Marty Hillard is a fixture of Lawrence and Kansas City's music scene: first, as a member of the beloved Cowboy Indian Bear, and second as a promoter extraordinaire, through his promotion group oh!mr. The Pitch talked to Hillard about oh!mr.'s upcoming shows and his plans for the new year.
The Pitch: Tell us about these two shows that oh!mr. is organizing and promoting.
Hillard: The first one is a collaboration with Sneakhype.com and Bear Club. It's a co-promoted benefit that we're doing called "Jockin' My Fresh 2." We did it about a year ago, and it went over so well that we thought we'd revisit the theme. Stik Figa's got a brand new EP that he's going to put out with a producer from Washington DC [named] Oddisee.
How did you and Sneakhype and Bear Club collaborate in promoting and organizing the show?
Last year, we did it with Sneakhype; and this year, Phil [from Bear Club] and all his friends have been doing really good job promoting events on their own. We thought it would be a really great idea to bring them in, because there's a lot of macs on Team Bear Club with new music. Since Stik Figa has some new music available, we thought it would be fun to bring in other new artists to be a part of the event.
Sneakhype is bringing over a group called DA Skeptics. Bear Club has Strider, and Jamaal Rashad, who's going to be performing with members of the Will-Nots. I'm going to perform under the name Ebony Tusks. And Stik, of course, who's going to be performing along side his buddy D/Will. We're all taking advantage of social media websites -- we all spread the word on things we're interested in, music that we like on our own -- so, just taking advantage of all the collective arms to let people know.
What about the second show? Is that exclusively an oh!mr. promotion?
I have some friends coming in town from Iowa: Canby, and a band called Parlours. They're just some friends I've made along the way traveling with Cowboy Indian Bear. Coincidentally, it happens to be on Super Bowl Sunday. But we figured we'd just turn it into a kind of potluck. Sam Billen is one of my oldest friends. He's going to be opening up that show. He's always got something new up his sleeve. And then my buddies in Seafarer were looking for a show ahead of their CD release party which we're also doing, late February at the Bottleneck.
The reason why you made it a potluck is because of Super Bowl Sunday?
That was an element of it. I figured, for anybody that was looking for an alternative or wasn't necessarily going to watch the game, it would be cool to get us all together and have a meal. It's around dinner time. Instead of all the bands splintering off, it'd be cool for all us to actually hang out and spend a little time together.
What do you do as oh!mr. these days?
More than anything, it's become an opportunity to promote good local shows. There are bands that I personally like and want to work with, and so I share that with people. It's a really simple objective, and at this point it seems to be most effective one. In a way, it's been really good to trim the fat a bit, and get down to what I enjoy doing which is booking shows, helping organize them, setting up the itineraries, conferring with venues before hand, putting up the fliers myself.
You have these two shows in early February, and the Seafarer EP release show later in the month. What are some of the other plans you have as oh!mr. for later on in the year?
I'm bringing my buddies the Delta Saints from Nashville, back to play a show at the Jackpot with Quiet Coral and Seafarer. That's going to be April 15.
What does Cowboy Indian Bear have planned for this year?
Recording some songs that will hopefully be released in 2011. I'm not sure whether that's going to be an EP or some more vinyl, or a full-length yet. We're just trying to stay diligent through these winter months. Next weekend we're going to be out of town, playing our first headlining tour. It's only three days, but we're just testing the waters. Beyond that, just gearing up for a busy 2011.