NEWS Release February 11, 2020

3 Days + 1 New Venue +11 Bands

It adds up to the most anticipated Playing with Fire FREE summer music concert series to date

OMAHA, Neb. – Your 2020 vision isn’t seeing double– it’s seeing triple for this summer’s annual Playing with Fire free concert series. Featuring 11 bands seasoned with searing blues, rock and an assortment of musical genres, the 17th-annual open-to-all celebration has expanded to three days and will be held at a new outdoor venue.

On July 24 and 25 and August 22, music acts from five different countries will travel to Omaha to perform in the cozy, open-air confines of the Capitol District’s Modern Town Square, a friendly urban destination nestled in the heart of downtown.

“The stage area is surrounded by an eclectic mix of pubs, bars, and restaurants where concert-goers can gather and mingle,” says Playing with Fire founder Jeff Davis. “It’s the perfect new home for our free concert series where music fans of all ages can come together and enjoy an inspiring group of performers.”

The 2020 Playing with Fire lineup will give stage time to skilled aural artisans from five countries in three continents. Davis, a globetrotting live music fan with an affinity for blues, travels the world each year in search of new music discoveries to bring back to Omaha. This year’s result is another remarkable roster of performers.

A few highlights, with quick quotes from Davis:

  • Friday, July 24 lineup
      • Canada’s MonkeyJunk, a swamp-rockin’ blues trio from Ottawa, will headline the first Playing with Fire date. “This two-time JUNO Award (Canada’s Grammy)-winning band continues to win accolades around the world.”Fellow JUNO Award-winner, singer-songwriter Paul Reddick, joins the band as a special guest.
      • New Orleans rock singer Nikki Hill and her on-point band of jammers. “Longtime blues critic B.J. Huchtemann says Nikki Hill is the ‘real deal.’ That was enough for me to book them.”
      • Omaha’s BluesEd, an award-winning non-profit youth artists development program. “This group of young performers is always a crowd favorite.”
  • Saturday, July 25 lineup:
      • Memphis, Tennessee’s Ghost Town Blues Band will headline the day. Sprinkled with trombone and fueled by hard-driving guitars, “this band is one of the best touring blues acts in the U.S.A. – definitely the hardest working. Every festival promoter I’ve talked to loves these guys. I’m pumped for this one.”
      • Paris, France band Delgres, a trio of guitar, drums and New Orleans-inspired sousaphone, brings a batch of Delta-flavored blues to the stage. “Delgres is a totally unique Paris-based band that rarely tours outside of Europe. I love the electric sousaphone playing the bass line.”
      • Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck, an Omaha-rooted band with a loyal local following, is a 2020 semi-finalist at the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. “With two Flying-V guitars and four A+ musicians, this is a band not to miss.”
      • BluesEd (see above)
  • Saturday, August 22 lineup:
      • Headlining is Amsterdam, Netherlands band My Baby, which presents next-level musical artistry, with a psychedelic blues bent that entices hypnotic dance like few others. “This trio is totally addictive. I and 250,000 fans will see My Baby perform on Liberation Day, May 5 in Utrecht, Netherlands, and I can’t wait for the band to play in Omaha.”
      • Sydney, Australia’s Lachy Doley Group is a boogie-woogie blues band that features the “Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond organ.” Says Davis: “I just had to see this Australian keyboardist play the Whammy Clavinet live.”
      • Minneapolis band Freeway, “formerly from Sydney, Australia, this group is back, and we are thrilled to see them again.”
      • BluesEd (see above)

As you can see, this year’s lineup offers an impressive mix of performers who come to Omaha with a long list of accolades. 

While Playing with Fire had a successful 6-year run at Midtown Crossing, Davis says he is more excited than ever about the next chapter in the storied series. 

“I can’t wait to see music fans of all ages come to the shows at the Capitol District. This new entertainment center is another great addition to the Omaha landscape – and really breathes new life into the city’s downtown area. 

“From the popular winter ice rink and parties for the College World Series to the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials and now Playing with Fire, the Capitol District really has got it goin’ on.”


PHOTOS, VIDEOS, AUDIO TRACKS are all available upon request. Please contact Jeff Davis (402.960.1001) and for assets, questions, interview requests, etc.


Playing with Fire (PwF) is a non-profit organization with a vision to support Omaha’s national reputation as a ‘music city,’ build community through the power of music, and support other local non-profit organizations. Started in 2004, Playing with Fire has held more than 100 free summer concerts that have helped introduce Omaha’s metro residents to the highest quality of local, national and international musical talent. Playing with Fire is sustained by grants from the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund, sponsorships, in-kind donations, and volunteers. To learn more about Playing with Fire, visit

The Capitol District is Omaha’s destination dining and entertainment district surrounding a modern town square. Located between 10th Street and 12th Street, and Capitol Avenue and Davenport Street, The Capitol District includes diverse restaurants, bars, and services as well as a full-service Marriott hotel with ballroom and meeting services, the 218-unit high rise Capitol District Apartments, Class A office space, and plenty of parking. The Capitol District is within walking distance of Omaha’s best civic, cultural, and entertainment venues and the Riverfront. For more information and a list of all the businesses that call The Capitol District home, visit Contact Amanda Frank at 402.889.2048 for more information. 


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