Playing with Fire Concert moves west of Lewis & Clark Landing, biggest crowd ever expected; John Klemmensen and the Party tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:56 pm June 7, 2011
West of Lewis & Clark Landing.

West of Lewis & Clark Landing. "Stone icon" at top of path.

by Tim McMahan,

The ever-rising Missouri River is forcing a number of events slated for the Lewis and Clark Landing to move to higher, drier ground.

Among them is one of the best concert events of the summer — Playing with Fire. Slated for July 16 at the Landing, this year’s free concert features an absolute plum of a performer in Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings — a band whose popularity spans multiple genres and generations. Reportedly the last-ever PWF concert, the series, which begin in 2004, is going out with a seismic bang.

With flood waters threatening, the event is leaving the Landing and headed west, but not too far west, said PWF organizer Jeff Davis.

Davis said the concert is moving to “the furthest parking lot west of Rick’s Boat Yard, where that stone icon is. That will be the back of our stage, and the bands will play to the northwest, down the slope and concrete parking lot, directly toward the Qwest Center.”

Unsure exactly where Davis is talking about, I scouted out the location Sunday afternoon. The above picture is looking south, toward the stone icon. “If you go to the stone icon, between the two west parking lots, then just immediately north will be our stage, parallel to the footbridge. It goes back 600 feet.

“It’s not the best deal because the bands will be playing downhill to all that grass,” Davis said, “but it’s the best place available to us. By square footage (the area) is bigger than the landing.”

Davis expects the show to draw more people that the largest PWF concert, Johnny Winter, who drew 12,000 people. “We figure we’ll draw at least 10,000 and will have no problem if we have 15,000,” he said. “We’re still working on generators and fencing. The logistics will really change. I’ve done 42 shows at the landing, and can do them in my sleep. Now we’re faced with putting a stage in a different place and a whole different set up.”

Davis gave high praise to the City of Omaha’s Parks Department personnel. “They’ve been phenomenal to work with,” he said. “They really stepped up to help us. The best complement I can give is that I’d hire you, and I’d hire every one of those guys.”

Davis said despite the finality of the concert, he wants to continue the Playing With Fire series. “We need a presenting sponsor that believes in what we’re doing,” he said. “If 15,000 people come and word gets out, that will help us.”

Now for the next question: Where will the MAHA Music Festival be relocated? Stay tuned…

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Returning from a 5,000-mile 2-week tour, singer/songwriter/rocker John Klemmensen and the Party performs tonight at The Barley Stree Tavern with Bret Volk (Underwater Dream Machine), Andrew Baille (Moscow Mule) and Matt Mclarney (Old Money/Satchel Grande). Free, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


  • I wish Playing with Fire would have come to the streets of Benson…

    Comment by Brad Hoshaw — June 7, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  • I TOTALLY agree with Brad Hoshaw! Benson would offer a really fantastic venue for PWF!!!

    Comment by Carri — June 10, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  • HUH??? The dates for PWF & every other event at Lewis & clark landing were worked out with the city in September last year. The flooding is a huge unforeseen, the same set of issues applies to MAHA, Jazz & blues fest.
    You have zero involvement in the production of PWF, a move to benson A’INT gonna happen.If PWF were moved to Benson park and ending at 11:30p.m no way i’d go.

    Comment by jaybo — June 10, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  • Not sure what stone icon you are referring to…Maybe if you could give directions heading east from Cummings off the interstate. Thanks!

    Comment by bom — June 13, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

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