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Thursday, May 6, 2004 07:36 am

Now playing 5-6-04

Ultraviolet Grandstand Saturday, 8:30pm.

Strike up the band -- several of them in fact. Let's see who's on first, who's on last, and what's in between.

All the signs of approaching summer are here. The oak trees are leafing out, the swallows are back, folks are donning shorts and losing shirts, but most importantly, the beer gardens are open. Cecil's leads the way in open-air entertainment with Elevator Shoe Unaffected on Thursday from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and the Alamo nourishes your bucolic alcoholic tendencies with Mike Burnett and Jeff Kornfeld from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

Texas singer Mike Barfield comes to the Underground City Tavern Thursday with another top-notch Austin band fully prepared to follow him as he meanders through a wonderful excursion of blues, soul, and funk with a little "rock & roll on the side, just for good measure." Anyone who claims his "baby is a yum-yum" is all right with me.

Friday is famous jazz cat night in Springfield as Wayne Coniglio of the Ray Charles Orchestra returns from New York City to perform at Robbie's from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Then Virgil Rhodes lines up a few very special friends, including Wayne and a collection of incredible musicians from St. Louis, Urbana, and Bloomington to continue the jazz extravaganza at 9 p.m. in Andiamo!'s smoke-free Lincoln Room. Without a complete confirmation I can say the bands will be one in the same, or something very similar to being exactly alike. Please take the time to enjoy this wonderful opportunity to experience some world-class jazz in little ol' downtown Springfield.

Kit Jones has been busy over the last month making his Mudbugs as mighty as ever with local faves and veteran muzeecans, Jeff Helton, Steve Dykema, and Fred Edmunds. Check them out in Tallula at the Prairie Rush Saloon on Friday or at the Patch in Taylorville on Saturday.

For some smooth country sounds saunter on into Knucklehead's on Saturday and hear the sweet harmony of Prairie Rose. They have recorded a CD in -- where else? -- Nashville, Tenn., that will please the palate of anyone looking for a taste of mild and filling country fare.

Who's that opening for Mugshot at Dempsey's on Saturday? A jamband called The Jeremiah Bridge from St. Louis? Isn't that where our old pal Nate Parienti lives? Hey isn't that him in the band? My, my, who woulda thunkit?

Bless their souls, my week is again complete as Black Magic Johnson returns to their senses and to Floyd's Thirst Parlor on Wednesday nights. The trio's groovy blues sounds will once again echo in the friendly brick confines of the popular watering hole on Fifth Street. It's always a gathering spot for wayward musicians, which leads to interesting sit-ins and spectacular jams of phenomenal proportions -- really.

This season's BMJ Wednesday night show includes the added bonus of Joe Frew and Posamist playing until 3 a.m. right across the road at Stella Blue. Don't forget to look both ways before crossing, even if it is a one-way street. Hmmm, how to depict the pedestrian crossing character at that spot. . . ?

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