Notable high-profile June shows include Cajun blues-rocker Tab Benoit at Slowdown Thursday, June 10, 8 p.m. Featured with Benoit is the Whiskey Bayou Revue with rising guitar star Alastair Greene. Greene has had stints with The Alan Parsons Live Project and recently as part of Sugaray Rayford’s band. Remaining general admission tickets will only be sold on the day of the show, according to Slowdown’s website. For more information, see theslowdown.com/tab-benoit.

Meanwhile, Omaha’s own Matt Cox is releasing his latest CD under the rebranded band name of Matt Cox & The Marauders. The band still features Colin Duckworth, Jarron Storm, Craig Balderston and Kevin Lloyd. Let the Pigs Fly was recorded at Lincoln’s Fuse Recording studios with Charlie Johnson (of The Mezcal Brothers) at the soundboard. Cox plays Slowdown Friday, June 11, 8 p.m. for a CD release show with opening performances by Little Rooms and Midwest Dilemma.

Slowdown is presenting music this summer during the College World Series. Free shows will be happening on their outdoor stage daily from Friday, June 18, through Saturday, June 26. Roots fans will want to note the double bill of Kris Lager Band and Héctor Anchondo Band Thursday, June 24, 5:30 p.m. Find the full band list and the daily show times at theslowdown.com. Slowdown was recently recognized by Pitchfork magazine as one of the 36 best independent music venues in the country.

BSO Presents on the Move
The BSO Presents Thursday matinees are on the move and sometimes on hold to allow fans to support other shows happening in the metro, mentioned elsewhere in this column. Thursday, June 3, the music is at Stocks n Bonds with Gerard Delafose & The Zydeco Gators, continuing the family zydeco tradition. Swampboy Blues Band opens at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 17, 6-9 p.m., keyboard great Bruce Katz takes the stage at The Jewell. Katz is a go-to keyboard player. In addition to his solo work, he’s toured and performed with Gregg Allman’s band and Butch Trucks’ and the Freight Train Band. Katz has garnered seven nominations for the Blues Music Awards’ Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year award, including in 2020 for his piano album Solo Ride.

The Mezcal Brothers, a popular Lincoln rockabilly band and 2016 inductees into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame, shake things up Thursday, July 1, 7-11 p.m. at the River City Star’s Dam Grill and Bar on the Star’s landing.

Soaring Wings Blues Fest
Soaring Wings Winery, 17111 S. 138th St. near Springfield, brings in heavy-hitting Chicago blues guitarist and Alligator Records star Toronzo Cannon for their annual blues festival on June 5. Cannon performs at 8:30 p.m., Mississippi Heat plays at 7 p.m., Ninja Funk starts the show at 5:30 p.m. Adult admission is $30, ages 12-20 admission is $20, and tickets are available at etix.com and at the gate. See soaringwingswine.com.

PWF Launches Music for the City
Playing With Fire organizer Jeff Davis announced on May 6 that the Playing With Fire series for 2021 had to be cancelled “due to circumstances beyond our control.” Meanwhile, Davis is presenting several free shows at the River City Star’s Dam Grill and Bar space under the umbrella of Music for the City. The first free show is June 26 with headliner Indigenous, the Levi Platero Band and a solo opening set from Little Joe McCarthy. Watch for music start times and additional details, including the July 24 show featuring artists Annika Chambers, Anne Harris and Heather Newman, and the Aug. 21 date with Patrick Sweany Band, Terry Quiett Band and Hadden Sayers (solo) at musicforthecity.net and at facebook.com/playingwithfireomaha.

Hot Notes
Powerhouse singer-songwriter-guitarist and Kansas City native Samantha Fish plugs in at The Waiting Room Tuesday, June 15, 8 p.m. An early warning for iconic roots-rockers Steve Earle & The Dukes at The Waiting Room Thursday, July 8, 8 p.m. See onepercentproductions.com for ticket info and details.

The Jewell has many other cool shows coming in June, including Stan & The Chain Gang Friday, June 11, and K.C. blues vocalist and keyboard player Kelley Hunt Saturday, June 12. Jazz is up with The Lao Tizer Quintet featuring Eric Marienthal, Friday June 18. Big Wade & Black Swan Theory present A Juneteenth Celebration Saturday, June 19. All these events offer early and late shows. See jewellomaha.com/shows.

The Rev. Horton Heat / Dale Watson show is at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Tuesday, June 8, 6-9 p.m. and Wednesday, June 9, 8 p.m., at Barnato, 225 N. 170th St. Bruce Katz also plays the Zoo Bar Friday, June 18, 5-8 p.m.

Sunday Roadhouse concerts return with Taylor Scott Band scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 1, 5 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. See sundayroadhouse.com.

Héctor Anchondo is Back
After Héctor Anchondo won the career-making 2020 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in the Solo/Duo category and took home the Memphis Cigar Box Guitar Award for Best Guitarist in the same category, the pandemic shut everything down. In our September issue, we interviewed Anchondo about 2020, from the awards to flooding at the Council Bluffs lofts where Anchondo and his young family lived. They were left trying to salvage their belongings while losing most everything to water and mold damage. Anchondo and his wife, Jessica, invested in a used RV and took to the road with their two young children. They spent the winter in the Bradenton, Florida, area, where Anchondo said in an email interview he was “able to make ends meet.”

April 2021 found both Anchondo and his wife not feeling well. It turned out that the RV had developed mold in the Florida humidity. On April 27, as they returned to Omaha, Jessica Anchondo posted to Facebook that Anchondo had “multiple blood clots in his lungs.” Via email, Héctor Anchondo said that he and his doctors believe the mold may have contributed to the issue, but the blood clots were likely the result of long hours of driving with no breaks coupled with stress and dehydration.

Anchondo said a month later: “I’m feeling better than ever and taking my health back. I’m doing everything I can to get back to 100%. I will be able to keep touring but I need to change the way I have been doing it. I’ve always been extreme in my scheduling, because I’ve been doing it that way forever, but I’m realizing now that it’s not good to drive like that…I just wasn’t listening to my body…I was worried that my tour days are over but my tour days are just growing up.”  

The Anchondo family is now living in an apartment in Council Bluffs.

“[We are] so happy to be back home and to see our friends. Friends and family are everything,” he said, adding, “I love my family and even during the hard times I want them to know that we can still enjoy life and the best times are yet to come…I believe the hard parts of life are just part of the journey and you learn so much from them.”

Some of Anchondo’s recent high points include building up 17,000 followers on TikTok while playing both old blues and originals. That growth, he said, has helped increase his Spotify followers. Anchondo said he hopes fans will help him keep growing his TikTok, @HectorAnchondo. And he has a deal to release his upcoming acoustic CD, Let Loose Those Chains, on VizzTone Records, hoping for an August release. 

Keep up with the latest on the new record and performances at hectoranchondo.com and on social media, including TikTok.

Héctor Anchondo by Arron V at Bunker Bomb Studios
Héctor Anchondo has survived the pandemic while building up an impressive TikTok fan base, reprioritizing his health and working on a new CD release.

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