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Eric Gales

Eric Gales will make his Zoo Bar debut Tuesday. 

Nicole Weingart

It’s a big week coming up at the Zoo Bar, starting with the return of Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks Sunday and ending Thursday with the first of three nights with Billy Bacon.

In between comes the return of soul singer Curtis Salgado, the guy who turned John Belushi into a Blues Brother, and, here’s the real news, the first Zoo appearance of Eric Gales.

A blues rock prodigy, Gales picked up the guitar at age 4, learning from his left-handed brother. So the right-handed Gales plays left-handed, the guitar upside down with the low E string on the bottom.

Signed to Elektra Records in 1990, at the tender age of 16, Gales battled addiction and logged a 2009 stint in jail for possession of drugs and a weapon. He immediately picked up the guitar and his career thereafter, and has now cranked out 17 albums, including the just-released “Middle of the Road.”

On the record, the smooth-voiced Gales and his band showcase their brand of blues rock, which incorporates lots of Jimi Hendrix style psychedelic guitar, while bringing in guests that include Lauryn Hill, Gary Clark Jr. and Raphael Saadiq -- evidence of the esteem in which Gales is held by his peers.

He gets rave reviews from Joe Bonamassa and Lincoln’s own Josh Hoyer as one of the best they’ve seen. That’s good enough for me to recommend checking out the 6 p.m. Tuesday show. Tickets are $12 and available at zoobar.com.

Josh Hoyer on ‘The Voice’

Speaking of Hoyer, the Lincoln soul singer made it through the blind auditions on “The Voice,” the NBC singing competition with a gritty, powerhouse rendition of the Chi-Lites “Oh Girl,” earning him a spot in the sing-offs that will begin soon.

Here’s how Billboard Magazine described Hoyer’s performance that got Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton to turn their chairs:

“Closing out night five of the Blind Auditions, bartender and musician Josh Hoyer came to 'The Voice' after some financial setbacks with his music career. He sang 'Oh Girl' by the Chi-Lites, and it was a really solid audition that led to another Shelton-Stefani faceoff. But this time, Shelton emerged victorious, swaying Hoyer over to Team Blake by playing the “winning team” card.”

Two more nights of blind auditions will air next week. The sing-offs will begin thereafter.

Tuesday’s show, on which Hoyer was the final competitor, was taped several weeks ago. Hoyer and his band Soul Colossal are currently on tour in Europe, communicating with folks back home via Facebook.

“Thank you all so much for the kindness and support!,” he posted Wednesday morning after hearing from dozens of friends and fans. “Please go like our band page so we can stay musically connected! You are all special. You are all beautiful. ... And, Big thank you to 'The Voice' for such a classy and respectful segment.”

Jamey Johnson at the Bourbon

Jamey Johnson returned to the Bourbon Theatre on March 3, bringing with him an 11-piece band -- with horns, keyboards and a percussionist -- and again proved that he’s the real deal, who could very well be the best country has to offer these days.

Playing for more than two hours with no setlist, Johnson and his talented collaborators moved from his songs -- “In Color” became a giant singalong that Johnson loved -- to covers of Merle Haggard and, instructively, The Band -- all delivered by today’s top country singer, whose baritone is sounding more and more like Haggard, with a bit of Willie Nelson thrown in here and there.

I can’t recall the last time I saw a country band as big as Johnson’s or with that instrumentation. But it called to mind some of the incarnations of Hag’s The Strangers and Willie’s The Family -- only with a lot of soul added, a la Sturgill Simpson.

The Bourbon was as crowded as I remember it being -- not that it admitted more folks than for the sold out Young The Giant show. But there were plenty of full-grown men and women who filled the place to the brim.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott is an entertainment reporter and columnist.

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