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Touring bands to return to Zoo Bar this weekend
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Touring bands to return to Zoo Bar this weekend

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Red Elvises

Russian folk and rock and roll band Igor & the Red Elvises, will return to the Zoo Bar on Saturday. 

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or On Twitter @KentWolgamott  


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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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