Soak It Up

Outdoor concerts and local club stages shine with musical talents ranging from Texas icons like Willie Nelson and Alejandro Escovedo to Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band, Drive-By Truckers, Mississippi Heat, Nathan & The Zydeco Cha-Chas, Samantha Fish, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials and more.


Outdoor opportunities to soak up live music really ramp up in June. Saturday, June 3, the 13th annual Soaring Wings blues fest begins at 4 p.m. with International Blues Challenge participants Tim Budig Band (Omaha), Frank Ace Band (Topeka) and Amanda Fish Band (K.C.) plus great Chicago blues from critically acclaimed headliners Mississippi Heat. See ticket and event details at soaringwingswine.com.

Sunday, June 4, the seventh annual Blues At Bel Air free family festival hits the Bel Air shopping plaza parking lot on the northwest side of 120th & Center. Music begins at 2 p.m. with Us & Them, followed by Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal (3-4:30 p.m.), Brad Cordle & The Mighty Jailbreakers (4:45-6:15 p.m.) and the boogie-blues sounds of The Bel Airs to close things out (6:30-8 p.m.). Food and beverage vendors will be on site. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Hope Center for Kids.

Summer Arts Fest Blues

The Summer Arts Festival, held downtown between the Old Market and the Gene Leahy Mall, always puts a welcome emphasis on blues and roots music. Artists performing this year in the World Music Pavilion on the Luigi Waites Main Stage include Louisiana siren Amanda Shaw (5 p.m.) and the New Orleans Suspects (7 p.m.) Friday, June 9. Then, Saturday, June 10, the artists performing include Dominique Morgan (12:30 p.m.), Omaha Street Percussion outreach performance (2 p.m.), Da Crabby Blues Band (3:30 p.m.), Rusty Wright Band (5 p.m.) and Gregg Wright (7 p.m.) Performers scheduled Sunday, June 11, include Luigi, Inc. (1:30 p.m.) and Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal (3 p.m.). See summerarts.org/music.

Midtown Crossing Zydeco Festival

It is great to see the return of what has been a somewhat secret gem, the Zydeco Festival at Midtown Crossing. This year boasts headliners Nathan & The Zydeco Cha-Chas, 9 p.m. Also putting down plenty of Louisiana dance beats are Major Handy (7:30-8:45 p.m.) plus Grammy nominee Cedric Watson with Desiree Champagne (6-7:15 p.m.) representing the next generation of musicians. Zydeco dancehall-circuit favorite John Wilson plays (4:30-5:45 p.m.). Omaha’s own Prairie Gators kick things off (3-4:15 p.m.). Mark your calendar for a great free celebration of Louisiana music and culture. Come ready to check out the food vendors. Bookmark facebook.com/midtowncrossingatturnerpark for updates on the Zydeco Festival Saturday, June 24, 3-10 p.m.

BSO Presents

The BSO Presents Thursday series continues at Chrome Lounge with Rev. Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys Thursday, June 1. Popular house-rocking, straight-up Chicago blues band Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials plug in Thursday, June 8. Ghost Town Blues Band performs Thursday, June 22. Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps play Thursday, June 29. All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m.

The BSO also hosts knockout K.C. guitarist-vocalist and songwriter Samantha Fish for a special show Monday, June 12, 6-9 p.m. at Omaha’s Bourbon Saloon, 311 S. 15th Street (above Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen). It’s a CD release stop for Fish’s highly-praised new Ruf Records’ release Chills & Fever. See omahablues.com for details on all the BSO Presents shows and a curated calendar of local roots concerts.

Zoo Bar Highlights

Notable shows on the Zoo Bar calendar for June include The Bel Airs Saturday, June 3, 6-9 p.m. Smokin’ and sweaty ockabilly and R&B from Nikki Hill and her great band hit the stage Wednesday, June 7. 6-9 p.m. Nuclear polka purveyors Brave Combo are up Saturday, June 10, 6-9 p.m. Samantha Fish plugs in Sunday, June 11, 5 p.m. Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band will fire up their high-octane blues Monday, June 26, 6-9 p.m. Tinsley Ellis rocks Tuesday, June 27, 6-9 p.m. Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps perform Friday, June 30, 9 p.m. Watch zoobar.com for late-breaking additions and the lineup for the indoor shows beginning July 3 that kick off the Zoo Bar’s 44th Anniversary.

Headliners for the 44th Anniversary outdoor stage feature fan favorites and the Zoo debut of Grammy winner Ruthie Foster. Friday, July 7, dancing in the streets will be ON with The Bel Airs, The Paladins, Ruthie Foster Family Band and Sidewalk Chalk. Saturday, July 8, enjoy the Mezcal Brothers, Hadden Sayers Band, Big Sand & His Fly-Rite Boys, Charlie Musselwhite and Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal.

Sour Mash Reunion

Lincoln roots music band Sour Mash was a popular fixture on the local music scene. Fans will want to make plans now to catch their two reunion shows. For details and tickets to the shows Friday, June 16, 5-7 p.m., at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar and Saturday, June 17, at Omaha’s Eagles Club, 24th & Douglas St. see sourmash.org.

Hot Notes

Don’t forget the Willie Nelson and friends show, including Dwight Yoakam, at Pinewood Bowl Wednesday, June 6. See pinewoodbowltheater.com.

One Percent Productions has some great roots shows coming up including legendary Austin roots-rocker Alejandro Escovedo Friday, June 9, Drive-By Truckers on Tuesday, June 13, and Yonder Mountain String Band Tuesday, June 20, all at Waiting Room. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit are at Sumtur Amphitheater Wednesday, July 5. See onepercentproductions.com.

The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln gets down with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Saturday, June 17. See bourbontheatre.com.

Lincoln’s Rococo Theatre presents Grammy-nominated blues vocalist Beth Hart Thursday, Sept. 21, see rococotheatre.com.  

Austin Roots Music Royalty, Alejandro Escovedo, Photo by Nancy Rankin Escovedo

Rockabilly Queen Nikki Hill. courtesy nikkihillmusic.com


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