By: Leah Parodi
The 2017 summer Jazz on the Green concert series is set to entertain audiences of all ages with familiar faces and new additions to the ever-popular concert series. Since 2010, Turner Park at Midtown Crossing has been the place to be on Thursday summer evenings for fabulous free music, great food vendors and an incredibly fun and festive atmosphere. The same hold true for Thursdays this summer when Omaha Performing Arts presents over 40 talented musicians with incredible New Orleans, Latin, folk, hip-hop and soul styled jazz performances.
Running on consecutive Thursdays from July 6 through August 10, 2017, the free outdoor concerts will begin at 7:30 PM with preshow music starting at 6:30 PM. Laura Kendall, Vice President of Programming and Education for Omaha Performing Arts is part of the team that selects the talent for the annual summer series and is thrilled with the line-up. And according to Kendall, there is no shortage of high caliber talent from not only Omaha, but across the country. “We have a wonderful, but difficult selection process,” she said. “But that is a good problem to have. There is a lot of interest and we get a lot of inquires that start as early as January that come from artists in Nebraska and those on national tours. Jazz on the Green has a great name and people want to play here.”
Kendall said that Omaha Performing Arts Programming and Education team work to balance and showcase Omaha talent with a nice mix of touring artists to include the different types of jazz that are represented in the series. The team must also ensure that all artists are not only suitable, but enjoyable and entertaining for all of those in attendance. “The concerts are a great time for families,” said Kendall. “The weather is great, the music is wonderful and the energy from the crowds makes the concerts such a fun experience.”
Entertaining anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 attendees on any given Thursday is no easy task, but Kendall is confident that this year’s line-up will be stellar. And the very first concert is one that should not be missed. “Our kick-off this year is with The Potash Twins who are Omaha natives,” she said. “Adeev and Ezra Potash, they are so much fun and have made such a name for themselves. Not only are they fabulous musicians but they have their own travel show; Southern Road Trip with The Potash Twins, because they are such foodies! We love to showcase Omaha talent with the kick-off.”
Following in the musical, foodie footsteps of The Postash Twins is an exciting and incredibly talented line-up of jazz musicians extraordinaire. July 13, for example, features Hector Rosado y Su Orquesta Hache with their smokin’ hot salsa sounds. Rosado, an accomplished percussionist, has toured with Tito Puente, a musical icon. Also on this evening, Omaha Ballroom will open the performance on the outdoor dance floor with free salsa lessons.
On July 20, The Sugar Thieves American roots band returns to Jazz on the Green with soulful vocals of Omaha native Meridith Moore. This highly energized band brings a mixture of blues, country, folk, gospel, rock and jazz to the stage. Houston based Bayou City Brass Band comes to Omaha on July 27, and brings with them an eclectic New Orleans, R&B and hip-hop style beat that will for sure bring the heat.
August features two sensational acts with deep, jazzed infused roots. Ron E. Beck
Soul Revue will rock the stage on August 3 with a night of soul. Beck, a renowned jazz drummer who was born in Omaha, has performed with Tower of Power and John Lee Hooker, to name but a few stars. Then get ready for a band that plays funky R&B and bring your dancing shoes on August 10 for Sammy Miller and the Congregation. Miller, a Grammy nominated drummer leads a band with members that have played at the White House and Lincoln Center and with music great such as Wynton Marsalis and Lee Fields. This young band plays swinging jazz and will end the series on a high note.
As mentioned, concerts begin at 7:30 PM, following some seriously talented, local opening acts that start at 6:30 PM. Omaha Performing Arts will once again partner with Omaha’s youth artist development program, BluesEd. Blues Ed is a youth artist development program sponsored by the Blues Society of Omaha and a few of these local youth bands will be performing on select evenings. Also, performing during the preshow hours as in years past, on a few of the evenings, will be the UNO jazz musicians. “These opening band performances are a result of the educational commitment from Omaha Performing Arts,” said Kendall. “We are able to showcase these partnerships that value our mission of engagement and learning and encourages fans of music at young age.”
Before attending the concerts, there are some do’s, don’ts and tips worth mentioning. Jazz on the Green is free and open to the public, no tickets or reservations are necessary. Preshow entertainment starts at 6:30 PM with concerts starting at 7:30 PM. Guests are invited to open seating on the Turner Park lawn any time after 5 PM. Certain seating restrictions apply for safety and emergency reasons and include road and sidewalk seating.
Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, leashed pets (please clean up after them) and outside food and beverages including beer and wine but no hard liquor is allowed. Guests should not bring tents, tarps (they destroy the grass), stakes, open flames and hard liquor.
Parking is available at two convenient and safe parking garages, very close to the park and garage parking is free for the first three hours, $1 per hour after. Mutual of Omaha will open surface parking lots and parking garage to the public for free beginning at 5 PM. Street and metered parking can be found on Farnam Street and streets around Turner Park.
In addition, many Midtown Crossing restaurants set up food, concessions and beverages in Turner Park each week. And in the case of rain and or just plain rotten weather, cancellations will be posted on the official website and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Lastly, there is no smoking permitted in the concert bowl.
Omaha Performing Arts Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing is sponsored by Mutual of Omaha. For more information visit omahaperformingarts.org/on-stage/jazz-on-the-green.