Lincoln's historic Zoo Bar's anniversary party includes indoor shows July 5-July 7 and world-class blues-roots music on the outdoor stage in front of the bar Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9. Watch for the Zoo Bar to announce details in early April.
Playing With Fire (PWF) is in its 13th year, with creator/promoter Jeff Davis consistently offering free, award-winning blues-roots music to area fans. This year's shows are still at Midtown Crossing's green space, but make a great move to Saturdays. There will be two shows on Saturday, July 2, and Saturday, Aug. 27. Gates open at 3:30 and music begins at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 2, the PWF headliner is exciting, award-winning blues artist and showman Sugaray Rayford. After fronting the Mannish Boys, Rayford went on to lead his own band beginning in 2010. Rayford is the next big voice in soul-blues. Rayford is up for five 2016 Blues Music Awards including a well-deserved nomination for the prestigious and career-making B.B.King Entertainer of the Year award. See sugarayblues.com. The supporting acts include Toronto's Andria Simone & Those Guys and K.C.'s Nick Schnebelen Band featuring former Omaha BluesEd alum and big-voiced singer-songwriter Heather Newman.
The second PWF summer show is Saturday, Aug. 27, at Midtown Crossing and features headliner Walter Trout. The event is an awareness-raiser for Donate Life Nebraska. Trout received a life-saving liver transplant at Nebraska Medicine's Lied Transplant Center in 2014. Also on the bill will be multiple Canadian Maple and Juno music award winner Steve Hill and Lincoln's Levi William Band. See playingwithfireomaha.net.
21st Saloon Blues
Coming to The 21st Saloon are the Detroit-driven soul-blues of Laura Rain & The Caesars Saturday, April 2, Chicago blues legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater Thursday, April 7, Harlis Sweetwater Band Saturday, April 9, Selwyn Birchwood Band Thursday, April 14, Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch Saturday, April 16, and Rev. Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys Thursday, April 21. Davina & The Vagabonds make their much-anticipated return Thursday, April 28, with a live CD release party. Catch the guitar-driven blues of the legendary Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers Saturday, April 30, Shawn Holt & The Teardrops Thursday, May 5, and the Omaha debut of Alligator Records's Toronzo Cannon Thursday, May 7. Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m. and Saturday shows are 8-11 p.m.
The 21st Saloon also hosts a multi-band Rockabilly Fest Saturday, April 23, 8 p.m. Performing are Big Red Rawkit Riot, Rumble Seat Riot and Ross Kleiner & The Thrill.
Find calendar updates for The 21st Saloon and other area blues-roots bookings and venues at omahablues.com.
The Sunday Roadhouse concert series presents the return of wry, acclaimed singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks Saturday, April 9, 7:30 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. Former Commander Cody guitarist and acclaimed rock-roots guitar player Bill Kirchen takes the stage at The Waiting Room Sunday, April 17, 5 p.m. One-man-band The Suitcase Junket performs Sunday, April 24, 5 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. See sundayroadhouse.com.
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal
In April, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal drop their best disc yet, Running From Love, produced in Nashville by Ken Coomer of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo. The record showcases Hoyer's best songwriting and performances yet, with production that shows the best of this band's soulful, driving sound. The CD release events are Friday, April 1, at The Bourbon Theatre and Saturday, April 2, at The Slowdown. See joshhoyer.com.
Catch Hector Anchondo most Mondays in April, 7:30 p.m., at The Omaha Lounge playing solo sets, plus catch the band Saturday, April 9, at The Bourbon in Lincoln and as part of Omaha's Earth Day event in Elmwood Park Saturday, April 26.
Keep up with the latest on Lincoln's Zoo Bar schedule at zoobar.com. Highlights for April at press time include Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, followed by a multi-act line-up featuring All Young Girls Are Machine Guns and Emily Bass. Selwyn Birchwood Band is up Wednesday, April 13, 6-9 p.m., followed by Matt Cox and more. Jimmy Thackery is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, 6-9 p.m. Davina & The Vagabonds play Friday, April 29, 5 p.m.