Sunday, January 31, 2010

Live Chat: Grammy Awards tonight

Starting at 7, I'll be hosting a live chat about the Grammy Awards.

Catch the telecast on CBS and tune in here for the chat.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekend roundup

After what seemed like quite a drought of shows for the last month or more, this weekend is stacked with them. Here's a look at what's going on:

The big show this weekend is obviously the Waiting Room's grand re-opening tonight. The "soft opening" last night sounded like a good time from what I read on Twitter. It's True played a late-night set. Tonight is headliners Little Brazil with a few others.

If you're looking for something a little different, check out the Mr. O'Leaver's party tonight at O'Leaver's, which their Facebook page refers to as a "man pageant." From what I can gather, the contestants are made up of bar staff and regulars.

Also tonight will be Our Fox (Jake Bellows, Ryan Fox and others) at the Barley Street. I saw them at Slowdown a few months back and they were great, but I heard they've changed up their sound a tiny bit.

The first touring group on the Waiting Room's new stage (actually, it's the same old stage, but the room looks completely different) will be NOMO on Saturday night.

Sunday night will be the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, which will be at the Mid-America Center this year. I was going to go, but I have to review the Martina McBride and Trace Adkins show at the MAC's arena that's happening at the same time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top touring bands of 2009

Omaha did well bringing in the big names last year.

Among the top 50 concert tours, Omaha and Council Bluffs brought in 25 of those artists. A few others, such as Bruce Springsteen and the Dave Matthews Band, were in the metro in 2008.

Six of the top 10 tours had shows in the Qwest Center (Elton John/Billy Joel, AC/DC, Kenny Chesney, Jonas Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Metallica) last year.

What I wonder more about are the things that we missed. U2 and Britney Spears skipped Omaha. So did No Doubt and Beyonce.

There are a variety of reasons why those artists might have missed town. One of those is something that not a lot of fans consider: They've already been here. While fans might wonder why Bruce Springsteen doesn't come here on every tour, the Boss and his crew are more concerned about going to different places and reaching as many fans as possible.

If you do take a look at the full list, you'll notice that there are very few "can't miss" shows that weren't here. We did well in 2009.

So, who's coming in 2010? So far, not a lot. Spring tours that have scheduled stops in O-town include John Mayer, Bon Jovi, George Strait and Norah Jones.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Headlines: Jay Reatard, Lady Gaga and more.

What's up, kids?

There are some good shows this weekend. Check out Our Fox tonight (Thursday) at Slowdown. Another good show is on Friday: Third Frate at the Barley Street Tavern. Get details in my column, aptly titled Rock Candy.

There hasn't been a ton of news this week, but here's what I got today.

• A whole lot of rock stars are trying to round up people for Haiti relief.

Lady Gaga collapsed the other night and canceled her concert.

Jay Reatard died the other day. Funeral arrangements have been made and, rumor has it, they're treating the death as a homicide.

• R& B singer Teddy Pendergrass also died. He was 59.

• If you didn't know, Billy Corgan is dating Jessica Simpson. Now, they're apparently recording together.

• The Savannah Music Festival announced it's lineup. With Wilco and She & Him on the bill, I really want to go.

M.I.A. apparently has a new song.

Austin City Limits has a good lineup this time around. Their first hip-hop episode will feature K'Naan and Mos Def. Other artists include the Avett Brothers, Them Crooked Vultures and Steve Earle & Kris Kristofferson.

Universal Music laid off about 50 employees. I guess they're not doing so hot.

Unrelated to music: Jimmy Kimmel was on Jay Leno's show last night and really stuck it to him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

RIP: 49r and Beep Beep

Well, they're totally unrelated, but we must mark the passing of two great things: The 49r and Beep Beep.

I heard about the 49r's demise from Matt Whipkey this weekend. The bar shouldn't be mourned quite yet as it will be around for another year before the building is torn down and a CVS Pharmacy goes up in its place. For those that don't know, CVS is pretty similar to Walgreens and other cookie-cutter pharmacies.

The 49r acknowledged it on its Facebook page:

The rumors you're hearing are true. The 49'r, and surrounding property, has been bought to make way for a CVS Pharmacy. Our doors will close, permanently, next January. Please make this next year the best year the 49'r has ever had.

Saddle Creek Records band Beep Beep is also calling it quits.

According to SC's Twitter and MySpace, Beep Beep's last show will be Jan. 20 at Duffy's in Lincoln.

I had a cool interview with Eric Bemberger last year when the band's "Enchanted Islands" album came out. He talked about how Beep Beep is a weird, strange thing.

"Beep Beep is just a weird entity. It's always going to be weird no matter how you slice it," he said. Then he acknowledged that "it's kind of reached a bit of an apex with its ability to get more weird."

I don't know why they're calling it quits, but the previous statement puts it into perspective a little bit.


Lincoln=Footloose is the title of an e-mail that I received Friday evening (unfortunately after I left work, so this is why I'm only getting to this now) from the folks that run Lincoln venue Box Awesome.

According to the e-mail, the city of Lincoln basically told them that there's a law that prohibits people younger than 19 (the age of majority in Nebraska) from public dancing in music venues. Feel free to re-read that last part again. No "public dancing."

I took a look at the online version of Lincoln's municipal code book, which is a book of all of the laws of the City of Lincoln. There is a section on public dancing, which you can read here. There's also a section on teenage clubs that might be relevant.

Anyway, the "public dancing" law basically says that 1) you have to have a permit to have a public dance and 2) there can't be alcohol if minors are present.

There's actually nothing specifically dealing with music venues, but it appears that the Box Awesome falls in that wonderful category of places where public dances are held.

Now, I understand the Footloose reference. In the e-mail, Box Awesome appeals to Lincoln to help them come up with a law that makes sense. The aforementioned "no public dancing" law certainly does not.

They can look to Omaha for a law that seems to work well. The "music venue ordinance" here (also known as the "minors needs permission slips" law) is a royal pain for the music venue owners, so I'm told. But, they get to let the kids in and, if my simple observations hold true, those kids make up a large part of the audience at places such as Slowdown and the Waiting Room.

Anyway, if Lincoln wants to have a music scene, they need to let kids come into their shows. Their teen years are when they're forming a real opinion of music and they'll want to go to shows. It would be a shame for them not to be able to go and be stuck with stuff at the state fair or what little comes to the Pershing Auditorium.

And, to be honest, if they don't get it in Lincoln, they're going to drive to Omaha to get it.

Not to mention that some bands want all ages venues. And they'll skip towns to get it.

Here's the full e-mail, if you'd like to read it:

Got some bad news handed down to us folks. Apparently there is a law in Lincoln that states that people younger than the age of 19 are not allowed to engage in public dancing at places considered to be music venues. The Bourbon Theatre falls under that category, and we have been informed that we can no longer let minors younger than 19 into our late shows. This is effective immediately. On our end we plan to talk with city officials to see why this law is in effect and work with them to enact legislation that fits with the times. With Omaha just up the road offering all ages shows (with parental consent for people younger than 18), Lincoln as a city needs to become more forward thinking if we are to remain a vibrant cultural city. Any thoughts or comments are welcome regarding this matter, but please understand that our hands are tied and we are only doing this because it’s the law. Thanks for your continued support and we will keep you posted with any developments.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Record sales, record sales (last year and last decade)

The final tallies are in for 2009. And man did we buy a ton of music.

Last year, we made 1.545 billion purchases of music (up 2.1 percent from 2008), which includes everything from vinyl albums in your record store to digital downloads from Twitter. That, my friends, is a record.

The most impressive number in this report (lots of numbers in it... lots of numbers) to me is vinyl album sales. Last year, 2.5 million were purchased (another record), an increase of 33 percent.

I have to say that I buy pretty much all of my new music on vinyl any more (if I can find it). The reason? For a few bucks more, I get an LP and a digital download or CD. Why not have it as many formats as I can for a little more expense (and sometimes the same price).

In 2010, I don't know if vinyl will have another increase the size of the last two years, but I bet it will keep going up as more people buy turntables (especially the USB sort that will transfer your records to your computer).

The thing that is interesting to me is who sold a lot of vinyl. The top five are Radiohead, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Metallica and Wilco. Considering only one of those bands (Wilco) put out a new album this year, that's very interesting.

People just aren't buying new records on vinyl as much as they're picking up the old titles. Look at the top 10 vinyl albums: Out of those 10, six were new records. The other were all catalog titles ("Abbey Road," "Thriller, "In Rainbows" and "Appetite for Destruction").

As predicted, digital sales went up, physical sales went down and sales of albums (that's full albums, be it digital or not) dropped.

This is a sign of people buying the singles, not the record. And most of them are being purchased digitally, obviously. I do it too. Usually, I like hearing the whole album, but with Flo Rida, I'm just not going to fork over that much money when the only song I'm going to end up listening to is "Right Round" anyway.

Your big winners this year were Taylor Swift, Susan Boyle, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Andrea Bocelli, The Beatles, Miley Cyrus, the Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Jay-Z, the Kings of Leon, Carrie Underwood and Michael Buble. They each sold millions of albums, digital singles, etc.

Michael Jackson had a good year. I mean, as far as selling records is concerned. He sold more than 8.2 million. Taylor Swift (last year's best-selling artist) had another good year, coming in at No. 2 with more than 4.6 million sold.

* * *

Included in these same numbers were more numbers about the decade.

"Beatles 1" was the best-selling album. Eminem (this surprised me) was the best-selling artist, followed by the Beatles. Sadly, the most-played song was Nickelback's "How You Remind Me."

And the most-played artist was Tim McGraw. A side-note: country radio is a force to be reckoned with, folks. Out of the top 10, the only non-country artists on this list were Nickelback and Green Day. Seriously.

Also interesting is a handy graphic they included that shows while album sales steadily dropped, overall sales (bolstered by individual track sales) went up and up and up.

The incline in the chart starts in 2003-04, not coincidentally the same time that the iTunes store went live (April 28, 2003). Check out the chart below:

Weird factoid: 3 percent of albums purchased in the aughts were cassettes. That's more than 181 million cassettes, which are now likely collecting dust.

Monsters of Folk ARE NOT working on a new album

Big news this morning was that the Monsters of Folk are working on a new album. reported it after reading about it on Conor Oberst's supposed Twitter account.

(UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: NME has taken down the story, but it still appears elsewhere. The twitter account is also gone. Wonder if any cease and desists were issued today...)

Well, the story is not true and the account is not Mr. Oberst. That's what you get when you don't check your facts.

"That account is not Conor and that article from the NME is incorrect," Conor and the Monsters' publicist told me today in an e-mail.

The sad thing is that at least 6 places are running with the story (according to a Google news search) and the fake Twitter account has more than 7,500 followers.

So, 7,500 people (in addition to all the people that read those news stories) are being duped. The fake Twitter also makes reference to Conor cutting himself, cocaine, song meanings, answers to fans questions and a lot of attempts at "lyrics," which come off as pretty pale attempts at matching Mr. Oberst's songwriting ability. Anyway, whoever the person behind it all is, they're treading on pretty treacherous ground, I would say.

(Credit is due to Tim McMahan and his blog, where I first heard about the Monsters of Folk thing being a fake.)

* * *

UPDATE 2, 3:11 p.m.

As mentioned before, NME took their article down. And Spinner published a story apologizing for running with the story without checking.

It should be mentioned that all of the fellas in Monsters of Folk are currently pretty busy. M. Ward is working on the new She & Him record with Zooey Deschanel that's coming out soon. Jim James just started a record label, Removador, and is doing stuff with My Morning Jacket.

In addition, one would assume that Oberst and Mike Mogis are going to be working on the new Bright Eyes record for sometime this year, supposedly the last one they'll ever do as Bright Eyes.