Playing With Fire concert series founder Jeff Davis phoned this past week to update me on the series’ future for 2011. With the loss of a major sponsor, Davis has been wrestling with his decision on what to do for 2011. At one point he seemed ready to say the series was done, but he phoned with renewed energy in his voice. He is at work on plans to present one final show in 2011. Davis said he’s also holding out hope that he may be able to find some additional funding to make the finale a Friday and Saturday night event. If you’re someone with financial resources and an interest in the blues, now is the time to step up to the plate and see how you can help support this final show. Find contact info at The Playing With Fire series has been a great, free event for the metro, bringing in a combination of high profile national touring acts and new talent Davis discovered at festivals in Canada and Europe. The Reader has been the print sponsor for the Playing With Fire concert series for the past few years. Davis gave the Hoodoo column the exclusive on this announcement of his 2011 plans. Thursday Blues Series on the Move Meanwhile, The New Lift Lounge is officially sold. Lift owner Terry O’Halloran announced the sale on Facebook last week. O’Halloran wrote, “After 28-plus years, it appears the sale of my last bar is going to happen within two weeks. Very, very mixed emotions. Planning a last show on Sunday, Jan.16 … and last night reunion party on Tuesday, Jan. 18.” The final Thursday blues show at The New Lift will likely be The Insomniacs show Thursday, Jan. 13. The Insomniacs are an award-winning jump-blues band from the Pacific Northwest. Via subsequent emails, O’Halloran, who is also the Blues Society of Omaha president, says he is in discussions with several venues and is committed to finding a new club to take over the Thursday early blues series. O’Halloran founded the 5:30 p.m. blues shows in the late 1990s at the 18th Amendment and has hosted the shows most recently at Murphy’s, now The New Lift. “New owners [of The Lift] are John Anderson and Chad Kelderman,” O’Halloran says, “They do not want to continue the weekly blues series, but are open to doing shows on occasion. Terry O’s Last Show is Sunday, Jan. 16, 5-10 p.m., acts TBA. Terry O’s last night will be a reunion of past employees and customers on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The location of the Hamilton Loomis show on Thursday, Jan. 20, and all future Blues Matinees, is TBA.” Wherever the shows land, O’Halloran will be turning them over to the new club. The new venue will certainly need the active, enthusiastic support of local blues fans to ensure these concerts continue. Translation: show up and bring some friends if you value these shows and want them to continue. The Thursday blues matinees have provided fans with weekly happy hour blues shows by some of the best artists on the national blues circuit. The series also provides those touring bands a much-needed, welcoming stop on national tours. Through those “28-plus” years as a venue owner, O’Halloran has been dedicated to treating the artists well and bringing audiences great music. Recognition of his efforts brought O’Halloran the 2007 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Promoter of the Year from the national Blues Foundation. That same year he was recognized by the OEAAs as Music Ambassador of the Year for his work with all genres. Upcoming shows O’Halloran has scheduled include The Lil’ Slim Blues Band opening for Washington state’s Randy Oxford Band Jan. 27 and the horn-driven swing of Davina & The Vagabonds Feb. 3. Keep an eye on for the final announcement about the location of the Hamilton Loomis show and the future of the blues series. So Long Scout The Benson neighborhood lost beloved cat Scout of local feline sibling duo Shooter and Scout, owned by a Benson resident. Scout was found dead Jan. 2 after being missing for several days. The cats were favorites at the Barley Street Tavern. Brad Hoshaw and Kyle Harvey have organized a memorial concert for Scout Friday, Jan. 14, at the Barley. Proceeds will be used for “Scout’s name to be engraved on a brick and installed on Nebraska Humane Society grounds.” All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Platte River Rain and Alex Diimig perform. Hot Notes The OK Sisters duo plays Havana Garage Friday, Jan 14, and the Heartland Cafe in Elkhorn Saturday, Jan 15, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, after 8 p.m. at Louis Bar in Benson there’s a great free show when The Traveling Mercies rev up their “roadhouse funk” opening for self-proclaimed “goo grass” performer George Burl. The award-winning Insomniacs also hit Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Wednesday, Jan. 19, 6-9 p.m.

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