Three quick items this week:
1 On Monday, Hear Nebraska will launch a new website, hearnebraska.org, that's the key element in the nonprofit group's effort to, literally, get people to hear Nebraska.
"The idea is to cover all of Nebraska music as one scene," said Andrew Norman, Hear Nebraska's executive director. "That primarily means Lincoln and Omaha. But we're really interested in finding original music in the Panhandle, bands in Grand Island and North Platte. I grew up in Southwest Nebraska and it was really hard to discover bands, and I think it still is largely for people across the state. Unless you're tuned in, all this escapes your radar. We want people to discover this great vibrant music culture we have here in the state."
To that end, the site will allow fans, bands, venues, promoters and arts organizations to create profile pages from which they can create events and tag bands and venues involved in the events. Users will be able to blog and post photos and videos as well. There also will be stories by Hear Nebraska staff in both traditional and new media.
"It'll be a mix of staff-produced content and, hopefully, a lot of user-produced content," Norman said. "The kind of stuff they would normally post on Facebook, we hope they will post on Hear Nebraska and then send to Facebook. It will be a nice blogging platform for artists."
Hear Nebraska has been operating primarily through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr since June, has held at least one fundraising show and already has produced a couple of one-take music videos. One was with Chicago band The Kickback on the roof of Sandy's, the other was with Rent Money Big at a skate park.
Lincoln members of the organization's board include Jeremy Buckley, who books shows at the Bourbon Theatre and organizes Lincoln Calling, and Scott Hatfield, owner of Duffy's Tavern. Lincoln is a Music City has contributed $500 to Hear Nebraska.
Hear Nebraska will celebrate the site's launch with a pair of concerts Feb. 4 in Omaha at The Sydney with Little Brazil, Mercy Rule and Ideal Cleaners. A Feb. 6 show at Duffy's Tavern will include Conduits, Kill County, Down with the Ship and Manny Coon. March shows in the works include appearances by Denver's The Photo Atlas and The Kickback.
"One of the things we want to start doing quickly is taking shows to smaller towns outside Lincoln and Omaha -- Fremont, Columbus, Grand Island, North Platte," Norman said. "We want to expose the state to these great bands."
I'll have more on Hear Nebraska once the site is up and running. Check it out on Monday.
2. Kanye West, Cee Lo Green top Pazz & Jop poll
There's no big surprise at the top of the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop Poll. The 700 music critics, including yours truly, voted Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" as the best album of 2010 and Cee Lo Green's "F*** You" as the top single.
Some perspective on the voting: West's album was mentioned on 266 of the ballots, which asked for Top 10 albums; Green's single got 187 mentions, including my No. 1 vote. My choice for Best Album, Jamey Johnson's "The Guitar Song," finished at No. 20 in the voting -- not bad for a country record.
Here are the Top 15 albums and Top 10 singles from the poll. You can see all the results and individual ballots at www.villagevoice.com/pazznjop.
1. Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
2. LCD Soundsystem, "This Is Happening"
3. Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs"
4. Janelle Monae, "The ArchAndroid"
5. Vampire Weekend, "Contra"
6. Big Boi, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty"
7. Beach House, "Teen Dream"
8. The National, "High Violet"
9. Sleigh Bells, "Treats"
10. Black Keys, "Brothers"
11. Deerhunter, "Halcyon Digest"
12. Titus Andronicus, "The Monitor"
13. Robyn, "Body Talk"
14. Joanna Newsom, "Have One on Me"
15. Grinderman, "Grinderman 2"
1. "F*** You," Cee-Lo Green
2. "Tightrope," Janelle Monae (featuring Big Boi)
3. "Dancing on My Own," Robyn
4. "Runaway," Kanye West (featuring Pusha T)
5. "Power," Kanye West (featuring Dwele)
6. "Monster," Kanye West (featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver)
7. "Shutterbugg," Big Boi (featuring Cutty)
8. "Round and Round," Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
9. "Bloodbuzz, Ohio," The National
10. Sleigh Bells, "Rill Rill"
3 R.I.P. Don Kirshner
If you're of a certain age, Don Kirshner, who died Monday at age 76, will be forever remembered as the stiff, not-quite-hip host of "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," a late-night show that brought dozens of performers to television in the 1970s and '80s (in one case, most hilariously, The Ramones).
But Kirshner, sometimes called "the man with the golden ear," was more than just a TV host. He was a key figure in the early years of rock 'n' roll, beginning with his songwriting/management partnership with Bobby Darin. When he split with Darin, Kirshner got into music publishing and signed a stable of songwriters, including Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and produced hundreds of hits such as "Up on the Roof," "On Broadway," "The Loco-Motion" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'."
If that wasn't enough, Kirshner then became the musical brains behind The Monkees, the made-for-TV band that actually produced some very cool music. When The Monkees gave Kirshner the boot, he took his songs and made bubblegum hits for bands like The Archies.
Kirchner's musical era is long gone. But the songs that came from his publishing company still are heard, and the concert show launched many a career that still continues. He's been getting plenty of well-deserved tributes this week, for good reason.