The New Year starts off with great options for high-octane live music. Texas-born guitarist Hadden Sayers released Hard Dollar in 2011 to lots of rave reviews and solid airplay on Americana and blues radio. The disc is an excellent mix of blues-rock and roadhouse blues and Sayers’ song “Back to the Blues” has garnered a Song of the Year nomination in the Blues Music Awards. Sayers rich vocals and fine songwriting plus his excellent guitar work make him a triple-threat. He’s been in the business since he was a teen. After some time off that included work as a guitarist with Ruthie Foster, Sayers has returned to the blues scene with renewed focus and richer depth to his sound. See haddensayers.com. Sayers plays Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Wednesday, Jan. 4, 6-9 p.m. and he hits the stage at The 21st Saloon Thursday, Jan. 5, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Moreland & Arbuckle
Touring in support of Just a Dream (Telarc), Moreland & Arbuckle are Midwest guys who got their start when they met up at a jam in Wichita, Kan., in 2001. After three independent releases their career went into high gear with their 2010 release on Telarc, Flood, and a tour schedule that’s put them on the bill with artists from Robert Cray and Buddy Guy to ZZ Top and Los Lonely Boys. They’ve gotten excellent reviews from publications including Guitar World and Paste. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observes, “They sound both old and new at the same time.” The band’s mix of raw Delta blues influences and jam-band sensibilities means they appeal to hardcore blues fans and twenty-something jam-band followers. Check them out at morelandarbuckle.com. The band plays the Zoo Bar Wednesday, Jan. 11, 6-9 p.m. and rocks The 21st Saloon on Thursday, Jan. 12, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
The rest of The 21st Saloon schedule includes more guitar- powered blues-rock with Hamilton Loomis on Thursday, Jan. 19, and Blues Music Award winner Mike Zito on Thursday, Jan. 26. Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials bring their hard-charging Chicago blues to The 21st Saloon on Thursday, Feb. 2. Blind Pig guitarist Popa Chubby is at the Holland Performing Arts Center’s 1200 Club Saturday, Jan. 21. See omahaperformingarts.org.
The Travelling Mercies are joined by Blacktop Ramblers and The Electroliners at Waiting Room for a cool roots show Friday, Jan. 13. The Blues Society of Omaha maintains a comprehensive free listing of local shows. Visit omahablues.com.