Has The Jewell closed for good? Djunah, Violenteer, Las Cruxes, Rafiq Bhatia tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 7:31 am October 5, 2023
Matt Whipkey performing on stage at The Jewell in November 2021.

by Tim McMahan,Lazy-i.com

There have been rumblings for weeks that The Jewell, a jazz club located in the Capitol District, has closed its doors for good. The events calendar at the club’s website lists no scheduled shows, and shows that had been scheduled for the last week of September had been cancelled. 

A couple days ago Jewell operator Brian McKenna posted a photo of the club’s shiny logo on Facebook, which generated dozens of condolences and thank you’s in its comments, but no definitive statement. So has The Jewell closed?  

If it has, it’s a shame. Though I only went to the club a few times, I always thought it was a classy, comfortable room with great sound and sight lines. The club opened a year before Covid in early 2019 and was a living tribute to North Omaha’s jazz history, which was apparent just looking at its walls. It was among the “jewels” of a new Capital District in downtown Omaha. 

With recent and upcoming investments in downtown Omaha — the new park, the Steelhouse, the Illuminarium, the new Mutual of Omaha HQ, the proposed streetcar, Millworks Commons, etc. — the Jewell’s (alledged) closing leaves questions as to what did it in: Was it increased overhead costs? Low ticket sales? Challenges booking touring jazz artists? 

While I don’t know anything about the local jazz scene, I do know a number of people who love the genre, including a few who make regular trips to Kansas City solely to attend jazz shows. And while there’s been a number of jazz rooms in Omaha over the years, The Jewell was certainly at the top of the list…

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We’re about to enter Rocktober. Lots of shows are on the horizon. It’s going to be a busy month for music.

It starts tonight at The Slowdown with Chicago post-punk noise band Djunah (pronounced “JUNE-uh”) headlining in the front room. The duo consists of guitarist/vocalist/Moog bass organ player Donna Diane and drummer Jared Karns. Their latest, Femina Furens (2023, self-released), is a punishing collection, but on stand-out tracks like “Phaethon,” Diane almost sounds like she’s channeling early, noisy PJ Harvey (if Harvey was fronting The Melvins). 

This is a loaded show with locals Violenteer (the Cotton Brothers’ double-bass attack) and Las Cruxes also on the bill. Bring your earplugs because it’s gonna be LOUD. 8 p.m., $20. 

One other show of note: New York-based composer and guitarist Rafiq Bhatia is playing at Low End at The Bemis. Lauded as “one of the most intriguing figures in music today” by The New York Times, Bhatia joined Son Lux in 2014. He’s touring on a collection of covers, but his latest original full-length, Breaking English, was released in 2018 on Anti-. Lovely stuff. The show is free and starts at 8 p.m. 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  • Late to this story….I attended 10-12 shows here. I am a jazz snob, so only attended the national acts. It’s back to You Tube for a jazz event.

    Comment by Vince — December 26, 2023 @ 4:08 pm

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