Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Live Candy: Several great shows this week

A lot of good live shows are coming this week in Omaha, starting tonight.

Portland, Ore., indie punks The Thermals play tonight at The Waiting Room with Kentucky band Morning Teleportation and local favorites (now with keyboards!) Little Brazil. Should be a fun show. $12.

Thursday brings a local show with Mitch Gettman, Moscow Mule (the solo project from talented Omaha multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bailie) and Tara Vaughan at Slowdown. You can get tickets to the front room show for $8 at etix.com or the venue.

Big show of the week comes Saturday with Bright Eyes taking the stage at Westfair Amphitheater in CB. They play with Jenny & Johnny (interview here), David Bazan and locals Con Dios. The show starts at 5:30 p.m. and make sure you can get there early and see Con Dios, which I loved when I saw them at O'Leaver's as part of the band's residency.

Sunday brings a sold-out show to Slowdown with Iron & Wine playing with one of my favorite bands from SXSW, The Head And The Heart. Watch a video of TH&TH performing "Lost In My Mind" live in Austin below.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MAHA Watch: Somasphere added to local stage

MAHA Music Festival has five spots open on its local stage. Three were already chosen by MAHA and HearNebraska.org: The So-So Sailors, Machete Archive and Noah's Ark Was A Spaceship. Those three were narrowed down from a list of 15 provided by three venues: Duffy's Tavern in Lincoln, The Waiting Room and Slowdown.

The MAHA board also got to choose one band by itself and they went with Somasphere.

The instrumental rock/electronic band is a pretty cool choice. They certainly diversify the indie rock-heavy lineup, and I think they'll provide a pretty cool groove to move it to on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

It won't be the band's first festival appearance. They played Wakarusa in 2010 and are on the lineup there again this year as well as Sonic Boom in Colorado, which is pretty fantastic for any Lincoln/Omaha band.

I'm excited for the showcases that will be curated by the local stage bands, and I'm sure we'll see some interesting choices from the groups.

(Somasphere won't do a showcase like the others, I'm told, but will likely participate in some other Maha-related event.)

The local band portion of the festival has the organizers pretty jazzed about how the whole thing is shaping up.

"It reminds me on a different level just how cool our local indie scene is, and how great it would be to regain some of the regional national prominence the music once had," said Mike App.

Their approach, App said, is to choose accomplished local bands in order to "get our best and brightest prospects on the MAHA stage and maybe someday get them signed to a Sub Pop or Matador or Merge and have them be the next Cursive, Faint, Bright Eyes (or even Superchunk, Guided By Voices or Pavement!). Yeah, yeah, let me dream a little, will you? "

I sort of bashed the battle of the bands approach that Maha used the last two years (and that Red Sky Music Fesitval is using this year), so I'm happy they've gone with this route. Especially with the showcases that will highlight even more local talent than could fit at Maha.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Red Sky Watch: Zac Brown Band

Who: Zac Brown Band with Blackberry Smoke and Sonia Leigh

When: Thursday, July 21

What’s up: Zac Brown Band have become one of the most popular country groups around with songs such as "Toes," "Chicken Fried" and "Free." And a pair of Grammy wins in recent years haven’t hurt either.

Now only one more headliner remains to be announced: the festival-closing Saturday night spot. Who will it be?

My guess is no longer Jay-Z. He may have been on the table at one point or all but confirmed, but I don't think so any more. I hope they'll be wrapping up all announcements this week, especially the B & C stage acts. A lot of people are interested in day stage tickets (which are pretty cheap), but I think they're missing out on potential ticket buyers the longer they wait to release details.

Two months from today, we'll be experiencing the last day of the fest. It's time to know who's playing.

Tickets to Zac Brown's show go on sale June 3 at 10 a.m.

* * *

You won't see this info on the Red Sky site quite yet because it was released by Live Nation, who quickly took it down and recalled the press release.

Update: Red Sky actually removed some posts (including mine) from its Facebook page. In case you're wondering, we decided to run the story here and on Omaha.com (and in tomorrow's paper) based on the fact that it had already been reported by various outlets, was up on Live Nation's Facebook page for at least an hour and, as a result of all of that, is now pretty much an open secret.

Update 2 (05/25): Red Sky announced the  Zac Brown Band addition today. None of the information has changed.

"Toes" by Zac Brown Band

Foo Fighters' Shiflett fondly recalls the Ranch Bowl

The Foo Fighters are, standing from left, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel and, seated, Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins.

Previewing tonight's Foo Fighters show at the Mid-America Center, Chris Shiflett brought up Omaha.

Back when Shiflett, Foo Fighters guitarist, was a member of No Use For A Name, he was a veteran of Omaha rock clubs. During our interview, he asked if now-closed Omaha venues such as the Cog Factory and the Ranch Bowl were still around

He was sad and reminiscent when I told him that they both, in fact, were now closed.

“When I saw ‘Crazy Heart’ and that first scene (where Jeff Bridges’ character pulls up to a bowling alley), I thought of Omaha,” he said. “I thought, ‘Dude, I ... did that.' It totally reminded me of the Ranch Bowl.”

Shiflett said he loved the Ranch Bowl both because of the gracious crowds and, of course, all of the free bowling

“We’d bowl all day and play all night. Then I’d wake up the next morning with a really sore right arm,” he said, laughing. “When you’re 25, you really shouldn’t be that out of shape.”

Read the full interview over on Omaha.com and check back tonight for a review.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Column: Don’t like Red Sky's lineup? Don’t go

The following is my column from today's World-Herald, but I thought I'd post it here for you blog readers as well.

* * *

 By Kevin Coffey
Copyright ©2011 Omaha World-Herald®

Mention the words “Red Sky Music Festival” to certain people around town and be prepared to have a shoe (or other blunt object) chucked at your head.

People are mad.

A ton of negative feedback has been piled on at the festival’s Facebook page. It’s to the point where people have called for the jobs of those organizing the festival.

I think those folks should chill out. (Suggested activities: Log off Facebook for a minute. Put on a Smiths CD. Go for a walk. Deep breaths.)

Don’t like the festival? Don’t buy tickets. Your message will be heard.

I’ll admit that I’m underwhelmed by the lineup, but I’m not surprised by it.

While in earlier writings I pined for names like Wilco, Jay-Z, Phoenix, Muse and R.E.M. to play the festival, I knew seeing all but maybe one of those was unrealistic.

All along, I’ve seen Red Sky and Maha Music Festival being two separate things: the former with a broader, more commercial reach and the latter with an indie music and arts focus.

I think having both is a good thing and will satisfy music fans of all stripes.

There’s certainly a fan base here for 311 and Kid Rock as sure as there’s one for Guided By Voices and Cursive. (I submit to you as evidence that this music writer owns albums by all four of the above-mentioned groups.)

I hope for bigger and better things for both festivals. I can’t wait for Maha to expand to encompass two days (or maybe three?) and a different, bigger venue. And I hope Red Sky looks at more indie and underground acts beyond STS9.

And they will. Eventually.

* * *

What do you think? Let's talk in the comments.

* * *

One notion that I’d like to put to bed is that “the taxpayers will foot the bill if Red Sky fails.”

That statement has been thrown around a lot and is wholly inaccurate. Sure, the city owns the facilities that MECA operates. But MECA is its own business, uses its own profits and has its own cash reserves, which totaled $12.7 million in the last report by The World-Herald.

If Red Sky were to lose money, MECA and Live Nation are on the hook, certainly not the city.

Your tax dollars won’t figure into the equation at all.

For example, if MECA booked a performer at the Qwest Center and that concert lost money, MECA would pick up the slack. The city doesn’t have anything to do with it.

The same principle applies to Red Sky.

* * *


As it stands right now, these bands will be playing at each festival:

Red Sky Music Festival

Journey, Night Ranger, 311, Sublime With Rome, Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Thompson Square, Better Than Ezra, George Clinton, Cowboy Mouth, The Fab Four — The Ultimate Beatles Tribute, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Buddy Guy, 10,000 Maniacs, Sister Hazel, STS9, Five For Fighting

Maha Music Festival

Guided By Voices, Cursive, Matisyahu, J Mascis, Reverend Horton Heat, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship, The Machete Archive, The So-So Sailors

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here's to another 1,000

Last week, I reached a career milestone: 1,000 Twitter followers. OK, maybe not a career milestone, but still kinda cool.

Thanks for following me, friends. And thanks to Anniversaire, the local Omaha band who was the first to click that "follow" button on my page.

One thing I wish more people would do is "like" Rock Candy's Facebook page. I have some different stuff over there in addition to what's on Twitter and here on this blog and you'd do well to check it out.

Thank you, once again. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Maha Music Festival: More main stage artists announced

More of today's festival news: Welcome J. Mascis and The Reverend Horton Heat to the lineup of Maha Music Festival.

You know Mascis as the frontman of indie group Dinosaur Jr. At the moment, Mascis is supporting his latest solo effort, "Several Shades of Why," which is a mostly acoustic endeavor released on Sub Pop.

The Reverend Horton Heat - both the man and the psychobilly trio - apparently have quite the manic live show and are known for being incredibly entertaining. Honestly, I've never seen them, but I've always heard great things.

While I'm not a Mascis fan (feel free to read either of my posts about him from SXSW '10 and '11), he obviously has a great following. Both are fine additions to the lineup, which also includes Guided By Voices, Cursive and Matisyahu.

That's a solid group of artists from top to bottom. Who's the signature act? Hard to say. Probably Guided By Voices because of the reunion aspect.

Most of these groups' fan bases skew a bit older than other indie rock bands, but I'm not sure if that's a bad thing. People in their 30s tend to be able to buy more tickets than 20-something hipsters.

* * *

In related news, the festival has announced three of its local artists and a new showcase format (which I pretty much love).

Noah's Ark Was A Spaceship, The So-So Sailors and The Machete Archive will all play the Maha local stage AND they will each curate and headline a showcase at one of three area venues before the festival.

Noah's Ark will play the Waiting Room on June 22, Machete will play Duffy's Tavern in Lincoln on June 30 and the Sailors will play Slowdown on July 28.

One additional local band will be selected by winning the OEA Awards' summer showcase on July 8-9. Fans get to vote and the band with the most votes win.

I think the format (picking the local artists and then showcasing local talent by letting the band pick its favorites) is a great way to run the local stage. And it's a great way to build buzz for the festival.

* * *

Certainly all of that is well worth your $30. Seriously, at least a couple of those bands have charged nearly as much to see just them, let alone five other good bands.

Get your tickets at etix.com.

Red Sky Watch: Kid Rock

Kid Rock is the latest artist to be announced as a Red Sky Music Festival headliner. He'll play on Wednesday of the festival, July 20.

Rock's latest, "Born Free," was produced by superproducer Rick Rubin and didn't include many musicians from his Twisted Brown Trucker Band, instead opting to feature friends like Miranda Lambert, T.I., Bob Seger, Sheryl Crow, Zac Brown and Mary J. Blige.

Also, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are members of his backing band on the record.

While many people hate on Kid Rock, he's a guilty pleasure for me. I'm not saying his music is wonderful or cancer-curing, but it's entertaining. And he puts on a helluva live show.

He'll sell well in Omaha. In fact, his last few concerts here have been huge hits, as I recall.

Rock's new album, probably because of Rubin's keen ear, is the best through and through he's made, focusing a lot more his heartland rock styles than the rap/rock stuff a lot of people know him for.

Get your tickets on Friday at 10 a.m. at www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster retail outlets, the Qwest Center box office or by phone at 800-745-3000.

You probably saw this over the weekend, but Blogger was down and I couldn't do a post about it.

Sister Hazel, STS9 and Five For Fighting were added to the Festival Grounds segment of Red Sky.

More '90s radio rock, it appears.

But I certainly am intrigued and impressed with the addition of STS9, a band you'll find on the roster at Wakarusa and Bonnaroo this year.

They're well-known for their festival performances and will probably be a highlight of Red Sky.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Non-existent vinyl now exists

Remember that vinyl release show recently where they didn't have the vinyl?

Conduits, InDreama, Icky Blossoms and Touch People had a show at Slowdown, but the vinyl wasn't pressed yet.

Anyway, it turns out the vinyl is now in. If you don't remember previous articles, the bands created a double 7" release with one song from each group.

E-mail conduits.sound@gmail.com for order information. The vinyl is $8, plus $3 shipping.

Of course, you can wait to get one directly from the bands at one of their respective shows.

More Red Sky festival bands announced

This afternoon, Red Sky Music Festival announced four more festival grounds bands: The Fab Four - The Ultimate Beatles Tribute, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Buddy Guy and 10,000 Maniacs.

No idea who the first two are, to be honest.

Update: The Fab Four - The Ultimate Beatles Tribute is an Elvis Presley a popular Beatles tribute band. (No joke.) And now that I looked up Bruce Hornsby, I guess I knew who he was without knowing who he was, so to speak. Hornsby did "The Way It Is," which is probably more famous nowadays for being the sample used in Tupac's "Changes." (Thanks to my OWH pal Jon for pointing that out for me.)

Buddy Guy will be a good addition. He opened for B.B. King in Council Bluffs recently and was amazing.

The one I'm honestly surprised by is 10,000 Maniacs. Good band, but who knew they still existed? As it turns out, the current lineup includes original members, but not Natalie Merchant. Interesting.

Anyway, if you hadn't noticed, Red Sky basically has two components. One consists of six big outdoor concerts. The other is a six-day daytime music festival. Personally, I think that's going to benefit Red Sky ticket sales since they won't be counting on thousands of people buying full festival passes.

More news coming later this week.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Red Sky Watch: Journey and Night Ranger

Looks like we have another one.

Who: Journey and Night Ranger

When: Monday, July 18

What’s up: Journey, now with singer Arnel Pineda, is behind songs such as “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Any Way You Want It.” They’ll perform with Night Ranger, which is probably best known for the power ballad “Sister Christian.”

Of note is that Journey will release a new album, "Eclipse," on May 24. And according to the band's Facebook page, Night Ranger is also working on new material.

Tickets go on sale May 14 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster and at the Qwest Center box office.

This is continuing the trend of artists that are popular and broad, which I've mentioned in previous posts.

My guess is we'll see a lot more announcements (main stage and festival grounds) on Red Sky this week. Stay tuned.

Mike Mogis in the studio with First Aid Kit

Klara Söderberg, Mike Mogis and Johanna Söderberg in the ARC control room. CREDIT: thisisfirstaidkit.com
Bright Eyes is on a bit of a touring break right now, but Mike Mogis never stops working.

In fact, he's in his ARC Studios in Omaha right now with First Aid Kit, the Swedish folk duo comprised of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg.

Last year, the band released "The Big Black & The Blue" on Wichita Recordings. While on tour, they met Mogis and the rest of Bright Eyes at Austin City Limits and sang "Lua" onstage with the band.

"He saw our show there and we got talking about recording an album together," the sisters said. "Bright Eyes was the band that got us inspired to start making music, so working with Mike is quite surreal for us. We feel honored. So far things are going really well and we believe we're in the process of creating something very special. This truly is a dream come true."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Red Sky Watch: Jason Aldean headlining

We got news on another headliner: Jason Aldean.

No surprise, really. Aldean's website has listed an Omaha date smack dab in the middle of Red Sky quite awhile ago.

Still, he's a big country name with hits such as "Big Green Tractor" and "She's Country" and will sell well to that fanbase, which is massive in these parts.

Aldean will perform July 22, Friday night of the festival. Tickets for his performance go on sale May 13 at 10 a.m.

Opening for Aldean will be Chris Young and Thompson Sqaure. I actually like Young quite a lot. He's a rising star- and will probably have his own headlining tour in a couple years.

* * *

Speaking of tickets, they go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. for 311 and Sublime With Rome. $35, $25 at Ticketmaster.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Red Sky Watch: 3 more bands announced

More bands were announced for Red Sky Music Festival.

Better Than Ezra, George Clinton and Cowboy Mouth will all be playing the festival grounds (not the main stage). Dates and times for their performances haven't yet been announced.

So, that's five artists total. About 45 (or so) more to go.

As mentioned previously, these are about the kind of acts that I've assumed we'd be hearing about.

In my estimation, they'll be popular bands with good followings that reach a broad audience. So far, I've seen nothing to say that indie and edgy groups will have a big place here.

I think that's a fine thing. These are all good bands. But I think people's expectations were more akin to a Lollapalooza or Coachella sort of lineup. That's not what this is shaping up to be nor do I think that's what it was intended to be.

But we shall see.

Let your thoughts be known in the comments.

* * *

So, are we going to see Jay-Z at Red Sky? It's one I've heard thrown around.

And yesterday, DJ Soulman from the Phunk Junkeez tweeted that he's playing at Red Sky with 311 and, you guessed it, Jay-Z.

True or not? I guess we'll find out when the festival announces more.

(I'm wondering: If you have Jay-Z on your lineup, why isn't he the first act you announce?)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Red Sky ticket clarification

Just a quick update on Red Sky Music Festival: On the fest's Facebook page, they clarified the ticket policy.

Each Main Stage ticket purchase includes a one-day pass to the Festival Grounds (Stages B & C), good for admission on the day listed on the Main Stage ticket.

So as it stands, you have two ticket options:
• Buy a day-pass to stages B&C ($15/day, $30/3 days, $60/6 days)
• Buy a day-pass to the whole festival, which includes TD Ameritrade Park and stages B&C ($35, $25 for 311/Sublime With Rome... prices to come as acts are announced.)

Rock Candy Interview: The Felice Brothers

The Felice Brothers. Photo by Nolan Conway

The Felice Brothers - the folk/country rock quintet - have been through a rather prolific period of late. Over the last several years, they've released something every single year.

On tour now, and stopping at The Waiting Room Lounge on Wednesday night ($13), they're riding the release of "Celebration, Florida," which hits record store shelves on May 10.

While previous releases came out on Team Love, the label of Conor Oberst (who they also played onstage with several times), this time it's out on Fat Possum, the home of Smith Westerns, Wavves, The Black Keys and Omaha band Digital Leather.

Felice Brothers bassist Christmas - yes, he's just named Christmas - chimed in to answer our questions while the band was touring in Australia.

Rock Candy: You've played with Conor Oberst on a few occasions. I know you've had releases on Conor's label, Team Love, but how did the performing together part come about? What do you like about working with him?

Christmas: Conor's tracks are hot fire. We do pretty good ourselves. We stumbled around and stared at each other and thought "Hey, this could be good." We like working with him because he has a great sense of humour and is obviously quick as a whip. He is a renegade at heart.

Rock Candy: Speaking of, you are releasing on Fat Possum instead of Team Love this time around. Why the switch?

Christmas: We had a two record contract with Team Love. We made those two records and we needed another record label.

Rock Candy: Tell me about "Celebration, Florida." You wrote and recorded the songs in an old high school?

Christmas: Yes, we recorded the album in an old high school. We felt the need to find and create our own space instead of just going into a normal studio. We wanted to set up and create our own place to go. So it would be ours, instead of going to some studio where a shitty metal band just clocked out an hour before us. We didn't want to be surrounded by pictures of Jimi Hendrix or gold records on the wall. We wanted rows of lockers and chalk boards. A place where we could discover the mysteries of sound ourselves. We like feeling like detectives.

Rock Candy: Did the environment help or influence the writing of the songs?

Christmas: Of course the environment influenced the songs. If we did it somewhere else it would be a completely different record. It's like wondering if John Lennon would have wrote different songs if he grew up in Salt Lake City. Or if Abbey Road was recorded in my bathroom.

Rock Candy: Is there a theme or common thread to this album?

Christmas: Everything we had to say about what the record means is on it. It's kinda like one of those 3D illusion pictures they used to have on display at malls. You just gotta look at it a little further away, squint and use your imagination.

Rock Candy: I feel like the band branches out a bit on this album. Do you agree? Why take that direction?

Christmas: I agree with you that it sounds different. I don't know how to explain this sort of thing but we could imagine how we wanted the songs to sound. We stumbled onto other noises. Things happened. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

Rock Candy: The band has been busy, releasing something or other every year for about five years. How do you stay creative? How do you find time to keep making these records?

Christmas: We always have new ideas for songs. Sometimes it's hard being on tour to find time to sit down and think about them but every chance we get, we scribble something on a notebook or strum a guitar. It's actually hard to keep up with them. When we get home it is the best time to work things out and explore. It's my favorite part of the whole process, to make something new.

You can't pick up "Celebration, Florida" until May 10, but you can listen to the first single, "Ponzi," right here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Red Sky Festival headliner: 311

Well, we know one band now. Omaha-bred 311 will play the main stage on the fest's first day and they'll bring along their summer tour opener: Sublime with Rome.

It's sort of underwhelming, to be honest. For me, that's because I knew the band would play Red Sky the moment they released a tour schedule a month ago (there was a mysterious TBA date on their schedule during Red Sky).

Don't get me wrong, I like 311. They were the first band I really connected with and for years I would name them as my favorite band. They're a fun live act and they have a new album coming this summer, but I think a lot of folks were expecting a much bigger splash.

In fact, the response on the fest's Facebook page was extremely negative when I checked it this morning. People want more of the lineup. They want to see bands they want to see.

According to a press release, you'll hear the next headliner on May 9. That's next Monday for anyone without a calendar.

It makes me wonder if we'll have to wait six whole weeks before we know the headliners.

I get that they want to drag this thing out and get as much press as they can. But since they originally told me (and I told the world) they were going to have these bands in February, people have already waited long enough.

You have the lineup in your hands, MECA. Just give it to people already. It will help your cause. I promise.

* * *

311's Twitter says the band will offer pre-sales for the Red Sky date at 311.com/shows starting tomorrow.

* * *

According to the latest news release, the Battle of the Local Bands will include 24 bands.

They say that more than 75 bands have shown interest, though I assume that's every band that's contacted MECA since this thing was revealed in December.