If you wanted to make the big leagues in the heyday of jazz and blues, you played Omaha. Dreamland Ballroom and the Carnation Ballroom on North 24th Street hosted a steady stream of jazz and blues greats — Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, B.B. King, Ray Charles, James Brown and more — from the 1920s through the 1960s. While those ballrooms have long grown dark, we’re still crazy for a jazzy beat. Here’s a sampling of venues attracting acts (and attention) from across the street, across the nation and across the world for a soulful evening out.
Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen
The tastes, sights and sounds of New Orleans with Creole cuisine and live music almost every night of the week.
“Classy. Sleek. Intimate.” This vibrant,new club in The Capitol District offers a unique experience with local and national artists, alongside New Orleans-inspired cuisine with a local spin.
Love’s Jazz & Art Center
This north Omaha gem’s mission is to “preserve, promote and present African-American art and jazz.” What better place to take in a show?
Mr. Toad’s Pub
It’s Omaha’s longest-running jazz gig, with Luigi Inc. taking the stage every Sunday night. An Old Market favorite since the 1970s. Bonus: there’s never a cover.
The Omaha Lounge
With musical acts lined up every night of the week, you’re sure to hear all styles of jazz in this intimate downtown space. Happy hour daily; no cover.
Gather ’round the cozy sunken bar for live jazz every Tuesday night. Regulars recommend the $2 Tecate beer. It mixes well with the lounge’s vintage and Bohemian style.
Red Lion Lounge
Easily the coolest cocktail bar in the Blackstone District, the Red Lion Lounge pays homage to one of Omaha’s earliest notable jazz clubs. Enjoy sounds and libations in a sophisticated, classy setting.
This handsome spot offers the perfect place to relax and listen to jazzy tunes while enjoying craft cocktails and Nebraska steaks. All-day happy hour specials on Thursdays and Sundays.
Jazz music is best experienced live, and it’s no surprise that the 1200 Club at the Holland Performing Arts Center makes the list. Featuring superior talent from around the world, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.
Jazz on the Green
This isn’t a brick-and-mortar establishment, but it definitely deserves a mention. Hundreds of locals flock to Turner Park at Midtown Crossing to get their groove on during this Thursday night concert series. Grab your blanket, picnic basket and a bottle of wine – summer nights are made for this!