Our 17th year of BluesEd was absolutely one of the busiest and best years yet! Our student bands entertained and delighted audiences large and small all over Lincoln, Omaha and surrounding areas where we made many new fans. Our season officially concluded on Aug. 5th with our Season Finale at The Waiting Room before our senior students head out to their respective colleges and technical schools. Many thanks, as always, to the Blues Society of Omaha for the amazing support and encouragment for our BluesEd bands. Without a doubt, the best Blues education program in the country (possibly world!) hails from Omaha, Nebraska!
The Anna Jane Abbott Memorial Scholarship: Josie Jennum from Us and Them Blues Band.
The Ron Cooley Award for Most Improved Band: Blue Sunday
The BluesEd Brad Cordle Award: Hunter Neumayer from The Redwoods
Not only are the student musicians in BluesEd incredibly talented and hard-working but so are the all the BluesEd volunteers! We could not do it without the many, many parent (and a couple former parent) volunteers. Each band has a Lead Parent (LP) and Performance Coordinator (PC) who does the bulk of the “work” in the bands from communicating to each band to loading/unloading & hauling equipment for each and every gig. The LP’s and PC’s of BluesEd are simply the unsung heroes and are owed a great deal of praise and gratitude:
Blue Sunday: JD & Carolyn White & Jill & Jeff Nelson
Far & Wide Blues - Drew Johnson & Doug Watkins
Five Minute Drive - Dawn Abboud & Tracey Ryan
MANNIX - Julie Nichols and Chris Steffen
The Redwoods - Laurie Neumayer & Tami Tomsu
Us and Them Blues Band - Ann Giebler & Victoria Hawkins
Vertigo Blues Band - Rainbow & James Dark
Additionally, many other parents helped with photography, videos, storing and transporting equipment, social media and promoting & encouraging each of our 7 bands.
The BluesEd Leadership team (Drew Johnson, Laurie Neumayer, Trudy Bredthauer, Sean Gillen, Chris Shouse, Ann Giebler, Susie Hemphill, Tami Tomsu) manages the business end of BluesEd which includes many essential tasks: auditions, accounting, securing venues and performance opportunities, social media, workshop scheduling, fundraising, scholarships, website, marketing and promotion, equipment, organizing events, and many other details large and small that have kept BluesEd strong, growing and thriving for 17 years!
Finally, we are already looking forward to next year and we need your help! Auditions for BluesEd will be held in February of 2019. If you know of middle or high school student vocalists and/or instrumentalists that are proficient in their instrument and are ready to perform in a band we would encourage you to send them our way. We will have more information on our website at www.BluesEd.com.
Thanks for helping us “Keep the Blues Alive" for 17 years!
Senior Spotlight! We hope you have enjoyed learning more about our seniors this season! Today we are featuring Hunter Neumayer, the guitarist for The Redwoods!
Name: Hunter Neumayer
High School: Millard West High School
BluesEd Band/position: Guitarist in The Redwoods
College & Major: I will be studying Finance at Creighton University
How Long in BluesEd: This summer is my 3rd in BluesEd
How long have you been playing? I’ve been playing guitar for 11 years.
What is your favorite BluesEd workshop song: My favorite workshop song was Gimme All Your Love by The Alabama Shakes
Who is your favorite Blues artist? The Alabama Shakes
Favorite BluesEd moment: My favorite day in BluesEd was a double gig day, Benson Days, then Beer & Bacon Festival. The Beer & Bacon show was my all-time favorite. Then, after the show we had a rehearsal late at night into the early morning when we wrote our original song. It was a phenomenal day.
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: My hobbies all revolve around music, so I like to jam and make music with friends, go to local shows, and listen to all sorts of music.
Stay in touch! If you are a BluesEd Alum or a parent of a BluesEd alum, please join our private Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/122607735128878/requests/.
We continue the bonds of friendship and love of Blues music over in our group. Wonderful networking opportunity too for students who are pursuing music as their career.
We are really looking forward to playing at The Waiting Room Lounge on Sunday, Aug. 5th for the 2018 Season Finale of BluesEd!
Senior Spotlight! Throughout the BluesEd season, we will be introducing our students that are seniors! Today we are featuring Bryn Groenjes, the keyboardist for Far&Wide Blues!
Name :Bryn Groenjes
High School: Elkhorn High School
BluesEd Band/Position: Far and Wide Keyboardist
College/Major: Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance at UNO
How long in BluesEd: 6 Years in Blues Ed
How long have you been playing: playing for 13 years
Favorite Blues Ed workshop song: Stormy Monday
Favorite Blues Artist: Bruce Katz
Favorite Blues Ed Moment: Playing at RAGBRAI in Iowa, because the crowd was really energetic, we played really well, and overall had a fantastic time.
Hobbies outside of Blues Ed: Artist, reading, biking
Shout out to Montez of 961 Kiss Online at iHeartRadio for the wonderful podcast with several members of the BluesEd Leadership Team. We had a great day discussing what makes BluesEd so unique and how talented students can get involved in BluesEd. We would encourage any student who wants to expand their talents to check out the BluesEd program at our BluesEd Benefit Concert on Sunday at The Slowdown.
In this first segment, Trudy discusses the beginnings of BluesEd and how it has evolved.
In this segment, Susie and Chris discuss Blues music and the accolades the BluesEd program has received.
Want to be in a BluesEd band? In this segment we discuss the audition process and the professional musician mentors for BluesEd.
The following segment BluesEd Leaders discuss:
In this segment, we discuss the impact being in a BluesEd band has on the students lives:
BluesEd has "graduated" over 200 students in the past 17 years. Many students have gone on to major in music in college and perform with their own bands now.
In this final segment,
Senior Spotlight! Throughout the BluesEd season, we will be introducing our students that are seniors! Today we are featuring Erik Strickland, the keyboardist for Mannix!
Name: Erik Strickland
High School: Lincoln East High School
BluesEd Band/position: Keyboard Player-mannix
College/Major: University of Nebraska- Lincoln: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
How long in BluesEd: 1st year
How long have you been playing: 14 Years
Favorite BluesEd workshop song: Mojo
Favorite Blues Artist: I would say I really enjoy the Doobie Brothers!
Favorite BluesEd moment: I just love being able to be with my band and do gigs with them!
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: I am a classical musician, mainly piano but also string bass. I compose and also study fish and ocean life. I have at times participated in bowling leagues and hope to join the UNL bowling team. In the end I just love seeing my friends as well.
Name: Jacob Clarys
High School: Elkhorn High School
BluesEd Band/position: Trumpet Player for Far and Wide
College & Major: Double majoring in Jazz Performance and Business Administration at UNO
How Long in BluesEd: This is my second year
How long have you been playing? A little over 8 years
What is your favorite BluesEd workshop song: The Thrill is Gone
Favorite BluesEd moment: my first gig with the band
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: running, lifting, going to movies and finding new restaurants.
Things are heating up in July for BluesEd!! Our bands having been performing for several months now gearing up for some really big, high-profile events this month. If you are into live music and live in Omaha or Lincoln, there is surely at least 1 or 2 opportunities for you to witness a BluesEd band in action this month. The entire list of BluesEd events can be found here: Events
July 6 and July 13: Bridge Beats
Bridge Beats is a FREE Omaha Parks and Recreation production nestled in the foothills of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. BluesEd bands, The Redwoods, opens the show on July 6th and Blue Sunday opens the show on July 13th.
This venue is a true gem and one of the coolest spots in Omaha. Check out parking and more info here: www.BridgeBeats.com.
July 7th: ZOOFEST
BluesEd bands MANNIX & Far & Wide will be kicking off the festivities at ZOOfest's 45th Anniversary celebration in Lincoln, NE.
Far & Wide Blues Band takes the stage at 1:00 p.m and will be followed by MANNIX at 1:50.
Ticket info available at: The Zoo Bar or on Etix.
Friday $30 advance/$35 day of festival
Saturday $25 advance/$30 day of festival
Buy a 2-day ticket combo in advance for only $50.
July 14th and Aug. 25th: Playing with Fire
Since the inception of Playing with Fire 15 years ago, BluesEd bands have always opened the free Playing with Fire festivals. This year, our partnership with PwF goes one step further in that a share of all free-will donations accepted at the PwF concerts will go towards BluesEd!
July 14th, The Redwoods will open the show and will be followed by our very own BluesEd alum, Heather Newman as she makes her debut on the PwF stage with her own band.
On Aug. 25th, Us and Them will open the Playing with Fire free concert.
Look for BluesEd students and families at the gates and bucket brigades collecting your donations.
July 14th: AfterBurn Jam
Another great partnership with Playing with Fire (PwF) is the AfterBurn Jam. The Jam will start immediately following the headliner on the main stage at 5168 Brewing Taproom located directly across Farnam street from Turner Park. Join the PwF artists in this intimate setting hosted by the BluesEd student musicians of The Redwoods. This is where the real learning starts for BluesEd students as they play side-by-side with Internationally famous Blues Musicians. This event is free to attend, however, seating is very limited. Beverages and snacks available for purchase from 5168 Taproom.
You never know what will happen at the AfterBurn Jam, but you do know you don’t want to miss it!
July 15 - BluesEd Benefit Concert at The Slowdown
This is YOUR chance to see all SEVEN BluesEd bands in action on the best stage and sound in Omaha!!
July 12 & Aug 2: Jazz on the Green
BluesEd is thrilled to back at the venerable Jazz on the Green by Omaha Performing Arts at Midtown Crossing for the 4th straight year!!!!
Arrive early to stake your spot on the lawn at Turner Park as the faithful Jazz on the Green fans arrive as soon as the gates open (5:00 p.m) Bring your blankets, chairs and sunscreen. Beverages and food welcome too or you can choose from one of the many food vendors available on-site.
July 12: five minute drive opens for The Big Takeover at 6:30.
Aug 2: Blue Sunday opens for Nebraska native Shaun Murphy at 6:30. This night is co-hosted by our very own Blues Society of Omaha.
BluesEd bands will be joining the Pork Belly Ventures Group for 3 stops at the World famous RAGBRAI.
Mannix ● Saturday, July 21, T ● Onawa, IA
Far & Wide ● Tuesday, July 24, ● Ames , IA
Us & Them ● Wednesday, July 25 ● Newton, IA
July 27: Friday Night Market at Turner Park
BluesEd bands have been performing at the trendy, unique and oh-sooooo-fun Omaha Farmer's Market Friday Night Markets at Midtown Crossing on the last Friday of every month in the summer. July's live music will be supplied by vertigo blues band!
Bring your dancing shoes for a great night of free entertainment!
July 28: Music for the City
MANNIX opens for Canadian power trio, Paul DeLauriers Band at the Bluebarn Theatre for the Music for the City production on July 28th.
This brand-new venue for the producer of Playing with Fire, Jeff Davis, is sure to be a hit. Very limited seating on a gorgeous outdoor setting backed by a fabulous stage and sound system.
Ticket info here: Eventbrite
Name: Jeana Abboud
High School: Mercy High School
BluesEd Band/position: five minute drive Vocals/Keys
College & Major: Nebraska Wesleyan double majoring vocal music and biology
How Long in BluesEd: This is my fifth year
How long have you been playing? About nine odd years on piano and singing way before that.
What is your favorite BluesEd workshop song: It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World by James Brown
Who is your favorite Blues artist? I'm a big fan of Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and also Samantha Fish.
Favorite BluesEd moment: Playing with Fire and of course going to IBC this year
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: researching anything, arranging music, and going on long walks.
If you enjoyed our BluesEd Showcase, just you wait! It only gets better!
1:50 - 2:30 - Blue Sunday
2:40 - 3:20 - MANNIX
3:30 - 4:10 - five minute drive
4:20 - 5:00 - The Redwoods
5:10 - 5:50 - Us and Them Blues Band
6:00 - 6:40 - Vertigo Blues Band
Please Note: The Slowdown strictly enforces the City of Omaha ordinance on minors in places of establishments that serve alcohol. Please visit www.theslowdown.com to view the policy and download the form. Or view here: http://theslowdown.ticketfly.com/files/2016/10/parentconsentform.pdf
Name: Maia Ramsey
High School: Lincoln High School
BluesEd Band/Position: Vocalist in MANNIX
College: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Biochemistry
How long in BluesEd: This is my first year
How long singing: As long as I can remember
Favorite Workshop Song: Thrill is Gone
Favorite Blues Artist: Billie Holiday
Favorite BluesEd moment: Performing with MANNIX at Hector Anchondo's benefit show at the Chrome Lounge
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: NAACP Youth Chapter, Theatre, Art
Name: Griffin Gillen
High School: Plattsmouth High School
BluesEd Band/Position: Far and Wide on bass
College: University of Nebraska at Omaha, majoring in music performance on bass
How long in BluesEd: This is currently my 5th year anchoring the low end with Far and Wide.
How long playing: I’ve played bass for 5 years.
Favorite Workshop Song: Stormy Monday
Favorite Blues Artist: As blues artists go, I like B.B. King, always go with the classics. My favorite singular artist that we play in Far and Wide is Stevie Wonder.
Favorite BluesEd moment: Going to Memphis with The 402 to play at the Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: I play piano, and have been for 13 years now. I’m also a big songwriter/composer and music theory nerd.
Name: Sydney Jukes
BluesEd Band/ Position: Vocals for Blue Sunday
College and Major: Capitol School of Hairstyling and Esthetics to study cosmetology
How long in BluesEd: 2 years
How long have you been singing: I've been singing since I could talk
Favorite BluesEd Workshop Song: Stormy Monday
Favorite Blues Artist: Amy Winehouse
Favorite BluesEd Moment: Playing at the Suicide Awareness Prevention Walk
Hobbies Outside of BluesEd: I write a little poetry, but don't share it with anybody, haha. I enjoy art, and I also enjoy doing makeup
The first all BluesEd band’s event of the 2018 Season!
Join us on Sunday, June 24th at Forte Music Hall on 96th & L in Omaha, Nebraska.
Doors open at 12:30. All ages welcome. Pizza and beverages available for purchase. Free admission.
Vertigo - 1:00-1:30
five minute drive - 1:45-2:15
The Redwoods - 2:30 - 3:00
Far&Wide Blues - 3:15 - 3:45
Us & Them - 4:00 - 4:30
MANNIX - 4:45 - 5:15
Blue Sunday - 5:30 - 6:00
Name: Grace Calderon
High School: Westside High School
BluesEd Band/position: The Redwoods, saxophone
College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in jazz performance
How Long in BluesEd: This is my first year
How long have you been playing? 9 years
What is your favorite BluesEd workshop song: Thrill is Gone
Who is your favorite Blues artist? I'm pretty new to the Blues scene but I think Etta James is one of my favorites so far
Favorite BluesEd moment: After-practice bonding in Henry's basement
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: Cooking, working out, and practicing
Name: Allison Young
High School: Millard North
BluesEd Band/position: Five Minute Drive, saxophone
College: University of Northern Colorado, Saxophone Performance
How Long in BluesEd: 3 years
How long have you been playing? Almost 8 years
What is your favorite BluesEd workshop song: Stray Cat Strut
Who is your favorite Blues artist? My favorite local Blues artist is the Kris Lager Band, but I also really enjoy Ben Poole!
Favorite BluesEd moment: Definitely performing at Playing With Fire Concert - Omaha & the Afterburn last year with Five Minute Drive! It was such a cool experience to play with professional artists on that stage.
Hobbies outside of BluesEd: I also enjoy playing piano and clarinet.
We thought you would want to hear from several of our student musicians themselves on how being involved in the BluesEd program has impacted their lives. When you give to BluesEd during Omaha Gives on May 23, you will continue to impact young people's lives AND support the arts. Keep the Blues Alive!
"BluesEd has been the best experience in my lifetime in terms of performance opportunities, growth of musical abilities, participation in the Memphis Youth Showcase last January and the development of phenomenal friendships."
- Hunter Neumayer - Guitar & Saxophone for The Redwoods
"Through BluesEd, I learn from professional musicians, perform around Omaha all summer and get opportunities, like this past January at B.B. King's Blues Club Memphis for the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase with the “select” BluesEd “402” band."
- Jeana Abboud - Vocals for five minute drive
“BluesEd has helped mold me into the person I am today; singer, songwriter, performer. It made me fall in love with music and performing in front of audiences. I also get to play with amazing musicians in my band, who have become my lifelong best friends. BluesEd has opened so many windows for me, like going to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis with my band in 2017, was honored by helping the Blues Society of Omaha accept the "Keeping the Blues Alive" Award for the BluesEd program in Memphis this past 2018 where I got to speak in front of the International Blues Community, opening for the Playing With Fire concert series, and meeting and learning from some pretty outstanding artists from all over the world. Thanks for donating to our program, as BluesEd helps shape young musicians to have an appreciation for the blues and inspires the next generation of blues musicians. Let's keep the Blues ALIVE!”
- Grace Giebler - Vocals for Us and Them Blues Band
Omaha Gives is May 23rd. Can you give too?!!
Help us "Keep the Blues Alive" by supporting BluesEd during our Omaha Gives fundraising campaign on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018. We will be joining more than 1,000 local nonprofits to raise money together and compete for prize money—the more donors we get to give to us, the more likely we are to win prizes
We know you have many choices of worthy charities for Omaha Gives!, but we would be so grateful for your donation of $10 or more to BluesEd. Our program works with young musicians and teaches them the art of Blues music while performing within an exceptional band. Bands are provided with multiple performance opportunities requiring students to learn the necessary skills needed to be a professional musician. Currently our program boasts 49 students in 7 performance bands. To keep our tuition low we rely on fundraisers such as #OmahaGives. You can even schedule your donation early and will not be charged until May 23rd. BluesEd has the chance to win some big money prizes for donations received. So, remember to save the date and get ready to give! Thank you for your continued support! Donations accepted online: https://www.omahagives.org/index.phpsection=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=1177
Enjoy the wonderful talents of our BluesEd bands by attending any of these events in May to hear exactly how your dollars are supporting our BluesEd youth talent development program.