July’s highlights include the Zoo Bar’s anniversary celebration and street festival plus the two-night double-header of Playing With Fire this year.

The Zoo Bar’s weeklong 44th Anniversary celebration will be well under way by the time you read this. The Lincoln bar again takes over 14th Street in front of the club to stage ZooFest, a street festival featuring top regional and national artists. Friday, July 7, The Bel Airs kick things off, 5 p.m., followed by The Paladins, 7 p.m., Grammy-winning Ruthie Foster Family Band, 9 p.m., and Chicago’s Sidewalk Chalk, 11 p.m. Saturday, July 8, a BluesEd youth band showcase happens 12-2:30 p.m., then the Mezcal Brothers hit, 3 p.m., followed by the excellent original blues-rock of Hadden Sayers Band, 5 p.m., the jump and swing of Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, 7 p.m., then Zoo Bar favorite and legendary blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite, 9 p.m. Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal close out the weekend with an 11 p.m. set. Advance tickets are available at etix.com and tickets can be purchased at the gate.

Other Zoo Bar highlights include Chris Meck & The Guilty Birds from K.C. Friday, July 14, 9 p.m. Zydeco with Chubby Carrier takes center stage Thursday, July 26, 6-9 p.m. The Norman Jackson Band, a 2016 IBC Finalist, performs Friday, July 28, 5 p.m., with roots artists The Black Lillies following, 9 p.m. James Armstrong is scheduled for Saturday, July 29, 6 p.m. Catch schedule updates at zoobar.com.

Playing With Fire

The Playing With Fire Concert series hits Midtown Crossing for two consecutive nights of free, world-class blues. Friday, July 14, gates open at 4:30 p.m. and music begins at 5:30 p.m. with BluesEd band Us & Them followed by Omaha’s own Domestic Blend and headliner Dawn Tyler Watson from Montreal. Watson is a returning artist at PWF and is the 2017 International Blues Challenge winner.

Saturday, July 15, gates open at 3 p.m. and music starts at 4:30 p.m. Get there on time to catch Tommy Castro & The Painkillers, who will perform immediately after BluesEd band five minute drive. Then it’s the return of the Ben Poole Band. Multiple British Blues Award winner Aynsley Lister headlines Saturday’s show. Poole is a rising star on the UK scene and Lister is an acclaimed player who promoter Jeff Davis is excited to bring to the U.S. for his only stateside performance. See playingwithfireomaha.net for details. See the profile on Davis in this issue for a look inside the PWF series.

BSO Presents

The BSO Presents series at Chrome Lounge continues with Little Mike & The Tornadoes Thursday, July 6. Coco Montoya performs a special Monday show July 10, Polly O’Keary & Rhythm Method take the stage Thursday, July 13. The Andy T Band with special guest Alabama Mike play a CD release show Thursday, July 20. Another special show happens Wednesday, July 26, with the Walter Trout Band. K.C.’s Brandon Miller Band opens. Advance tickets for the Trout show are available at eventbrite.com. All these shows are 6-9 p.m.

Hot Notes

Sunday Roadhouse presents acoustic bluesman Ray Bonneville Sunday, July 23, 5 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. Bonneville is an award-winning songwriter, singer and guitarist. He is the 2012 IBC solo/duo winner. See sundayroadhouse.com.

The Corner Bar in Fremont offers lots of great touring acts and early shows. Check out their event postings and find other calendar listings on the BSO’s page at omahablues.com.

2016 IBC band finalists the Norman Jackson Band have an Omaha show at Ozone Thursday, July 27.

Singer-songwriter Esmé Patterson plays Reverb Lounge Wednesday, July 12, 9 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now for Steve Earle & The Dukes with openers The Mastersons Tuesday, Aug. 8 at Slowdown. Acclaimed duo The Mastersons also perform as part of Earle’s band and are touring in support of their new disc, Transient Lullaby (Red House Records).

Mark your calendar now for Hector Anchondo, E3 Management and the Blues Society of Omaha’s third annual In the Market for Blues festival Saturday, Aug. 5, 3 p.m.-2 a.m. The event presents local and regional acts in multiple Old Market locations. Bookmark inthemarketforblues.com for the final announcement of artists and venues.

 Walter Trout plays a special BSO Presents show at Chrome Lounge Wednesday, July 26, 6-9 p.m. K.C.’s Brandon Miller Band opens. Photo by Austin Hargrave. 

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