Mato Nanji’s popular band Indigenous performs two local shows starting with an early show Saturday, Feb. 4, 6 p.m. at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. Then Sunday, Feb. 5, 6 p.m., Indigenous plays The Waiting Room with opener Hector Anchondo Band. The shows are part of a handful of Indigenous dates before Nanji joins the high-profile 2017 Experience Hendrix Tour. See indigenousrocks.com.
Fiery 24th Street Wailers
The high-octane rockabilly and roots-rock of The 24th Street Wailers returns, fueled by fiery vocalist, drummer and songwriter Lindsay Beaver. This band throws down a hot sound that is equal parts Little Richard, Nick Curran and Wanda Jackson. Or, in their words, our “major influence? The sounds from the freewheeling period in the ‘40s and ‘50s when the Blues gave birth to Rock and Roll in black communities in major American cities. When showmanship mattered. When the sax player, not the guitarist, got the girls.” This Canadian band is a Juno award-nominee and an audience crowd-pleaser. If you like JD McPherson, Nikki Hill, The Paladins or Davina & The Vagabonds, you should check this group out. See the24thstreetwailers.com and catch them Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar and Thursday, Feb. 23, at The 21st Saloon, now rescheduled for Chrome Lounge. WRITER’S NOTE: The 21st Saloon show has been moved to Chrome Lounge. Both shows are 6-9 p.m.
Nick, Lil’ Ed & Selwyn
Other Omaha-Lincoln dates to watch out for include the Nick Schnebelen Band at The Zoo Bar Wednesday, Feb. 15, and Chrome Lounge Thursday, Feb. 16. Both shows are 6-9 p.m. Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials also have two local shows in February. MOJO magazine included the new CD, The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials (Alligator), in their influential Top Ten Best Blues Albums Of 2016. Ed and the boys have been making music together for over 25 years and bring their boisterous celebration of straight-up Chicago blues to Chrome Lounge Thursday, Feb. 16, 6-9 p.m. and to The Zoo Bar Friday, Feb. 17, 5-7 p.m.
Rising blues star Selwyn Birchwood is an Alligator recording artist who has taken home the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist and before that won the 2013 International Blues Challenge. Birchwood plays Omaha, Feb. 26, 6-9 p.m. for a Blues Society membership drive event. Birchwood’s show has been moved to Bogie’s West, 14334 U St. in Millard. This is a great opportunity to support the local scene by becoming a new member of the BSO or renewing your membership. Members get into this show for $5. Non-members are welcome with a $15 cover charge. Look for details at Facebook.com/BluesSocietyOfOmaha or omahablues.com. He and his band hit The Zoo Bar Wednesday, March 1, 6-9 p.m.
21st Saloon Closes, Chrome Lounge Steps Up
WRITER’S DIGITAL UPDATE: If you missed the announcement on Jan. 31. The 21st Saloon closed its doors on Monday, Jan. 30. The venue did a great job of following in the tradition of former BSO President and venue owner Terry O’Halloran under the management of Scott Kirk. Kirk did a great job of supporting the touring blues shows and working on building a home for local artists. While blues shows were generally profitable, the venue struggled on other nights of the week. It’s unfortunate to see a venue where the folks are passionate about live music close. Comments came in from blues musicians around the country expressing their sadness at the venue’s closing and their appreciation for Kirk and his staff, who gave both the touring musicians and the local blues community a home.
A number of venues have stepped forward to talk to the BSO about relocating shows that were planned for The 21st Saloon. For February and March, the BSO has reached an agreement with Chrome Lounge, 8552 Park Dr., just southwest of 84th & Q. The popular Thursday blues series will continue at Chrome Lounge at least through the end of February, 6-9 p.m. with food catered in for purchase. The new arrangement also means that the BSO is taking the financial risk on the booking of bands. The stop-gap plan took effect with the 2016 BMA Nominee For Best New CD by a New Artist, Slam Allen, whose show, Thursday, Feb. 2, 6-9 p.m. brought a packed house to Chrome Lounge. Also moving to Chrome were K.C.’s Nace Brothers Saturday, Feb. 4, 8-11 p.m., the Zac Harmon Band Thursday, Feb. 9, 6-9 p.m.
Rising Memphis guitar star Jeff Jensen and his band perform Saturday, Feb. 25, with a 5-8 p.m. showtime.
Chrome Lounge has a raised stage, a large dance floor and good sight lines. In an open letter on Facebook, BSO President Mark Grubbs stated “The Blues Society will forever be grateful to Scott Kirk and his staff for hanging on as long as possible and giving us our weekly dose of the blues we so love. Chrome Lounge has agreed to help us honor most of our bookings thru the end of March. Rod, Clarise, and their son Randy, have opened their arms along with their doors to try to make us as comfortable as possible during this transition. All in all, our first couple shows there have been very well received and everyone enjoyed the experience along with two great bands.”
Please keep an eye on Facebook.com/BluesSocietyOfOmaha for updates on the Thursday blues series and on other previously booked shows at The 21st being re-scheduled by the BSO.
Winter Blues Road Trip
The Central Iowa Blues Society’s annual Winter Blues Fest in Des Moines offers what may be their best line-up ever. The multi-band event features multiple stages at the downtown Des Moines Marriott. Performers include local favorites Davina & The Vagabonds, Brandon Santini, Scottie Miller Band, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Toronzo Cannon and the Blues Society of Omaha’s 2017 International Blues Challenge representatives the Tim Budig Band plus ten more bands. See cibs.org/2016/10/2017-winter-blues-fest for prices and details. Advance tickets are highly recommended. Regular attendees say that the hotel rooms are already sold out for the event, but downtown Des Moines has a variety of hotel options event-goers can look into for reservations.
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal play their last local gigs for a few months with two shows, Sunday, Feb. 19, 5 p.m., at Fremont’s Corner Bar and Friday, Feb. 24, 9 p.m. at The Zoo Bar. The band heads to Europe in March for a month-long series of dates in Germany, France, Belgium and Spain.
Don’t forget the 11th annual Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards take place Sunday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m. at a new location, the Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St. in North Downtown. An after-party will follow at The Slowdown. Tickets are available at oea-awards.org.
Spectacular vocalist Valerie June and her “eclectic blend of folk and soul and country and R&B and blues” takes the stage at The Waiting Room Friday, Feb. 24, 9 p.m. The Waiting Room also hosts Lucero and Esmé Patterson March 2.
Mark your calendar now for Austin’s funk-and-soul-influenced Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears Tuesday, March 7, at The Waiting Room. Sunday Roadhouse presents Lake Street Dive at Slowdown Tuesday, March 7, 8 p.m. See sundayroadhouse.com.
WRITER’S NOTE: THIS DIGITAL VERSION OF THE FEBRUARY PRINT COLUMN WAS UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2017, TO REFLECT THE CLOSING OF THE 21ST SALOON, WHICH HAPPENED MONDAY, JAN. 30. -B.J. Huchtemann