Lincoln’s Zoo Bar hosts three of the top acts in contemporary blues Monday, May 4, 6-9 p.m. Fabulous blues bandleaders Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh and Little Charlie Baty have teamed up with the powerhouse rhythm section of Wes Starr and R.W. Grigsby. Mark Hummel is one of the West Coast’s finest harmonica players, famous for his jumpin’ style and for the all-star harmonica blowouts he hosts around the world. Lately he’s teamed up with two of the best guitarists of the last 20 years or so. Little Charlie Baty was the long-time founding guitarist of Little Charlie & The Nightcats with Rick Estrin. Texas guitar star Anson Funderburgh toured for years fronting his own band with the late harmonica master Sam Myers as Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets. The Zoo will be burning up with all this blues musicianship and heart-felt blues chemistry. They bill the act as The Golden State/Lone-Star Revue and tickets are a bargain $16 in advance and $20 day of show for all this talent in the intimate, magical vibe of the Zoo Bar. Advance tickets are available at The Zoo and at etix.com.
Lincoln’s home of the blues, The Zoo has three big shows this week, following the big Golden State/Lone-Star Revue, another West Coast rockin’ blues guitarist Coco Montoya plugs in at The Zoo Bar Tuesday, May 5, 6-9 p.m. Everybody’s favorite Chicago party blues band Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials hits the Zoo Thursday, May 7, 6-9 p.m. The Zoo Bar is blowing up old-school with great blues, get out and soak this amazing music up. See zoobar.com for other gigs coming up at the Zoo.
Zoo Bar 42nd Anniversary
The Zoo Bar announced the weekend line-up for this year’s outdoor stage at the 42nd Anniversary ZooFest Friday and Saturday, July 10 & 11. Headlining the weekend is the one and only Irma Thomas Friday, July 10, 9 p.m. Ms. Thomas is a Grammy award winner and a contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James. She’s known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans and is a headliner at major international festivals. It’s quite a delight for true music fans to have her playing the ZooFest. See irmathomas.com.
Also performing Friday, July 10, are Earl & Them (5 p.m.), Selwyn Birchwood (7 p.m.), and Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers featuring Xion, Cj Mills and Deeep-C in a special set to close at the night (11 p.m.).
On Saturday, July 11, headliners include Carolyn Wonderland (5 p.m.) and the return of The Golden State/Lone Star Blues Revue featuring blues greats Mark Hummel, Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh (7 p.m.). The other acts playing Saturday are The Bottle Tops (1 p.m.), The Tijuana Gigolos featuring Billy Bacon (3 p.m.), Kris Lager Band (9 p.m.) and AZP (11 p.m.)
See zoobar.com for details and for all the great music coming up at the bar.
BluesEd at The 21st Saloon
The 21st Saloon hosts a showcase of this year’s BluesEd youth performance bands this Sunday, May 3, 4-9 p.m. All ages are welcome, admission is free and food and drink will be available for purchase. This is a great program that gives young people the opportunity to learn and perform the blues and related music with like-minded youth their own age under the direction of volunteer directors and professional clinicians.
Performing are Far & Wide, Highway 61, Dilemma, Silver Lining, Us & Them and Voodoo Vinyl.
BluesEd is a program of the Blues Society of Omaha that gives mentoring and performance opportunities to Omaha-area junior and senior high school music students. Entry to the program is by audition and the students are paired together in long-term bands where they work participate in workshops and learn “a repertoire of blues music, along with learning the art of improvisation and solos, the methodology of rehearsals, techniques of jamming, stage presence and performance, and the historical origins of the blues genre,” according to their mission statement.
BluesEd will also be participating in Omaha Gives on May 20 this year, and this is a unique program that really benefits the youth who get involved. Find out more at bluesed.com.
In other news, three BluesEd bands have also been selected to provide pre-show entertainment at this year’s Jazz on the Green. (Full disclosure: I am a member of and advisor to the Blues Society of Omaha.)
21st Saloon Blues
Coming up this Thursday at The 21st Saloon is the versatile guitar-driven roots-blues of Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch. Elmore is a rising star on the Dallas, Texas, roots music scene. His shows are pure music and danceable fun. The band mixes up vintage soul/r&b, 60’s country, hard rock, jazz, and swing so you get everything from Western Swing to Jimi Hendrix within their set lists. I really like this band, get out and help them tear it up.
Another personal favorite, the bad-ass rockabilly sounds of The 24th Street Wailers are back the following Thursday, May 14, featuring guitarist Elliot Sowell, seen locally with John Nemeth.
And May 21st, harmonica great Jason Ricci returns. A true virtuoso of blues harmonica, Ricci is on the touring circuit again.
Sunday, May 24, the remarkable Cate Brothers play a rare show at The 21st. Their show last year was one of the best of the year for me, sheer perfection and sizzling soul.
All 21st Saloon blues shows play 6-9 p.m.