Thursday, June 23, 2011

New CDs Dropping & Outdoor Festivals Moving
by B.J. Huchtemann

In addition to outdoor festivals on the move to escape the rising Missouri River waters, lots of CDs are hitting the market, both local and national.

This week saw the release of Hadden Sayers' great new disc HARD DOLLAR. Sample about half the CD's tracks and see a couple of cool videos produced for the launch at I've been a fan for a long time, but I think this is Sayers' best release to date. His guitar playing is stellar but he can keep it in the pocket too, so that when he lets loose with a guitar solo you are reminded again that he's a fine player. There's beauty, muscle and heart in this recording: lots of excellent guitar solos here along with Sayers' emotive vocals fleshing out a collection of fine songs that he's spent the last few years crafting. The duet with Ruthie Foster on Sayers' own "Back To The Blues" is a love letter to the music that is pure perfection. Follow Hadden Sayers Band on Facebook for notes from the road as Sayers puts some hard-touring behind the new disc. Here's Ruthie joining Hadden and his band to perform the tune at Sayers' SXSW showcase at Austin's Saxon Pub. This song deserves to be up for Blues Music Award for Song of the Year 2012. Dig:

Meanwhile another Hoodoo favorite, Dave Alvin, released his first studio recording in a few years this week. Titled ELEVEN ELEVEN, it's a cool collection of material in the sizzling, high-octane guitar-driven "loud folk" vein, as Alvin calls it, that has become his trademark. Highlights include a racous duet with brother Phil Alvin and also the inclusion of a duet with Dave Alvin's "other older brother" Chris Gaffney that was recorded prior to Gaffney's illness and death. "Two Lucky Bums" has previously only been available as an internet download. Omaha and Lincoln fans take note, Dave Alvin headlines the Friday, July 8, edition of the Zoo Bar 38th Anniversary Street Fest. See for more details and the full schedule. Dave's current touring line-up is a combination of former Guilty Men and Guilty Women...dubbed Dave Alvin and the Guilty for more. Check

Up and coming regional artist Davina & The Vagabonds also have their first national CD release, Black Cloud, hitting iTunes and select retailers this week. Check for details. Davina's sound is a keyboard and horn-driven mix of old-school early blues, jump-blues, swing and New Orleans' jazz. There's a poppy gloss overlaying some of the CD tracks that ought to make the band accessible to folks who favor more mainstream sounds. This band just makes me smile with their original songs and Davina's rich vocals at the heart of it all. She can purr, she can belt, and the band is always full of big fun. Look for them to return to the metro in September. Meanwhile, check out their first national release online.

Then there are some local musicians who are ramping up for CD releases around the July 4 holiday.  I've been a big fan of Matt Cox for the last few  years. He's grown from solo singer-songwriter to bandleader with a killer band that features some of the area's best players. He celebrates the CD release of Tracks in the Sound on Sunday, July 3, at The Waiting Room with special guests The Filter Kings & Lincoln rockabilly band The Mezcal Brothers. Tracks in the Sound was recorded in Lincoln at Fuse Recording with producer Charlie Johnson (Mezcal Brothers).  In press material announcing the CD release, Cox said of working at Fuse with Johnson, “(it) was incredibly smooth and the band was loose and on their game, I can’t wait for everyone to hear it."

The CD is beautifully arranged, recorded and mixed. It's an audio portrait of this great band's depth and musicianship with original tunes taken from some of Cox's best unrecorded work in their set lists for the past year or so. Cox has a rich, deep voice that is beyond his years. Likewise his songs have a sense of songcraft that skillfully reflects the best American folk-blues-rock-roots traditions of the last 100 years. If you like Dave Alvin's songwriting and musical sound, give our own Matt Cox a listen, I think you'll be surprised to find such a mature musician right in our midst. Check out  for more and mark your calendar for the July 3 CD release by one of the best musicians and bands in our area.

Meanwhile, Lincoln's Lil' Slim Blues Band won the first-ever Nebraska Blues Challenge and will be representing the Blues Society of Omaha in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next February. The band went into Fuse Recording with Charlie Johnson and put together their disc the old-fashioned way--playing hard and live to recording in just a couple of days. The result, Still in the Game, will be released with a Zoo Bar show on Saturday, July 3. Look the Lil' Slim Blues Band up on Facebook for more info.

Free Outdoor Blues at Aksarben
The Blues Society of Omaha teams with Stinson Park. 64 & Center at Aksarben for a blues festival this Saturday, June 25. Admission is FREE! Big James & The Chicago Playboys headline the event. Big James is a former member of both Buddy Guy's and Little Milton's bands and fronts a horn-driven unit that knows how to get the audience moving. The music begins at 4 p.m. with sets by two of this year's BluesEd youth bands: Mojo Bag and Us & Them. At 6 p.m. Lou DeLuca and The R&M Blues Band perform. Omaha's own horn-driven party blues band Blue House and The Rent to Own Horns take the stage at 7:15 p.m. Chicago favorite Big James & the Chicago Playboys close out the night. The BluesEd kids will be vending pop and water as a fundraiser for their program. The BSO will be selling the adult beverages with proceeds going to the Blues Society and efforts to continue bringing great blues to Omaha and keeping the blues alive. An after-party is scheduled at Mojo's barbeque across the street, with BSO member and music aficionado Glenn Bauer spinning blues on the sound system.

Missouri Up, Shows on the Move
Scroll back through this blog for further details on the shows moving to higher ground.
Playing With Fire is sticking to their Saturday, July16, date. The event is moving to Stinson Park at Aksarben Village. This will be a great night of music with the much-anticipated appearance of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings along with Austin's deeply soulful singer Malford Milligan and great soul, blues and R&B from The Brad Cordle Band. See for further details. Donations will be taken at the gate that will be shared between the Food Bank and PWF, be generous and keep in mind that it is costing a lot more for PWF to relocate to this new site.

Also the Riverfront Jazz & Blues festival isn't just moving but going indoors. They've announced the new site for their July 8 & 9 event is The Orpheum Theater. Details are forthcoming. Watch Friday night's schedule includes The Whispers,  soul sensation Dani Cleveland, Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Gerald Albright and Peter White; plus TIZER featuring Chieli Minucci, Karen Briggs & Lao Tizer. Saturday night offers Jonathan Butler, Eric Darrius, Maysa and Omaha's Grammy Award-winning Karrin Allison. Tickets are $38 per day or $60 for two days. Patron seating is $45 per night or $80 for both sessions. Ticket outlets include Homer's Music, Ticket Omaha and Love's Jazz & Arts Center or online at

The HULLABALOO Music and Camping Festival set for August 5th through the 7th has announced their move to the River West Park, 233rd & W Maple The event organized by Kris Lager Band and bassist Brandon Miller was originally scheduled for the Anchor Inn, which at last report was practically an island. Miller shared the new location on the event's Facebook page noting, "The land is ideal for a festival and I am very excited to have this as Hullabaloo's new home! Everything will remain the same as far as camping, bands, etc.. The Anchor is even going to be out there providing booze and their world famous Watermelons! It is going to be Anchor Inn West on the Elkhorn River for the weekend." 

The multi-band, three-day event will offer "live music from regional and national bands and DJs including Kris Lager Band, Spoonfed Tribe, Satchel Grande, Polydypsia, Funk Trek, Blue Martian Tribe, Sons of '76, Mooseknuckle, Ian Hilmer's Stagefright, Lil Slim Blues Band, We Be Lions, Cornerstone Dub, Midland Band, Mitch Gettman Band, Moscow Mule, Tempo, SFS, Matt Cox, Rock Paper Dynamite, Vinyl Haze, Banjo Loco, Orion Walsh, Edge Of Arbor, Tara Vaughan, Strange Pleasures, Stonebelly, Weeping Figs, Vago, DJ D1, DJ Relic, and Jonra Blender Palette!
Oma Hoop providing free morning hoop classes!Tickets are available now on for $30! That is only $1 per band! Price increase on July 1!"

And speaking of Dave Alvin and American's a little something from an off-the-cuff Blasters reunion in a little LA bar to send you on your way.

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