Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saddle Creek is getting into the record store business

Saddle Creek Records is opening up a record store. Called the Saddle Creek Shop (or just "Shop" as it will probably come to be known by the logo above), it will feature all of the label's in-print vinyl and CD releases.

Seems natural to have a place to actually sell your own records (and T-shirts, stickers, etc.), but they're also going to sell new releases.

A grand opening will be held July 9 at the store, 721 N. 14th St. Update: It's actually open already, the told me. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday though hours will be extended so the shop's open before big shows, in-stores and other events.

It will be run out of the back of the label's warehouse (right next to Slowdown) and will also sort of be a Saddle Creek museum with old backstage passes, tour posters, album artwork, setlists and other stuff from the label's history.

It makes sense to sell Saddle Creek records, especially when they have the inventory right there, as well as give those searching out the label a destination. It seems like a lot of people who know of the label are looking for it when they come to town, but it's not like the label has a front office you can just walk into.

It's interesting that they're jumping into the murky waters of operating an independent record store though it seems that they'll be mostly focusing on new stuff and there won't be an inventory of used records. Still, I can't remember the last time a record store actually opened, just all the times that Homer's locations and others have had to close their doors.

They'll also be hosting in-store performances (a natural for bands playing the venue already) and they might even do limited-edition vinyl pressings.

What do you think about the label's newest venture?

Update 2: I talked to Saddle Creek's Jeff Tafolla today and took a trip down to the store. Here are some thoughts cobbled together from both of those events.

Basically, the store really is one tiny end of Saddle Creek's warehouse. It's a modest space and is staffed by regular Saddle Creek employees.

It mostly sells Saddle Creek releases, but there's a lot of other vinyl in there, too - everything from Nirvana to T-Rex. Don't expect to get amazing deals just because they're sold by Saddle Creek. It's regular prices or at least pretty much the same thing you'd see in their online store.

The good deals are found on regular merch. If you're aching for that Bright Eyes T-shirt you didn't buy at their last concert, head down to the Saddle Creek Shop. Most shirts are only 9 bucks. Saddle Creek coffee mugs were 5 bucks. The best deals were the selection of promotional posters for just about every recent release for only 3 bucks.

Anyway, go down there and check it out. It's a cool little place.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Your Maha Music Festival is now (mostly) complete

Maha Music Festival announced The Envy Corps as its last band.

Omaha folks may be familiar with the group, which plays here relatively often.

Maha has one more band to announce: the winner of voting at the Omaha Entertainment And Arts Awards' summer showcase, which takes place July 8 and 9.

Also yet to be announced: The location of Maha. As you may know, Omaha's riverfront is all kinds of flooded. I'm told by Maha organizers that the new location will be announced shortly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slowdown's conversion from indie club to sports bar

Other than the stage in the back of the room, Slowdown could be just any other sports bar.

Directly across the street from TD Ameritrade Park, Slowdown's back parking lot has been converted to a beer garden, food court and CWS merchandise heaven. Inside, the air conditioning offers respite from hot days as well as an enormous projection screen TV that hangs above the main stage.

Slowdown co-owner/operator Jason Kulbel told me that the place has been packed and the clientele was a 50/50 mix of hometown folks that seemed familiar with the club and people decked out in CWS gear that were obviously out-of-towners.

The only other obvious differences that I noticed were a scoreboard hanging from the building and a sign that read "Free Beer Garden AC Live Music."

If I were bumming around the CWS this week, Slowdown would probably be my spot. I'm familiar with it, it's right next to the stadium and it still maintains a cool vibe.

Update: I should have mentioned before that Slowdown resumes its "normal" programming on June 30, the day after the CWS is over. The first of the club's usual type of band will be locals The Beat Seekers on July 1 followed by Toad The Wet Sprocket on July 2.

* * *

Over the weekend, I heard that ASCAP and BMI representatives were in north downtown cracking down on venues with cover bands.

If you don't know how performance royalties work, it goes something like this: businesses that play music (as well as bands that play cover tunes) are obligated to pay something to the original songwriter and/or artist. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are the companies that control performance royalties in the U.S. They gather annual fees from businesses (radio stations, retail stores, music venues, etc.) and give artists their cut.

If you're not paying the royalties, they'll also occasionally come into your business and demand you pay or file an injunction. That, supposedly, was what was going down at bars around TD Ameritrade Park.

Upon some investigation, it turned out to be just a rumor.

Slowdown, for example, pays an annual fee to ASCAP and BMI much like other businesses. For Slowdown, that fee also covers performances whether its a tribute band playing Led Zeppelin tunes for an hour or an indie group sneaking a cool cover into its set.

Kulbel said no ASCAP or BMI rep had been poking around, though they wouldn't have much reason to since the rock club pays its annual fee.

Over at the Union Pizzeria and Sports Bar, a manager told me no one had bothered them either. Cover bands were playing every night and would continue to through the CWS.

Farrell's and the Old Mattress Factory also appeared to be sticking to their schedules.

Photo © 2011 The Omaha World-Herald

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stir Cove parking info

For Tuesday's Mumford & Sons concert, Stir Concert Cove at Harrah's Casino is encouraging people to park at the Mid-America Center in Lot B near Hooter's and take complimentary shuttles to and from Harrah's.

The shuttles will run between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. And, in case you were wondering, the Mumford & Sons show starts at 8 p.m.

So I'm told, there's some standing water in the Harrah's parking lots The rear parking lot of Harrah's is basically a lake (someone just sent me a picture), but the "cove" itself is fine. I imagine they'll have the shuttles going as long as the parking lots are affected.

Friday, June 10, 2011

OEAA summer showcase lineup announced

Once again, the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards summer showcase is upon us. Over two nights and five venues in Benson, 58 bands will perform.

You get to see them for $10/night or $15 for both nights.

While you're there, vote for your favorite band. Voting boxes will be at each venue and the band with the most votes will get to perform at Maha Music Festival.

Tons of good bands are on the bill and pretty much every genre is represented, so there's a little something for everyone.

Check out the schedule:

Friday, July 8

Waiting Room Lounge
8:00-8:40 - The Abstract
8:55-9:35 - Jerry Pranksters
9:50-10:30 - Dirtfedd
10:45-11:25 - Rock Paper Dynamite
11:40-12:20 - InDreama
12:35-1:05 - Somasphere
1:15-2:00 - BASSthoven

The Sydney
8:00-8:40 - Kansville Boys
8:55-9:35 - Syke
9:50-10:30 - Mitch Gettman Band
10:45-11:25 -The Seen
11:40-12:20 - Lonely Estates
12:35-1:05 - We Be Lions

Barley Street Tavern
8:55-9:35 - The Cards
9:50-10:30 - Betties
10:45-11:25 - K. Bandit
11:40-12:20 - Cannonista
12:35-1:05 - Big Deep

Burke's Pub
8:55-9:35 - Kyle Harvey
9:50-10:30 - Andrew Bailie as The Moscow Mule
10:45-11:25 - All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
11:40-12:20 - Enjoli
12:35-1:05 - Matt Whipkey

The Pizza Shoppe Collective
8:55-9:35 - Family Picnic
9:50-10:30 - Pharmacy Spirits
10:45-11:25 - Midland Band
11:40-12:20 - Vibenhai
12:35-1:05 - Edge of Arbor

Saturday, July 9

Waiting Room Lounge
8:00-8:40 - Broken Crown
8:55-9:35 - Skypiper
9:50-10:30 - Galvanized Tron
10:45-11:25 - Sister Soliel
11:40-12:20 - Funk Trek
12:35-1:05 - Blue Martian Tribe
1:15-2:00 am - $pencelove

The Sydney
8:00-8:40 - Fizzle Like A Flood
8:55-9:35 - Lepers
9:50-10:30 - Dim Light
10:45-11:25 - Machete Archive
11:40-12:20 - Witness Tree
12:35-1:05 - End In Red

Barley Street Tavern
8:00-8:40 - Dive Kings
8:55-9:35 - Millions Of Boys
9:50-10:30 - Blue Rosa
10:45-11:25 - Scru Face Jean
11:40-12:20 - Bloodcow
12:35-1:05 - The Answer Team

Burke's Pub
8:00-8:40 - 24 Hour Cardlock
8:55-9:35 - Daniel Christian
9:50-10:30 - Tara Vaughan
10:45-11:25 - Manny Coon
11:40-12:20 - E-Rawq
12:35-1:05 - Vago

The Pizza Shoppe Collective
8:55-9:35 - Jus. B
9:50-10:30 - Naked Plywood
10:45-11:25 - Citizen Band
11:40-12:20 - DamonThe Torpedoes: A Tom Petty Tribute
12:35-1:05 - Young Pflames

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Live Review: Bright Eyes at Westfair Amphitheater

Conor Oberst performs with Bright Eyes at Westfair Amphitheater on June 4, 2011. Photo: CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD
Sorry that I'm so late in posting this, but better late than never, right?

Anyway, I feel safe in saying that Saturday night's Bright Eyes set at Westfair Amphitheater was the best one I've ever seen from the band.

It was very similar to the set they played in Austin for SXSW, which I reviewed then. The set was once again heavy on the band's latest album, "The People's Key," though it also sampled from a lot of old material.

What I enjoyed was the influence that "The People's Key" had on the rest of the set. Since it's a more keyboard-heavy, forceful album, it caused the band to perform the rest of the songs that way.

"Lover I Don't Have To Love" is a great song, but Conor Oberst sang it with more conviction and it had a little more thump with the band that he had assembled, which included permanent members Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis as well as Clark Baechle on drums, Andy LeMaster on bass, Laura Burhenn on keys and backing vocals and Scott McPherson on additional percussion.

Baechle's drumming, which you all know from The Faint, has a drive to it and, coupled with MacPherson on another kit, fueled a lot of the songs.

Additionally, songs such as "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" fit in the set just as well as "Hot Knives" or "Bowl Of Oranges."

Oberst is way more confident onstage than I've ever seen him. In the past, Oberst had problems performing in front of crowds so bad that he was notorious for his freakouts. That doesn't happen any more, but even in recent years, I wouldn't have described Oberst as "chatty."

But on Saturday, he was playing the frontman role pretty damn well. He owned the microphone and though he mostly stayed behind a mic stand playing a guitar, he occasionally ran around the stage, danced it up and even crowdsurfed during the night-ending "One For You, One For Me."

He was relaxed enough to talk to the crowd a lot, too.

"Thanks so much y'all thanks for comin' tonight," he said. "We're so happy to be here to be here on such a beautiful night. Thank God for that. And we really appreciate y'all coming from wherever you came from, driving here to be with us."

Several people during the show (and a couple I've talked to since) remarked that the sound mix was unbelievably good. Westfair has never been my favorite venue, but it sounded glorious the other night.

I hope the band sticks to a similar formula for future tours, though you never know with Oberst and his pals. They like to change things up.

Good sets also came from the rest of the day's lineup. Con Dios, David Bazan (formerly of Pedro The Lion) and Jenny & Johnny (Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice) rounded out the day's music.

* * *

World-Herald photographer Chris Machian was also at Saturday's show and he caught some pretty great images of the show. Check them out.

* * *

Bright Eyes' setlist

Jejune Stars
Take It Easy (Love Nothing)
Four Winds
Trees Get Wheeled Away
Something Vague
We Are Nowhere And It's Now
Shell Games
Approximated Sunlight
Arc Of Time
Falling Out Of Love At This Volume
A Celebration Upon Completion
Bowl Of Oranges
Hot Knives
Cartoon Blues
Triple Spiral
No One Would Riot For Less
Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)
The Calendar Hung Itself
Ladder Song
Gold Mine Gutted
Lover I Don't Have To Love
Road To Joy
One For You, One For Me

* * *

"Bright Eyes performs "Something Vague" at Saturday's show.

Nebraska Pop Festival initial lineup announced

The Nebraska Pop Festival, taking place this year from Aug. 9 to Aug. 14 at The Pizza Shoppe, Barley Street Tavern and The Side Door Lounge, has announced its initial lineup.

Nebraska-based bands: Thunder Power, Edge of Arbor, Platte River Rain, The Sleepover, Gloworm, Panda Face, Blue Bird, Glass of Milk, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Witness Tree, Rock Paper Dynamite, Irkutsk, Hemingway's Lion, Foam Form, Gabe Cahill, The Golden Hour, Mint Wad Willy, Family Picnic, Green Trees, Tara Vaughan, The Big Deep, Murakami, Carrot Carrot, Floating Opera, Strawberry Burns

Other bands: Normandie Wilson (California), Matty Cries (Washington), Since Our First Guitar (Sweden), Biggles Flys Again (Ireland), The River Monks (Iowa), Careful Q (Illinois), Caramel Snow (New York), Demerit Samuel (Wisconsin), Fingers of the Sun (Colorado), The Sunshine Dreamers (Kansas), Met City (Indiana), Lilian and the Harveys (Minnesota), Postal Holiday (Colorado), Kissing Party (Colorado), Hindershot (Colorado), Paper City (California), Sofa City Sweetheart (California), Disasteradio (New Zealand), Faster Than Sane (Wisconsin)

As usual, I haven't heard of any of the non-Nebraska groups. But I trust organizer Christopher Beiermann to pick some good groups. Five days of bands is quite a lot of music and this will be a good showcase of talent.

Proceeds will benefit Arts For All.