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D E C EMBE R 2 0 1 7 | volU M E 24 | ISSU E 12

Tech maven pushes past stereotypes by Leo Adam Biga

Unparalleled opportunities: Tapping into the trades by Cheril Lee

Re-entry prepares incarcerated individuals for work & life success on the outside by Leo Adam Biga

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COVER: Tech Maven: Shonna Dorsey


DISH: What’s New in 2017


Heartland Healing: Hearing About Chiropractic


PICKS: Cool Things to do in December


STAGE: Theater Works


HOODOO: Joys of Giving


Music FeatURE: Cursive at 20


MUSIC: Backbeat Column


FILM: Dundee Theater


OVER THE EDGE: The Ones that Stuck With Me




COVER: Tapping into the Trades


COVER: Re-Entry Workforce Training


ART Review: Birth of a Notion



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222 S 15th St., Ste 505N, Omaha, NE 68102 Or email: w/Job Ref# in subject line. | THE READER |



Tech Maven

pushes past stereotypes by L e o A d a m B i g a


P H O T O G R A P H E R Da v i e G r a m s


aShonna Dorsey, 38, busts stereotypes. Start with this sunny disruptor launching and selling a successful technology organization in her hometown.

“It fit right with where AIM and Interface wanted to go. They have the youth education side and professional development, but they didn’t have adult tech training. The cool thing is that Interface LLC was a for-profit and now we’re a program As an African-American entrepre- within a nonprofit and so we get to take neur, she bridged the digital divide with advantage of having that 501 designaInterface Web School. Though now part tion.” of the AIM Institute, she still heads the coding school that’s won her and its work much recognition. Her AIM title is Vice President, Tech Education.

Building Interface fulfilled a dream.

ate how difficult it is to do something like this. Women just getting started are like, ‘How did you even do that?’ We have real conversations about what it’s like and the pitfalls – but also the rewards. Being in the middle myself, I am kind of still navigating that.

“It helped them get better jobs and buy homes. They’re still reaping the benefits. It’s still rippling. The culture of Interface is like that.”

ple whose lives were changed because of what they learned. It helped them get better jobs and buy homes. They’re still reaping the benefits. It’s still rippling. The culture of Interface is like that.” She readily accepts being a role model and mentor to young black women.

“I do feel I have a She’s bypassed the Omaha ceiling “I really thought I was a starter, and lot of value to add and Growing up in a for young black professionals that finds so it was good to see something through information to share if single-parent family, many leaving for better advancement opfrom idea to completion in a major way.” people are ready to Dorsey learned self-reliance skills. As a portunities elsewhere. hear it. I tell people it wasn’t easy all the bright Goodrich scholar at the UniverShe frequently shares her start-up She’s defied expectations by going time, but the thing that kept me moving sity of Nebraska at Omaha, she became story, warts and all. public, rather than remain silent, about forward was that it was so rewarding. I continued from page 8 y “I felt like especially in the early days have so many graduate stories of peoan assault she endured. of Interface I often had For this superstar doer who serves on to act like I had it altomultiple boards, AIM’s acquisition of Intergether all the time beface was strategic. cause I was selling it, “Interface had really reached a too. It’s kind of a chalpoint of capacity,” said Dorsey. “We were lenging position to be growing, which was great, but I just knew in because you can’t I couldn’t take on more classes without be truly authentic. having more infrastructure and all that. “I was really AIM has the infrastructure, they’ve got the grateful to have good space, they’ve got human resources, acfriends and a really counting, marketing departments.” strong support system. AIM Interface solidifies and expands That made a huge difpartnerships. ference.” “We had really good relationships She especially enwith the Nebraska Department of Labor joys sharing her story and Heartland Workforce Solutions and with women. still maintain those, but it’s a lot easier for “Women that us to partner with companies and other have done a ton in organizations because we’re AIM now. their career appreci- LaShonna Dorsey, speaks to students from Abraham Lincoln High School about her journey in tech







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a self-motivated high achiever. Early in her career, she proved a project management whiz. “I like to just figure my way forward. I like problem solving. When things get a little too simple, then that is hard for me. Then I’m like, ‘Okay, what else can we do here?’ I’m not afraid of conflict, so I do lean into it, and I encourage people who work for me to do the same. If you really want to get the thing you want, you have to work through the hard stuff, too.”

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Omaha’s limited horizons saw Dorsey leave in her 20s. “But I came back. The thing that’s really tough here is that as you move up in your career, the leadership gets more white. Working in tech, you’re with a lot of white professionals and when I lived in west Omaha I’d go home, where it was all white, and I felt I had no community. It’s unfortunate and it felt uncomfortable.

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LaShonna Dorsey, left, brought her code school to Highlander Village into a revitalized North 30th Street community, equiping adults with valuable tech skills.

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Workplace inclusion requires more than new hires. “You can hire a bunch of black and whatever programmers but that is not going to change the culture of organizations who might not be ready for it. You have to give people a space where they’re comfortable being themselves and not feeling like they have to fully assimilate in order to fit in.

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“I cannot wait until we don’t have to have this conversation anymore and where it’s not special that I’m a black

woman in tech. But it matters a lot to people and I have to talk about it.” She feels she’s reached a personal breakthrough by reclaiming her given name, LaShonna, in place of Shonna and letting her hair go natural. “Now, I feel like I can be more of myself.” Dorsey embraces the new diversity in revitalized northeast Omaha, where African-American culture is being discovered by white millennials. “Whenever you can create opportunities for people to have those experiences with people they don’t interact with on a daily basis, you start to change the narrative.

That’s the only way were going to see change.” Mindset to her is critical to create the transformation she and others hope to see there. “I think we’re still many years out from seeing the fruits of it. There’s a lot of work to do because we can’t deny the fact poverty is the highest in those zip codes. That’s something to address and fix but people have to want it and see it even as an issue.” She’s doing her part to equip adults with job-ready tech skills by bringing her code school to the Highlander Village purpose-built community on North 30th Street. “Those economic improvement opportunities can make a big difference for people,” she said. “It will be awesome to see all of that come to life.” Her career exploded two years ago, but few knew she was reeling from having barely survived an assault.

“Everything was still new at Interface and I still didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing all the time when I had this really difficult, tragic thing happen. There were many work days when I had to meet attorneys or go to court Turning those emotions on and off was really hard.” It stemmed from someone she’d dated suddenly revealing a side he’d concealed before. “It turned into a night where he took me from where I was without my permission. He strangled me three times, including once where I lost consciousness. He assaulted me in all sorts of ways in what was a five-hour ordeal.” Fifteen months elapsed from when she pressed charges to her attacker’s sentencing. “It was a really hard process. I totally understand why people don’t pursue that path because it is very difficult and as the victim you have to prove something

happened. Typically, this kind of stuff happens one-on- one.” Dorsey nearly didn’t report the incident for fear of how she’d be perceived. “I remember thinking this is going to be so embarrassing and people are going to think I can’t do anything right. It’s irrational thinking, I know, but that was in my head. I decided to report it anyway. “I try to do everything on my own all the time. But I did get some counseling and I did work through some of this with friends. Leaning into work helped a lot.” Nature walks and karaoke nights helped, too.

She posted soon after the last presidential election and urged people to walk through their fear and anger over the results as she had with her assault. “Every time I talk about it publicly, more than one person will come up to me and say, ‘Me, too,’ or “My friend, my sister, my daughter.’ It’s so common. There’s a bunch of people who feel like they can’t talk about it, so I decided to share what happened to me.” If nothing else, she said, her story reveals all is not what it seems on the path to success. “People tend to look at the surface and just assume that because you’ve done a lot, it was without hardship.”

Then she began dealing with it in public forums, including a poignant Facebook post. “It was hard to carry around all the time. People were really supportive. They called me brave and things like that. I just felt it was relieving a burden for me.”

Visit, or follow Dorsey on Facebook. Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at

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Unparalleled opportunities:

Tapping into the trades by C h e r i l L e e Metro Community College Construction Education Center


t’s kind of exciting to “Students can get their CDL have a student visit after six weeks there or attend Metro who doesn’t a night program that takes nine think college is an option for weeks. Right now, there are job them, then they see one of opportunities everywhere in these classrooms and say ‘this CDL. But we also offer courses is exactly what I want to do and I can do in auto collision and diesel too,” she said. it here at MCC,’” said Aubrey BaxRight now, Baxter said the Constructer, Enrollment Specialist for the Trades tion Education Center is the most excitat Metropolitan Community College. ing thanks to a huge project the students Metro has three campuses with 16 are working on together. different trades programs. “Our students are working together Baxter said the Construction Education Center is located on the Fort Omaha campus and offers training in construction, architectural design, civil engineering, plumbing, HVAC and electrical.

to build a fully functioning house out in our capstone lab. This isn’t a house they’re going to build and then tear down. Someone will actually live in it. I don’t know if you can get any more realThe South Omaha campus provides world, hands-on experience for the stuinstruction in welding, precision ma- dents than that,” explained Baxter. chine, process operation, industrial and She said the project is modeled to commercial trades. They also have an be a job site. Students will wear hard automotive program. hats, boots and other safety gear. They Metro’s Applied Technology Center will clock in and out.

Metro is all about jobs and Baxter value of these careers. And make no missaid the trade programs are no different. take, there’s plenty of money to be made She said Metro has advisory committees in these fields too. that build its programs. As Baxter explained, “I would say “Most of our instructors have been in the average income for our students the industry 20-30 years. Many of them coming out of MCC is about 40k per have retired but decided to come back year – and that’s the low end. When to pass their knowledge on. This is great you’re graduating college with no debt because they’ve seen and done every- because Metro is so affordable and thing and an share that with students,” you’re making 40k, that’s a good start.” said Baxter. She said though students might be Even though she grew up around blue-collar workers, those types of jobs were never presented to Baxter as options for employment. Her generation, like many others, was told they needed to get a four-year degree.

able to get a job in the trades before they finish their Associate’s degree, Metro specifically encourages people to stay with the program till they graduate.

“Once they have that degree, they’re able to move up in the company quickly. The result of that advice? There’s now And some of these companies offer tua huge gap and plenty of trades jobs ition and tool reimbursements as well as that are going unfilled. scholarships,” Baxter said.

“For every five positions that are Metro has a lot of non-traditional available (because people are retiring), students and Baxter said there are those we only have one person with the skills pursuing training in the trades because is located off 104th and State Streets. “Through projects like these, we are to fill it,” she said. they couldn’t find a job they enjoyed. Baxter explained this is where Metro doing our best to prepare them for when Baxter feels there will be problems For those interested in plumbing or trains students in transportation courses they go out into industry,” Baxter said. soon if people don’t come to realize the electrical work, Metro offers apprenticeand utility line work.





ships where students work to prepare part-time or full-time. They can complete In addition to students who take the themselves for their journeyman’s test. our program in as little as seven semes- more traditional path to nursing, there “Maybe they like to work with their ters,” said Dr. Aubray Orduna, Dean of are definitely those individuals who decide to leave their current careers and hands. So they come here and find a ca- Nursing at Clarkson. reer they can enjoy. There are so many Clarkson’s admissions staff goes to pursue nursing. And Orduna said that’s job opportunities out there and the stu- high schools and community colleges to also fairly common. dents are getting a great education here at MCC,” she said.

MCC offers meet and greets every few months with industry partners. Baxter said the best place to start is by checking the school’s website at mccneb. edu.

Nursing shortage For those interested in helping people and making a difference in a slightly different way, nursing is a profession facing both national and local shortages. Clarkson College is working on addressing that deficit by graduating 100120 students per academic year. “What makes our program attractive to students is that they can attend

rehab facilities and long-term care facilities come and speak with their students about potential jobs.

“When students do their clinicals, many times they will establish relationships with practitioners and get offers recruit potential students. She said one of the biggest benefits during that process as well,” said Craof nursing is that there are always open- vens. “We have preview days for prospecings and many different areas you can tive students who may come here to find Orduna is proud of Clarkson’s simuwork in. That includes administration, if lation lab where students can go and out about our programs,” said Orduna. a student were to obtain their master’s practice things they’re working on beIn the Baccalaureate program stu- degree. fore they go to clinicals. dents start clinicals in their very first Dr. Marsha Cravens, Director of Unsemester. And each semester after that “They can practice on high fidelity dergraduate Nursing at Clarkson, said they have a nursing theory course coumannequins that breathe and have a she always encourages anyone who is pulse. It’s helpful for the students to learn pled with a clinical. interested in a nursing career to shadow “Our students do 1125 clinical hours a nurse at whatever level is appropriate in a comfortable environment,” she said. in total,” she said. For her part, Cravens said it’s reto them and see what it’s like. warding to see the students learn and What are clinicals? “With theory courses, clinicals and grow in their knowledge, knowing they Orduna explained, “The students go board exams for licensure, these pro- will be taking care of patients in the fuinto a health care facility and take care grams are rigorous,” she said. ture. of patients. This could be acute care or Cravens said Clarkson offers a job For individuals interested in pursing long term care, in the clinic or out in the fair once a year in March where all a nursing career, the best place to begin community at a community facility.” area hospitals, home health agencies, is online at

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Re-entry Prepares Current &

Former Incarcerated Individuals for Work & Life Success on the Outside by L e o A d a m B i g a



growing community of re-entry pathways serve current and former incarcerated individuals needing work upon release. Many re-entry programs are run by people who’ve been in the criminal justice system themselves. “Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution,” said ReConnect Inc. founding director LaVon Stennis-Williams, a former civil rights attorney who served time in federal prison. “You have people like myself coming out of prison no longer waiting for others to remove barriers. There is a network of movements being led by formerly incarcerated individuals taking control of this whole effort to make reentry something more than just talk. We’re developing programs that try to ensure people coming out are successful and don’t go back to prison.” Some area re-entry programs are formalized, others less so. Several are grantees through the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services’ administered Vocational and Life Skills grant stemming from 2014 state prison legislation (LB 907). Programs work with individuals inside and outside state prisons. ReConnect provide services StennisWilliams didn’t find upon her own release in 2010. “When I came out of prison, many second chance programs started under the 2008 Second Chance initiative either did not get refunded or the funding dried up,” she said. “So when I came out there weren’t many out there – just kind of the residuals.” What there were, she said, were disjointed and uncoordinated. “I wanted to create a program I wish would have been in existence when I was navigating re-entry. What I realized from my own personal experience – it did not matter how well educated you were, how much money you had, what connections



I M A G E S BY V i z i o n z P h o t o g r ap h y you had, when you’re going through reentry, you’re going to face barriers. I developed a program to fill service gaps and to be not so much a hand-out as an empowering thing to help overcome those barriers.” Employment assistance is a major piece of ReConnect. “We look beyond just helping them with creating a resume and building interview skills. We spoke with employers to find out what soft skills they’re looking for in people. In our employment readiness program Ready for Work we put a lot of emphasis on those core competencies employers want: dependable, reliable, strong work ethic, problem solvers.” ReConnect’s Construction Toolbox Credentials Training workshops prepare participants for real jobs. “We worked with construction companies to find out what they’re looking for in people and we developed a training program using industry professionals

to come teach it. They issue industry recognized certificates.” Pictured Left to right: Shakur Abdullah, Case Manager at Metropolitan ReConnect, Inc.; LaVon Stennis-Williams, Executive DirecCommunity Coltor of ReConnect, Inc.; Program participant lege has convened around re-entry “We have worked hard talking to emfor more than a ployers about the population and helping decade. Today, it’s a sanctioned service destigmatize them. Employers understand provider with 180 Re-entry Assistance Prothis is the hidden workforce. Individuals gram. are coming out trained, ready to enter the “The thing we constantly hear from workforce and have the support of MCC employers is that the pool of potential and others in the community as they tranemployees they’re fishing in do not have sition. They are ready to do something employability skills,” said director Diane different and really what they need is an Good-Collins, who did a stretch in state opportunity,” said Good-Collins. “Statisprison. “They don’t know how to show up tics show those who get educated while on time, how to communicate with their incarcerated are many times less likely to supervisor, how to be a team player. go back to prison.” Those are the things we’re teaching clients Good-Collins said MCC closely vets while they’re still incarcerated, so when participants. they come out of prison they’re on a level “We’re not just going to send employers playing field with those without criminal histories they’re competing against for 10 people we don’t know anything about. We prescreen them to make sure they’re jobs.” Programs like 180 and ReCon- ready to be a part of their organization.” Despite rigorous standards and numernect build background friendly ous success stories, she said, not all ememployer pipelines. ployers want in. “We work now with over 80 “Some of the barriers are nonnegotiaemployers,” said Stennis-Williams at ReConnect, Inc. “These ble. Some employers say they absolutely employers are very receptive will never hire somebody with a criminal to hiring men and women who history. Some companies are limited to participate in our job readiness who they can hire due to liability conMetro Re-Entry Assistance team (above) workshops. I think employers’ at- cerns. Some have no idea they aren’t Diane and program staff in front of their wall of titudes are changing, partly be- willing to until we talk to them about it. achievement for program participants cause of economics. Employers People with particular criminal histories Defy Ventures team (below) are realizing they cannot ignore can’t get hired in certain jobs.” this labor force anymore. Good-Collins found a receptive audience at a Human Resources Association “That’s why I think they’re makof the Midlands diversity forum she preing an effort now to reach out to sented at in October. programs like ours.” “Several HR directors said they’d be Metro’s 180 program sees a willing to work with us and we’ve estabsimilar shift. lished relationships with their companies.



continued from page 14 y


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Kylie Feilmeier, Project Manager Christine Dunn, Marketing Manager




I feel like the proverbial door was kicked open and destigmatizing took place.” Metro’s credit offerings inside prison include business, entrepreneurship, trades and information technology. “We chose to teach those four career pathways inside the correctional facilities because those are areas the population can find a job in when released. “Employability Skills and Introduction to Micro-computer Technology are our foundation courses because they give you a foot in the door with an employer.” Process and Power Operations is a manufacturing and distribution certification course. Upon completion, she said, “its national certification equals gainful employment upon release,” adding, “We’ve worked with guys who got this and are making very good money.” “Manufacturing and construction are popular career fields and well-paying options,” she said. “With our forklift training, you can get a job almost immediately at one of our employer partners. Other graduates work in food service – entry level to management level.” More re-entry efforts that focus around employment readiness include Intro To The Trades and Urban Pre-Vocational Training programs offered by Black Men United. Big Mama’s Restaurant and Catering owner Patricia Barron has a long history hiring wait and kitchen staff with criminal histories. Comprehensive programs like Metro’s 180 and ReConnect offer wrap-around services to clients, including transition support, referral to community agencies, coaching-tutoring-mentoring and employment assistance. “We serve as a liaison in case there’s an issue that comes up at work and if the employee has a barrier with transportation or child care,” Good-Collins said. “We basically stand as a support and advocate. “If they’re not at a point in their education and training to be eligible to go into a career position, then we guide them to survival employment, so at least they get working. Meanwhile, they can pursue their educational-employment goal to get to where they want to.”





Teela Mickles has worked with returning citizens for three decades. Her Compassion in Action seeks to “embrace the person, rebuild the family and break the cycle of negativity and recidivism.” CIA’s Pre-Release-Education-Reentry Preparation focuses on the individual and the unresolved core issues that led to criminal acts. Personal validation, self-exploration and personal development activities help clients change their thinking and behaviors, said Mickles. “This allows each individual to succeed in other services offered to this population: drug rehabilitation, advance education, employment readiness and gainful employment.” CIA, ReConnect, 180 and other programs refer clients to mental or behavioral health counseling as needed. There’s also a prevention aspect to reentry work. Adult clients with kids learn parenting skills and strategies that can help keep their children from entering the system. ReConnect and CIA both have youth and family components. Jasmine Harris is Post-Release Program manager for the area’s latest re-entry player: Defy Ventures, a national organization with regional chapters. its intensive six-month CEO of Your New Life program explores character development, transformational education and employment readiness. Participants learn to transition their street hustle experiences, talents and skills into career applications. Clients develop a life plan. “Getting them to see that skill set and how to use it on the positive side of things really turns on a light for them and they love it,” Harris said. “We bring in volunteers for business coaching days. The entrepreneurship part is the hallmark of our program. We call our participants EITs or Entrepreneurs in Training. They get one-on-one basic entrepreneurship.” Volunteers assist clients in developing a business plan. “Our curriculum is vetted by Baylor University,” Harris said. “and if participants pass they get a certificate of career readiness. We do a full cap and gown graduation. That’s when we have our business pitch competition. We bring

in volunteers, business execs, entrepreneurs and do a shark tank style competition. Everyone graduating pitches their business idea.” Cash prizes are awarded. In terms of post-release, Harris deploys the same six month program on the outside that’s offered in prison. “Anyone in the community with a criminal history, whether they were formaly incarcerated or had a misdemeanor or a felony probation, can participate if they’re looking for another option.” Harris also runs the program’s business incubator. “Our Entrepreneur Incubator is an additional 12 to 15 months of training. We match clients up with executive mentors who’ve gone through the process of starting their own business. Mentors help walk them through the business start-up process. “We have business coaching nights and workshops where we bring in subject matter experts who give more indepth information.” Harris connects clients with workforce development resources, help with resumes and two big barriers – affordable housing and access to transportation. “We connect them to services in the community where it makes sense. Everybody doesn’t want to be an entrepreneur or go to school. We let them know there’s a program over here doing a trades piece or there’s another program doing the education piece.” Re-entry experts agree there are more and better services today but Harris and others see a need for more collaboration among providers. Good-Collins said no matter how one feels about reentering citizens, they’re here to stay. “Maybe you can look at it from a dollars and cents perspective and realize it doesn’t make fiscal sense to do what we’ve been doing, which is paying to reincarcerate people.”

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The Reader Narrows Down Omaha’s Newest Offerings BY SARA LOCKE


he opportunities for an amazing meal in Omaha are endless, and the minute you think you’ve caught up with all of the new ventures the talented chefs and entrepreneurs in our city can conjure, you find that a whole new crop have opened. This year has been difficult to stay ahead of, with places opening and closing suddenly and with very little warning. The Reader has compiled a list of our favorite new offerings of 2017.

Tired Texan – 4702 S 108th (In the Former Perkins)

Hook and Lime – 735 N 14th st Specializing in American/Mexican fare, the menu is concise and consists of creative, chefdriven food. Fresh takes on classic cocktails make Hook and Lime a fun hangout, while the clever spin on the very American tacos and salsa flights make dining an unexpected adventure. Della Costa – 220 S 31st Ave


Lombardo’s Bistro and Bar – 13110 Birch Drive STE 100

SARA LOCKE is the Contributing Editor for The Reader’s Food section. She is fluent in both sarcasm and pig Latin, and is definitely going to eat the contents of her to-go box in her car on her way home. Follow her restaurant reviews and weekly what-todos online at http://thereader. com/dining/crumbs . Follow @ TheReaderOmahaDish on Instagram to find out what else she’s sinking her teeth into.



While it’s billed as a casual neighborhood Italian spot, Lombardo’s exquisite dishes and beautiful presentation takes it from “just up the street” to “accessible upscale”. From fun flatbreads on the patio to white wine and mussels, Lombardo’s never takes itself too seriously, but never forgets the serious details. Try the Osso Bucco.

With a well-executed, if somewhat confusing menu, and a prime location in the shops of midtown, it’s a bit of a wonder that Della Costa has failed to find footing. While owners never fail to impress with their many ventures, including Herbe Sainte and the upcoming Kith and Kin (in the former Paragon lot), Della Costa’s fine fare may not be enough to save it. A recent restructuring of the menu to better reflect the coastal Mediterranean vision may be enough to earn Della Costa the fans it deserves.

When I first set foot into Tired Texan to interview owners Chip and Christine Holland a few weeks before the grand opening, a neighbor had stopped by to help paint. A crackling radio played “I Wish You Well” somewhere in the background, and they were bribing friends with promises of caramel pie in exchange for help preparing. When I stepped in a month later, the establishment was clean and smelled like roasting meat, but hadn’t lost its lazy, friendly vibe. A board in the dining room features the “meat-er” and alerts you to how much of your favorite cut remains for the day, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. “I don’t serve leftovers. If we run out, I don’t have time to make more. It’s a slow process…” Chip explains, understanding this isn’t how everyone wants their bbq. It was bold to sandwich his new establishment between Hog Wild and Famous Dave’s, but the Hollands understand they aren’t really in competition with the chains. Famous Dave’s didn’t see it that way, and took an instant jab at the Mom and Pop. The Hollands didn’t feel the sting, but definitely felt the impact of being voted Best in Omaha.

Stirnella Bar and Kitchen – 3814 Farnam

Early Bird – 3824 Farnam It’s easy to be a cute brunch spot on a Sunday, but can that energy really be maintained every day of the week? Early Bird is here to prove that with some clever marketing, creative décor, and simply delicious dishes, every day can be a lazy Sunday. Break up your work week with a midweek muffin and mimosa, or go a little more substantial with the Turkey Rueben.



Owners Matt Moser and Matt Carper are no strangers to successful Omaha ventures. With a combined 22 years’ experience in the business of local food, the Matts launched Stirnella in the burgeoning Blackstone district. Try the oxtail spätzle. While there are many delicious options on the menu, this is the dish that I drive back for.

See Sushi Yamato – 7429 Pacific Recognized in many metropolitan areas, Omaha wasn’t sure what a sushi train was exactly. The curious nature of our citizens have brought diners in droves, and Yamato serves a sweet sashimi. The Ota Omakase table serves plates with a side of trust in the chef, and the visual feast is just the appetizer Omaha was looking for.

Umami – 1504 Galvan Rd S The unexpected is on the menu at Umami. The surprise darling of 2017, anticipate a wait, or make a reservation. Located in Bellevue, the establishment is owned by Keen Dheng, who studied sushi in New York for 13 years before bringing his vision home.

was sudden, and the space was taken over by Bruno’s Pasta Co. Owners continued accepting Salt gift cards to ease the transition, and offering hand-made pizza and pasta solidified Bruno as a true Salt of the earth establishment. Quality ingredients, exceptional staff, and simply delicious dishes give Bruno legs to stand on its own.

Pizza Virtuoso – 6056 Maple

Open – Again! M’s Pub – 422 S 11th st

When Amy Ryan announced that The Pizza Shoppe Collective would be closing, pizza lovers mourned openly. Enter Omaha royalty, David LoSole. Attention to detail, a handful of pint-sized LoSoles on site doing homework and playing together, and a walk-up window make the establishment a fun addition to Benson. The quality ingredients and clever pairings make Virtuoso a top contender in the “best pizza in Omaha” battle, and the competition is stiff!

M’s triumphantly returned after a grueling rebuild, and Omaha has welcomed Ann Mellen back with open arms and empty bellies. The rebuild paid highest respect to the memories Omaha built at the establishment, and replicated most of the décor, maintained as much of the staff and menu as possible, and never for a moment lost the heart that made M’s home for decades.

if you come for

and end up having a

you’re welcome.

The Pizza pie Guys – 5138 N 156th St Doing their best to cater both to finicky children and health and environmentally conscious adults, The Pizza Pie Guys focus heavily on locally sourcing, from-scratch cooking with the best ingredients they can get their hands on. Parents will feel ok feeding their little ones pizza again this week, and with innovative options, adults won’t get sick of the same old routine.

Bruno’s Pasta Co.—3623 N 129th When Salt88 Owner John Horvatinovich won his case against the state, patrons of Salt were hopeful it would be back to business as usual. Unfortunately, it was a difficult year and Salt couldn’t regain its footing. The closure

O Asian Bistro – 1015 Farnam To the disappointment of loyal patrons, on June 28, 2014, O Lounge served its last. After 2 and a half years, and a series of unfortunate set backs, owners re-launched as O Asian Bistro. The age of the building caused issues, water main breakages forced another temporary closure, and the establishment closed again this fall for renovation. So why is it on our list of places you’d love to eat? Once you’ve met the staff and tasted your meal, the inconveniences and annoyances magically become endearing.



Old Market TH



Did you see your favorite new place on our list? Comment here, or email us at Crumbs@ TheReader.Com to weigh in!





HEARTLAND HEALING HEARTLAND HEALING is a metaphysically-based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet by MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit and like us on Facebook. .





confess. I once led a previous life as a recording engineer and producer, prowling the seamy, sordid underbelly of Hollywood in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I worked with elite artists of the era and those of us engineering at that level knew pretty much all there was to know about audio, acoustics and hearing. No brag. That’s just the way it was in the rarefied air at the time. After all, we made our living because we owned some of the most highly educated and trained ears on the planet. We knew what we were hearing to an extraordinary degree, using a combination of good hearing and importantly, training ourselves to hear. Ironically, though, less-than-perfect hearing was common in the music biz. Two guitarists I worked with were virtually deaf in the right ear; both the late Frank Zappa and the persistent Stephen Stills. So it was that I knew my right ear didn’t hear as well as my left in the upper mid-frequencies. I wasn’t concerned. We all knew how to adjust. The weirdest part of it was waking in my Laurel Canyon home with my head on the pillow. With my right ear buried, I could hear distant birds or crickets chirping in my left ear. But with my left ear on the pillow, I heard few of those chirpy sounds in the distance. My right ear was notably deficient compared to my left. That hearing imbalance, along with other obvious things, eventually convinced me that chiropractic works. Then to now Chiropractic is the modern-day application of what is known as spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). SMT is known to have been used by the ancient Chinese over 2000 years ago. The modern concept of chiropractic was advanced by D.D. Palmer in his practice in Davenport, Iowa during the late 1800s. Palmer, like many doctors and healers of that era, was admittedly eccentric. Medical turf wars were escalating between drug-oriented doctors in line with pharmaceutical companies and healers in other modalities. Nonetheless, he founded a school that is now a leader in the field of chiropractic medicine. For much of the twentieth century, chiropractic battled public skepticism fostered by the conventional medical profession. By the 1980s though, chiropractic had become known to be a viable medical technique. Low estimates find 20 percent of Americans seek chiropractic care yearly. One basic theory of chiropractic is that the natural healing ability of the body relies on the capacity of the nervous system to communicate easily with all parts. Since the nerves of the body, with the exception of some cranial nerves, travel through the spine, with vertebra out of alignment, the nerve impulse is compromised. SMT readjusts the spine and improves that energy flow. Healing follows. Most people seek chiropractic to treat back pain. That’s what took me to Dr. John Cathcart of West Los Angeles in 1990. I tweaked my lower back in the simple movement of reaching for a saltshaker. I was bedridden for days, the pain unbearable. A fellow engineer, Steve Strassman, recommended Cathcart. Cathcart’s medical manner, patient attention and the easy adjustment made it the friendliest visit to a doctor’s office I had ever experienced. There was a pleasant release of pressure after the spinal adjustment. It was an original and obtuse experience, devoid of context. What mattered most was that I could sit comfortably in my car as I drove home to Hollywood and by evening nearly all pain was gone. Results matter to me. The next morning I awoke dreamily to another perfect day, (I love L.A.) My head lay gently on my left side and I heard chirping robins and blue



jays cawing. Crickets and squirrels, cars in the distance; all sounded different. Then it struck me. That slight difference was improved frequency response in my right ear at about 5 kHz, midrange that had previously been lacking. I muted my right ear. Both ears were now equal. Somehow full frequency range was restored to my right ear. Could it have to do with the chiropractic adjustment? A swirl of recollected knowledge collated and it all made sense. Cocaine blues Recording engineers in the 1970s worked long hours. Some resorted to artificial stimulants to work beyond when their bodies and ears should have called it a day. Mixing a record required delicate balances of hundreds of sounds and musical instruments ranging in varied frequencies. Too much high frequency and a mix sounded brittle and edgy. Every one of my contemporaries realized that artificial stimulants tensed the muscles of the head and neck. The resultant tension wreaked havoc with the ability to hear high frequencies by distorting the entire hearing system of tubes, tissues and bones. Mixes done in the speed of the night often were useless the next day. I realized that the chiropractic adjustment I had received helped release chronic muscle tension around my neck, shoulders and head. My hearing changed. I know. You can call me an expert. When I reported that news to Cathcart, he chuckled and told me the story of Palmer’s first patient, a deaf janitor. The janitor’s hearing supposedly was restored by a chiropractic adjustment. It made sense. Recently, a friend told me she saw an attack of that story online by some narrow-minded yahoo. The critic claimed Palmer’s adjustment couldn’t have reversed the janitor’s deafness because the auditory nerves do not pass through the spine. True. But auditory nerves are not the only things that affect hearing. Hearing is a holistic thing. So is chiropractic. Be well. Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit and like us on Facebook.

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LIVE MUSIC SCHEDULE - DECEMBER, 2017. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1 Joystick 9:00 to 1:00 am

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12 Scott Evans 6:30 to 9:30 pm

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22 The Confidentials 9:00 to 1:00 am

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2 Eckophonic 9:00 to 1:00 am

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13 The Grease Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23 Peace Love Etc 9:00 to 1:00 am

MONDAY, DECEMBER 4 Gooch And His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14 Prairie Cats 6:30 to 9:30 pm


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5 Billy Troy 6:30 to 9:30 pm

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15 Rough Cut 9:00 to 1:00 am

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6 Bill Chrastil 6:30 to 9:30 pm

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16 Soul Dawg 9:00 to 1:00 am

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7 Uno Jazz Big Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

MONDAY, DECEMBER 18 Gooch and His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8 Charm School Dropouts 9:00 to 1:00 am


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9 Avaricious 9:00 to 1:00 am

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20 The Brits 6:30 to 9:30 pm

Come In Early And Enjoy Dinner And Drinks!!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11 Gooch and His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21 MayJo Big Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

No Cover Charge

Christmas Special

6:30 to 9:30 pm

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26 Closed WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27 THE 70’5 BAND THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28 Twin Tenors Pete Fucinaro/ Matt Wallace 6:30 to 9:30 pm FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29 The Six 9:00 to 1:00 am SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30 Live Wire 9:00 to 1:00 am


“Happy Hour “ Mon., Wed., Thurs. and Friday 3:30 To 6:30pm Tuesday All Day 3:30 Until Close

January 11, 2018 7:00PM View the story of Frank Schaeffer and his fascinating exodus from the world of extreme political and Christian conservatism. Join us afterwards for a question and answer session with Frank and Director/Producer, Scott Griessel

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Hours of Operations: Mon-Fri: 2pm - 2am - Sat-Sun: noon - 2am 11 CJ

event runs through the weekend, from Noon to 8pm on Saturday, and Noon to 5pm on Sunday. ~ Reader Staff

December 5

Let There Be light Kaneko (1111 Jones Street)

December 2


Zoo Bar With his introspectively abstract lyrics over stuttering instrumentals and collaborations with underground rappers Busdriver and Open Mike Eagle, Wisconsin rapper Milo has built a steady following outside the Midwest since dropping his debut LP A Toothpaste Suburb in 2014. The album made reference to such bizarre ideas as “pubic gardens” as Milo performed phonetic acrobatics with his flow, mentioning “linguistic constructs” and “linguini” in quick succession. 2015 LP So the Flies Don’t Come and Milo’s latest, Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!, take a similar path but have both generated critical acclaim, earning positive reviews from The Needle Drop and feature stories from Rolling Stone. Lincoln emcees HAKIM and M Shah open the show, and Milo’s alter ego Scallops Hotel will make appearances throughout the night as well. Tickets are $10, and you can find more information at ~Sam Crisler

December 2 & 3

Winter Open House Hot Shops Art Center (1301 Nicholas)

Prepare to be amazed: Kaneko is once again planning to dazzle the senses with its latest museum-wide thematic exhibition combining art and science in light, opening Thursday, Dec. 5. With displays that are variously interactive, immersive, and interpretive, light promises both beauty and insight into the fields of optics, energy, conservation and light pollution. Featured artists include: Omaha glass sculptor Corey Broman; San Diego multi-media artist Adam Belt; audio-visual designers Circus Family from the Netherlands; Minneapolis-based creative technologist Jason Webb; LA audio-visual installation artist Refik Anadol; dark sky video from the SKYGLOW project; and Oakland sculptor Taylor Dean Harrison. As always with Kaneko’s multidisciplinary exhibitions, a host of local collaborators are involved in exhibition and program presentation. Expect an array of diverse contributions from practitioners of technology, music, dance and the like;

itself as a metaphor for the experience of indigenous communities, the geographic and artificial boundaries placed in their paths and the legacy created from their journeys. The artists featured in Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts draw from inherited knowledge and cultural memory to explore concepts shaped by their ancestral heritage and life in the path of the monarch. Prompted by curator-inresidence Risa Puleo, the exhibition, which opens Dec. 7 focuses on three themes 1) Migration-the ways that people reside and move across boundaries, bringing aesthetics and artifacts along, 2) Inheritance-legacies that are created through experience and knowledge passed over time, and 3) Transformation-the change of appearance. Thirty-six artists bring installations, performance, textiles, prints and more to this rich and thoughtful exhibit. Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly opens with a reception Thursday, December 7, 5-9pm and runs through February 24 at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th Street. For more information contact ~Melinda Kozel

light opens at Kaneko on Tuesday, December 5 and runs through March 31, 2018. The museum, located at 1111 Jones Street, is open TuesdaysFridays from 12pm-8pm and on Saturdays from 11am-5pm. Guided tours of the exhibition are held on Tuesdays at 5:30pm and Fridays at 7pm. There is no admission fee.

December 7

Through a Lens Darkly Hendricksen’s Butoh dance photos focus on ‘beauty’ in eye of artist and beholder Garden of the Zodiac (1042 Howard)

~ Janet L. Farber If you’re looking for something free to do, visit the Hot Shops Art Center during their 17th Annual Winter Open House. It’s the best time to see the underpinnings of the Hot Shops; almost all of the resident artists will have their doors open to the public. There are demos, shows, food, and artwork to fit every taste. If you’ve never been down to the Hot Shops you’ll be amazed. If you have, well, you’ll definitely catch something new, as the artists are always churning out their wares. The

Though less familiar to western audiences than the Kabuki tradition, Butoh is Japan’s most modern and austere form of dance. In it, nude performers in full body paint attempt to express both the darkness as well as beauty, the grotesqueness as well as joy of human existence.

December 7, 5-9 p.m.

Butterfly Migration

Omaha artist James Hendrickson had experience capturing the startling and raw power of this form as a commercial photographer in San Francisco, but has in recent years found in it an analog for expressing his own states of being, troubled by anxiety, depression and panic attacks. His series

Bemis Center (724 S. 12th Street) Spanning 3,000 miles and completed over four generations, the monarch butterfly’s journey across the United States, Mexico and Canada lends





of Butoh-inspired photographs, his most personal work to date, opens at the Garden of the Zodiac on December 7.

boots. Mercy High School and Nebraska Thespians’ Angela Dashner is the director.

Hendrickson’s black-and-white photos are stark and moody, featuring visages or poses that stand in tense contrast with inky dark backgrounds. As with Butoh, expressions range from beautifully serene to comically absurd to darkly disquieting.

~Gordon Spencer

Those familiar with Hendrickson’s work will recognize these as embodying another aspect of his love of noir, as well as his penchant for illuminating the overlooked beauty in fraught spaces (New Orleans cemeteries, gritty urban alleys, among others).

To all a good night.

December 8, 5-9 p.m.

Nut Art

De Forest’s funny, funky print fantasies Gallery 72 (1806 Vinton Street)

The Moving Gallery’s James Hendrickson is on view at the Garden of the Zodiac beginning Thursday, December 7 from 7-9pm and runs through February 4, 2018. The gallery, located at 1042 Howard Street in the Old Market Passageway, is open Tues-Sat from noon-8pm and on Sun from noon-6pm. ~Janet L. Farber

December 8-17

Miracle on 34th Street Hanscom Park United Methodist Church (4444 Frances Street)

Can’t find that perfect gift for the holidays? For the guy or gal with everything, consider artwork by Nebraska native son Roy De Forest whose solo exhibition Of Dogs and Men opens at Vinton Street’s Gallery 72 this Dec.8. De Forest’s quirky, folksy drawings and prints are colorful excursions into a fantasy-land populated by oddly drawn people, dogs and farm animals, humorous doodles, and surreal landscapes. Born and raised on a farm in North Platte, De Forest and his family suffered during the Great Depression, and moved to a new farm in Washington to start anew. Farm life had an influence on De Forest, and rural/farm themes are often depicted in his works.

What a great opportunity! Kris Kringle, an elderly man in a retirement home gets a fantastic job: Santa in New York’s Macy’s. KK gets so much into the role that he seems to think that he’s the real Saint Nick. And has so much saintly goodwill that he refers customers other great places to buy children’s toys. Uh-oh. Looks like he’s going to be institutionalized, even though a sweet little girl knows he’s more than just the ‘Claus’ in his contract. This is the basis for a stage version of the 1947 triple- Oscar movie. The script originated in sunny Santa Cruz CA’ s Mountain Community Theatre as written in 1983 by Peter Troxell and Rita Wadsworth based on Valentine Davie’s original screenplay. It calls for a cast of 20 and Circle Theatre has assembled that many adults and kids to bring this to life, with David Sindelar stepping into the jolly



The Oakland Museum of California Art just this year exhibited the first ever career retrospective of the work of Roy De Forest, who passed away in 2007. Referred to often as an icon of the Funk Art movement, De Forest’s works are intriguing skits of do-it-yourself mythology. He strongly disagreed with the Funk label, preferring the more appropriate term “Nut Art,” a term devised by De Forest and his contemporaries. “Nut Art” or not, it’s a somewhat regionally bound (Northern California) genre of colorful, figurative, and funny art that found wider favor and survived as a movement into the 70’s. The work was open-ended, often cartoonish statements that were free from ties to any specific medium or politic; an anything-goes philosophy. De Forest was an art teacher for almost four decades, and was close friends with two former students, Deborah Butterfield and John Buck. Several prints and drawings, including some with



rare, handmade frames by the artist, are on display and available for purchase. There is an opening reception on December 8th, from 5pm to 9 p.m. The show runs through January 13th, 2018. For more details and gallery hours, go to ~Janet L. Farber

December 9th-30th, 7 p.m.

The Apollon Presents:

at Hogwarts’ production. “It is the same kind of archetypal good vs. evil story that has been compelling since the dawn of literature. Last year’s trial run was so successful that we’re bringing it back for 2017 with twice as many characters and twice as many locations! This year it’s not just the school. We’re adding Hogsmeade to our Potter universe as well.” Tewell went on to say, “We’re officially announcing today, but opening night is already sold out so I’d say Omaha is ready to visit Hogwarts again.” ~ Reader Staff

Holiday at Hogwarts Apollon Art Space (1801 Vinton Street)

December 9

Gleemer Duffy’s Tavern

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Students will be required to report to the Chamber of Reception upon arrival. Spend some time shopping at Hogsmeade in our versions of Ollivanders, Gladrags Wizardwear, Shrivenshaft’s Quill Shop, Madame Maggie’s Magical Menagerie and more to get ready for your classes. Then attend classes in potions, herbology, and defence against the dark arts before enjoying a grand celebratory feast! No Potterhead should miss this opportunity! “We’re Potterheads just like everybody else,” said executive director Ryan Tewell today while announcing the schedule for December’s ‘Holiday

Gleemer last made a stop in Lincoln in August at The Bay with fellow Midwest emo band Infinite Me and, this time, the Colorado-based four-piece hits Duffy’s Tavern with a new record, Anymore, in tow. Anymore is a dreary 11-song effort that draws from modern shoegaze-rock hybrid bands like Pity

December 13, 6-8 p.m.

Sex and Nothing, but combines those influences with a clear affinity for post-hardcore. Songs on the record build from dreamy guitar arpeggio intros before cascading into powerfully deafening crescendos. Three of Lincoln’s top DIY bands join Gleemer on the Lincoln show’s bill: post-hardcore quintet Better Friend, glam/folk/rock/emo ensemble I Forgot To Love My Father and experimental post-rock band The Ambulanters. Tickets are $7.

Las Posadas

El Museo Latino (4701 South 25th St)

~Sam Crisler

~Staff Pick

Through December 10

December 15


December 12-17

Waitress Orpheum Theater, Slosburg Hall Frank Sinatra was born 102 years ago and at age 27 his career as a star began. For many, many people that star still shines. At this holiday time, PART aims to keep that glow alive with performances of the songs Sinatra sang for such a season. The revue’ title calls attention to the singer’s way with songs that hark back to herald the time of the newborn king. Did Sinatra rule? In today’s parlance, you better believe it. Singers Wendy Eaton, Bob Golding, Matthias Jeske, Jody Vaccaro and music director Jennifer Novak Haar aim to express the spirit by evoking scores that resonate with the Sinatra touch. Around forty. Some for any season e.g., of course, “My Way.” Rick Brayshaw co-directs, adding some Christmas swing to the choreography in David Grapes, Todd Olson, and Vince di Mura’s show concept. Non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are sold. Don’t expect Sinatra impersonations. The performers will do it their way. ~Gordon Spencer

in its eighth edition shifting how local music is being exposed to a broader audience. This event series sheds light on some local urban music artists of Omaha, plus comedians and retailers. Hosted by Joshua El’ Stupo, the showcase includes artists such as Toot, Shanketta, Buccshot, Delreece, Randy G da Mogul and LMacn. Tickets for the event are $10 in advance, and $13 the day of the show. The show is all ages.

Think of a mouth wreathed in smiles. Think of that mouth having savored really great pie. Makes you want to stand up and sing. Jenna made such a pie. Jenna sings, on her way to new- found happiness, transcending a too-often hectic time waitressing, overcoming a home life where love and smiles have been rare. This is a traveling version of the much Tony-nominated, still running Broadway musical take on Adrienne Shelly’s much-acclaimed 2007 movie in which a small-town Southern woman wins a baking contest and gains fame for tasty treats.

In collaboration with Boystown South Omaha, El Museo Latino presents Las Posadas, a Spanish holiday tradition of singing and remembrance. The words translate to “accommodation” and describes a song about Mary and Joseph (parents of Jesus) asking for lodging while they traveled. It is considered a common Christmas song where the singers portray the voices of “inn keepers” and “pilgrims” going back and forth as a call and response presentation. There will be activities for children, music, and refreshments and the opportunity to participate in traditional Posada beginning at 6:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public. For questions or additional information, please contact El Museo Latino at 402-731-1137.

~Staff Pick December 14-15, 9 p.m.

Mic Check Showcase 8

The Waiting Room

A colorful musical slice of life. ~Gordon Spencer

70’s Tribute Band Slowdown

Set sail for smooth to the band’s biggest event thus far. Experience the ultimate age of album rock with Pet Rock’s live tribute show; you’ll have to hear it to believe it. No loops, drum machines or canned vocals here. Only pure rock goodness. Since their debut performance, PetRock has played nonstop capacity shows. With period threads and too-cool-for-school retro video, Pet Rock is sure to satisfy. Tickets $10, visit The Slowdown’s web site. ~Reader Staff

December 22

The JV Allstars 1867 Bar

The focus is woman-power. The extra flavor is cooking. Live on stage, expect to see, hear and smell the genuine articles assembled. Have a bite yourself in the lobby. And women created this recipe for entertainment: music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, this book by screenwriter Jessie Nelson, original direction by T0ny Award winner Diane Paulus whose take on Finding Neverland was recently found here.


Mic Check is the brainchild of Omaha native Delreece Bowie. What began as an event to offer networking and artist collaboration is now


With December comes the semi-annual return of Lincoln pop-punk veterans The JV Allstars, who released their last full-length, Hold On To This, in 2011. But in the time since that record dropped, the band has played its “last show” at least once a year. The shows were usually held at all-ages downtown Lincoln venue Knickerbockers, but after developers purchased Knickerbockers and the surrounding buildings with intentions of demolition, JVA’s 2016 “last show” was moved to 1867 Bar, where it returns in 2017. In conjunction with the show’s announcement, JVA released its first studio-recorded music since Hold On To This




around through the summer, they caught JoHoSoCo’s live album, Live! Ancienne Belgique, which was recorded at the venue of the same name in Brussels, Belgium. The band is closing out 2017 with a pair of shows, one on Dec. 29 at The Bourbon in Lincoln and the other at Slowdown on Dec. 27. Omaha soul/pop band Domestic Blend opens the Slowdown show. Tickets are $8. ~Sam Crisler

artist is accompanied by two others, Brent Witters and Troy Muller who also enjoy an unconventional aesthetic. Freeman, Witters and Muller are three very diverse and unusual Omaha artists who work in pastel, drawing, wood relief prints, painting and sculpture. Judging from their show statements, the three underscore serious themes with a sense of irony and humor.

December 29

See Through Dresses and Twinsmith The Waiting Room

with the single “Structure.” The track is an ode to Knickerbockers, delivering heartfelt lyrics about the venue’s impact like “I’m yesterday’s news, but I’m good enough for you” over a textbook JVA instrumental with half-time breakdowns and anthemic hooks. Pop-punk band A Summer Better Than Yours and Koizumi open the show. Tickets are $8, and search “The JV Allstars // ASBTY // Koizumi” on Facebook for more information. ~Sam Crisler

December 27

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal Slowdown

Two of Nebraska’s most promising indie rock bands, See Through Dresses and Twinsmith, join forces to send off 2017 with a punch. Both bands had huge years, embarking on numerous tours and each releasing full-lengths — See Through Dresses with Horse of the Other World (Tiny Engines) and Twinsmith with Stay Cool (Saddle Creek). Other World marked a maturation for See Through, expanding on the dreamy indie pop of their self-titled debut and adding equal doses of ‘80s new wave and ‘90s alt-rock, creating expansive, fully realized soundscapes. Twinsmith, on the other hand, took a step toward minimalism on Stay Cool, which, as its title might imply, is an album fit for kicking it on the beach with a cold one or nighttime cruising down forgotten Midwestern highways. Omaha dream pop quartet Oquoa opens the show. Tickets are $8. ~Sam Crisler

“About ten years ago I found a nice set of woodcut tools, but it was not until several months ago that I started this series of large relief prints,” Freeman explained. Working with some of my ‘usual suspects’ from the last several years of drawings and paintings, I’ve been enjoying the physicality of cutting the blocks and engaging with the irregularity (and random knotholes) of the wood.” While Freeman’s art is mostly personal, the themes of others are more socio-political. Muller says that in his mixed media, “3D canvases” he tries to “underscore the inherent dangers of our rapidly changing world with a sense of playfulness. It is my hope that the work will spark discussion, debate and even chuckles among my viewers.” Witters follows a somewhat similar tack in his assemblage work, which he says, “could be classified as California funk/junk art. Most of the materials used in the assemblages are discarded making a social statement on environmentalism and our consumer based society and putting an emphasis on the creative process.” James Freeman and company opens at Modern Arts Midtown Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m. and continues until Dec. 29. For details and gallery hours visit their website or call (402) 502-8737.

Thru December 29 Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal have been on the come-up for the better part of this decade so far, releasing three studio albums between 2014 and 2016, but 2017 was unarguably the band’s biggest year yet, due in large part to Hoyer’s run on NBC’s The Voice. While competing, Hoyer joined Team Blake (Blake Shelton’s team of aspiring vocalists), but ended up eliminated after a battle against singer TSoul. Despite the loss, Hoyer certainly reached his widest audience yet, and if they stuck



~Mike Krainak

Triple Feature:

Freeman, Witters December 30 & Muller share an Criteria The Waiting Room alt spotlight

Modern Arts Midtown Though Modern Arts Midtown’s next exhibit opening in December is titled James Freeman, the


pickS If you followed Saddle Creek in the early 2000s, odds are you know the history of indie rock band Criteria, too. After Steve Pedersen, a founding member of Cursive, came back to Omaha

from studying law at Duke University, he whipped up enough songs for an album and recruited big names in Omaha music lore, A.J. Mogis, Mike Sweeney and Aaron Druery, to join him in his new project. In its short run, Criteria dropped a pair of albums mixing the down-tuned, chugging guitars of early-aughts post-hardcore with the anthemic hooks and ear-splitting leads of bands like Desaparecidos and At The Drive-In. Criteria only plays on occasion now, but the band is making a return before the end of 2017, playing at The Waiting Room with local indie rock bands Little Brazil and Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship. ~Sam Crisler

Through December 31

Omaha AfricanAmerican Police & Firefighters Exhibit Great Plains Black History Museum (2221 North 24th Street) Now in its new location in the heart of the Historic Jazz District, this special exhibition features photographic archives and artifacts of Omaha African-American Police and Firefighters. The museum is a significant contributor to the local history of Omaha since its founding in 1976. It stands with 81 museums nationwide that focus on the legacy of African-Americans. Visit for free on ThursdaysSaturdays from 1-5 p.m.

~Staff Pick

Slowdown • SHow: 8:30p • dooRS: 7:30p







Gallery 1516’s “Nebraska Artist Biennial” resurrects a 38-year-old showcase BY MIKE KRAINAK


f nothing else has convinced Metro arts viewers of Gallery 1516’s commitment to Nebraska artists since its opening in 2015, the current venture of gallery founder Patrick Drickey should do the trick. The Midwest Biennial, not seen since its demise in 1988 at the Joslyn Art Museum after its popular but controversial run beginning in 1950, has been resurrected under new management at Gallery 1516 and given a new name, the Nebraska Artist Biennial. The new juried Biennial (NAB), which continues through Dec. 30, opened to largely favorable reviews by both patrons and artists and enjoys a steady stream of each during gallery hours on the weekends eager to see the showcase alive and well once again. “With 67 artists in the show, we anticipated a big crowd, but we were pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed at the WALLFLOWER,” BY ARDITH STAROSTKA OF COLUMBUS, NE, THE RICHARD D. HOLLAND BEST OF SHOW AWARD turnout,” Drickey said. The inaugural NAB makes a good first impression. There are several reasons for this as discussed below. And, although virtually none of the art could be called groundbreaking, the exhibition stays true to the gallery’s mission to provide a “world class setting to display and view Nebraska artworks.” What is “ground breaking” of course is the rebirth of the Biennial itself and all the preparation and production that went into it. Drickey and those who consulted with him relied upon three qualified jurors: Anne Pagel, curator for Lincoln art collectors Karen and Robert Duncan, Linda Rajcevich, former Deputy Directory of Joslyn Art Museum and Russ Erpelding, ARTreach Curator for the Museum of Nebraska Art. The three jurors chose well from the nearly 500 pieces submitted in four categories and put on display many of Nebraska’s most representative artists while awarding five of them for “their original, exceptional, and





compelling work” with cash prizes totaling $10,000. The winners of the 2017 NAB included: Ardith Starostka of Columbus, NE, the Richard D. Holland Best of Show Award of $5,000; Milt Heinrich PhD of Blair, NE, the Milton Wolsky Award for Painting - $1,000; David McLeod of Omaha, NE, the Kent Bellows Award for Drawing - $1,000; Monte Lee Kruse of Omaha, NE, the William Henry Jackson Award for Photography - $1,000; and Nicholas Clark, the J. Laurie Wallace Award for Student/Emerging Artist - $1,000. In addition, Gallery 1516 will take ballots for a People’s Choice and Artist Choice awards of $500 each until Dec 27 and winners will be announced Friday, Dec 29 at a tentative closing event at 7 p.m. Artists can also benefit from sales, 14 so far and more pending Drickey said, and all proceeds going to the artists. The Biennial also benefits from its museum-quality setting at G1516, arguably the most impressive new gallery space in the region with its combination of urban industrial design, excellent sightlines and dramatic lighting that gives each artwork its space and distinction. The gallery has elevated every exhibition it has showcased since its inception. The 2017 NAB is no exception. Not since two excellent exhibitions, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts’ juried Nebraska Rising (2016) and Joslyn’s Art Seen: A Juried Exhibition of Artists from Omaha to Lincoln (2015), have viewers seen a better, more representative group display of Nebraskan artists. Yet, both Nebraska Rising and Art Seen had a smaller geographic scope and benefitted by being a juried invitational, thus virtually guaranteeing that many of Nebraska’s finest would be showcasing their most au courant work. They were memorable exhibits, reminiscent of earlier Joslyn invitationals and Bemis’ collaborations with the Nebraska Arts Council, each well worth repeating in the near future. The Biennial takes a different tack, casting a wider net by definition and not requiring current work, which explains how and why the exhibition may look more traditional by comparison. This is understandable given NAB’s above mission and intent to begin anew on solid ground. And the artists who submitted responded in-kind with mostly polished, established work within their comfort zone, even the student/emerging artists who were accepted. One may disagree with the judges’ awards—they were careful to include finalists in each category, which are marked in the exhibit and included in the small catalogue—and the artist, and people’s choices may indeed reflect this when announced… Yet, as described below, the winning work earned its honor. Starostka’s ultra-realistic painting “Wallflower” dominates one’s view deservedly so from afar and up close which isn’t always true in this space. This is no ordinary female figure portrait in the classical style. Exquisitely detailed and composed in crimson, “she” is attired in same flowered material as her background complete with visual tropes or tricks such as being draped by “real” foliage or hand-holding a petal. It appears that this wallflower has blossomed, ready for her close-up. Another variation of a familiar genre is Heinrich’s landscape acrylic painting, “Neighborhood No. 1,” a birds-eye or drone’s-eye view of otherwise familiar ground. But, seen from above, the artist is able to transform an ordinary setting into a pleasing composition of color, geometric shapes, volume and motion.

Even less familiar and more disorienting of view, leave this neighborhood narrative at is Kruse’s photographic “Election Time” from the top of the hill to one’s imagination. Factor his “Hummel Park” series. Riffing on the in a background of blue and gray billowing legend and rumors surrounding this storied clouds and the artist has found intrigue in an Omaha park in its northern hills, the artist otherwise ordinary setting. departs from his signature expressionistic Nearly as beguiling but for a different figurative work and has manipulated a found reason is Omahan Michael Giron’s acrylic on landscape of some forbidding filled with a board “Red Forest.” A departure from Giron’s one-eyed Obama election poster forecasting past dense and expressionistic imagery, change and orange caution signs for all his more current abstract, environmental who enter and engage. His clash of nature paintings can play tricks with perception and civilization is as beautifully bleak and depending from where it’s viewed. Though symbolic as a Cormac McCarthy scenario. the work is interesting up close, we are Another fitting but more subtle contrast in this encouraged to see it from a distance allowing exhibition is McLeod’s mixed media drawing us to “see the forest for the trees,” perhaps “Cather Abstraction,” an asymmetrical acknowledging how all environmental issues balance of a fixed geometric pattern and as well should be viewed and understood. fluid and runny mark-making, layering and This is encouraging work from an artist who even stamping in a nicely muted palette of has also made a difference as educator and gray-green and black and white. His abstract muralist in the community. works are basically conceptual arrangements Also a bit of a departure is the pleasing often based upon ideas experimented with as work from realist landscape artist Kim David far back as graduate school. Cooper from Ashland and Omaha sculptor A muralist by reputation in Omaha, student Sora Kimberlain. You may be more familiar artist Clark brings his pop sensibility to play with the former’s Impressionistic, pastoral in “Bare Bones,” microntec pen on Bristol pieces, particularly his plein air paintings, but paper. This rather grotesque exercise in the Cooper’s aptly titled “Colonnade” of tall trees Gothic aesthetic indicates three things: one, lining a country lane shifts to a more Posthe knows his audience; two, he demonstrates Impressionistic style with its more distinctive a masterly technique with his medium; and brushstrokes, thicker use of paint, and vivid three, it’s time maybe to create contemporary color and contrast of dark and light. 2D art with that same street vision and pop Conversely, Kimberlain’s expressionistic oil sensibility we see in his mural collaborations. on paper, “Changing Places,” is even more There is also impressive work from a mix textured, passionate and gestural. Two figures of established and emerging artists who on dance, embrace in wild abandon and appear a different day might have been similarly to change more than places. Best known for rewarded. They include finalists in their her more disciplined and elegant sculpture, category Mads Anderson, Peter Wakely, nonetheless, the artist continues to explore Brian Wetjen, Diane Lounsberry-Williams, gender issues and identity in 2D. Joe Broghammer, Watie White, Marlene Lastly, Drickey promises that G1516 will Mueller, Tim Guthrie, Larry Covalciuc, Jim be able to include a 3D category in the next Scholz, Katie Samson, Mark Sabaliauskas II NAB, May of 2019, but Camille Hawbaker’s and Casey Calllahan. All of whom who have wall hanging comes close as she brings the brought something to Nebraska’s canvas of “Love” in that direction. The post-emerging significant art in this exhibit. Hawbaker has proven herself of late to be Several additional pieces from Susan one of the region’s original artists. “Love,” a Knight, Larry Roots, Brian Gennardo, Dan silky mix of thread, text and paper, is further Crane, Christina Narwicz, Larry Ferguson, proof of her talent. Technically not a 3D work, and Jeremy Caniglia are further proof of its stunning experiment in fiber art and print Nebraska’s diversity of medium and style deserves to be a finalist in the Painting/Mixed and deserve a second look before the exhibit Media Category. closes Dec. 30. Personal favorites below may Category choices are just one of many include some surprises. considerations Drickey and those he consults There is no finer work of contemporary art with will be able to confront now that the in the NAB than Walkley’s stunning “Restless Nebraska Artist Biennial has officially Cloudy Night,” an acrylic on board that reemerged from its controversial past. “It was made the finals for Best of Show. The very a huge undertaking,” Drickey said, “now we antithesis of the winning “Wallflower” in style, have the time to listen and make changes.” mood, color and attitude, Walkley’s edgy, expressionistic nightscape with its minimalist (Full disclosure: The author of this article was composition, low angle and detached point one of the Biennial’s sponsors.)

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How Omahans are building and maintaining creative careers in Nebraska.

e all are familiar with the ‘starving artist’ stereotype. A passionate and talented abstract thinker who charms people with their natural charisma and penchant for soulful thoughts over material wealth. Someone perpetually destitute, surviving on the generosity of others while living for their art. This stereotype, like most, is a severe exaggeration at best, and a flat out fabrication at worst. In Omaha’s creative class, the latter is more often, the case. While many people may consider the theater arts a hobby more than a tangible career choice, many Omahans and local institutions are proving them wrong. Artists in Omaha are shattering the starving artist trope with careers in creative fields, education, regional entertainment, non-profits, entrepreneurship and beyond. Performing Arts careers highlight a very different trajectory than those of “traditional” fields, often piecing smallers jobs and gigs together to create a bigger picture that makes up a body of work. Theater careers come in all shapes and sizes. Arts administration usually adheres to the 9-5 work day, while on stage and behind the scenes work generally is arranged around that schedule, allowing for company members to hold traditional jobs on top of their theater work. A recent poll showed that non-union actors can spend upwards of 20 hours a week rehearsing for a play. That’s before a four week run, generally from Thursday thru Sundays. On Average, performing artists in Omaha hold anywhere from 3-5 jobs at a time, in the field. That’s a lot of work for a hobby. I was able to sit down and talk to some of Omaha’s performing arts vets about all of the hats they wear and why they do it and they’re pros and cons on living a creative life in Omaha. “Something I find super exciting about Omaha is that because the theater/ arts scene is small, it’s easier to meet ‘your people’, and make projects happen! Money isn’t as big of an obstacle the way it is in NYC, and I feel much more of a community vibe here than I ever did in larger cities,” Ashley Laverty has been living in Omaha since 2016, when she moved here for a teaching artist position with the Rose. Wisconsin transplant Katie Otten, who also works with the Rose, agrees, “Omaha has such great opportunities and it’s a place where you can really get things done.”In fact many artists who live here now have come from away, finding Omaha a great balance of tangible income, creative license,



and professional development. We have working theater artists residing in Omaha who come from both coasts, everywhere in between and internationally. As much as we have talent coming in, we can’t ignore the loss of significant talent over the past ten years either. Losing stage favorites as far away as London and as nearby as Des Moines, with a large portion of Omaha talent relocating to regional Chicago, where they can easily pursue not only the stage, but television jobs as well. “I just think that if we leave, then we can’t build Omaha into what it could be,” Otten muses. “If we stay here and work at it, we can make it the best place for artists to make a living.” “There are a LOT of people and organizations who are advocating for creative people,” Laverty adds. “I just finished Omaha Creative Institute’s 8-week Artist INC program, which intends to empower artists (of all mediums) to merge their business and artist practices, aka to make a living through their art. OCI has a bunch of artist grants and other exciting opportunities, with intentions of making Omaha a place FOR creative people, not just a place WITH creative people.” Haley Haas, an actress and arts administrator has made Omaha her home since the early 2000’s. A Creighton alum, Haas has worked in multiple roles throughout the years, and building her career both here and regionally, believing that Omaha has the ability to sustain talent and pay livable wages. “We have a strong enough arts community and wealth in Omaha, that we can ask for it. It’s possible. We need a visionary to say if you can dream it, we can do it. Culture has shifted and artists deserve to be paid for their work.” Paying artists for work has been a contentious subject as the arts are often underfunded and there is an expectation that artists, will work for passion over pennies. “Professional actors need to be paid,” Haley iterates. “It is work. At times you’re memorizing multiple roles, juggling multiple schedules, traveling to different sites, balancing’s really about knowing your value and upholding it.” That’s a concept everyone across the board wants the public to understand, theater and creative careers in general aren’t beautiful strolls in the park and roses thrown at your feet. Josh Mullady, a well-respected technical designer, educator and actor explains what a usual week is like, to make his life work. “There are times where I work everyday for 2- weeks in a row because of managing so many schedules. I may start at 9 am and then two jobs and

then into a rehearsal. It is a totally different lifestyle than a 9-5. Sometimes it’s tough but that’s what I want to do.” “You have to treat your skillset as a business,” Katie Otten states, having found success as a voiceover talent and book cover model. “I have business cards and rates and I go into it as a small business.” “I think that when I first started working as an artist, people who weren’t artists did not understand what I was doing. They thought my husband was doing the work and I was sitting at home type-typetypin’ for the fun of it. It wasn’t until about a year in when I started paying some bills and things started to happen that people realized how much work art takes.,” Jen Castello, another multi-disciplinary artist, writer and Omaha native shares her thoughts on outside perceptions of freelance creative. “Art takes a lot of work. It is a HUSTLE. In order to be a working artist, your work ethic has to be as solid as steel, but I feel like some look in on this world and see the opposite. I guess we make it look easy? I mean ... it’s fun, so there’s that?” There are a growing number of theaters and institutions ready and able to pay actors and teaching artists for their time and talent. Omaha Performing Arts has employed artists both in their administrative sector as well as in the field, across public schools and for private events, and are looking to add even more programming to engage artists to stay local. Omaha Creative Institute, recently announced a series of grants offered to artists to use to advance their projects, or at their own discretion. RESPECT is a well known, long-running organization placing actors in schools across the midwest, teaching core values and respect through role play and short-form plays, employing hundreds of local actors over the years. The Rose and Blue Barn theaters have both made commitments to financially compensating their talent as they have become Omaha’s stand out regional theaters. And many smaller venues are fighting to do the same for their talent, even on a smaller scale. A gesture to show that their time and commitment is appreciated. This is a sampling of the opportunities that theater professionals and artists are offered when they choose to stay in Omaha’s thriving creative scene. “As a writer and a teaching artist, I have way more opportunities in Omaha than I would somewhere else. It’s the reason why we’ve stayed here. There are so many educational programs here for the age bracket I work with, and it also gives me the solitude and peace I need in order to get work done.” Castello says. “The other thing that helps with being a working artist is the ability to create your own opportunities, and finally the low cost of living makes it financially feasible.” Omaha, can and has established a home for working creatives, it’s next quest will be retaining future artists to help propel it into the ranks of a larger market. Below, a breakdown of what some theater professionals do for work. Jen Costello Teaching Artist (Freelance) at: Nebraska Arts Council, The Rose, Omaha Community Playhouse, Nebraska Writers Collective, Omaha Performing Arts, Circle Theater Ashley Laverty • Full time Teaching Artist, Actor, Playwright, Director at The Rose Theater • Founding Artistic Director of Kerfuffle, a theatre for the very young company • Adjudicator for Nebraska High School Musicals • Occasional babysitter/Lyft driver Haley Haas • Teaching Artist for the Union for Contemporary Art • Story Circle Facilitator for Minnesota Humanities Center • Teaching Artist for OCP • Recently cast in Various roles at the Rose Katie Otten • Graduate theatre assistant at UNO (studying acting), helping as Publicity Manager • Contract teaching artist at The Rose • Actor for Magical Moments LLC (as various Disney princesses) • Freelance Voice Actor Josh Mullady • Adjunct professor in stage craft and tech at IWCC • After school programming with Y Arts working with people with disabilities • Substitute teacher at the Playhouse • Rose box office • Wedding and Karaoke DJ • Freelance Tech Designer


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Celebrating a season of musical giving in the metro and the national recognition received by the Blues Society of Omaha and the BluesEd Youth development program with a Keeping the Blues Alive award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis.




HOODOO focuses on blues, roots, Americana and occasional other music styles with an emphasis on live music performances. Hoodoo columnist B.J. Huchtemann is a senior contributing writer and veteran music journalist who received the Blues Foundation’s 2015 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism. Follow her blog at and on



ash LaRue’s annual Toy Drive for Pine Ridge events take place this month, benefiting the children and families of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The U.S. Census Bureau and BIA lists the Pine Ridge Reservation as the most poverty-stricken area in the United States. Saturday, Dec. 9, 8:30 p.m., the lineups at Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge perform to raise donations for this year’s holiday giving. Performing at Waiting Room are Jump the Tiger, Matt Cox, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, 24 Hour Cardlock and King of the Tramps. Around the corner at Reverb Lounge, Korey Anderson, John Henry, Vox Combo and Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns are playing. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy for admission to one venue. For admission to both venues, give a toy donation at each club or a $15 donation. Meanwhile downtown at Harney Street Tavern, Big Daddy Caleb & The Chargers from Lincoln host another Toy Drive event Saturday, Dec. 9, 9 p.m. There is no admission charge but monetary donations and new, unwrapped toys will be accepted. Big Daddy Caleb is also donating half of the band’s pay and half of merch sales that night. The next morning, Sunday, Dec. 10, 9 am-noon, the Toy Drive stays in Benson for a special collaboration between Rick Galusha’s “PS Blues” radio program and Reverb Lounge. I’ll be joining Galusha, Lash and our special guests at the Reverb where we’ll be broadcasting live music along with information about the Toy Drive for Pine Ridge. The list of artists performing is too long to include here. The live performances will be broadcast on 89.7 The River. Sunday, Dec. 10, The Blues Society of Omaha hosts their annual fundraiser for the Toy Drive. Performing are Working Man’s Band, Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns, Sailing in Soup and the Hector Anchondo Band with special guest Neil Johnsen. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy. Doors open at 2, music starts at 3 p.m. The Toy Drive for Pine Ridge is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by Lash LaRue, aka Larry Dunn. The Toy Drive collects and delivers toys for children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It also accepts monetary donations for emergency heating, clothing, food, and educational resources for reservation residents in need. For more information visit or Nebraska Funk & Soul Alliance The spirit of giving continues Saturday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.-2 a.m., in Lincoln when Josh Hoyer hosts his second annual Nebraska Funk & Soul Alliance. All proceeds will benefit eight charities helping atrisk youth in Lincoln and Omaha. A $20 minimum donation gets you admission to 1867 Bar, Bodega’s Alley, Bourbon Theatre, Duffy’s Tavern and the Zoo Bar featuring over 30 local musicians, bands and DJs. For details search for the 2017 NE Funk & Soul Alliance event page on Facebook.



Hoyer also has two local appearances with his band Soul Colossal. Catch them in Omaha Wednesday, Dec. 27, at Slowdown and Friday, Dec. 29, at the Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln. BSO Presents at Chrome The BSO Presents blues series at Chrome Lounge includes guitarist Mike Zito Thursday, Dec. 7. U.K.-born and Chicagobased, Billboard-charting guitarist Davy Knowles hits the stage Thursday, Dec. 14. Get in the Christmas spirit with the Rev. Jimmie Bratcher’s “Man, It’s Christmas” show Thursday, Dec. 21. See Chicago’s Mississippi Heat brings their Windy City blues to Chrome Thursday, Dec. 28. All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m. For those who want to avoid the late-night New Year’s Eve crowds but still get festive, the BSO Presents Sailing in Soup at Chrome Lounge, 5-8 p.m., Dec. 31. BluesEd band The Redwoods are participating in the Blues Foundation’s Youth Showcase that is part of January’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis. A fundraiser for The Redwoods’ travel expenses takes place Saturday, Dec. 30, 6 p.m., at Chrome Lounge. Bucky McCann and John Crews open with a duo set. Keeping the Blues Alive in Omaha The Blues Society of Omaha and the BluesEd youth performance program are the recipients of a 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. The award will be presented at a luncheon in Memphis on January 19 during the International Blues Challenge events. BluesEd is also presenting an official workshop for attendees about the program. See keeping-the-blues-alive-award for details. The Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck are winners of this year’s Nebraska Blues Challenge and will represent the BSO during the International Blues Challenge Jan. 17-20 in Memphis. Their send-off party is Thursday, Jan. 4, at Chrome Lounge with special guests Tony Meza Band and Billy Bacon. Zoo Bar Zoo Bar highlights include Mike Zito Friday, Dec. 8, 5 p.m. and Indigenous Saturday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m. Davy Knowles plays Wednesday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m. The Wondermonds heat things up Friday, Dec. 22, 5-7 p.m. with Kris Lager Band plugging in after 9 p.m. Mississippi Heat is the featured act Wednesday, Dec. 27, 6-9 p.m. Hot Notes Indigenous performs at Waiting Room Sunday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m. Clarence Tilton, Sack of Lions and Matt Cox host the Coat Drive for Heart Ministry Dec. 19, 7 p.m., at Waiting Room. Admission is $8 or a new coat.


A conversation with frontman Tim Kasher on the band’s new label, the music industry at large, and what those early Cursive records mean to him all these years later





ou might not know it but it’s been a busy year for Cursive. No, they haven’t released a new album (relax). They haven’t even released a new single. Instead, the Omaha group have spent the past year making the move from Saddle Creek Records to their very own label, 15 Passenger. I ask frontman Tim Kasher if the label was named for a particular van that the band holds close to their heart. “We’ve had a couple iterations,” Kasher chuckles over the phone while talking to me from his home in Los Angeles. “There have been a couple 15-passenger ones and even a 12-passenger that Matt [Maginn, the group’s bassist] just drives around sometimes.” To celebrate the move to their van-inspired label, the band is reissuing remastered versions of their first two albums, 1997’s debut Such continued on page 32 y





we’ve got a few other things planned that we emo-tinged guitars, post-punk inspired y continued on page 31 Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes and 1998’s haven’t announced yet.” Until then, Cursive drumming, and Kasher’s nasally wail. The Storms Of Early Summer: Semantics Of fans can still treat themselves to the newly “Obviously, we don’t want to make the same remastered reissues of Stars and Storms. record over and over again, so we try to find Song, on December 1. Those reissues were placed in very capable interesting variations based off of what we The creation of the new label marks a big change for the group. Up until now, Cursive hands of Ed Brooks. As a longtime engineer, did on those first two records.” I ask Kasher, who released a solo album have released all of their albums, with the Brooks has worked with every type of band exception of Stars, on Saddle Creek Records. imaginable: arena rock legends (R.E.M. and entitled No Resolution in March of this year That might lead you to think that the two Pearl Jam), modern alternative favorites if there is any difference between writing for parties have grown estranged after all these (Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists), and Cursive and writing for himself. “When I’m years. Kasher assures me that nothing could buzzy indie acts (Screaming Females). I ask writing for Cursive I’m looking more at vocal be farther from the truth. In fact, he has Kasher about working with Brooks, who also melody or a good riff and stuff that will work nothing but praise for his old label and says worked with the band on The Ugly Organ with the group whereas solo stuff it’s usually that they provided him with the model of how and I Am Gemini, about the remastering just me with an acoustic guitar or sitting a label should operate. “We started putting process. “Matt’s really been the one that’s down at a piano,” he tells me. “Writing for out stuff with Saddle Creek early on in their been working with Ed more than me,” Kasher Cursive is definitely more difficult but it has existence and got to watch them figure it tells me honestly. “I mean he did a great job its own unique things that I value about it.” Switching gears, I direct the conversation out as they went along which was a good working with the Ugly Organ remasters so it just made sense for us to keep going with back to the label, which seems like a risky education on how to do things,” proposition in the increasingly digitalized Kasher tells me, going on to say that he him.” Despite not working directly with Brooks world of music, a sentiment that Kasher really appreciated the familial feel that on the remasters, I’m still curious as to what echoes. However, he argues the risk goes Saddle Creek provided. Instead, the main reason for the switch was Kasher thinks of the records 20 years later. both ways. “We’re a new label and still so the group would have more control over “I think they were the most Cursive records figuring it out so I can see these guys looking their own catalog. “That’s definitely where it we put out if that makes any sense,” Kasher at it as a risk to sign with us,” says Kasher. started, but we also want to release stuff from responds. “On Blinding Stars, we’re still “At the same time if it’s a new band we’re trying to find our sound, but Storms is the signing we’re taking a chance on them and artists we like,” says Kasher. hoping that they succeed.” When I push him for details on any other basis for everything else we did after that.” In essence, those first records set the I go a step further and ask Kasher if there is upcoming projects he remains tight-lipped. “It’ll probably make for a boring article but blueprint for the Cursive sound: the squalling, even a place for labels in today’s marketplace.





“Yeah, I think so,” says Kasher. “I’ll look at a label like Polyvinyl or Jagjaguwar and see that there’s a new artist on their roster and I’ll be much more inclined to listen to them than I would some random band playing at a bar on a Monday night.” For Kasher, the label still functions very much as an arbiter of cool, a gatekeeper if you will. Kasher tells me that mindset extends to how they choose artists they want to work with. “There’s not a whole lot of financial incentive for us, it’s more about putting out music that we really enjoy and believe in, stuff we think is cool,” states Kasher. It’s a refreshing approach in an industry that’s become increasingly driven by downloads and streams. To satisfy the Cursive faithful, I end by asking Kasher if the band has anything planned for the near future. “Nothing is planned as of yet but we’re looking at being active sometime next year,” Kasher tells me. With all that’s been going on you can understand his need to sit back, relax, and enjoy the good life for a minute.


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Also in Omaha, hardcore punk band Dilute came out with its debut demo EP, simply titled Demo 2017. The band — composed of vocalist Alex Heller, guitarist Nathan Ma, bassist Kaitlan McDermott and drummer Jon Cobb — joined the Omaha punk scene last summer, playing its first show at the 2016 Nebraska Hardcore Showcase. Since then, the band has railed against masculinity and female objectification at shows around town, and that’s just what Dilute does on its demo. The tape presents five blisteringly urgent songs, which instrumentally focus on the power of fuzzed-out, atonal guitar riffing and primal drumming. And from beginning to end, Heller screams matter-offactly, with lyrics refusing that she be taken as simply a novelty on “Take It All” and rejecting attempts at male courting on “Not 4 U.” Fittingly, the final track, “Fake,” ends in a wall of feedback, echoing the unwavering anger found throughout the demo. Lastly, another fresh Omaha band, Orca Welles, burst onto the DIY scene in November with its debut EP Many Years To Go. The band got its start earlier this year, and over the summer recorded the EP with The Way Out’s Levi Hagen in his garage. Jeremy Wurst of Coyote Face Recording handled the mixing and mastering. The result is four tracks of energetic garage rock, calling back to genre originators like The Sonics and The Rolling Stones, with simple yet addictive two-part song structures alternating between bouncy chord progressions and frontman Alec Williams’ catchy guitar licks. Williams and rhythm guitarist Olivia Baxter share vocal duties, both detailing reflections on youth and the future’s uncertainty. The band celebrated the EP’s release with a concert at The Commons LNK on Nov. 25 with openers The Young Ones Band and Sophie & Evan. As we moved into the holiday season in November, the Nebraska music scene started to turn its focus to fundraising. KZUM announced its Soup & Songs lineup for the winter, and the Josh Hoyer-led NE Funk & Soul Alliance revealed details for its second annual event. Soup & Songs got its start in 2015 as a benefit for nonprofit radio station KZUM, staging acoustic concerts at the Ferguson House directly adjacent to the Nebraska State Capitol on the southeast side as Open Harvest Co-op Grocery served soup. The benefit’s goal and operation is more or less the same this time around, with one concert per month announced between November and March. The series kicked off in November with


The Lightning Bugs, and over the five months, hard rock band Freakabout, country singersongwriter Lloyd McCarter, blues band Aunt Bunnie’s Parlor and folk group SAS & Friends will each play a set as part of the series. Visit for more information. Finally, last year marked the first edition of the NE Funk & Soul Alliance, a one-day festival in Lincoln coordinated by soul singersongwriter Josh Hoyer and Omaha R&B artist Dominique Morgan, which raised money for eight Lincoln and Omaha charities. This year, more than 30 bands — including BOTH, A Ferocious Jungle Cat, AZP and Hoyer’s own Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — will take part in the Dec. 16 festival, which is held at 1867 Bar, Bodega’s Alley, Duffy’s Tavern, The Zoo Bar and The Bourbon Theatre. The Lincoln charities benefitted are The Bay, Jacob’s Well, LightHouse and the Malone Center; while the Omaha charities will be Omaha Home for Boys, Youth Care & Beyond, Youth Emergency Services and Youth Link. This column is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Reader and Hear Nebraska, a music journalism and production nonprofit seeking to engage and cultivate Nebraska’s music scene. Here, we break down the biggest Nebraska music news from the last month. Of course, this isn’t all of what happened in Nebraska music over the last month. Head over to for our tri-weekly news column, and keep up with music scene events and news all year round.




uch of 2017 has seemed relatively 1998’s The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics quiet for Saddle Creek Records, of Song. Domestica and The Ugly Organ were but over the last 11 months the certainly raw and emotional in their own Omaha indie record label has rights, but the first two Cursive records see Tim built up a rather impressive list of releases, which Kasher at his most vulnerable, achingly shouting includes Big Thief’s critically heralded second heartbreaking lyrics like “My hearts are on the LP Capacity, Land of Talk’s first album in seven sleeves of my shirts scattered over your lawn” years Life After Youth and local indie pop trio (on “Ceilings Crack”) over jagged riffs and Twinsmith’s breezy, carefree Stay Cool. unpredictable post-hardcore song structures. For Saddle Creek, November was a month Though often rough around the edges, Starving of celebrating new roster additions, announcing Eyes and Storms of Early Summer allude to the two new signees in Detroit singer-songwriter Stef intensely personal material and polished but Chura and Los Angeles four-piece experimental uneven song structures with which the band indie rock band Young Jesus. would follow. The re-released albums will both For six years, Stef Chura has been recording be available on 180 gram, colored vinyl and and releasing lo-fi rock songs DIY-style, showing come out Dec. 1. a deftness at smartly crafting earworm melodies Local LP releases were scarce in November, — either bouncing or brooding, depending on but we were dealt a smattering of extended plays the song — with her out-there vocal style, which from a handful of Nebraska up-and-comers. borrows as much from Liz Phair’s despondence Lincoln singer-songwriter Daniel Christian as Stevie Nicks’s warbling twang. With the released the first of two 2017 EP’s in July, Coffee, announcement, Saddle Creek also revealed that which unabashedly pulled from ‘90s power pop it would re-release Chura’s debut studio album acts like Matthew Sweet and Ben Folds. Even with Messes in February. his clear influences, Christian manages to write Similarly, Young Jesus has amassed almost delightfully catchy pop hooks with tried-and-true a decade’s worth of album and single releases — but efficient — chord progressions. Christian’s since forming in 2009 in Chicago. The band’s latest effort, Toast, follows in a similar vein as third full-length, S/T (available digitally now), Coffee, serving a seven-song helping of piano displays the results of eight years of growth. The and guitar-driven rock as Christian harmonizes seven-track album traverses spacious dream with himself, creating pleasantly innocent rock akin to ‘90s lo-fi acts like Duster, intimate, melodies that feel more appropriate for parking Nick Drake-esque folk, and free-forming, slow- at the top of a hill during a summer sunrise than building post-rock. Look out for physical copies of cooping up in a coffee shop in mid-November. S/T, which Saddle Creek also drops in February. Still, any cold-weather blues are no match for Tangentially related to Saddle Creek, 15 Christian’s earnest pop-rock. Passenger, the new label spearheaded by Similarly, Omaha punk rock band Hussies former Saddle Creekers Cursive, announced it dropped the first and second EP’s of a threewould re-release Cursive’s first two LP’s, 1997’s album project, titled Going and Nowhere, Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes and respectively. The former is finally seeing the light of day after having been recorded with in 2013. The two seven-track EP’s blend rhythmically swaying blues structures with the aggression FREE TO LISTEN AND REPLY TO ADS of punk, but still make room for plenty of Ben Free Code: Eisenberger’s rapid guitar noodling. Meanwhile, Omaha Reader vocalist Tom Bartolomei dominates the rest of the band with his coolly delivered yelp. Hussies recorded Nowhere at ARC Studios in Omaha, but it still maintains a strictly DIY aesthetic, with each dissonant guitar and bass progression sounding as if it were aided with grungiest overdrive pedal available. And that’s not a bad thing at all, as it FIND REAL GAY MEN NEAR YOU only emphasizes the band’s in-your-face, slacker attitude. Keep an eye out for the final installment of the EP project, Fast, sometime in the next few 18+ months.










maha’s hosted big Hollywood premieres over time. The biggest came in 1938 for MGM’s Boys Town, when massive crowds turned out for stars and studio brass, followed closely by Union Pacific’s 1939 Golden Spike Days bash. The dedication for the newly updated and reopened Dundee Theater, which began as a vaudeville showplace, has provided a major cause for celebration among film buffs, preservationists and neighborhood residents. Hollywood royalty even comes with the package courtesy Omaha’s reigning film industry king, Alexander Payne, who grew up in Dundee and patronized the theater countless times.



The writer-director is fresh back from a long production-editing slog, followed by a Greek idyll that saw him become a first-time father, to christen the return of his childhood, hometown movie sanctuary. His ballyhooed new film Downsizing opens there Dec. 22. This is Payne’s long-awaited, issues-laden, epic sci-fi satire about miniaturization as the answer to depleted natural resources in an over-populated world. Downsizing owns positive industry, festival and test audience responses and trends prime awards contender and money-maker. Depending on how it lands with Academy Award voters, it could be the first Payne film named Best Picture and it could win him his first Best Director Oscar. Paramount Pictures expects a box-office hit. With some $100 million invested in it, the studio banks on a triple-plus return worldwide, thus putting Payne in a whole new movie earnings bracket. Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neal Patrick Harris, James Van Der Beek and Niecy Nash are the big-name cast members but Hong Chau is the breakout star. In addition to Oscar-winner Waltz, the international players include Rolf Lassgård and Udo Kier. At least six Payne stock players appear: Laura Dern, Phil Reeves, Mary Kay Place, Margo Martindale, Tim Driscoll and Kevin Kunkel. As if scripted, this film by a Dundee devotee ushers in a new era at a theater that was among the local celluloid dream spots where Payne lost it at the movies. Since his family home is within a couple blocks, it became his home theater. Having his first feature, Citizen Ruth, play there in 1996 only strengthened the bond. Now that it’s part of Film Streams, on whose board he serves, he can truly call the Dundee his own. Susie Buffett’s purchase of the vintage 1925 theater on behalf of Film Streams saved an historic building from a discarded, disposable artifact fate after the previous owners’ planned improvements never materialized and it sat idle four years. It was saved the ignominious end of the razed Cinerama Indian Hills. The Dundee’s rebranding under Film Streams enhances area cinema culture in a way not seen since the nonprofit’s north downtown Ruth Sokolof Theater opened in 2007. Owning nine decades of cinema history, the Dundee represents a physical and symbolic link to the medium’s rich heritage. Then there’s its own history

for record-breaking runs and surviving as the metro’s last independently-owned and operated single-screen neighborhood theater. The millions recently poured into renovating it added a micro auditorium, thus giving it two screens for the first time and doubling the number of screens Film Streams can program. Like many locals, Payne’s seen the theater transition a few times. For most of his childhood in the 1960s, it was a mainstream exhibition site owned by the Cooper Foundation that screened first-run blockbuster roadshow attractions. “I spent a considerable amount of time in all of Omaha¹s movie theaters when I was growing up, from the old palaces downtown (Omaha, State, Cooper and Orpheum) to the Admiral, Indian Hills, Fox, Six West and Cinema Center. But the one I probably spent the most time in was the Dundee,” Payne said, “since I could walk to it, as soon as I could walk. I can¹t even say I was ‘proud’ of it – it was just always there. “I saw The Sound of Music there six times when I was 4 years old. It played there for many months (two-plus years), and you know how little kids like to see the same thing over and over again. My older brothers used to take me to the Saturday morning show for kids – usually monster movies, and they had giveaways. Before and after that slate of commercial fare, the Dundee showed art films. Then, in the hands of owners Edward Cohen and David Frank, the Dundee settled into being more of a second-run house. “In the early ’70s, they showed revivals of W.C. Fields, Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy – those early comedies had something of a renaissance then,” recalled Payne, whose own comedies revel in character-based physical bits and predicaments. When the filmmaker was in college in the 1980s, the theater came under new ownership again, this time in the care of Denny Moran, who returned it to its art house past and added midnight movies. Moran was still an Omaha law enforcement officer when he bought the theater. His wife Janet joined him in the business. In 2013, they closed it for renovations that outgrew them. They then sold it to Buffett for Film Streams to operate. “In more recent times, when the Morans had it,” Payne said. “I used to love the midnight shows of ’70s movies. I caught Midnight Cowboy there just a few years ago.” By then, the Dundee was more grind-house than art house. In between those revivals, things came full circle for Payne when his Citizen Ruth illuminated its screen. The dark comedy stars Laura Dern as Ruth Stoops – an unrepentant addict who finds herself and her fetus caught up in the abortion

debate. “Well, that was a big deal to me, to have my first feature play at my neighborhood movie house. I still have a framed photo of the marquee hanging in my house. It meant something to Laura Dern, too. While shooting Citizen Ruth, she, Jim Taylor (his writing partner) and I had seen The English Patient there and walked out halfway through.” Dern, whose actor father Bruce Dern starred in Payne’s 2013 black and white elegy Nebraska, has remained close friends with the filmmaker. She’s come to Omaha at his invitation. She does a walk-by in Nebraska, which shot near Norfolk, and she has a speaking bit in Downsizing. “She is indeed in the movie in a sort of cameo playing a salesperson in a presentation of luxury houses for a small persons¹ resort community,” Payne confirmed. Having Downsizing play at the Dundee marries a Nebraska landmark with the work of a native son icon. “I have the same delight I had when Citizen Ruth premiered there 20-odd years ago, but ever more-so because it now belongs to Film Streams. It will serve as a new anchor in the elegantly-blossoming Omaha and will exist as our neighborhood movie theater for the next 100 years.” On Downsizing netting ecstatic notices at the Venice International Film Festival and more tempered reviews in Telluride and Toronto, where much of it shot, Payne leaned into the Latin he studied at Creighton Prep. “Julius Caesar said it best – ‘Alea jacta set’ (“the die is cast”). I made the film I wanted to make – at least a version of it, as with any film. Now it’s time to move on to the next thing. As for mixed reviews, well, that comes with the territory. Everyone’s friend is no one’s friend.” Payne’s cinema stories explore uprootedness. His restless characters undertake physical and metaphoric journeys in search of home. Home is ever more on the Oscar-winner’s own mind. He plans resettling here permanently with wife Maria and daughter Despina Evangeline come next year. “It’s a big fall for me both personally and professionally. Having a newborn child is a little like being an actor at the ‘Saloon Show’’at Knott’s Berry Farm. You put on a show every three hours for about an hour.”


Alexander Payne’s


Dundee Theater — Begins Thur, Dec 21, 2017



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is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Tim has been writing about Omaha and the local indie music scene for more than two decades. Catch his daily music reporting at, the city’s longest-running blog. Email Tim at



THE ONES THAT STUCK WITH ME: Favorite Albums of 2017



e used to close out the year at The Reader with our “Year in Review” issue, but after we went from a weekly to a monthly publication a year ago the editors moved the “year in review” to the January issue. I guess it’s a completists’ approach, so as to be able to include December releases. My problem: By the time January rolls around I’ve already turned my back on the previous year and am looking with unbridled optimism toward the the future. As such, I’m breaking the rules. Below is my year-end list of favorite indie music releases, right here, right now. Apologies to the missing Decemberists (Is that where the band got its name?). Despite the fact that live indie music began to wane in Omaha this past year, the number of indie music releases in 2017 has to be some sort of record. It was virtually impossible to keep up with all of them, which is why I’m not calling this a “best of 2017” list. Of the hundreds of releases I listened to last year, these are the ones that stuck with me, and that I suggest you investigate further. Strand of Oaks, Hard Love (Dead Oceans) — This strong followup to 2014’s HEAL finds Tim Showalter at his epic best a la The Who, though he could use a little more Townshend to cut through all the Daltrey. SUSTO, & I’m Fine Today (Caroline) —Frontman Justin Osborne’s voice is at times the spitting image of Jackson Browne’s, though musically the band veers between that Laurel Canyon sunset rock and more modern indie. It’s a surprising record. Sheer Mag, Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns RC) — Kind of reminds me of The Ark combined with Butch Walker and modern garage rock but fronted by a firecracker of a lead singer in Tina Halladay, whose pouty growl is unforgettable. NE-HI, Offers (Grand Jury) — Jangle-buzz garage rock recorded live to capture that house-show energy, though no recording can match their real live show. Alvvays, Antisocialites (Polyvinyl) — Lilting, pulsing indie pop powered by frontwoman Molly Rankin’s sweet, shy croon, if FM radio (really) still existed, this would be on heavy rotation everywhere (and “Dreams Tonite” would be this generation’s prom song). Ted Leo, The Hanged Man (self-release) — Ambitious double LP by way of Kickstarter is everything his old fans want and new fans need. Smart, catchy, snarky. Young Jesus, S/T (Gigantic Noise / Saddle Creek) — Beyond the obvious indie pop, they try their hand at long-form epics that recall droner acts like The New Year/Bedhead and Red House Painters, and succeed. Now on Saddle Creek. Uranium Club, All of Them Naturals (Static Shock/Fashionable Idiots) — Brittle post-punk a la early Devo w/guitars instead of digitals. Quirky, jagged and fast as a 45, this slim EP is worth finding. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice (Matador) — Two of Matador’s best songwriters together, so what could possibly go wrong? I found myself wanting more Courtney and less Kurt, but in the end, the combination was peanut butter and chocolate all over again. Beck, Colors (Capitol) —Vilified by some who wanted another drowsy Morning Phase, for me it’s the best (upbeat) Beck record since The Information and easily blows that one away with its sheer party intensity. Never a dull moment. King Krule, The OOZ (True Panther) — Weirdly reminds me of Beck’s Mellow Gold and will probably have the same break-out effect, thanks to the droll barbiturate groove of “Dum Surfer.” Strange and new, just what we needed.



Perfume Genius, No Shape (Matador) — Mike Hadreas’ first fully realized masterpiece is loaded with anthems and heart breakers. I’d compare him to Sufjan Stevens, but there’s really no one like him. Slowdive, Slowdive (Dead Oceans) — The first new studio album in 22 years from one of the few giants of the ‘90s, it sounds like they never left. Haunting, intimate, ambitious and as relevant now as they’ve ever been. Spoon, Hot Thoughts (Matador) — Britt Daniel has always had a thing for hot beats but he’s never been quite so dance-y. This time he steals from The Cure and The Cars, but so what? One of the funnest records of the year. !!!, Shake The Shudder (Warp) — I was told by one local promoter that “no one listens to those guys anymore.” Really? Well, maybe they should. Guaranteed to make any dance floor glow (especially bum shaker “NRGQ”). LCD Soundsystem, American Dream (Columbia) — I kind of wanted to not like this one because, after all, didn’t he retire? But it blows away his last (rather dull) album. A return to relevance; a return to the stadium. Local Favorites Closeness, Personality Therapy (Graveface) — Whereas Faint songs (especially the early ones) have a sinister, pleatherish quality, Orenda’s sound always has been ethereal (by nature of her sterling voice). This electronic hybrid doesn’t so much combine the best of both worlds as create something new and glisteningly futuristic. Conor Oberst, Salutations (Nonesuch) — The beefed version of last year’s Ruminations is his best full band release since the 2008 eponymous record, though the jury’s still out whether he should have just left the 4-track version alone. David Nance, Negative Boogie (Ba Da Bing) — Scratchy noise anthems by Omaha’s now not-so-hidden gem, Nance takes guitar rock to a static extreme not heard since Jon Spencer. Testify. Matthew Sweet, Tomorrow Forever (Honeycomb Hideout) — A return to form and his most accessible collection since 100% Fun or that Japanese “thank you” record, 2003’s Kimi Ga Suki, though it’s no Girlfriend (but what is?). See Through Dresses, Horse of the Other World (Tiny Engines) — A breakthrough for a band that too often sounded like a reincarnation of ’90s college rock (as in Dinosaur Jr.). They come to their own combining post-punk shimmer with classic dream-pop drone for an end-product reminiscent of Saturdays = Youth-era M83 or early New Order. The Lupines, Mountain of Love (SPEED! Nebraska) — John Zielger and the boys crawl out of the garage rock cellar to create something huge, majestic, like watching a’70s-era 70-millimeter western saga on the big screen. Simon Joyner, Step into the Earthquake (Ba Da Bing!) — At it’s best, it blazes with a ‘70s thrill of a Kristofferson album (or movie) combined with the urban grit of Lou Reed, all without losing the lonely tang of his unique voice. Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

The reader december 2017  
The reader december 2017