Column No. 300: A look back at Year 6; Brad Hoshaw, Rah Rah tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 1:54 pm December 9, 2010

Column No. 300

A look back at year 6.

by Tim McMahan,

Goddamn. Just look at that number. 3 0 0. Not all were as perfect as a bowling score, but still… that’s a lot of friggin’ words. And I haven’t run out yet.

It’s hard to believe that six years ago Column No. 1, an interview with then hot propriety Willy Mason, was published, Dec. 2, 2004. Golden-boy entrepreneur John Heaston and the work-hardened galley hands at The Reader have been kind enough to keep this page open to me all these long years, with hopefully many more to come. Don’t believe all that putrefied tripe about the “death of print.” Newspapers will be around long after that shiny iPad you’re getting for Christmas has been recycled a dozen times over by the good folks at PBR.

So, as I crank out yet another recap and update some of the “better” columns of the past year, I thank you, precious reader, for coming along for the ride, always willing to crack your window whenever the gas accidentally escapes. At the same time, I kneel before you, hat in hand, eyes turned downward, and beg you to send your column ideas via dancing electron to Your thoughts make my thoughts grow, and are the fertilizer that keeps this mighty tree sturdy as we enter year seven — just in time for Second Grade.

Column 255: The Letting Go, Jan. 20, 2010 — We said goodbye to a pure garage-punk genius named Jay Reatard, who at age 29 was way too young to die. Jay’s impact on our modern world is still being felt by all of us who value flash-brave creativity, and without a doubt, his spark always will be felt long after we let him go. We’re still letting go of The 49’r, whose bitter demise remains fresh in our minds. When this column was published, the hopeful were organizing the “Save the 49’r” Facebook page, but I think we all knew better. You can’t stop graft. The lights went out in October. The wrecking ball awaits. Fuck you, CVS, you overblown toilet-paper store. I’ll never step foot in your fluorescent nightmare. And yes, Mr. Gray, voters will remember.

Column 258: Long Live the Hole, Feb. 10, 2010 — In the dead of winter, all-ages basement punk club The Hole was forced to move out of its hole beneath the Convicted skate shop across the street to the above-ground relic that used to house jaunty Omaha gay bar The Diamond on south 16th. It looked like a new beginning for a venue that some thought could serve kids the same way the Cog Factory did in the ’90s. But the location was too good to be true, and in September The Hole was dug up once again, forced to move to another basement, this time beneath Friendly’s Family Bookstore in Benson, where it now resides. Probably. A glance at the club’s Myspace and Facebook pages shows no listings for upcoming shows, and the sign above the club’s alley entrance is gone.

Column 262 & 263: Austin Bound, March 10, 2010 — Why should local bands play at South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin? Little Brazil, It’s True, Digital Leather, The Mynabirds, Thunder Power, Eagle Seagull and UUVVWWZ all gave their best reasons, which boiled down to: 1) exposure, and 2) fish tacos. Despite playing to crowds that ranged from a few to a few hundred, none of them got their “big break,” but they did get king-sized hangovers and lots of memories. I haven’t decided if I’m going back this year…

Column 266: No Excuses, April 14, 2010 It was an opportunity to point an accusatory finger directly at you, the local indie music community, and warn you that there were no excuses this time. None. The MAHA Music Festival line-up — Spoon, The Faint, Superchunk — and an ultra-cheap $33 ticket made sure of that. If Omaha really wanted a true indie rock festival — the beginning of a Midwestern Lolla or Coachella or Bonnaroo — it had to turn up at Lewis & Clark Landing this year. And you did, thousands of you for what is now being rumored as the last Faint performance ever (though I’ll believe it only when Todd tells me so). Now comes word that an already crowded local music festival season is about to get more crowded next year. Will MAHA be able to get you to come out again in 2011? Two words: Arcade Fire. Dare to dream.

Column 267: Identity Crisis, April 21, 2010 — This bitter live review of Digital Leather’s performance at Harrah’s Casino was a chance to whine like a pussy at how the band on stage only vaguely resembled the one heard on their amazing albums (Blow MachineSorcerer, Warm Brother). In hindsight, well, I had nothing to whine about. Digital Leather live is a filthy, punk factory that bleeds anger on its own level, whether or not I can hear the friggin’ keyboards. If I want nuanced subtlety, I can always stay home and listen to the records (something we’ll all get a chance to do when Digital Leather releases its latest work of art in 2011).

Column 271: Comfort Zone, May 19, 2010 — Stephen Pedersen, Omaha’s version of Buckaroo Banzai (high-fallutin’ Kutak-Rock lawyer by day / Saddle Creek rock star by night) explained why he and the rest of the aging yuppies in Criteria are content only playing the occasional reunion show. In fact, the band hasn’t played again since that Waiting Room gig in May. Instead, the esteemed counselor has his eyes set on a different sort of reunion — this time with his old pals from seminal Nebraska indie band Slowdown Virginia, who are prepping to take the stage Dec. 23 at the club that (sort of) bears its name — 16 years after their first show. I’m sure they’ll all look and sound exactly the same.

Column 277: A Modest Proposal, June 30, 2010 David Fitzgerald from Athens, GA’s Flagpole magazine did me a solid by writing a review of the debut album from It’s True. Alas, his kind words weren’t enough to keep the band alive, as the same evening the column hit the streets, It’s True announced from stage its demise. So we said goodbye to one of Omaha’s most promising acts… didn’t we? Don’t be so sure.

* * *

There are a couple of shows worth checking out tonight at the usual hot spots.

At The Waiting Room, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies return to the stage with a bunch of new material. Opening is relatively new Americana/Folk Rock act The Big Deep. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr., it’s Regina, Saskatchewan indie band Rah Rah, who was named named “Best Alternative New Artist” and “Best New Canadiana Artist” in iTunes Best of 2009 list. They’re opening for local faves Honey & Darling, along with Canby. $7, 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.


Column 288: The Hole moves, Worker’s Takeout opens and Mousetrap returns; Ben Gray’s inner struggles (The 49’r, bleak); LotM tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 15, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

I went to the new Worker’s for lunch. The line was out the door. The Italian Beef was delicious, though next time I need to remember to order it “dry.”

Column 288: New Beginnings

The Hole moves to Benson; Worker’s Takeout reopens downtown.

When the all-ages music venue The Hole opened in its new location in February, there was hope that it could become this generation’s Cog Factory — the legendary ’90s-era bunker where kids (and some adults) saw national touring punk and indie bands perform alongside their local heroes. It was a tall order for The Hole’s owners Anna and Donny Diederich, and booking agent Lucas Wright. But as summer leaned toward fall, it looked like they were onto something. The Hole had regular bookings, was attracting good audiences, and was beginning to gain a national reputation as a viable all-ages option for touring punk bands.

But it all ended last Friday when the landlord that owns the building where The Hole was located at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar) changed the locks and told them to get out. The eviction was easy, since the Diederichs had never signed a lease on the building.

The reasons were… sketchy. The landlord had completed refurbishing apartments above the venue, and wanted to move in, said Anna Diederich. “At first he told us we could only do shows on weekends.” Then there was the dispute over the building’s basement, which Donny and some of his friends cleaned out and fixed up. “(The landlord) said by doing that we devalued the property, and that we threw things away that we shouldn’t have,” Anna said.

The eviction had come with little warning. “He gave us a week to get out,” Anna said. “We tried to renegotiate, and he gave us a couple days extension, but when Friday afternoon came around, he called and said the locks had been changed and that we could come back later for our PA equipment.”

It didn’t matter to the landlord that Wright, who goes by Black Heart Booking, had touring bands booked at The Hole Friday night. Wright and Deiderich both said the landlord feared that the final show would turn into an orgy of destruction, even though both had been very clear that nothing like that was going to happen. At the last minute, Wright moved the show to a local house. And that looked like the end of The Hole.

But it wasn’t. Anna said Monday that The Hole will reopen in a new location in downtown Benson. “We just made the deal today, and can move in in a couple days,” she said. “We just need to come up with the deposit.”

The new location is in the basement of a building located on Maple Street just east of the Subway sandwich shop. “It’s right across the street from the Community Center and catty-corner from the thrift store,” Anna said. “The door to the venue is in the alley off 60th St. It’s a back-door entrance only, which is kind of cool.”

Anna said the first step will be to clean out the 2,000-square-foot space, decorate and then add the stage. The couple, who also ran the Convicted skate shop, which had moved to the Diamond Bar building a few months ago, said they also intend to have a small skate shop in their new Benson location. “We want it to be more like a venue that sells skateboards,” Anna said. “We’ll start off small with just boards, trucks and wheels. We kept the signs from the old store — Convicted is not going to die, that’s for sure.”

To help pay for their initial start-up costs, a benefit show for the new Hole is being held at Sokol Underground Tuesday, Sept. 21, headlined by NYC punk band Star Fucking Hipsters, and featuring local punk acts Eastern Turkish, Youth and Tear Gas and Bombs Blast. The $10 show starts at 6 p.m.

Like before, The Hole will be booked primarily by Anna and Donny with help from Black Heart and whoever else wants to book the room, Anna said. It will remain an all-ages venue, designed as a place where kids can come and hang out. “All-ages venues end up being non-profits,” she said. “You’re not making money off alcohol; you’re doing it just for the music, and that ain’t easy.”

* * *

Speaking of new beginnings, it was only this past June that Worker’s Takeout, located next to O’Leaver’s on south Saddle Creek Rd., went out of business. The shop, owned and operated by Ladyfinger and So-So Sailors frontman Chris Machmuller, had gained a reputation for its amazing pressed Cuban pork roast sandwiches and other hot and cold treats, but it wasn’t enough to keep the doors open.

Then out of the blue, Worker’s reopened at 16th & Dodge in the ground floor of the former First National Bank downtown headquarters. Worker’s is sharing the space with Scooter’s Coffee, so now you’ll now be able to grab a latte with that Hot Italian Beef or Chicago dog. Machmuller said the shop will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; but there will be no weekend hours. The menu will stay as it was “with a few enhancements.” Can downtown delivery be far behind?

* * *

One final bit of good news: I got an e-mail Monday afternoon via Facebook from Craig Crawford, bass player for legendary Omaha punk band Mousetrap. “It looks like mousetrap 2010 will happen at The Waiting Room on Dec. 23 (again), with a possibility of a show in Lincoln as well,” Crawford said. “Same line up, with a possibility of some deep cut songs.” Last year’s line-up included frontman/guitarist Patrick Buchanan (of course) and drummer Mike Mazzola, and was arguably one of the band’s best performances in its 20-year history. Can they top it? Stay tuned…

* * *

It’s not all good news.

Yesterday Omaha City Council meeting, Councilman Garry Gernandt supported Ben Gray’s motion to reconsider the building of a CVS Pharmacy at 49th and Dodge, the site of The 49’r Bar, which means the proposal will be voted on again at next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, without a public hearing.

In addition, The Omaha World-Herald reported this morning in this article that Gray will flip his original vote against the proposal and will now support the CVS proposal. No real reason was given by Gray in the article other than to say that his first vote “was not consistent with what I normally do,” which makes it sound as if Gray had an argument with himself when he got home after the first vote:

“So what did you do?”

“Well, I voted against it.”

“What!? Are you stupid? Do you know what that could do to economic development in Omaha?”

“I… don’t know. I guess I didn’t think…”

“You’re damn right you didn’t think.”

“Look, I’m sorry. There were all those angry people at the meeting, staring at me. I mean, I shop at Walgreens. I guess it was not consistent with what I normally do, but what’s done is done.”

“Well then you better undone it.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“You’ll get on that phone right now to Channel 7 and tell them that you’ve had a change of heart and want to change your vote.”

“But… It’ll look like someone from CVS got to me and made me change my vote by threatening to pull out of Omaha if the Dundee proposal isn’t passed. It’ll make me look like a pussy.”

“I don’t care what it makes you look like. You’re going to get on that phone right now and get the ball rolling.”

“Yes dear…”

There are countless more diabolical (and reasonable) theories as to why all of this is happening, but they all boil down to the same thing: economic coercion by CVS — you’ll either allow us to build at 49th and Dodge or we’re stopping construction on the 72nd and Maple CVS location. That’s certainly what was implied in this WOWT story that appeared online yesterday.

If that threat was indeed made to any City Council member, it was an empty one. Any “economic development” by CVS will come at the expense of Walgreens or other pharmacies (such as Kohll’s). I think I can speak for most of the people I know when I say Omaha already has too many pharmacies. If CVS decided to take their ball and go home because the City Council wouldn’t approve their Dodge St. plan, no tears would be shed. Even if CVS had vindictively stopped construction at 72nd and Maple (which is highly unlikely) the worst thing that would come of it is that an already vacant corner would remain vacant.

Does any of this matter? Not really. It’s obvious that the City Council is now going to vote yes to what amounts to an invasion of CVS stores throughout Omaha, supposedly centered around a “flagship” store on 49th and Dodge that will be the least profitable of the bunch. Regardless of the “Old Lincoln Highway” argument or the “ruining the neighborhood feel of Dundee” argument, it’s just a bad location to build a pharmacy – an area with poor foot traffic next to a major throughway that will make access difficult. They’ll see.

And while there will be no public hearing on the matter, there’s nothing stopping those who oppose CVS from showing up at next week’s City Council meeting as a show of numbers against the proposal. Even though it probably won’t make a difference.

* * *

Landing on the Moon once again returns to O’Leaver’s tonight with Millions of Boys (Sara from Honey & Darling), Tina Sparkle and Jared Grabb. $5, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

Tomorrow: An interview with Titus Andronicus where Patrick Stickles talks about all those comparisons to Conor Oberst. Oh boy…

* * *

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.


The Hole is deep-sixed (for now); no public CVS hearing; Hoshaw, Blue Rosa tonight; Jenny/Johnny, Jakes-fest Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:38 pm September 10, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

Tonight’s Laura Stevenson and the Cans show at The Hole will be the venue’s last…  at least at its existing location.

Lucas Wright, who books shows at The Hole under the moniker Black Heart Booking, e-mailed saying that if you drive by the venue, located at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar), you’ll find lots of construction equipment and city workers replacing sewer pipe.

“Last Tuesday a pipe burst and flooded the basement of the Hole, and the owners basically kicked out Anna and Donny (Diederich) so they could remodel and clean up the damages,” Wright said, adding that it was easy to do since the Diederichs never signed a lease.

The building owner also recently finished renovating the apartments above The Hole, and plans on renting them out, Wright said. “I guess he tried telling Donny he could only do shows on Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate the potential new tenants, which Donny didn’t like at all. So I think he was basically looking for an excuse to oust them.”

Wright said the Diederichs are now looking at a spot in Benson in the 60th and Maple area (next to the Subway sandwich shop). “(It’s) quite a bit bigger (3,700 sq ft), so maybe this will all work out for the best in the end,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wright is busting ass trying to find other venues for the shows he had scheduled at The Hole, “which is proving somewhat difficult as two of them are coming up right away.”

So tonight’s show at The Hole is the venue’s last hurrah. It was only last February that it opened at the Diamond Bar location (read about its origins here). Help it go out in style. Also on the bill are Lincoln punkers Thunderbolts, Fargo metal/punk act Animal Lover and Omaha acoustic punk band Ogdenville. $6, 8 p.m.

* * *

A brief update on yesterday’s 49’r/CVS item: KETV had reported that if the resolution to reconsider the proposal to build a CVS pharmacy at 49th and Dodge passes (which goes in front of the Omaha City Council on Tuesday), there would be a public hearing the following Tuesday. Now WOWT and are reporting that there won’t be another public hearing, merely another vote on the CVS project at the Sept. 21 City Council meeting. Councilman Ben Gray, who wants the Council to reconsider the deal, said on WOWT last night that he hasn’t changed his mind (he voted against it) and that he just wants new information to be considered. I don’t buy it, and I’d say things aren’t looking good for the Niner…

* * *

The weekend is upon us. Here’s a rundown of shows on my radar screen:

Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies are playing tonight at The Stir Lounge in Council Bluffs (at Harrah’s). I have a feeling Hoshaw will be rolling out new material. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr tonight, it’s the Blue Rosa CD release party with Honey and Darling and Dim Light. $6, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Satchel Grande and Conchance play at The Waiting Room. $7, 9 p.m.

Benson will be hopping Saturday night. Jenny and Johnny (as in Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley fame and Johnathan Rice) are playing at The Waiting Room Saturday with Love As Laughter. $15, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, just around the corner (literally) is the fall “just because we can” block party hosted by Jake’s Cigars & Spirits on Military Ave. The line-up for the show:

  • Flowers Forever
  • Noah’s Ark was a Spaceship
  • Her Flyaway Manor
  • Dim Light
  • Brad Hoshaw
  • Conduits
  • Gooses
  • Awkwords
  • Butler & the Gentlemen
  • Landing on the Moon

No price is listed for Jakes-fest on Jake’s website, but I’m hearing it’ll run $10 and starts at 5 p.m..

Also Saturday night, Saudi Arabia (Shanks) is playing at O’Leaver’s with Brimstone Howl and La Casa Bombas. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And then Sunday at O’Leaver’s it’s The Answer team with Big Science and Ketchup & Mustard Gas. $5, 9:30 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.