Playing with Fire 2019 Artists

Saturday / July 13

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Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado

Copenhagen, Denmark

Do you know what a tornado sounds like? It’s pure energy, all natural, and sure to leave its mark. THIS is what you can expect from the eight-piece band that is Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado. The Denmark-based band has received international acclaim, with their legendary blend of blues, soul, and rock.

The lead vocals of Thorbjørn Risager were best described by US magazine, “BluesWax”, as “one-part Ray Charles, one-part Bob Seger, and one-part Joe Cocker”. The band–which includes guitar, sax, trumpet, piano, organ, bass, and drums–comes together to form a distinct sound that has raised roofs all around the world. They’ve played in Asia’s biggest blues festival (Mahindra Blues, in Mumbai) where they shared the stage with Buddy Guy, and they’ve toured Europe and Canada.

The distinctive ‘Risager’ sound comes from the vocal and musical arrangements, molded and shaped by the Risager and the band during their rehearsals. It is personal and intentional, created to sweep you up and off your feet, as a tornado should. The Black Tornado is Emil Balsgaard, Jorchim Svensmark, Kasper Wagner, Hans Nybo, Peter Kehl, Søren Bøjgaard, and Martin Seidelin. All but two of them have been in the band since its inception in 2003. They are dedicated to creating experiences and telling stories that leave their mark.

Playing with Fire is extremely proud to bring this multiple-vortex tornado to Omaha, Nebraska for their very first North America performance.


Band Members:

  • Thorbjørn Risager:  Vocals and Guitar
  • Emil Balsgaard:  Piano and Organ
  • Joachim Svensmark:  Guitar and Back-up Vocals
  • Kasper Wagner: Tenor Saxophone
  • Hans Nybo:  Saxophone and Back-up Vocals
  • Peter Kehl:  Trumpet and Back-up Vocals
  • Søren Bøjgaard:  Bass
  • Martin Seidelin:  Drums and Back-up Vocals

Supporting Artist:


Paris, France

Unique is a word that is often used when describing the Gunwood sound. This high-energy, Parisian trio has created a powerful blend of rock, folk, and blues that when combined with their strong vocal harmonies captivates and pulls you into a musical experience like no other.

Jeff, Gunnar, and David have mastered six instruments between them, and they all contribute to the crisp harmonies heard on tracks like their acapella The Auld Triangle.On tracks where instruments and vocals come together, Jeff’s bass, banjo, and blues harp join with Gunnar’s guitar and David’s drums and keys to form a sound that can be both rough and delicate.

Gunwood has toured in France, Germany, and Hungary, performing 85 shows over the last two years. They’ve opened for Santana and played some of France’s largest festivals like Rock en Seine, which had 100,000 music lovers in attendance. Gunwood’s first album, TRAVELLING SOUL, is making its mark and grabbing the attention of several media outlets, from famous French papers, “Télérama” and “le Figaro”, to the international music magazine Rolling Stone.

The July 13th Playing with Fire performance will mark Gunwood’s very first appearance in the USA. Whether you want to relax or rock, these true musicians will most definitely take you there.


Band Members:

  • Gunnar Ellwanger:  Guitar, Lead Singer and Songwriter
  • João Francisco “Jeff” Preto:  Bass, Banjo, Harmonica and Background Vocals
  • David Lacombe:  Drums, Keyboard and Background Vocals

Local Artist:

The Grace Giebler Project

Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Don’t let the baby faces fool ya! This six-piece ensemble plays with the wisdom of old souls. All but one member of the group has been part of Omaha’s BluesEd, and each band member holds a special place in Grace, the lead singer’s, heart. She says they are “amazing musicians and know how to put on a lively performance.” These bunches of friends are no strangers to the Playing with Fire stage. We’ve been lucky enough to have them ‘Grace’ our stage over the years.

The Grace Giebler Project includes Luke Wagner on drums, David Bredthauer on bass, Reeve Johnson on keys, Jack Jones on electric guitar, and Logan Hawkins on acoustic guitar. One thing is certain: the band’s perfect blend of blues, pop, and contemporary country are sure to take them far. Playing with Fire is proud to have the opportunity to present them one more time before they achieve national recognition.


Band Members:

  • Grace Giebler: Vocals
  • Luke Wagner: Drums
  • David Bredthauer: Bass
  • Reeve Johnson: Keyboard
  • Jack Jones: Electric guitar
  • Logan Hawkins: Acoustic guitar

BluesEd Opener:


Vertigo plays a soulful blend of blues-rock, funk and southern blues covers as well as original music inspired by their eclectic musical influences, both current and classic.  Members have enjoyed performing at several local festivals and venues, some of them have even graced the stage of The Grand Ole Opry in Memphis, TN.  Their resume and experience continue to grow this summer with over 20 shows already scheduled in and around the Omaha area!

Band Members:

  • Natalie Dark: Vocals and Keyboard
  • Delaney Fitzgerald: Vocals
  • Jade Griffin: Bass
  • Mason Sanwick: Guitar and Keyboard
  • Jackson Fuller: Guitar and Sax
  • Bryce Graybill: Drums
  • Elsie McCabe: Sax
  • Matt DeLong: Sax
  • Miles Divis: Trumpet and Keyboard
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