Does Omaha Have a Good Music Scene?

If you are still in doubt about the music scene in Omaha, this article will put the record (excuse the pun) straight. Omaha is considered one of the nation’s premier hot spots for the indie music scene. Omaha is also a major tour stop for some of the biggest names in music.

Does Omaha Have a Good Music Scene?

History of Music in Omaha

Music has been a diverse and significant influence on the culture of the city of Omaha. Omaha’s past music contributions include being the hub of a thriving African American music scene in the 1920s. In more recent times, Omaha is known to be home to indie rock’s “Omaha Sound” and the birthplace of one of pop music’s most successful producers Terry Lewis.

The Dreamland Ballroom, located on the second floor of the Jewell Building in North Omaha, opened its doors in 1923 and soon became the premier nightclub for big bands and jazz in Omaha. The Dreamland Ballroom venue hosted the original Nat King Cole Trio and some of the greatest jazz, blues, and swing performances including Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington, and Louise Armstrong to name just a few. Today, the renovated Jewell Building is an office space and apartment building.

Concert Venues in Omaha

The Orpheum Theater and Holland Performing Arts Center are landmark venues that are home to year-round events and performances. In Omaha’s downtown arena, CHI Health Center, the stage is lit up by touring acts. The arena seats 18,300 people and attracts a variety of national performers.

Sokol Auditorium and its sister space Sokol Underground have been considered concert hotspots for many years. The city of Omaha has recently seen a rise in other indie music venues. Newer venues include The Waiting Room Lounge, Rock`N’ Jocks, and The Mosaic.

The Benson area features prominent venues, including The Barley Street Tavern. This Omaha music venue has a reputation for being the bar with the best acoustics for live music in Omaha due to its `double barrel’ layout. The 402 is also a venue that has good live music in the Benson area. In addition, there are several other smaller venues and coffee shops that offer nightly live performances as well.


Highlights of summer in Omaha are of course the music festivals. The Omaha Blues, Jazz, and Gospel Music Hall and The Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame celebrate African American music in Omaha. In 2009, the non-profit MAHA Music Festival highlighting rock music was held along Omaha’s riverfront. Since 2009, MAHA has become an annual summer event.

Classical Music

From 1871 until the end of the century, Omaha constructed several opera theaters with considerable seating capacities. The largest of these, the Orpheum Theater, constructed in 1895, is the principal home of Opera Omaha. The Orpheum Theater is now considered a major regional opera house that has had numerous major commissions and premieres.

We can confidently say that Omaha was and still is a vibrant entertainment district in the Midwest. Long a home to classical music, jazz, blues, and rock, today Omaha has dozens of subgenres represented, including Latin, alternative rock, country, and hip hop.

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