Live music is coming back full force around the metro, with new announcements and schedule additions happily becoming regular occurrences. Here are some highlights.

Lincoln’s historic Zoo Bar has been hosting indoor shows again and has announced the return of its popular ZOOFEST anniversary celebration. This summer’s ZOOFEST moves to August, with outdoor shows recently announced for Thursday and Friday, Aug. 12-13, on 14th Street in front of the bar. Details on performers will be coming in the weeks ahead at zoobar.com and facebook.com/zoobarblues. You’ll also find the latest shows booked for the club on those sites.

Jazz on the Green is back in Omaha at Midtown Crossing. The longstanding free concert series kicks off July 8 with Sammy Figueroa Latin Jazz Ensemble. July 15 features Vincent Herring & The Celebration of Life Ensemble; July 22 puts the spotlight on Louisiana’s Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble; and July 29 showcases celebrated jazz saxophonist, songwriter and vocalist Curtis Stigers. The park opens for seating at 5 p.m., and pre-show music begins at 6:30 p.m. with the headliners going on at 7:30 p.m. Find all the details under the “events” menu on the Jazz on the Green tab at midtowncrossing.com.

Lincoln community radio station KZUM’s popular Stransky Park free concert series begins July 1 and continues on Thursdays, 7-9 p.m., for six weeks featuring a variety of genres. Check out the calendar at kzum.org.

Music for the City
Local promoter and Playing With Fire founder Jeff Davis continues his tradition of offering the community great live blues music in a new free series, Music for the City. While Playing With Fire had to go on hiatus this year due to circumstances beyond the organizer’s control, Music for the City is offering three free events this summer. The second show Saturday, July 24, puts the focus on female artists and soul-blues with Blues Music Award-winning vocalist and entertainer Annika Chambers
and friends. The friends performing include phenomenal roots violinist Anne Harris and San Francisco Bay area soul vocalist Terrie Odabi. The ensemble also includes guitarist J.P. Soars and frequent Playing With Fire performer, Canadian guitarist Paul DesLauriers. Opening the show is former Omahan Heather Newman and her band, following a solo set from Héctor Anchondo at 5:30 p.m. This will be a memorable night of world-class, award-winning artists. The event takes place at the Dam Bar on the River City Star landing. A third show is set for Saturday, Aug. 21. Gates at 1 p.m. See all the details at musicforthecity.net.

Happy 50th to Alligator
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Alligator Records, the Chicago blues label founded by Bruce Iglauer when he was a 23-year-old blues fan. After spending his savings recording his favorite blues band, Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers, Iglauer built Alligator into a label that has become a benchmark for traditional blues and for its more contemporary artists. The label has also stood the test of time while several other mid-sized blues labels have closed their doors. Alligator Records-50 Years of Houserockin’ Music dropped June 18 and features 58 artists from Hound Dog Taylor, Koko Taylor, Professor Longhair, Johnny Winter and Albert Collins to Luther Allison, Tommy Castro, Janiva Magness, Shemekia Copeland, Curtis Salgado, Toronzo Cannon and more. The three-CD set also includes a 40-page color booklet. For more on Iglauer and the Alligator story, fans can check out Bitten by the Blues: The Alligator Records Story (2018) written by Iglauer and Patrick A. Roberts. Visit alligator.com to find out more about the anniversary anthology, the book and the latest Alligator releases.

Hot Notes
Steve Earle plays The Waiting Room Thursday, July 8, 8 p.m. Extremely talented duo The Mastersons, who are also members of Earle’s band, The Dukes, open. See onepercentproductions.com.

The BSO Presents shows are happening in different venues around town. Check omahablues.com and facebook.com/bluessocietyofomaha for current and late-breaking bookings. BSO highlights include a special free show on Saturday, July 10, at Rathskeller Bier Haus with Matt Cox, Matt Woods and Dustin Arbuckle.

Chicago’s top-flight guitarist-singer-songwriter and harmonica player Studebaker John & The Hawks are back at the B. Bar for a 5:30 p.m. show Friday, July 16.
Soulful Memphis band Southern Avenue plays a double-bill with Kris Lager Band at the ongoing Holland Center Outdoors series Saturday, July 24, 7-10 p.m. See ticketomaha.com for tickets.

Mark your calendar now for the In the Market for Blues festival Saturday, Aug. 7, in the Old Market. The multi-venue event offers 14 hours of live music at 14 venues and is a collaboration between founder Héctor Anchondo and the Blues Society of Omaha, assisted by sponsors, volunteers and a growing number of venues. Popular blues-rock guitarist Ana Popovic was recently announced as the headlining artist. Advance tickets are $20 on eventbrite.com until Aug. 6 when the cost will go to $25. Follow facebook.com/inthemarketforblues for details and updates.

Annika Chambers Courtesy Annika Chambers Music
Annika Chambers, 2019 Blues Music Award winner for “Soul Blues Female Artist,” headlines a dazzling array of blues talent at the free Music for the City show Saturday, July 24, at the Dam Bar at the River City Star. Photo courtesy Annika Chambers Music.

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