAHA Festival organizer Tre Brashear.  And here are his answers:

The view from the fixed stage at Stinson Park / Aksarben Village.

The view from the fixed stage at Stinson Park / Aksarben Village.

Lazy-i: I assume there will be a fence that surrounds the Stinson Park compound? Will it circle just the park area?

Brashear: Yes, we will have an 8- foot-high privacy fence (i.e., can’t see through) that will encircle the entirety of the park (including Center St. and Papio Creek sides).  However, we will expand fence to include Mercy St. between Aksarben Dr. and 67th St. so that that portion of the street will be part of the MAHA grounds.

How will you be able to keep freeloaders from simply watching/listening to the concert from outside the fence?

First and foremost, we’ve tried to keep our ticket price low enough that people can afford to attend.  After all, part of the festival experience comes from being in the crowd, feeling the energy, dancing with your friends, etc., so standing around listening will never be as good as being there.  Also, given our nonprofit status, we are hopeful that people will “want” to actually buy a ticket in order to be supportive and help us grow the event in future years.

That said, we are realists and know that people will always look for a chance to take advantage, but we’ve spent enough time at the site and evaluating the sight lines that we feel comfortable that the 8-foot fence will prevent anyone from being able to watch the show without paying.  As for listening, we can’t prevent that.  However, people who are content merely to listen probably weren’t going to buy a ticket anyway.

Will you be able to block off Mercy St. for the event? Where do you intend to set up vendors?

Yes, Mercy St. will be fenced in and included as part of the festival grounds between Aksarben Dr. and 67th St.  Part of the street will be used for our production activities and the other part will house some of our vendor and sponsor tents.

Have you brokered deals for parking either at UNO or in the parking garages?

We have access to the entire parking garage immediately to the east of the park as well as an open area to the northeast, so we will have enough parking for everyone within two blocks of the festival.  Also, the fact that Aksarben Village is both on a bike trail and within walking distance for many of our fans will cut down on some of our parking needs.

Is there a forced noise ordinance to deal with? A concert cut-off time?

There is no noise ordinance specifically.  Only specific requirement is that we be done by 11 p.m., which would be the same anywhere we went within city limits, so that is when the show will end.

Lighting/PA-wise, what will you need to bring in to make it work?

From a music/lighting/performance standpoint, we are going to have bring in all the same equipment that we had to bring in at the Landing, so that’s not a big change.  However, we are upgrading our local stage from last year with better sound and lighting and inclusion of a roof and backdrop.

What’s the biggest challenge about making Stinson work for MAHA?

Besides the general need to encourage people to buy a ticket and not plan to freeload, we suspect our biggest challenge will come after the show is over because we have to have everything cleaned up and moved out before the Aksarben Village Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning.  We can do it (or we wouldn’t be there), but it’s certainly going to be a hassle and make for a long night.

With an expected crowd about half the size of PWF’s, MAHA probably won’t have to worry about getting everyone comfortably inside that 8-foot-high fence. In fact, MAHA will have the advantage of learning from whatever mistakes PWF makes at its show, which is just a week from Saturday.

Moving to Aksarben Village appears to be a home run for everyone involved, and some might consider it a sizable upgrade. Parking will be easier and cheaper, Aksarben Village businesses will be introduced to some new clientele, it just seems like the whole thing will have more of a festival, community atmosphere. The only apparent downside is freeloaders, but there won’t be a lot of room for them to roam around outside the compound. And like Brashear said (though more tactfully) those cheap bastards weren’t going to buy a ticket to the show anyway.

Speaking of which, have you bought your ticket yet? For just $30 you get Guided By Voices, Matisyahu, Cursive, J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), The Reverend Horton Heat and newcomers The Envy Corp along with So-So Sailors, The Machete Archive, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, Somasphere and one more band TBD this weekend at the OEA Summer Showcase in Benson. Plus booze and food vendors galore. Find out more, get tickets or volunteer at the MAHA website.

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Tomorrow: An interview with Saddle Creek Record’s newest band, Big Harp.

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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.



Live Review: Cheap Trick; the view from stage at Stinson Park; Black Keys, AYGAMG tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm July 5, 2011
Cheap Trick at Memorial Park, July 1, 2011.

Cheap Trick at Memorial Park, July 1, 2011.

by Tim McMahan,

Yeah, I know. Cheap Trick ain’t exactly “indie.” And looking over my record collection I realize I own all of zero Cheap Trick records. But as someone pointed out, why would I need to buy any since all their best songs are played in regular rotation on Z-92? If I need a Cheap Trick fix (or Zeppelin fix or AC/DC fix) I always can turn it to the Z for an hour for a helping of “The Flame” or “Surrender” or “The Dream Police.”

That said, Cheap Trick was always one of the cooler radio bands of the ’70s. Certainly cooler than REO Speedwagon or Journey. The chance to see them for free Friday night — and just a few blocks from my house — well, I’d be stupid to turn that down.

The impact of moving the Memorial Park concert stage from the “west bowl” — where it’s always been held as long as I can remember — to the north side of the park was immediate. In year’s past, wife-beater-pulling-a-cooler traffic began as early as noon on show day. Not this year. In fact, if someone had been searching for a parking space, there were plenty down by my house — unheard of in years past.

But the best part of the shift was seen at the park itself. With the stage now located on the much larger south end of the park there was ample room for the toothless to roam and sit and watch the show without having to trample someone’s precious bedspread compound. Paths were cardoned off with plastic snow fence, allowing anyone to walk unimpeded all the way to the soundboard only a few yards from the stage — another impossibility in past years. Everything just seemed bigger and better and… cleaner. Bravo to Bank of the West and whoever else was responsible for this year’s changes.

I didn’t get to the park until 8:30, well clear of .38 Special. Shortly after arrival at the standing area near the soundboard, Cheap Trick came prancing on stage and ripped into a set of every one of their radio oldies that I know. Intermixed was new material which fit in well with the old stuff — a testimony to the band’s continued creative output. Seeing as we will never hear this new stuff on the Z, I may actually have to run out and buy a copy if I want to hear any of it again.

Unlike some of the legacy bands playing at this year’s Red Sky Festival (Journey, 10,000 Maniacs), Cheap Trick has maintained its core structure of vocalist Robin Zander and guitarist/madman Rick Nielsen. Zander, wearing his usual Dream Police costume, sounded fantastic for a guy pushing 60. In fact, he managed to keep his voice pushing those high notes all the way through an encore of “Gonna Raise Hell,” a song that would tax even the youngest karaoke yodeler. All-in-all, a fantastic show by a band that helped define arena rock in the ’70s.

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The view from the fixed stage at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village. How many people will it hold?

The view from the fixed stage at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village. How many people will it hold?

So the question is, how much will it hold?

I’m talking about Stinson Park in Aksarben Village where it was announced a week or so ago that this year’s Playing With Fire concert will be held July 16. The concert, featuring Sharon Jones and the Dapkings, was moved due to the flooding of Lewis and Clark Landing. Jeff Davis, PWF’s organizer, would like to see attendance exceed 7,000, which could very well happen. But will they all fit comfortably in Stinson?

The Stinson Park fixed stage.

The Stinson Park fixed stage.

Having never really explored the area before, after having a lunch at one of the eateries in Aksarben Village Saturday, I walked over to Stinson Park, which is just west of the main businesses and along the south side of Mercy Road to get a glimpse of the stage. It looks like a prime set-up, especially if Davis can get them to close Mercy Road and use that area for concessions and beer tents. How the additional  lights and PA equipment will fit on the hill should be interesting.

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Tonight, of course, is The Black Keys at Stir Concert Cove. How will the Stir folks manage the parking problems that have arisen due to flooding? I’m told the bus/shuttles didn’t work so well at Mumford & Sons a few weeks ago. Hopefully they’ve figured it all out. Good luck to those of you who got tickets to this long sold out show. Opening is Cage the Elephant. Show starts at 8.

As for the rest of us, there’s always All Young Girls Are Machine Guns playing at O’Leaver’s tonight with 19 Action News and Moscow Mule. $5, 9:30 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.