The Soaring Wings Winery hosts its annual blues festival Saturday, June 4. Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials have been announced as the new headliner to replace the John Németh Band. Lil’ Ed and his band are a long-standing Chicago blues act and local audience favorites. The 18th annual Soaring Wings Wine, Blues, Beer & Hot Air Balloon Festival opens at 4 p.m. June 4 with music starting at 5:30. Saturday’s schedule offers Kansas City’s Stone Cutters Union (5:30 p.m.), New Jersey’s Matt O’Ree Band (7 p.m.), and Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials (8:30 p.m.) followed by a jam session with players from the various bands.
Admission is $30 — $20 for ages 12–20. Children 11 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. For details go to omahablues.com.
Longtime Memphis-based blues musician John Németh was diagnosed in late April with a “benign but aggressive tumor” in his lower jaw, according to the GoFundMe account set up to assist him. An award-winning vocalist and harmonica player, he and his family are faced with costs of a complicated medical procedure that his insurance has declined to cover. For information and updates, search for “Go Fund John’s Jaw” at gofundme.com or visit facebook.com/johnnemethfanpage.
BSO Presents Rathskeller Residency
The weekly BSO Presents Thursday early shows move to the Rathskeller Bier Haus, 4524 Farnam St., for “Biergarten Blues” in the beer garden during June. All June shows feature a BluesEd youth band at 5:30 p.m. as the opening act. Travis is up June 2. Scott Ellison Band takes the stage June 9. Brandon Miller Band plugs in June 16. Gracie Curran & the High Falutin’ Band entertain June 23. Keeshea Pratt Band performs June 30. The BSO series takes a break in July while Jazz on the Green offers its annual Thursday night shows.
The BluesEd youth performance program is an award-winning musician development program. All bands play in a BluesEd Showcase at Slowdown on Sunday, June 12, 4 p.m. Find out more at facebook.com/bluesed and bluesed.com.
Music for the City
Playing With Fire promoter Jeff Davis’ other free concert series, Music for the City, offers the second of four free summer concerts Saturday, June 11, at the Dam Bar & Grill on Miller’s Landing at the River City Star. Headlining the night is the JW Jones Band from Canada. The charismatic guitarist has earned multiple Canadian music awards and nominations. Jones’ other band, the HOROJO Trio, won the International Blues Challenge in 2020, and Jones received the Gibson Guitarist Award for best guitarist in the band category. Canada’s Lucas Haneman Express leads up to the main act. They are two-time winners of the Ottawa Blues Challenge and 2018 Maple Blues nominees. Omaha’s own Jeremy Mercy & the Rapture Orphans, a new project from “Hoodoo” favorite Mercy, is also featured. Mercy is a fine songwriter who fills his sets with raw, rockin’ high-energy. BluesEd band Us and Them kicks off the music at 4:30 p.m. See musicforthecity.net.
Playing With Fire returns with two two-night free events July 15-16 and August 12-13 at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing. Find out more at playingwithfireomaha.net.
Summer Arts Fest
Also on Saturday, June 11, 7 p.m., the Summer Arts Festival features national blues artist Veronica Lewis as the music headliner. Lewis was recognized in the 2022 Blues Music Awards with nominations for Best Emerging Artist Album and Instrumentalist Piano. Keep an eye on summerarts.org/music for the complete free music schedule. The Summer Arts Fest runs June 10-12 and has moved to the AkSarBen Village area.
Zoo Bar Turns 49
Lincoln’s historic Zoo Bar celebrates its 49th anniversary Friday and Saturday, June 8-9, with its annual outdoor street festival. Since the first announcement the schedule has changed slightly with Bobby Rush moving to Friday, 9 p.m., and Booker T. set for Saturday, 9 p.m. There are likely to be extra-excellent bookings in the club in the week leading to the show. Find the latest June shows plus festival information at zoobar.com or facebook.com/zoobarblues.
Texas’ acclaimed western-swing band Asleep at the Wheel is scheduled for the Scottish Rite Hall on Friday, June 3, doors 7 p.m. Some interesting shows are on tap at the Westfair Amphitheatre this summer, including Turnpike Troubadours with Steve Earle & the Dukes and Old ’97s on Friday, June 10, 6 p.m. Neko Case is scheduled to perform at The Admiral (formerly Sokol Auditorium) Thursday, June 23, 8 p.m. Find details for all three shows at onepercentproductions.com.
Rockin’ Johnny Burgin brings his jazzy jump-blues to The Jewell on Friday, June 10, 6-9 p.m.
The Sunday Roadhouse series presents Chicago’s The Claudettes on Sunday, June 19, 5 p.m., at Waiting Room. The band gets praise for their “garage cabaret” sound and impeccable musicianship. Tickets available at sundayroadhouse.com. Get a preview at theclaudettes.com.