Icons, Heroes and Funky Bears Roots and boogie keyboard queen Kelley Hunt hits The 21st Amendment Saloon, formerly The New Lift Lounge and Murphy’s at 96th & L, for the Thursday show for March 31, 5:30-8:30 p.m. The popular singer-songwriter and keyboard virtuoso is at home in styles from old-school boogie-woogie and R&B to tunes shaded with jazz or pop influences. It’s her Omaha CD release party for her latest effort, Gravity Loves You . Hailing from neighboring Kansas, Hunt has built a career as an independent roots artist. She’s played the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Seattle’s Bumbershoot event and Portland’s prestigious Waterfront Blues Fest. Eric Thom of Blues Revue magazine writes, “Kelley Hunt delivers the goods with a voice that grafts passionate blues to scorching soul — instantly endearing her to all within earshot, as her band surrounds her in a greasy funk that completes the package and brings you back for more.” James McMurtry & The Bottle Rockets Iconic Americana songwriter James McMurtry brings his searing band to Omaha as part of his current tour with alt.country faves The Bottle Rockets. McMurtry holds court every Wednesday night at Austin’s Continental Club, where he follows his friend and Hoodoo hero Jon Dee Graham. McMurtry’s simmering, fiery show packs the South Congress Ave. bar with devoted fans for his midnight sets. From booty-shaking rock to heart-stopping ballads, McMurtry is one of Americana’s consummate storytelling songwriters. Hear song samples at jamesmcmurtry.com and don’t miss this show. The Bottle Rockets open the show with their high-octane alt.country and roots rock. See bottlerocketsmusic.com. For ticket info, more reviews and links visit sundayroadhouse.com. The Bottle Rockets and the James McMurtry band play the Sunday Roadhouse series at The Waiting Room on Sunday, April 3, at 5 p.m. Come ready to rock. Get Wild Americana showman Webb Wilder returns to Lincoln’s Zoo Bar on Sunday. Wilder takes the stage Sunday, April 3, for a 6-9 p.m. show. Paste magazine calls his music “rockabilly-juiced mayhem” and Creative Loafing says his live shows “vibrate with sizzling surf, crackling country, gutsy garage and classic Chuck-Berry-styled guitar rocking.” See WebbWilder.com and ZooBar.com. It’s a busy week at the Zoo with the wry wit and engaging jump-blues of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats playing a special early show on Tuesday, April 5, 6-9 p.m. Then on Wednesday, April 6, Sarah & The Tall Boys open up at 5 p.m. with their Americana and country sounds before the great Chicago blues of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials takes the stage. Farewell Cowboy Larry A beloved member of the Omaha and Lincoln music community, “Cowboy” Larry Bowers passed away on Saturday, March 26, after a brief but serious fight with several recently diagnosed illnesses. Bowers was known to many as simply “the dancin’ cowboy.” If you attended a blues or roots-oriented event over the last 15 years or so, you likely saw him gliding soulfully around the dance floor, Budweiser in hand, often tapping his heart as he moved. Larry was my friend and his loss is devastating to all those who loved him, in circles of friends that extend beyond the music community. HearNebraska.org founder and colleague Andrew Norman asked me to write about why Cowboy Larry, as we called him, was important to so many people. It was a blessing to get to tell a little of Larry’s story before we lost him. My essay on Cowboy Larry can be found at hearnebraska.org. You are welcome to log into the site and add your own stories on the page. Larry was one of those rare people who left everyone’s life better for having known him. He was a larger-than-life man who lived his life his way. We have lost a great friend and an important, much-loved member of Omaha’s music community. Hot Notes Kris Lager Band returns from a month on the road. Catch them in Lincoln on Friday, April 1, at Heidelberg’s South. On Saturday, April 2, they play Bigunz in Columbus, Nebr. See krislagerband.com. Omaha’s own rockabilly kings The Mercurys celebrate their 17th Anniversary of rockin’ the metro on Friday, April 1, at Gator O’Malley’s. The Blacktop Ramblers open the show at 9 p.m. Iconic roots-rockers the Old 97’s play the Slowdown on Thursday, March 31. Austin’s up-and-coming soul-funk band Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears bring their infectious, greasy grooves to The Waiting Room on Monday, April 4, at 9 p.m. Those Darlins open. Popular singer-songwriter David Dondero hits The Waiting Room on Thursday, April 7. In 2006, NPR’s “All Things Considered” named Dondero one of the “best living songwriters” alongside artists like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Tom Waits. Chicago’s award-winning Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials gig at the 21st Saloon on Thursday, April 7, 5:30-8:30 p.m. They are multiple winners of the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Award for Band of the Year and also play the Zoo Bar Wednesday night at 6 p.m.