January kicks off with great opportunities to get out of the house and support live music. Saturday, Jan. 5, MusicFestOmaha presents The Blues at the Metro. 2018 International Blues Challenge winners the Keeshea Pratt Band from Houston perform at 7 p.m. Pratt is a dynamic vocalist and band leader and the band features a great horn section. Find out more at keesheapratt.com. Featured artist Sir Charles Jones calls himself the “Undisputed King of Southern Soul,” mixing old school Southern soul and blues with contemporary R&B. He plays at 9 p.m.

The event takes place at Metropolitan Community College’s Institute of Culinary Arts, Bldg. 22, (use the Sorensen Parkway entrance). General admission tickets are $30 and VIP tickets are $40 in advance. At the door general admission is $35. For details see Facebook.com/musicfestomaha1.

International Blues Challenge

The Blues Society of Omaha sends two local acts and a youth band to Memphis in January for the annual Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge (IBCs), happening Jan. 22-29, 2019, on Beale Street. Matt Cox represents the BSO in the Solo/Duo category. Stan & The Chain Gang represent in the band category. The IBCs showcase over 250 artists from around the world, a great opportunity to get heard, make connections and advance careers if you are an aspiring touring artist. See blues.org/international-blues-challenge.

The Blues Foundation also invites blues societies to send a youth band for their annual Youth Showcase, which puts young bands on the club stages prior to the start of the official IBC sets. BSO and the BluesEd program are sending Us & Them.

The send-off show for BluesEd band Us & Them is Friday, Jan. 11, 7-10 p.m. at Chrome Lounge.

The send-off show for Matt Cox and Stan & The Chain Gang is Saturday, Jan. 12, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Chrome Lounge. Hear these acts, show your support and contribute to the travel and lodging expenses for the artists’ trips to Memphis. Find details at OmahaBlues.com and watch Facebook.com/BluesSocietyOfOmaha for updates from Memphis during the IBCs.

BSO Presents Blues

Here’s the rest of the BSO Presents schedule for Chrome Lounge. Minneapolis-based Joyann Parker makes her Omaha debut Thursday, Jan. 3. She’s an up and coming vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Midwest Record says “some of the smokiest, smokingest green-eyed soul you are going to encounter. Killer stuff.” See joyannparker.com. The rest of the Thursday, BSO Presents shows at Chrome include Eddie “Devil Boy” Turner Jan. 10, Hamilton Loomis Jan. 19, the always-mighty-fine Bel Airs Jan. 24, the horn-driven sound of The Jimmys Jan. 31 and the blues-Americana of Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations Feb. 7. All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m. See OmahaBlues.com.

Zoo Bar Blues

Highlights from Lincoln’s historic Zoo Bar’s calendar for January include the 2018 IBC winner Keeshea Pratt Band Wednesday, Jan. 9, 6 p.m. Jack Hotel and Mezcal Brothers team up for a double-bill for the 6 p.m. show Thursday, Jan. 10. Lincoln’s Swing Fever plays the 5 p.m. show on Friday, Jan. 11. Big Daddy Caleb & The Chargers host a CD release party at the Zoo Saturday, Jan. 19, 6-9 p.m. The Bel Airs play the early 5 p.m. show on Friday, Jan. 25. Check out the full schedule at ZooBar.com.

Hot Notes

Minneapolis’ Joyann Parker (see the “BSO Presents” above) also plays the Omaha Jitterbugs’ Night Out dance Friday, Jan. 4, 9 p.m.-midnight, at the Eagles’ Lodge, 201 S. 24th St. See jitterbugs.org.

Buck’s Bar & Grill in Venice, Nebr., continues to book very cool up-and-coming country and Americana artists. Check the website and show your support for a local restaurant and venue trying to build consistently great music and consistent audience attendance at bucksbarandgrill.com.

Americana-roots guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Parker Millsap plugs in at Reverb Lounge Thursday, Jan. 10, 9 p.m. See parkermillsap.com. G. Love & Special Sauce is up at Waiting Room Saturday, Jan. 12, 8:30 p.m.

Indie rock and folk artist Gregory Alan Isakov plays Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre Monday, Jan. 28, 8 p.m. The Bourbon has just announced guitarist Robin Trower for Thursday, April 18, at the theatre. See bourbontheatre.com.

Guitar great Eric Johnson celebrates his 1990 Ah Via Musicom release on his current tour, which lands at Slowdown Tuesday, Jan. 29, 8 p.m. He’ll be joined by band members from the original recording, Tommy Taylor and Kyle Brock. See theslowdown.com for seating and ticket options. For more on the tour, see ericjohnson.com.

The 13th annual Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m. at The Slowdown. See Facebook.com/oeaawards, tickets are $30 and available at ticketfly.com.

Local singer-songwriter Brad Hoshaw has a campaign to finance his next studio disc that ends Jan. 9. Check out gofundme.com/bradhoshaw or purchase music and merch at bradhoshawmusic.com.

Hoodoo hero Jon Dee Graham, seen in Omaha and Lincoln in December, has an independent crowd-funding program going to raise capital for the album he wants to make in conjunction with his 60th birthday in 2019. Find out more about Graham, a three-time inductee into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, his iconic role in the Austin and Americana/roots/blues music scene and read his statement about this project here jondeegraham.com/new-record.

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