Kris Lager tonight, and some thoughts on The Jewell…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:46 pm December 4, 2019

Kris Lager plays solo tonight at The Jewell.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ve been told by a couple music folks (and have read on Facebook) that The Jewell is hands-down the best live music venue in Omaha. I couldn’t tell you if I agree having never stepped foot in the joint.

The Jewell originally was marketed as a live dinner/music-venue with a jazz focus, and many acts initially booked were jazz-oriented. But there have been exceptions, such as tonight’s Kris Lager solo show at 6:30 (tix are $15). Lager has generated a large local following for his style of feel-good blues rock. His Spotify bio, for example, shows he has 1,161 monthly listeners, most of them located in Omaha and the Midwest, though Lager tours his ass off.

It’s a smart booking for Jewell, along with upcoming dates by Cubby Philips Trio, Hector Anchondo Band, The Confidentials, Blues Society of Omaha gigs and various holiday shows that appear to reach for a different audience than is typically attracted to jazz fare.

That said, I’m still waiting for The Jewell to book one of Omaha’s premier indie / punk bands (and if you’re wondering who I’m talking about, you never read this blog, but here’s the list for 2019). One assumes these bands have never been considered for the Jewell stage because, well, they’re indie/punk bands. And while blues ain’t jazz, you could argue that there’s an overlap in those two genres’ perceived audiences.

That said, considering that the club is booked kind of like a dinner-theater — with ticketed calendar events where you get in, order dinner, watch the act and leave — there’s no reason why they couldn’t book any genre of music or performer — i.e., it’s not a hang-out jazz club where patrons show up expecting jazz five nights a week. You go to see the band you bought tickets to see.

If they’re willing to book Anchondo and Kris Lager, they certainly could book David Nance Band, Thick Paint, See Through Dresses or any of the Saddle Creek Records stable. I guess the question is whether those bands’ followers would show up and order dinner instead of just soak themselves in PBR. In that way The Jewell seems designed for old(er) people, the kind you see leaning over a king-cut prime rib at Anthony’s.

And you could argue that indie bands already have plenty of quality venues to play at — The Slowdown, The Waiting Room, Reverb Lounge, not to mention smaller clubs like O’Leaver’s, The Sydney and The Brothers. (But for those of you wondering whether those bands would play at The Jewell in the first place, the answer is yes they would, if the money’s right).

I guess I’ll just have to keep on waiting for the right moment to finally experience The Jewell. In the meantime, tickets to Kamasi Washington — arguably one of the most influential new jazz voices and (one would assume) a perfect fit for The Jewell — go on sale Friday at The Slowdown…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.