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Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 04:21 am

A Brewhaus adieu

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Tom Irwin at a Brewhaus Sunday with Owen Irwin, Bruce Williams and Tim Harte (not pictured) as the Raouligans.
PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE

In a heartbreaking time for me, after 18 and a half years of being booked at the Brewhaus every Sunday, my streak has come to an inglorious end. Management at the club wants to “shake things up” and so they did. Bands looking to play Sundays can contact general manager Nate Short. May the ’haus be with you.

I started playing Sundays at the venerable bar sometime near the week it officially opened in late October of 1993 and remained every Sunday in varying ensembles until last week. Of course I missed several nights through the years for various reasons but generally some form of a band performed, with me singing and playing, on a Sunday night. There were wakes and birthdays, engagements and divorces, benefits and fundraisers, plus many, many nights of fantastic music playing I will never forget, along with plenty I’m sure I can’t remember.

Well over half of my professional career as a working musician revolved around what became known as “church” to the live music fans of Springfield. In 1999 we celebrated 300 Sundays, in 2003 10 years, in 2007 666 Sundays and 15 years in 2009. In 2003 we released Live from Brewhaus recorded by Ric “Skip” Major featuring Raoul, Tom Woolsey, Keith Voegele and Reggie Britton as the Notorious Hired Hands. Times change as do circumstances and a few weeks ago I was offered a spot in the new Brewhaus band rotation and to host weekly shows, but I like to play music often and on my own terms, so I’m off to find another home.

This Sunday we’ll be celebrating Mark Brillhart’s birthday at the Tin Can Pub then likely roam around until settling down to start another run somewhere. If my calculations were correct, 1,000 Sundays would have been our total on Jan. 13, 2013, so it was near 980 on our last date, Aug. 26, 2012. I’d like to thank owner Mike Parkes for decades of friendship and years of giving me a place to practice my profession and all the musicians who joined me on stage making music. So, as I’ve said for years at the end of each performance, “Thanks for coming to the beautiful Brewhaus in lovely downtown Springfield. We’re going to take a short break and be back next week.” It’ll just be somewhere else for now.

My apologies for grossly misspelling guitarist Ed Halerewicz’s last name in the Aug. 30 Now Playing on Rockhouse’s 20 years of music making. Nothing but sloppy checking on my part caused the error and if you see Ed, please let him know it stands corrected this week. And compliment him on years of playing compelling, melodic and intense rocking guitar.

In a veritable blues explosion, the Walnut Street Winery hosts the Ivas Johns Band from St. Louis on Saturday, the Chris Beard Band from New York on Sept. 14 and the renowned bluesman James Armstrong (now a Springfield resident) on Sept. 28. And while we’re at it, put these blues shows in your pipe and smoke ’em: The Mojo Cats early at the Alamo Friday, Hurricane Ruth at Crow’s Mill Pub Saturday and Southside Jonny at the Alamo for Blue Monday.

In other blue music news, the Blue G’s with a new CD in hand, play Friday evening with other groups at a concert during the New Salem Traditional Music and Bluegrass Festival held this weekend at the state park grounds near Petersburg. Hundreds of pickers play all day on the grounds and some all night in the campgrounds at this delightful event celebrating music that timelessly takes us through the ages. Bring your instrument of choice or just come to listen, but come and somehow participate.

Until next week….

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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