Tag Archives: rock

Gary Numan Plays the Slowdown Days After Fatal Tour Bus Accident

September 28, 2018 by

“Here in my car, I feel safest of all. I can lock all my doors, it’s the only way to live.”

Gary Numan’s 1979 hit song “Cars” has been a fan-favorite for decades, but the lyrics took on new meaning as the singer performed in downtown Omaha just four days after his tour bus fatally struck an elderly pedestrian. Fans of all ages gathered at the Slowdown on the night of Thursday, Sept. 27, to watch the artist perform.

Aside from the lyrics of his music, the British singer-songwriter didn’t speak a word to the crowd the entire night. But that didn’t keep Omaha down.

The audience went wild for the pioneer of synthesizers in electronic rock, as Numan kicked it back to his ’70s rise to fame with a tent of lights held up by a shimmering disco ball. Wearing a shredded white turtleneck tunic draped to his knees (the latest in mummy fashion?), he made his way through the set list sans monologue.

No one moves quite like the 60-year-old Gary Numan—he swung freely across the stage at awkward angles between dueling guitarists, his cloud of black hair only a millisecond behind his flailing limbs and tattered attire. The message was clear: if you’re going to dance, then dance like you mean it. 

Numan serenaded his guitar during the encore, kissing and sniffing the instrument before he played the final song of the night and waved goodbye.

After the show, Numan tweeted his gratitude for the evening of fun:

“Thanks, Omaha. You really picked us up. We’re grateful.”

Sexy & Slow

March 31, 2017 by
Photography by Keith Binder

Is it terrible the pain in Peedi Rothsteen’s voice is musically satisfying?

His honest mix of pleasure and vulnerability blended over incredibly sexy slow jams makes your knees buckle.

Rothsteen knew he was tapping a vein when he emerged on Omaha’s music scene nearly two years ago with a brand new sound unlike any of his other rhythm and blues projects.

Many may know him as lead singer to Voodoo Method or “P. Minor,” a local R&B artist and former radio personality, but he’s since evolved from typical masculine crooning. His delicate vocals now have depth. Musical grit, if you will. And, ultimately, rock influenced his creative trajectory.

Watching the evolution of Rothsteen has been quite entrancing. A lyrical twist intrinsically influenced only by time and experiences.

Music is second nature to the Chicago-born singer, who played trumpet and French horn as a child. He sang for his high school and church choirs. In fact, he got his start as a scrawny 7-year-old who took his church talent show stage in an oversized suit, patent leather shoes,  and a skinny black tie belting out Bobby Brown’s “Roni.”

Music was a persistent influence in his early years, but he stepped into his own in 2006 while working at Omaha’s hip-hop radio station Hot 107.7 FM.

P. Minor became a local R&B crooner who opened for some of the early 2000s’ hottest hip-hop musicians, including Donell Jones, Ciara, Akon, Ludacris, Ying Yang Twins, and Yung Joc. At the time, his single “Can I” was one of the most requested songs at the radio station. He garnered radio play outside Nebraska. His song “Keys to the Club” played in Arkansas, Missouri, and Minnesota.

Omaha’s R&B scene still is relatively small. Only a handful of soulful singers have landed regular gigs or made successful albums. He was tired of being stuck in a genre filled with repetitive melodies and predictable style. So he tried his hand at a new genre: rock.

“I liked the energy of rock music,” he says.

Minor was introduced to a couple of guys who were putting together a band. After a few jam sessions in 2007, the group formed Voodoo Method. With that band he toured and learned more about music than he’d ever imagine.

Voodoo Method featured an unexpectedly good combination of punch riffs, accurate lyrics being soulfully delivered by Minor, who almost always sported a tuxedo shirt and bow tie.

In the eight years performing with the band, his songwriting, voice, and look changed. He stepped into his own distinctive, expressive style. It was multi-dimensional.

“In rock, you have to be ready to take it up another level,” he says. “You have to be able to get out of your level. You have to be a magnetic frontman and push your vocals. And, without being in a band, I wouldn’t … my sound wouldn’t have developed that way.”

Voodoo Method is still around.  “We’re taking our time writing and just exploring music,” Minor explains.

But he got the bug for R&B music again.

“I wasn’t trying to get out or push anything, just exorcise my own demons,” he says.

He knocked the rust off and started producing again.

“What if I take what I’ve learned with the band and some of those experiences and move them over with R&B,” he ponders. “I might have success.”

All the while, he was producing a podcast and doing audio production.

“I wanted to create something new.”

He quietly started making R&B music again, he says. “A few songs here and there and then it started to feel good.”

So, here he is: a promising, ambitious, and talented songwriter and musician with one foot in rock, and the other in soul. This musical metamorphosis brought him to create his stage
persona, “Peedi Rothsteen.”

“Peedi” is a family nickname that stuck and Rothsteen is homage to Sam “Ace” Rothstein of Martin Scorsese’s brilliant and brutal 1995 film Casino.

Ace’s claim to fame is being an excellent gambler, he says. The way he approached the game. He knew all the ins and outs to gambling and could pick a winner.

“That the way I feel about music,” he says. “I know a song, what it needs. I know how to pick a winner. That to me, it’s symbolic.”

Hence, the brilliantly collaborative Peedi Rothsteen.

“There aren’t many things I can do great,” he adds. “Music is one. I work really hard, too. What comes out in the end is something people can enjoy.”

In 2015, Rothsteen released his debut EP Moments Before,  a five-song compilation of incredibly soulful lyrics. The music scene took notice. That same year, Rothsteen took home the Best New Artist award at the 2015 Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.

Exactly a year to the date, Rothsteen released Moments During, a five-track EP follow-up. The songs are full of foot-stomping grooves and fiery grooves vocals. Two songs to wrap your nodding noggin’ around are “Righteous Giant” and “Clap.” Rothsteen hopes to continue his music collection by releasing Moments After this summer–same June 11 date, of course.

His audience is just as diverse. Young. Old. Black. White. Metal. Soft rock.

“I don’t want to be just one thing,” Rothsteen says.

“In rock, you can go anywhere you want,” he says. “Good music will never be bad. It doesn’t matter how you box it up, how you deliver it.”

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Custom Gems

October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Imagine twin waterfalls, tall and narrow, magically frozen in freefall. The tumbling cascades are the clear, deep purple of winter shadows. When brilliant sunshine splashes across the rough surface, it assumes the glitter of sparkling gems. Both images, a double waterfall of frozen water or of gemstones, are equally wondrous. In this story, the metaphor is the reality—the waterfalls of our fantasy are cataracts of amethyst crystals.

Nearly eight feet tall, the mirrored pair are the split halves of a geode that has been supersized. Since we’re already in the mood for magic, we can time-travel back 130 million years to the end of the Mesozoic Era. The earth is in upheaval. The colossal continent of Pangaea breaks apart; volcanoes explode; the ocean floor crashes. Dinosaurs are disappearing, flowers (okay, angiosperms) are appearing. Every subset has its own turmoil. Lava flows hiss and erupt in bubbles of every size, some round and others shot high. As these bubbles cool, they harden into hollow shells. Mineral-rich slip glazes their interiors…and crystallizes, forming jeweled chambers unsignaled by their mud exteriors.

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Zip! Back to Omaha at the end of 2012. Our location is Custom Gems, a shop at the back of Frederick Square Shopping Center, off 84th Street just few blocks south of West Center Road. Its exterior may be commonplace, but inside you’ll find treasures to spark anyone’s imagination: delicate, one-of-a-kind necklaces, a tray of sapphires in every possible shade of blue (and some that aren’t blue!), carvings, and fossils. Kids of all ages scoop gleaming tumbled stones—8 for a dollar!—from an always-full bin. Practitioners of holistic therapies choose gems for their healing properties; DIY’ers finger strings of  beads; and rock hounds pick up tools, magazines, and even the rough stones that eluded them in the wild. You might visit Custom Gems just to see the beautiful amethyst waterfall.

While I’ve imagined tumbling water, others experience a sense of sacred space, like the gem-encrusted walls of some medieval churches. “They’re often called ‘amethyst cathedrals,’” explains Tim Kautsch, owner of Custom Gems. The height, twinning, and deep color of this pair enhance their allure and their value.

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Nearby is another natural crystal formation, a wedge of clear quartz with a cluster of the icy crystals at its centerpoint. (The word “crystal” comes from the early Greek word for frost. Snow is another crystalline structure.) Color is determined by mineral makeup, and each mineral has its own crystal shape. The clear rods clustered at the center are long hexagons ending in pyramidal points, looking just like ice.

Quartz is the most commonly used mineral in jewelry, but all minerals are, in their rough state, just rocks. Compare that tray of sparkling sapphires to their rugged counterpart, corundum. Fine jewelry calls for precious stones that are carefully cut and polished. Tim is a gemologist certified by the Gemological Institute of America. The degree gives him an edge in gem identification and grading. He began to work here while still in high school and became owner in 2009. Soon, his brother, Kevin, joined him. “It’s a good fit,” he says. “Kevin is great at work requiring precision, such as designing and repairing fine jewelry.”

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Custom Gems offers jewelry in a range of choices—you can buy an irresistible finished piece; select a setting, then choose just the right stone; or refit a piece of your own with new stones. Some customers have jewelry with sentimental value recast into a more personalized or modern style. The brothers value the importance of getting to know their patrons, many of them repeat customers. They especially enjoy creating a unique design that best expresses the customer’s intention and the stone’s special features. Kevin showed me one of his designs, an amethyst in a sterling silver pendant that echoed and emphasized the stone’s unusual shape.

Fossils are another form of rock. In the case of ammonites, the sea creatures’ buried remains were transformed by the pressure of sand and mud. Their typical spiral shell identifies them easily, but patterns on the shell show great variety. On display is an ammonite which has been split into two perfect halves. Its creamy beige, brown, and white coloring is subtly dabbed with touches of pale melon, mauve, and green, the delicacy of its coiled chambers preserved in stone.

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Occasionally, ammonite’s external shell wall is thick enough to be removed. Coupled with the shell’s pearl-like iridescence, it offers a prized jewel, ammolite, to the designer. “It’s my favorite stone,” says Kevin. He displays several, each a different color. Vibrant red/green or blue/violet hues dominate, but all colors are possible. Red and green flicker across one piece, the surface crazed with a pattern called “dragon skin.”

Besides jewelry and gems, the shop has accoutrements for home and office—tiny carved animals (the perfect pet, in my opinion), spheres, elegant serving plates of fossilized limestone, and Chinese jade work. For impact, Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe combine primitive and modernist style.

And for fun, there’s the rock bin. On a fall day, 9-year-old Natasha chose stones with the painstaking care of a collector. “This place is awesome!” she says. Christy Hamilton came in to replace a stone she’d lost from a pendant and couldn’t help smiling. “I’ve come here forever,” she says. “Tim does beautiful work. And whenever I had my grandchildren, I’d bring them here and let them choose a rock.”

Custom Gems is a wonderful source for shoppers, hobbyists, and daydreamers.

Custom Gems Inc.
8487 Frederick St.
402-397-9606
customgemsomaha.com