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Closure of downtown Omaha jazz club disappointing for musicians and audiences alike

Posted at 6:33 PM, Oct 11, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Jewell, a live music music venue in The Capitol District has closed its doors — and it appears for good.

It’s not the only live entertainment venue to close recently. On Monday, employees of Barrel & Vine got word the west Omaha spot would be closing.

This eliminates opportunities for both musicians and fans of live music here in Omaha.

There was a padlock on the door at the Jewell and there were no upcoming shows listed on the website as of Wednesday.

Darren Pettit, an associate professor of music at the University of Nebraska Omaha and a professional musician, says it’s a loss.

“It’s just one less place to play jazz and one less place to listen to live jazz," Pettit said. "There are so few in Omaha anyway. It’s just something that, historically, has never been that well supported."

He leads a jazz combo at UNO and his students often perform at the Jewell, including when international students and professors are guests of the UNO music program.

“We’ve had groups from Israel, groups from Latvia, perform there — both faculty and students — and so it’s been a great resource for us to be more engaged in the community,” he said.

Keeping a jazz club open, though, is not easy.

“I don’t think it was ever booming financially," Pettit said, "That seems to be the case for any for-profit, businesses in Omaha that are specifically jazz venues."

He says that while many local musicians performed at the Jewell, it would not have been their sole source of income.

“I can’t see anyone making a living, making $100 to $150 per gig when you can only book so many gigs per week,” he added.

3 News Now. also spoke with a representative from the musicians' union who, like Pettit, said he’d miss performing on the Jewell stage.

“Most people are just disappointed,” said Pettit. “It’s kind of a drag when it’s not there anymore. It’s easy to take it for granted when it’s alive and well and when it just kind of evaporates, it’s ‘Well, what could we have done? Could we have supported it a little bit better?’”

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