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.


Live Review: Landing on the Moon, Students of Crime; Workers Takeout closes; Son of 76 tonight; Benson After Dark Saturday; Mountain Goats, Psychedelic Furs Sunday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:57 pm June 11, 2010
Landing on the Moon at O'Leaver's, June 10, 2010

Landing on the Moon at O'Leaver's, June 10, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

First, some sobering news after a night that was anything but…

Workers Takeout, the sandwich shop next to O’Leaver’s owned and operated by Chris Machmuller of Ladyfinger, shut its doors for good this week. Last night I noticed a “Closed” sign written in Sharpie on the door that said “Thanks for the memories.” I didn’t get a chance to talk to Mach about what happened, though I’ve been told by people close to the business that you haven’t seen the last of Worker’s Takeout, just the last of it from that location. As discussed in this interview/column, Workers opened at the height of this country’s most recent Great Recession in August 2008 with only a sandwich counter and a helluva menu. They just opened a new dining room this past January. It seemed like the perfect location — right next door to O’Leaver’s, across the parking lot from the Pub’s popular sand volleyball courts. But Workers just couldn’t get the army of toned, tanned athletes to step foot inside their shop, I guess because they feared it as much as they fear the inside of O’Leaver’s, which also rarely seems to attract any spikers. The irony to me is that Workers is the first place that I ever ordered a Cuban sandwich — a sandwich that recently was added to the Panera Bread menu. My suggestion (which has no wings whatsoever) would be to move Workers into  O’Leaver’s old kitchen and turn the bar’s pool table room into an order window. I’m sure it would take many thousands of dollars to get O’Leaver’s kitchen up to code, however. Here’s hoping that Machmuller finds the right location, and that Workers reopens soon…

As for last night’s gig…

I have now seen Students of Crime — Robert Thornton’s new band — twice, but it seems more like I’ve seen two separate bands with the same personnel. They even looked different. For their debut back in April (also at O’Leaver’s), the band was dressed to the nines in suit and tie. Last night, however, they wore the usual O’Leaver’s uniform of jeans and T shirts. Just as different as their costumes was their sound. On night one, SOC leaned toward Americana – almost to alt-country. Last night they were a punk band in the vein of Carmine (one of Thornton’s old bands), but with a harder, SST edge. And without a hint of twang (this definitely wasn’t Whipkey Rock). It was the band I expected to see/hear back in April. I have no idea why they changed styles, and frankly don’t prefer one over the other, though Thornton looked more relaxed playing the punk that we’ve come to expect from him.

Having just returned from a few weeks of touring, Landing on the Moon was as tight as you’d expect. In fact, last night’s performance was the best I’ve ever seen them. I guess that road does something to a band — it changes them. Or maybe it was just the booze because they’ve never felt more cohesive. And for the first time I was able to put my finger on who they remind me of. In fact, LotM has a style that is distinctly its own, especially compared to the rest of the Omaha scene. No one does quite what they do — a fusion of indie and throw-back radio rock with a groove that heralds all the way back to the ’70s. I’m going to get skewed for this, but I was reminded of late-’70s Journey. Someone else in the audience referenced Mates of State, which also was a stretch, albeit a more indie (and realistic, and probably less offensive) stretch.

The real difference last night came from folks who I hadn’t noticed before. I point directly toward bassist Eric Harris, who has never sounded more up front and important to the band’s sound. His deep groove swing is the secret weapon that is (now) impossible to ignore. So is frontman John Klemmensen. I use the “frontman” moniker loosely, since there are three lead vocalists in the band, with Megan Morgan taking a more prominent role especially on the new material. Still, it’s Klemmensen who stood out — part of the reason is that O’Leaver’s PA simply isn’t kind to female vocalists, who have a way of getting buried in the mix. No single member of the band is ever the center of attention, however. The most “out there” player is drummer Oliver Morgan, who doggedly looks for any and every opportunity to decorate his percussion with fill upon fill upon fill upon roll upon fill. There is nothing unfancy about his drumming style, which will not — cannot — be ignored.

The band announced last night that their latest album, We Make History Now, will be released by Young Love Records Aug.10 (with a Young Love showcase scheduled for The Waiting Room Aug. 12). With a label, distribution and publicity behind them, who knows where they’ll land.

Finally, after midnight, it was time for the dynamic duo of Cloven Path, who apparently was having an off night, as the guitarist mentioned a few times that his pedal was broken. He only played two or three songs before leaving the stage. Their shtick is to play shredding electric guitar and trigger-happy drums over dense, heavily textured electronic tracks — very EDM-meets-metal. It’s dramatic and fun. The only thing missing is a vocalist, preferably a wonked-out bleached-haired goth chick with a Debra Harry voice clad entirely in black latex. Surely they can find someone around this town to fit the bill.

* * *

You’ve got ’til the end of the day to get in on a sweet offer by Digital Leather designed to raise some money to buy sound equipment. The fund-raising project had a goal of $600. They’re currently at $1,695 — a success (that is if shipping costs don’t eat away at their profits). The details again:

There are two levels in which you can pledge:

1. $10. You’ll receive a free download of their new, yet-to-be-released album.
2. $15. You’ll receive a free vinyl with a numbered, super-limited-edition cover, along with the free download. The vinyls are limited to 150.

To get in on it, just go to the site and fill out the online form. The offer ends in just a few hours.

* * *

It’s back to O’leaver’s again tonight for My Pal Dragon with D.L. Diedrich and the Devil, She’s the Fastest and Thunder Power. $5, 9:30 p.m.

If you’re in Lincoln tonight, check out the Son of 76 and The Watchmen CD release show at The Bourbon Theater. Also on the bill are Tijuana Gigolos, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies and The Killigans. $6, 8 p.m.

Saturday night’s main event is the Benson Day: After Dark showcase, featuring more than 30 bands on five Benson stages — The Waiting Room Lounge, Barley Street Tavern, PS Collective, The Sydney, and Burke’s Pub. $5 will get you into all of them all night. Shows start at 9 p.m.

Finally, Sunday night boasts two huge shows. At The Slowdown, it’s the return of The Mountain Goats. The trio of John Darnielle, Peter Hughes and Jon Wurster will be playing songs off their latest 4AD release, The Life of the World to Come.  Opening the show is The Beets. $15, 9 p.m.

Competing with that show are ’80s legends The Psychedelic Furs with frontman Richard Butler at The Waiting Room with She Wants Revenge. $35, 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.