Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summertime Blues Concerts, Festivals & More


Be sure to visit last week’s blog post (Friday, May 20, below) for a preview of Texas-born blues-rocker Hadden Sayers’ new CD Hard Dollar (Blue Corn Music) due out June 21. It’s Sayers’ best work and you can hear some of the tunes and check out two new videos at 

I promised readers of the print version of this week's Hoodoo some thoughts on the Red Sky Music Festival. With a rather ironic countdown clock running at the top of their web page, the Red Sky Music Festival is running behind the curve in terms of satisfying most local serious music fans. The inaugural event takes place July 18-23 in TD Ameritrade Park. 

Expectations were high among avid music aficionados that Live Nation, which puts on a stellar music event called Summerfest in Milwaukee, would follow the same approach in booking varied, interesting and even high-profile acts for Omaha’s Red Sky Music Festival. Live Nation said as much in the original announcements about the festival. With less than two months left until the event at T.D. Ameritrade Park, the headlining bookings offer no one really new or previously unseen in our

In the blues, R&B and roots genres, artists like Buddy Guy and George Clinton have already played the metro several times. Even for these announcements, the performance dates are still “TBA” on the site. Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers might be one of the few acts that have seldom played Omaha. His date is also “TBA” on the site. Other acts appearing include Kid Rock, Omaha homeboys 311, Sublime, Journey, Night Ranger and Jason Aldean. Rumors abounded this week that the Zac Brown Band, a country rock act, were also added, but they weren't on the official website until today, May 26.  It’s not clear if the festival is just taking a break from annoouncements or has made all their major ones. As some folks have pointed out in other places, anyone who is going to make plans to take off work or even travel for a festival is getting to the point where the Red Sky Music Festival won't even be on those fans radar.  

In addition the event is currently conducting “showcases” to select three to four local bands per day to appear on its stages. They’re calling it the Battle of the Local Bands, overlooking the fact that
some of the best local bands don’t think music is about competition. I really was excited about the prospects of this festival but, so far, haven’t seen a booking thatwill get me to fight the potential crowds and likely parking nightmares for the event. You can follow the latest news and see if anything strikes your fancy at

Playing With Fire
Meanwhile, many outdoor events bring blues and roots music to our area this summer. There is only one Playing With Fire concert on Omaha’s riverfront this summer, but it’s a big show. The event Saturday, July 16, features a band that’s crossed over to indie and rock popularity and been on “Austin City Limits.” The high-powered soul and funk of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings headlines the event. Austin powerhouse soul-blues vocalist Malford Milligan is the second national act on the bill. Omaha’s Brad Cordle Band opens the night. See for details.

Wine & Roots Music
The picturesque Soaring Wings Vineyard south of Springfield hosts their annual Wine & Blues Festival June 4, 5-9:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for those 21 and up, $10 for ages 12-20 and free for those under 12. The event will feature Elwin James & The Way Outs (5:30 p.m.), Kansas City’s Shannon & The Rhythm Kings (7 p.m.), and Iowa band The Candymakers (8:30 p.m.) They also offer live music on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. See for all the details.

Sugar Clay Winery in Thurman, Iowa, presents Winestock 2011 on Sunday, May 29. The Matt Cox Band headlines a day of music. Admission is $10. See

Davies Amphitheater Fundraiser Concerts

Playing With Fire founder Jeff Davis is working with the Davies Amphitheater in Glenwood, Iowa, to raise monies for further improvements on the facility. There will be three concerts this summer. Saturday, June 25, Carolyn Wonderland performs. Saturday, July 9, the featured artists are Dawn Tyler Watson, Paul Deslauriers and Trevor Finlay. (All seen previously in Playing With Fire concerts.) On Saturday, Aug. 13, Grammy-nominee Ruthie Foster takes the stage. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at For more information select the Glenwood header at

Road Trips

Sites such as can get you started on summer music road trips. The 15th annual Gladstone Summertime Bluesfest in north Kansas City at 76th & N. Troost June 10 and 11 offers a great line-up for nearly free. Parking is $5. Friday night’s acts are excellent with the Lionel Young Band opening for guitarists Stacy Mitchhart and Tab Benoit

See for details and the Saturday schedule.

The prestigious Chicago Blues Festival takes place June 10-12. This year the event commemorates Robert Johnson’s centennial. Main stage events include a celebration of Alligator Records 40th Anniversary. Visit for details.

Lincoln BBQ & Blues Fest

Closer to home there’s a lot going on including a special June 4 event in Lincoln. The second annual Lincoln BBQ & Blues Fest happens in the parking lot east of Famous Dave’s in Southpointe Pavillions at 27th Street and Pine Lake Road. Headlining the event is one of my favorite new bands, Davina & The Vagabonds from Minneapolis. Their jump-blues, swing and New Orleans-influenced jazz is old school and fresh at the same time. (Davina and her great band also play The 21st Saloon on Thursday, June 9!) Also performing at the Lincoln BBQ & Blues Fest are the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings and The Blues Orchestra featuring Honeyboy Turner. See

In The Clubs
The Zoo Bar hosts a special early show Tuesday, May 31, 6-9 p.m. with Vagabond Swing from Lafayette, La. The band mixes swing, gypsy jazz and Afro-beat sounds. See for the complete schedule. Remember the Zoo celebrates its 38th Anniversary July 5-9. The weekend outdoor stage will feature Dave Alvin on July 8 and Kelley Hunt on July 9.

The 21st Saloon presents the wildly popular Bel Airs on Thursday, May 26, at 5:30 p.m. Get ready to hit the dance floor for vintage R&B, New Orleans sounds, Delta blues and early rock ‘n’ roll from one of the great trios on the touring circuit. Kansas City’s Trampled Under Foot brings their family band blues to the 21st Thursday, June 2. They were recently featured on the cover of Blues Revue magazine and have a new CD out. See Trampled Under Foot also performs at the Zoo Bar on Wednesday, June 1, at 6 p.m.

Rockabilly Night takes over Gator O’Malley’s Thursday, May 26 with The Reckless Ones from Minneapolis headlining the free event. Music starts at 9 p.m.

Hot Notes
Be sure to see last week’s blog at (below) for the details on the Nebraska Blues Challenge finals. The Lil’ Slim Blues Band received the most votes from the judges and will represent the Blues Society of Omaha in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February 2011. Judges for the final round were Dan Cerveny (President of the Omaha Musicians Association), Joe Sherrick (President of the KC Blues Society) and Frank Hicks (owner of Knuckleheads Saloon in KC).

KIOS 91.5 FM will present an encore of the radio documentary “The Robert Johnson Centennial Celebration” Monday, May 30, at 2 p.m. The program airs as part of Mike Jacob’s “Blues In The Afternoon” program that is broadcast Mondays from 1-3 p.m.

Remember, when you can’t find the Hoodoo column in print, please look for me at

all material copyright B.J. Huchtemann 2011

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