Monstrous Music Choices

October is about more than booos with great music offerings from the Nebraska Blues Challenge to the return of acts including The Golden State-Lone Star Revue, Billy Bacon and Popa Chubby plus new artists like Toronzo Cannon, Lilly Hiatt and the performance of two American masters, Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples.


BSO Presents and Chrome Lounge shows of note start off with this year’s Nebraska Blues Challenge, which will select one band to represent the Blues Society of Omaha at the prestigious International Blues Challenge. The IBCs take place in Memphis in January 2018, sponsored by the Blues Foundation.

The Nebraska Blues Challenge is Sunday, Oct. 8, 4 p.m., at Chrome. Only four bands entered the open competition this year, so there were no preliminary rounds. Participants will play an approximate 45 minute set. Performers in order of appearance are Big Daddy Caleb & The Chargers, Steve Lovett Blues Band, Normal Blvd., and Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck Tardy. The winner as chosen by judges following the IBC criteria will represent the BSO in Memphis next January.

The Thursday early blues shows offer great touring acts including Mark Hummel’s Golden State – Lone Star Revue Thursday, Oct. 12. The Revue now features guitarist Mike Keller from Doyle Bramhall, Marcia Ball and Fabulous Thunderbirds. Keller joints the original band members, the great Texas guitarist Anson Funderburgh and the rhythm section of R.W. Grigsby and Wes Starr.

Dance-floor filling favorites The Bel Airs are up Thursday, Oct. 19. The Paul Nelson Band performs Thursday, Oct. 26. Guitar World magazine says Grammy-winner Nelson has “chops deluxe.” Newly formed Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations make their Omaha debut Thursday, Nov. 2. The band is lead by Kansas-bred Arbuckle, formerly of the disbanded Moreland & Arbuckle. Expect music that is still rooted in the blues but influenced by other American musical styles. All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m.

Toronzo Cannon Ignites

There is a special show on Saturday, Oct. 21, 6-9 p.m., at Chrome to accommodate the bus-driving bluesman, Toronzo Cannon. Cannon is an engaging showman and a rising star on the national blues scene with a 2016 disc, The Chicago Way, out on Alligator records. The 49-year-old Cannon only tours on weekends because he still does his day job, working as a bus driver for Chicago Transit Authority. Mojo magazine named Cannon’s disc the #1 Best Blues Album of 2016 as did the Living Blues magazine’s annual reader’s poll. Cannon was also nominated for four 2017 Blues Music Awards. See toronzocannon.com.

Zoo Bar Blues

You can also catch guitarist Toronzo Cannon at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar on Friday, Oct. 20, 5-7 p.m. as part of his weekend tour. The literal five-star show of Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh, Mike Keller, R.W. Grigsby and Wes Starr and the Golden State – Lone Star Revue hits the Zoo Wednesday, Oct. 11, 6-9 p.m. See facebook.com/goldenstatelonestar.

Other highlights on the Zoo schedule include Texas’ roots musician Billy Bacon with his Nebraska band The Linkin’ Logs Thursday, Oct. 6, 6-9 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 7, 5-7 p.m. Bacon and company also play Saturday, Oct. 8, but it’s a Husker game day, so watch zoobar.com for the official show start time.

East Coast rock-blues guitarist Popa Chubby takes the Zoo Stage Tuesday, Oct. 10, 6-9 p.m. His new disc, Two Dogs, officially drops Nov. 3.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal play a double header, performing Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13-14, both shows start at 9 p.m. Mark Stuart & The Bastard Sons are back Wednesday, Oct. 18, 6-9 p.m. K.C.’s Nick Schnebelen plugs in Wednesday, Oct. 25, 6-9 p.m.

Chris Meck & The Guilty Birds

Guitar fans will want to give a listen to K.C.’s Chris Meck. His wife and musical partner Abigail Henderson lost a warrior’s battle with breast cancer, but before she passed, Henderson and Meck formed a foundation to help local musicians. See midwestmusicfoundation.org. After Henderson’s passing, he began writing songs and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds were born. The mix of driving rock, roots and soul in their debut disc has received airplay on more than 60 radio stations across North America and Europe. See chrismeckandtheguiltybirds.com and check them out at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Saturday, Oct. 21, 9 p.m.

Roadhouse Steps It Up

Curtis McMurtry, James’ son and an up and coming songwriter himself, performs Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. James McMurtry and his band will be up next month, Wednesday, November 15, 8 p.m. at Waiting Room.

The Sunday Roadhouse hosts a Canadian duo recognized with multiple prestigious award nominations in their own country, folk ukulele player Hill and classically trained cellist James Hill and Anne Janelle, Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m. at Reverb Lounge . See jameshillannejanelle.com. Check sundayroadhouse.com for more and also the coming November shows.

Hot Notes

Big Al’s Free Music Festival Food Drive happens Saturday, Oct. 7 at O’Leaver’s, 5 p.m. Look up the event on Facebook for details.

Bloodshot Records’ The Yawpers have been praised for their sound “full of fuzzy slide guitar with one ear towards 1970s rock and roll and another towards 1960s Delta blues.” Catch The Yawpers with the Filter Kings and Clarence Tilton Thursday, Nov. 2, 9 p.m., at O’Leaver’s.

Lilly Hiatt, daughter of John Hiatt, is making a name for herself as a singer-songwriter. She is scheduled for Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre Friday, Oct. 10. Gogol Bordello rock the Bourbon Theatre Saturday, Oct. 28. Regina Spektor plays Lincoln’s Rococo Theatre Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Two American masters Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples, are scheduled for CenturyLink Monday, Oct. 23.


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