Lash LaRue‘s annual Toy Drive for Pine Ridge events take place this month, benefiting the children and families of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The U.S. Census Bureau and BIA lists the Pine Ridge Reservation as the most poverty-stricken area in the United States.  

Saturday, Dec. 9, 8:30 p.m., the lineups at Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge perform to raise donations for this year’s holiday giving. Performing at Waiting Room are Jump the Tiger, Matt Cox, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, 24 Hour Cardlock and King of the Tramps. Around the corner at Reverb Lounge, Korey Anderson, John Henry, Vox Combo and Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns are playing. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy for admission to one venue. For admission to both venues, give a toy donation at each club or a $15 donation.

Meanwhile downtown at Harney Street Tavern, Big Daddy Caleb & The Chargers from Lincoln host another Toy Drive event Saturday, Dec. 9, 9 p.m. There is no admission charge but monetary donations and new, unwrapped toys will be accepted. Big Daddy Caleb is also donating half of the band’s pay and half of merch sales that night.

The next morning, Sunday, Dec. 10, 9 am-noon, the Toy Drive stays in Benson for a special collaboration between Rick Galusha‘s “PS Blues” radio program and Reverb Lounge. I’ll be joining Galusha, Lash and our special guests at the Reverb where we’ll be broadcasting live music along with information about the Toy Drive for Pine Ridge. The list of artists performing is too long to include here. The live performances will be broadcast on 89.7 The River.

Sunday, Dec. 10, The Blues Society of Omaha hosts their annual fundraiser for the Toy Drive. Performing are Working Man’s Band, Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns, Sailing in Soup and the Hector Anchondo Band with special guest Neil Johnsen. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy. Doors open at 2, music starts at 3 p.m.

The Toy Drive for Pine Ridge is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by Lash LaRue, aka Larry Dunn. The Toy Drive collects and delivers toys for children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It also accepts monetary donations for emergency heating, clothing, food, and educational resources for reservation residents in need. For more information visit or

Nebraska Funk & Soul Alliance

The spirit of giving continues Saturday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.-2 a.m., in Lincoln when Josh Hoyer hosts his second annual Nebraska Funk & Soul Alliance. All proceeds will benefit eight charities helping at-risk youth in Lincoln and Omaha. A $20 minimum donation gets you admission to 1867 Bar, Bodega’s Alley, Bourbon Theatre, Duffy’s Tavern and the Zoo Bar featuring over 30 local musicians, bands and DJs. For details search for the 2017 NE Funk & Soul Alliance event page on Facebook.

Hoyer also has two local appearances with his band Soul Colossal. Catch them in Omaha Wednesday, Dec. 27, at Slowdown and Friday, Dec. 29, at the Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln.

BSO Presents at Chrome

The BSO Presents blues series at Chrome Lounge includes guitarist Mike Zito Thursday, Dec. 7. U.K.-born and Chicago-based, Billboard-charting guitarist Davy Knowles hits the stage Thursday, Dec. 14. Get in the Christmas spirit with the Rev. Jimmie Bratcher‘s “Man, It’s Christmas” show Thursday, Dec. 21. See Chicago’s Mississippi Heat brings their Windy City blues to Chrome Thursday, Dec. 28. All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m.

For those who want to avoid the late-night New Year’s Eve crowds but still get festive, the BSO Presents Sailing in Soup at Chrome Lounge, 5-8 p.m., Dec. 31.

BluesEd band The Redwoods are participating in the Blues Foundation’s Youth Showcase that is part of January’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis. A fundraiser for The Redwoods’ travel expenses takes place Saturday, Dec. 30, 6 p.m., at Chrome Lounge. Bucky McCann and John Crews open with a duo set.

Keeping the Blues Alive in Omaha

The Blues Society of Omaha and the BluesEd youth performance program are the recipients of a 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. The award will be presented at a luncheon in Memphis on January 19 during the International Blues Challenge events. BluesEd is also presenting an official workshop for attendees about the program. See and for details.

The Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck are winners of this year’s Nebraska Blues Challenge and will represent the BSO during the International Blues Challenge Jan. 17-20 in Memphis. Their send-off party is Thursday, Jan. 4, at Chrome Lounge with special guests Tony Meza Band and Billy Bacon.

Zoo Bar

Zoo Bar highlights include Mike Zito Friday, Dec. 8, 5 p.m. and Indigenous Saturday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m. Davy Knowles plays Wednesday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m. The Wondermonds heat things up Friday, Dec. 22, 5-7 p.m. with Kris Lager Band plugging in after 9 p.m. Mississippi Heat is the featured act Wednesday, Dec. 27, 6-9 p.m.  

Hot Notes

Indigenous performs at Waiting Room Sunday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.

Clarence Tilton, Sack of Lions and Matt Cox host the Coat Drive for Heart Ministry Dec. 19, 7 p.m., at Waiting Room. Admission is $8 or a new coat.

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