St. Louis bluesman Jeremiah Johnson will be at the Zoo Bar on Friday afternoon and Igor & the Red Elvises will take the club’s small stage Saturday.
In the before times, the two bands coming back to Lincoln wouldn’t be big news.
But, after a year of few shows and shuttered venues, it’s a weekend that will be remembered for the return of touring bands to the city’s longest-running music club and a mark of the resumption of something close to “normal” on the city’s music scene.
“We’ve been doing some local shows,” said Zoo Bar owner Pete Watters. “I didn’t expect touring bands to be first. People are starting to get comfortable with coming out, so I just thought it was time. I’m still kind of going light. But I consider this a pretty strong first step.”
The return of touring bands and of the Zoo’s seven-nights-a-week entertainment will be gradual — and by design.
Next weekend, it will have three nights of entertainment — Friday night Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal will play a show to celebrate the release of a new album, and Saturday local band Pitch Pipes. Sunday marks the return of Zoolarious, hosted by local comedian Brad Stewart, with comedian Dante Powell doing a set at 8 p.m.
That sort of booking schedule, with a couple bands a week and a Sunday night comedy show, is likely to continue through the spring.
“I’m pretty happy with having two a week instead of two a night for now,” Watters said. “It will pick up as it gets closer to the summer and more bands start coming out. But I’m not going to push it right now.”
Advance tickets for the Red Elvises’ 5 p.m. Saturday show are available at the Zoo. They’re $12; day-of-show cover charge will be $15.
The Royal Grove, which presented some shows during the pandemic, has also picked up its booking for the spring. It has a show or two scheduled each week through May.
Country outfit Jason Boland & The Stragglers, a Lincoln favorite, will play the Grove on Friday, while hip-hop’s King Iso will play the club on Cornhusker Highway on Saturday.
The Bourbon Theatre also has a few shows scattered through April and May, with a more regular calendar set for June. And Duffy’s Tavern plans to reopen around May 1 and begin offering music soon thereafter.
All of that points to a post-pandemic live music rebirth in the early summer that will also be seen at Pinewood Bowl, where concerts are likely to return in late May or June and really pick up in July and August.
The target month remains September for big-name indoor arena acts.
That was confirmed by week’s cancellation of the Maroon 5 Pinnacle Bank Arena concert that had been set for Aug. 11. The pop band scrubbed a Midwest run of indoor shows for a handful of outdoor concerts.
But the two country concerts set for the arena — Brantley Gilbert on Sept. 2 and Kane Brown on Sept. 17 — are, at least for now, expected to go on as scheduled. And more fall tours, which may or may not stop in Lincoln, are expected to be announced shortly.
Photos: The scene in Lincoln with much of city shut down
City Council distancing
Gameday empty Saturday
Thank you Bryan West
No fans allowed
Volleyball social distancing
Boo at the Zoo
Downtown mask art
Marching band competition
East Campus proposed budget cuts
No Football Saturday
UNL in-person class
Farmers Market influencers
Weeping Water vs. Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan
First day of middle school
First day of school
Pius X volleyball practice
City Council BLM protest
Rally and hearing
Lancaster County Super Fair
LPS board meeting
Meatpacking workers rally
Lincoln Northeast graduation
Gov. Ricketts address Legislature
Masked Archie the Mammoth
First Jury Trial in Four Months
Lincoln Community Playhouse
The Kindler Hotel
Garth Brooks Drive-In Concert
Urban Air Adventure Park
Gere Branch Library
Music on the Move
Bars Opening in Lincoln
LPS Teachers Retirement
Holmes Lake Manor Horse Visit
Lancaster County Courthouse
Church Social Distancing
Children of Smithfield
Parkview Christian Teacher Appreciation Day
Lincoln Christian 2020 Seniors
Test Nebraska site
Drive-Thru Career Fair
Center for People in Need food distribution
Masks For Truckers
Teacher and Staff Parade
Virtual City Council
Good Friday Music
Masks on a walk
Watch: A timelapse of the mural at Saro Cider
Watch: Hand sanitizer rolls off Innovation Campus assembly line
No fun here
Tower Square sign
WATCH: Celebrating a birthday with a parade
Simpsons in the windows
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing
UNL Beekeeping virtual class
Lincoln Lutheran Online Teaching
Blue for public health
Basketball without fans
Thanksgiving to go
Socially distant Santa
Christmas tree demand
Basketball fans reduced
Mike Hilgers at Legislature’s First Day
Zoo Bar membership
New high school
Biking in snow
Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @KentWolgamott