Local music engineers/DJs host virtual jazz nights

Posted at 6:01 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 19:01:01-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Two music engineers who are also DJs are using their talent and knowledge of music to host virtual jazz nights every Sunday.

The duo who started the event in response to COVID-19 are hosting their 10th show featuring several special guests.

Neal Duffy begins virtual jazz nights with a simple yet soothing "Happy Sunday y'all" greeting on Zoom.

The Sunday night jazz tradition, which began at Mr. Toads on 10th and Howard Streets, has expanded to people all over the world thanks to Neal Duffy and Keith Rodger.

"It's really kind of like a virtual radio station in a way," Duffy said. "We kind of just [say] thanks for tuning in, here's what we're going to do this week and we just play music."

But don't expect to hear top 40 hits on this live stream.

Duffy, who's an audio engineer and DJ, has worked with various recording artists across the globe.

He hosts the virtual jazz nights with Keith Rodger, who's a recording engineer/producer, who also DJs.

They started Sunday night jazz sessions on Zoom several weeks ago.

It began as way to stay connected with friends during the pandemic.

"We didn't really expect much but we just played records back and forth for our friends and then one week turned into two weeks, two weeks turned to three weeks and now we have like a solid community, which is fun and it's exciting," Duffy said.

Duffy and Rodger attended Jazz nights at Mr. Toad's on Sunday nights, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the bar shutdown.

"Jazz is the foundation of everything to me," Rodger said.

So without the venue, Duffy and Rodgers started hosting their own jazz nights -- from home, of course -- to keep the music going.

"Now that everybody's in their homes and quarantined, I feel like now more than ever people are more willing to meet each other and interact with each other just because they're longing for that in their local communities and they can't have it," Rodger said.

Duffy tells 3 News Now he believes jazz is based most genres of music, and reaches people from different backgrounds.

"I really love boogie funk, soul, jazz, hip hop, rock, pop... I love it all," he said.

Duffy also says music allows people to connect on a deeper level.

"It's a very important outlet for people you know, and Keith and I are providing something we can just throw on in the background and have a care free evening, and kind of forget about the week," Duffy said.

The DJs agree it's about bringing people together and keeping traditions alive.

"I think education is the most important thing," Rodger said. "A big big reason why I wanted to continue doing this is because I feel like Neal and I are educating people with the music we play."

Sunday jazz night runs from 9 p.m. until midnight on Zoom. The meeting ID is 236-821-2418.

Tonight's special guests include Spanish artist Lau Noah, who will perform live from her home in New York. She's also performed on NPR's Tiny Desk concert series. Local artist Andrew Bailie will perform from Omaha.