Checking out the Funk Trek CD release party at The Waiting Room Friday, Dec. 10, yielded two great sets. Opening the show was Weir, Fairchild & Miller, or the Kris Lager Band without Kris Lager. Jeremiah Weir, John Fairchild and Brandon Miller rocked through some R&B inflected tunes that were musical shout-outs to The Meters and Professor Longhair. Their set showcased all three members but really let Weir shine with his serious keyboard chops. A couple of local MCs, 20 Grand and Kloun, joined Weir, Fairchild & Miller for a few of the numbers, adding some spoken word stylings. It was very cool, something a little different from many local acts in both the classic R&B combo feel and the MCs working with a live backing band. Find fun iPhone videos of both the performance and the trio’s rehearsals on YouTube. I suspect we haven’t heard the last from this group. Funk Trek tore it up with a lengthy set to celebrate the release of their new CD. This 10-piece band of young musicians features four horns and some multi-instrumentalists. It was a double treat to see The Waiting Room packed with a diverse crowd that ranged from band parents to folks in dreadlocks and a hula-hooper. Funk Trek definitely had the audience grooving to largely instrumental music, which was a bit of a surprise. If you’re reading this Wednesday, Dec. 22, you can check out the full Kris Lager Band and Funk Trek at Slowdown’s Frostival 2010. The event is a benefit for the Omaha Food Bank and also features Blue Martian Tribe, Midland Band and The Weeping Figs. See theslowdown.com. Red Sky Festival With all our local talent in mind, it’s interesting to ponder what the just-announced Red Sky Music Festival will do for the Omaha music scene. Kevin Coffey reports in the Dec. 15 Omaha World-Herald that MECA will host the event July 19-24, 2011, at TD Ameritrade Park. The fest is expected to play 50 bands on several stages with a multi-genre concept like Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Coffey’s article says that the event coincidentally picked dates that overlap with next year’s planned MAHA fest and that MAHA opted to move to another date. Hopefully the event bookers, identified as Live Nation on KETV, do indeed present a broad sampling of music including Americana, folk, blues and jazz. It would be great if they set up a stage dedicated to local talent or find some other creative mechanism to showcase Omaha’s best. Hopefully the Red Sky Music Festival doesn’t follow the general trend of offering the local bands a gate-opening afternoon slot when attendance is slim. Here’s hoping that MECA and Live Nation give thought to the artistic side of the event and that Omaha has a large enough population base to support the concept. This has the potential to be a great festival for Omaha music fans and for Omaha. Weekly Blues Fix Terry O’Halloran, The New Lift Lounge owner and Blues Society of Omaha president, wrote recently in his BSO enews update that The New Lift is sold on paper and wrote about the future of the popular Thursday blues series. “I sold The Lift Lounge a few months ago,” O’Halloran writes, “but the deal was contingent on the buyers getting financing and a liquor license. Unfortunately, 90 days later, I still don’t know whether the buyer will be able to obtain financing. I have been continuing to proceed with business as usual … Obviously the segment of my business that interests all of you is The Blues. The potential buyers have indicated they are not interested in continuing the Thursday afternoon blues series. It is paramount to me that the series continues somewhere. I feel I owe it to the artists, and to you, the fans that have supported this series so loyally for over a dozen years. I am continuing to explore options … Considerations include location, acoustics, sightlines, seating, and capacity. I have several good leads and I assure you the series will continue somewhere. Your continued support is greatly appreciated, wherever it lands.” So, as O’Halloran often writes, “get out and get into it” and support this series if you value it. Recent attendance figures will doubtless impact what venues are ultimately interested in continuing this series that has treated Omaha to festival-caliber artists. Check omahablues.com for The New Lift Lounge schedule along with all the metro’s blues and roots bookings. Hot Notes Brad Cordle Band plays the New Lift Dec. 23 at 5:30 p.m. See All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Jessica Errett and Platte River Rain at Barley Street Tavern Thursday, Dec. 23, for Big Al’s Christmas Party. The Zoo Bar continues a tradition with Magic Slim and Sons performing Christmas Day at about 9 p.m. The Bel Airs gig at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Wednesday, Dec. 29, 6-9 p.m. and play The New Lift Thursday, Dec. 30, at 5:30 p.m.