For live music fans, there are increasing opportunities to get out and enjoy live music while continuing to observe COVID-19 safety guidelines as those may evolve.
I attended my first in-person live music show in more than a year, staking out my favorite corner by the stage at the historic Zoo Bar for Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal’s CD release event in mid-April. I wasn’t prepared for how much emotion welled up being able to be back in my favorite soulful venue with such soulful sounds. So, wear your mask when you come out, get vaccinated when you can, and let’s get the music scene back on track with purpose and care.
The Blues Society of Omaha’s BSO Presents series continues in May with bookings that include a special show Thursday, May 27, at Falconwood Park. The BSO is a sponsor of Leftover Salmon with Aaron Kamm & The One Drops at Falconwood Park. It is a socially distanced outdoor event with pod seating for groups of four, six or eight people. Gate opens at 6 p.m. and show time is at 7 p.m. Find additional event rules and details along with ticket info at falconwoodpark.com and omahablues.com.
The rest of the BSO Presents schedule for Thursdays is happening at Stocks ‘n’ Bonds. They kick off the month of May with an all-star show Thursday, May 6, at 6 p.m. Mike Zito & His Big Blues Band features special guests Albert Castiglia and Joanna Connor, who will definitely bring extra blues guitar power to the stage. Castiglia spent many years as the guitarist for the great Junior Wells before stepping out on his own. Connor is a Chicago-based guitar star who has been a force on the blues scene for decades. Advance tickets are available at eventbrite.com.
Thursday, May 13, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal take the stage at Stocks ‘n’ Bonds, 6 p.m., with a show featuring music from their new Color Red label CD release, Natural Born Hustler. This is a rising local band with tours of Spain and Japan on the horizon, so don’t miss out. Hoyer was recently recognized for his work with an invitation to join the “Hammond Family of Artists” by the maker of the classic Hammond Organ. Look up the details at hammondorganco.com/artists under The Hammond Family tab.
Thursday, May 20, 6 p.m., the BSO hosts a showcase of Omaha and K.C. guitarists with Kris Lager from Omaha and Nick Schnebelen and Brandon Hudspeth from Kansas City performing. Other special guests are expected to perform. Watch for more details on this show at facebook.com/bluessocietyofomaha.
Thursday, June 3, Gerard Delafose & the Zydeco Gators are scheduled.
Sunday, May 30, 3-10 p.m., the BSO hosts their annual Memorial Day Eve event at the Dam Grill & Bar on the landing at the River City Star. Dynamite Grammy nominee Danielle Nicole and her band will take the stage along with the Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck plus special performances by the new BluesEd program students.
Zoo Bar Blues
Lincoln’s historic Zoo Bar is getting back to the live blues business with shows being added to the schedule, including the return of Chicago’s Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8 at 5 p.m. Watch zoobar.com and facebook.com/zoobarblues for late-breaking shows and schedule updates. The club also hosts a very special show with Rev. Horton Heat and Dale Watson Tuesday, June 8, 6 p.m. Advance tickets are recommended and available at etix.com.
Buck’s in Venice
If you aren’t already aware of this real-deal honky-tonk on the scene, Buck’s in nearby Venice, 27849 West Center Road, has been building its own tradition of presenting high-quality music. Buck’s survived the flood of 2019. The club then had to weather the pandemic, first by focusing on their carryout food, then with a slow return to dining in and great music bookings. Buck Bennett has the right talent radar and connections to make Buck’s the sort of place where you’ll find up-and-coming country and occasional blues artists who are stars in the making, on their way to big stages. Texas singer-songwriter Paul Cauthen, who was hitting major festivals before the pandemic, plays a series of shows Thursday, May 6, through Sunday, May 9. Texas Monthly has said Cauthen “sound[s] like the Highwaymen all rolled into one: he’s got Willie’s phrasing, Johnny’s haggard quiver, Kristofferson’s knack for storytelling, and Waylon’s baritone.” The shows are selling out fast. Popular Austin singer-songwriter Sunny Sweeney is no stranger to Buck’s and returns Sunday, June 6, at 7 p.m.Buck’s has a new website to keep you up-to-date on what’s going on, check it out at bucksbarandgrill.com.
I’m finally in the happy position again of having more shows to talk about than I have space. Great shows are coming back to The Waiting Room, Slowdown and other rooms around the metro. Barnato in Village Pointe is also starting to book some interesting touring acts with a focus on country.
Cajun blues-rocker Tab Benoit makes a long-overdue visit to the metro with a show at Slowdown Thursday, June 10, at 8 p.m. featuring a rising guitarist on Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou label, Alastair Greene.
Rocky Athas plugs in Friday, May 7, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the B. Bar. Athas is an eight-year veteran of John Mayall’s band. Blues lovers know Mayall is a bandleader known for launching great guitarists from Eric Clapton and Walter Trout to Coco Montoya.
Watch Falconwood Park’s website for other concert announcements for 2021 at falconwoodpark.com.
Playing With Fire writer’s update: in an email on May 6, PWF organizers announced that the main series at The Capitol District has been cancelled for 2021. Organizers are working to move forward with a smaller, new free series called Music for the City. Find all the details at musicforthecity.net and playingwithfireomaha.net.
In the Market for Blues is also returning Saturday, August 7. Watch for event updates on the Blues Society of Omaha’s website and Facebook page.
Stir Concert Cove is back for summer of 2021 and adding more shows. Check out the events at facebook.com/stircove.