In this season of light and dark, bringing the light are many great artists including Hoodoo favorite Jon Dee Graham, who plays Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Tuesday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m. Graham is touring in support of his newest release, Knoxville Skyline. Lonestarmusicmagazine.com says Graham “has always been at his best when he sings of hope, strong hearts and the majesty of love. It’s a truism proven once again on Knoxville Skyline, a disarmingly sweet and unabashedly sentimental” collection of songs. There is nothing better or more hope-filled than Graham delivering his music live from the stage. Catch him in an intimate performance at one of his favorite touring venues, Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. See jondeegraham.com.
Toy Drive for Pine Ridge
There are lots of folks in our music community teaming up togive to others this holiday season. Lash LaRue’s annual Toy Drive for Pine Ridge has been giving toys and holiday hope to the children and families on the Pine Ridge Reservation since 2003. The Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest zip codes in the U.S. To learn more visit toydriveforpineridge.org. I’ll be joining LaRue on Rick Galusha’s “P.S. Blues” radio program on 89.7 The River Sunday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Toy Drive events are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m-1 a.m., at Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge and Sunday, Dec. 4, at The 21st Saloon.
Visit the webpage for the complete artist lineup. Admission to the Benson events is $10 or a new unwrapped toy for one venue or $15 or two unwrapped toys for admission to both.
Sunday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m., the Blues Society of Omaha hosts their holiday party and benefit for the Toy Drive at the 21st Saloon. Performing are Little Joe McCarthy, Big Daddy Caleb & The Chargers, Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns and Hector Anchondo Band. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy.
Josh Hoyer has organized the first annual Nebraska Funk & Soul Alliance for Saturday, December 10, in Lincoln to benefit eight Lincoln and Omaha youth charities. Over 30 bands and DJs perform in staggered sets at the Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern, Bodega’s Alley and 1867 from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. A minimum $10 donation purchases a wristband good for all venues. See the Facebook event for details, bands and the full schedule.
Keyboard Wizard Katz
Shows coming up in December include keyboard wizard Bruce Katz’s CD release shows for Out From The Center. Katz is a keyboard virtuoso who blends blues, jazz, boogie and New Orleans R&B for a rollicking good time. In addition to his solo work, Katz has toured with Gregg Allman, Delbert McClinton and John Hammond. This is a real don’t-miss artist whose talent and passion will please hard-core roots music fans and casual listeners. See brucekatzband.com. Local CD release parties are set at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Wednesday, Dec. 7, and at The 21st Saloon Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-9 p.m.
Added since the print deadline, a special show Thursday, Dec. 8, at Lincoln’s Bourbon theatre benefitting KZUM with Hoodoo favorites Davina & The Vagabonds plus Emily Bass & The Near Miracle and The Inbetweens. The show is presented by KZUM and KZUM’s “X-Rated Women in Music” program. See all the details at the Facebook event page. Davina & The Vagabonds are making a name for themselves in the U.S. and Europe with prestigious gigs like the Monterey Jazz Festival bringing them back for return engagements. They call their music a “new spin on and old sound” and Davina and her horn-driven band bring joy to the stage with their sassy keyboard and brass stylings on roots classics mixed with Davina’s own original songs. See davinaandthevagabonds.com.
In the Clubs
Local audience favorite Mike Zito also has a new studio recording just out, Make Blues Not War (Ruf Records). Zito is up Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-9 at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar and Saturday, Dec. 10, 8-11 at The 21st Saloon.
Other shows of note at The 21st include Anthony Gomes Dec. 3, Earl & Them with Earl Cate and Baby Jason Dec. 15, K.C. blues artists Lauren Anderson and Katy G & The Girls Dec. 17 and James Armstrong Dec. 22. Biscuit Miller & the Mix play Dec. 29. Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m., Saturday shows 8-11 p.m.
More big acts on the Zoo Bar’s schedule include Kelley Hunt Dec. 9, 5-7 p.m., Brave Combo Dec. 15, 6-9 p.m., Earl & Them Dec. 16, 5-7 p.m. and Dec 17, 6-9 p.m. and Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials Friday, Dec. 16, 9 p.m. James Armstrong plugs in Dec. 21, 6-9 p.m. and New Year’s Eve at the Zoo features the Tijuana Gigolos at 5 p.m. and Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal at 9 p.m. Watch zoobar.com for the latest updates.
Buck’s in Venice
Buck’s Bar & Grill in Venice, just west of Omaha at 27849 W Center Rd., has been bringing notable country and Americana acts to their stage for quite a while, but not seeing a lot of audience response. Remember venues need your participation to keep doing what they’re doing. Check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/bucks.barandgrill to see what they have going on. Upcoming events include Friday, Dec. 16, when they host Texas songwriters Sunny Sweeney and Brennen Leigh along with Courtney Patton and Jamie Lin Wilson. Sweeney’s tune “One More Christmas Beer” snagged a featured spot in Rolling Stone online. See sunnysweeney.com/about.
Other December events include Ned Ledoux Friday, Dec. 23, 9 p.m. See nedledoux.com.
They also have a New Year’s Eve party planned with Lincoln’s own Lloyd McCarter & his Honky Tonk Revival.
Other events looking to give back to the community include the ninth annual Frostival Dec. 17 at Slowdown with seven bands performing to benefit the Open Door Mission. The all-ages event begins with a DJ happy hour at 6. Admission is $10 with donation or $15 without. Donations requested are a new, unwrapped toy or 5 cans of food.
Coming Sunday, Dec. 18, at Waiting Room, Clarence Tilton, Sack of Lions and Matt Cox play an all-ages show to collect coats for Heart Ministry Center. Doors open at 6. Admission is $8 or a new coat.
Two-time country-Americana Grammy winner and charming performer, the great Jim Lauderdale, gigs at Sunday Roadhouse at Reverb Lounge Sunday, Dec. 4, 5 p.m. He’s tremendous, a don’t miss!
Catch Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal at O’Leaver’s Thursday, Dec. 15. Also if you are reading this in time, Hoyer has a solo gig at The Down Under Lounge, 3530 Leavenworth, Thursday, Dec. 1, 10:30 p.m.-midnight.
Alligator artists JJ Grey & Mofro are up at Slowdown Friday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m. with Parker Milsap opening. See the Slowdown website.