In the Market for Blues, Playing With Fire, Jazz on the Green plus great club shows at the Zoo Bar and around town make August a great month for live roots music.
The second big weekend of free Playing With Fire (PWF) concerts happens Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11-12, at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing. This is the 19th year for the concert series organized by founder/talent booker Jeff Davis.
Friday, Aug. 11, music starts at 6:45 p.m. with Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado from Copenhagen, Denmark. The seven-piece band has released 12 albums, won two Danish Music Awards and received seven nominations. It was recognized as the Best Band in the 2017 European Blues Awards. The group was seen at PWF in 2019. Also performing are Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar from Toronto. With a sound the band describes as “pure, unadulterated gospel-tinged, neuron-tingling magic,” they have garnered multiple nominations in the Maple Blues Awards and the Juno Awards.
Saturday, Aug. 12, music starts at 4:30 p.m. with BluesEd youth development band Us & Them. Lincoln’s internationally recognized funky soul band Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal takes the stage next, followed by Joanne Shaw Taylor. Blues Blast Magazine called Taylor “one of the true superstars in the British blues scene” and “one of the most sought-after guitarists in the blues-rock community.” The final act of the weekend is Bywater Call from Toronto. According to its website, the is influenced by “a love for southern soul, blues and roots music and a passion to create a powerful and moving experience.” Bywater Call has been recognized with nominations from the Maple Blues Awards and Independent Blues Awards.
Find all the details at playingwithfireomaha.net.
Jazz on the Green
Jazz on the Green features sax man Chad Stoner on Thursday, Aug. 3, for a night of R&B and funk. Special guests from the Washington state blues scene, Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, open the show at 7:30 p.m. O’Keary is a multiple award winner, including six-time Washington Blues Society Best Female Vocalist and six-time Best Blues Songwriter.
This summer’s final Jazz on the Green on Thursday, Aug. 10, features popular blues-rock guitarist Ana Popovic. Her latest 2023 recording is titled “Power,” and the guitarist has revealed that themes on the record grew out of her fight with breast cancer during the pandemic. Her new bio states that “she wants to inspire people: no matter what life throws at you, pick yourself up and come back twice as strong.” Opening the show at 7:30 p.m. is Omaha R&B, soul and funk band The Toast featuring vocalist Aly Peeler and musicians including Andrew Bailie, Mitch Towne, Dale Black and Matt Arbeiter.
In the Market for Blues
The annual In the Market for Blues festival is Saturday, Aug. 5. The multi-venue, multi-band event continues the idea originated by Héctor Anchondo. It is produced now by the Blues Society of Omaha. You’ll find 12 hours of blues from noon to midnight with over 30 bands on indoor and outdoor stages in the Old Market, the Capitol District and the Holland Center’s Mammel Courtyard. Chicago blues-rocker and Alligator Records star Toronzo Cannon headlines the event. The lineup includes BOOMCHANK, Hadden Sayers’ duo with acclaimed Texas percussionist Brannen Temple.
Other bands scheduled include Hurricane Ruth, Tony Holiday, Shaw Davis & the Black Ties, Josh Garrett Band, Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, Kevin Burt, Scott Ellison Band, Levee Town, Blue House with the Rent to Own Horns, The Mezcal Brothers, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal and Kris Lager & the Assembly of Assassins. Anchondo plays full band and solo sets.
Admission is $35. See the full band list and participating venues or purchase tickets at omahablues.com/in-the-market-for-blues.
Zoo Bar Highlights
Lincoln’s historic Zoo Bar’s August shows include Memphis boogie keyboard wizard Jason D. Williams and the Mezcal Brothers on Friday, Aug. 4, at 5 p.m. Austin’s Black Joe Lewis Trio takes the stage Sunday, Aug. 6, 6-8 p.m. Lewis is known as the bandleader of Austin’s funky, soulful Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Tuesday, Aug. 29, 6-9 p.m., The Legendary Shack Shakers perform with the rockin’ Dallas blues band The 40 Acre Mule. Monday, Sept. 11, 6-9 p.m., GA-20 performs. Keep up with late-breaking shows at The Zoo at facebook.com/zoobarblues and find the schedule at zoobar.com.
Steve Earle hits The Admiral with his solo acoustic tour Wednesday, Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m. Find tickets at etix.com.
Friday, Aug. 11, at Lincoln’s Pinewood Bowl, catch a fantastic bill of roots artists when Trombone Shorty and Ziggy Marley perform with special guests Mavis Staples and Robert Randolph. See pinewoodbowltheater.com.
Saturday, Sept. 2, the Brandon Santini Band headlines the Highway 91 Music Fest on the football field at the former Dana College site in Blair. Admission is $15. Music starts at 3 p.m. Proceeds go to Angels Share. BluesEd bands The Redwoods and Vertigo open the show. Look up Blair, Nebraska – Highway 91 Music Fest on Facebook for details.