Earlier this summer former Zoo Bar owner Larry Boehmer found out he has stage four inoperable lung cancer. Boehmer has been enjoying retirement in Eureka Springs, Ark., for over 11 years. Lincoln’s Zoo Bar is now co-owned by older son Jeff Boehmer and longtime bar manager Pete Watters.
Larry Boehmer is a hero and a friend. All the years he booked the Zoo Bar, even before I really knew him, the music he brought to Lincoln changed my life.
When Larry received the cancer diagnosis, he led by example again. He threw himself an early birthday party and invited everyone to come. Daughter-in-law Eileen Boehmer arranged a bus trip from the Zoo to Eureka and 33 of us were on board. About 70 more folks came from Lincoln and beyond, according to the Lincoln Journal Star’s Catharine Huddle. She took down everyone’s name on an order pad at the Chelsea’s Pub & Cafe party where love for Boehmer overflowed. Read Huddle’s Aug. 17 article at journalstar.com.
Guests included Boehmer’s dear friend and blues legend Charlie Musselwhite and original Zoo co-owner Jim Ludwig. I could not agree more with Huddle’s assessment that Larry Boehmer’s Zoo Bar built not just a home for the blues, or a local hang out, but a family.
Via email after the emotional weekend, Boehmer wrote me, “It was really a high … just an unbelievable amount of positive energy. I’m battling the cancer as best I can. Would love to have another party next year but that decision is not in my hands. However with all the love and positive energy I’m feeling, I think there’s a chance I might be around a year from now. The party was simply amazing … It’s all life with high points and low points. But I’m typing this by an open upstairs window with a wonderful breeze coming in and a yard full of beautiful trees to look at. Life is good and I feel blessed.”
Sunday Roadhouses Not on Sunday
If you’re reading this on Wednesday, Aug. 24, check out Americana songwriter David Olney with Sergio Webb in a Wednesday Roadhouse. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Side Door Lounge.
The next Roadhouse presents Eilen Jewell on Friday, Sept. 9, at Slowdown. Tommy Womack is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept.. 13, at The Waiting Room. Hoodoo hero Jon Dee Graham is solo acoustic on Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Side Door Lounge. See sundayroadhouse.com.