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Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 12:19 am

New Year’s news

The impeccable, sensational Debbie Ross performs at Donnie’s Homespun, Friday, Dec. 28 at 8:30 p.m.
As I titled this end-of-the-year column I had no idea that the last two years I had come up with the same catchy words to name my final “Now Playing” of the year. I guess I started a tradition, and I’m sticking with it from here on out.

The 2012 music scene in Springfield grew with new venues and new bands, but then we also lost a few on both fronts, so overall with the changes incurred, the song remains about the same. New clubs include Boone’s Saloon, back with a great beer garden set for live music, a tasty menu and occasional bands in the redecorated and refinished dining area. Norb Andy’s resurrected itself again like a boat afloat on troubled waters, and this time by folks with a plan to keep the good ship sailing with live music, good food and friendly vibes. The Tin Can Pub took over the old Remy’s/Mojo’s/Bedrock space on Monroe and supports live music on a regular basis. New on the scene this fall, Boondocks, out on Dirksen Parkway, made a big splash with national, regional and local acts and a sensible booking policy of using country-ish bands. Donnie’s Homespun took up residence in the Vinegar Hill Mall with a big sound system, a nice stage, good food and a similar game plan within the rock and pop genre.

The north end gained new clubs as Salute of Springfield along with Guitars and Cadillacs moved into existing places each with a renewed focus on local bands. Downtown remains the focal point of centralized bars and venues with the largest concentration of live music at a given time in a certain area. We had our little spat with the mayor over keeping the smaller festivals open late, and I think both sides learned valuable lessons about how each other operated, coming out stronger and keener on the issue of live entertainment on the streets of Springfield. Recent changes in ownership of beer distributorships may change how the State Fair beer tents operate and what acts make it to stages sponsored by the big beer boys at other events.

As to the bands and musicians, some came, some went and some stayed the same. The scene hung together with good CDs released by various performers and consistently solid live performances by an ever growing number of groups. No one made the Grammys, hit it big on the Top 40 or opened for Coldplay, but it was easy enough to go out on any given night of the week and experience quality live music.

For this weekend, as always, check IT’s Pub Crawl listings for accurate and extensive coverage of the bar scene. If you get a moment, musicians and fans alike should toss a thank you to Anita Stienstra, our calendar person, for doing a terrific job of keeping the dates straight on what can be a quite crooked avenue.

New Year’s Eve comes next Monday night with live music on every corner, but before that let’s mention a rare, evening club performance by the impeccable and sensational Debbie Ross at Donnie’s Homespun on Friday. Then all kinds of good music happens over the weekend, including a special Illinois Central Blues Club Blue Sunday at the Knights of Columbus Hall (Iles and Meadowbrook) featuring a blues jam beginning at 8 p.m. hosted by the Mojo Cats and Tombstone Bullet. Musicians are invited to bring their instruments and sign up for the final jam of 2012.

Don’t forget our fabulous First Night on New Year’s Eve in downtown, and please be careful however you celebrate the coming of 2013.

See you next year.  

Contact Tom Irwin at

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