StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Omaha Diner offers menu of reimagined hits


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"You've got to have a gimmick" may be a hoary old show-business cliche, but there's still some truth to the idea. Building an act around a distinctive, easily understood concept can help a performer stand out, and as “gimmicks" go, the band Omaha Diner has a pretty good one.

The quartet - seven-string guitarist Charlie Hunter, single-named saxophonist Skerik, drummer Bobby Previte, and trumpeter Eric Bloom, in for original member Steven Bernstein - plays only songs that have hit number one on the Billboard pop charts, albeit in rearrangements that often bear only a passing resemblance to the originals.

St. Louis audiences will get their first chance to hear those remodeled hits in person next week when Omaha Diner plays next Wednesday, November 18 through Saturday, November 21 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Hunter certainly is no stranger to the Bistro, having played there several times in recent years. Skerik also has performed in St. Louis recently with The Dead Kenny Gs and Garage A Trois; and Bloom was here just a few weeks ago with the funk band Lettuce at the Pageant.

Next week's gigs, however, are the official St. Louis debut for Omaha Diner as a band, and so today we offer a video sampler of some of their decades-spanning songlist, starting up above with a cover of the Beatles' 1964 smash “I Feel Fine," recorded November 9, 2013 at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR.

After the jump, they're reaching back to 1972 with a version of the O'Jays' “Love Train," from a show in July, 2013 in Philadelphia.

Below that, there are re-imaginings of two hits from 1987: Terence Trent D'Arby's “Wishing Well," recorded on July 4 of this year at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, CA; and “Sweet Child O' Mine," made famous originally by Guns N' Roses and captured in a performance in November 2014 at the studios of KPLU in Seattle.

The same session at KPLU also yielded the last two videos, as Omaha Diner offers their takes on “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," a hit for Beyoncé in 2008, and “Thrift Shop," a hip-hop-turned-pop smash for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in 2012.

For more about Omaha Diner, read this review of a 2013 show in NYC, and this feature published last year in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

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