Tag Archives: EP

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.

Video Vacation

March 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Django Greenblatt-Seay has made 133 music videos, but never for any of his own bands.

That changed in mid-December when his quartet, Gramps, released a self-titled debut recording, a four-song EP that coincided with the creation of a video produced through his side project, Love Drunk.

Launched in 2011, Love Drunk is a collection of one-take music videos of various local bands created with sound recording equipment backed by from four to six camera operators. They are shot in the most unlikely of places—amid the mishmash clutter of a thrift store, on a desolate rooftop, in his own bedroom. The videos of such notables as Cursive, Icky Blossoms, and See Through Dresses are hosted on the Love Drunk website and premiere simultaneously on the Hear Nebraska site (see related story on page 48). Both organizations exist to support local bands and their fans.

“This isn’t meant to be art,” says the former member of Midwest Dilemma. “It’s about connecting. It’s about being able to get an idea who you might want to see this weekend if you’re not already familiar with the bands we shoot.”

And as for the claim of not setting out to make art? We’ll let that slide, but the videos belie what one would expect from a one-take, all-or-nothing approach to an art form that too often is given to overly glitzy productions where the music itself can seem almost an afterthought. There is nothing herky-jerky or amateurish about a Love Drunk video. The works are eminently watchable and engaging—a juxtaposition of the raw and the refined, the simple and the sublime.

Greenblatt-Seay, who by day works in video project management at Union Pacific, has slowed a pace that once had his team shooting a video nearly every week. That’s because he partnered with JJ Dreier in 2013 to create Tree Speed, a time-lapse video project that has the pair traveling to wide-open spaces all across the western states in capturing dramatic footage of night skies in some of America’s most iconic settings, including Utah’s Arches National Park and South Dakota’s Badlands National Park (where the photography accompanying this story was shot).

While Love Drunk is a decidedly social—and loud—affair, Tree Speed sessions are a serene, contemplative, Thoreau-esque communal with nature.

“I’m really bad at taking vacations,” Greenblatt-Seay says. “And when I do fit one in, it always seems that I’m trying to turn it into a video project. Instead of just enjoying myself, I’m always looking for what I’m going to film next on the trip and how I’m going to do it just right.”

This doesn’t mean that Tree Speed’s journeys are all rest and relaxation. He and Dreier may drive for as many as 18 hours straight through to a destination only to scramble to unpack, set up, and carefully calibrate their array of gear in a race against sundown and the canopy of stars (fingers crossed for a clear, cloudless night) that will follow.

“Once we’re set and the conditions are as optimal as we think they’ll get, we hit that button…and then there’s nothing…nothing to do for two hours” while the camera does its thing, Greenblatt-Seay explains.

“You feel so very small” under the vastness of the heavens, he says. “It helps me understand my place. It’s beautiful.

“And I finally get to relax,” he adds, “even if it is only a two-hour vacation.”

Visit lovedrunkstudios.com and treespeedphoto.com to see the videos.