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Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:02 am

Memorable Memorial Day Weekend


Plantation All Stars play at the Third Base Sports Bar, Saturday, May 25.

Yes, friends and neighbors, the official beginning of the summer season is upon us as we celebrate Memorial Day with a weekend of fun and excitement. Please remember to remember your lost loved ones as Grandma used to do on “Decoration Day,” the old school holiday name for the last Sunday in May. Our family always used the day not just to commemorate the military fallen, but as a wonderful way of bringing family together to remind younger generations of the final resting places of ancestors and be regaled by stories of the elders.

For our first Memorial Day Weekend adventure let’s go somewhere wonderful, but unexpected. Usually MDW events are all outside stuff with motorcycles and boats or water and camping or music in the out of doors. Here’s a fantastic indoor show that could very well be one of the most musical and powerful performances of the year. I’m talking about the Petkov-Brazzel Violin and Classical Guitar Duo concert at Unity Church (corner of Cordelia and Fourth in Southern View) on Saturday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. This may not be your typical MDW fare, but violinist Kamen Petkov and classical guitarist Russel Brazzel are a delight to behold. This summer they’re taking their show on the road, to Bulgaria in July to be exact, and this Saturday is a warmup for the big trip to an Eastern Europe music festival. Be sure to let all your Bulgarian friends know about this one and check it out yourself this weekend, just in case you don’t make the trip.

Along with our outstanding local blues bands playing for the hordes of motorcycle enthusiasts attending the Springfield Mile race, we are experiencing a couple of outrageously good, out of town groups hitting clubs this weekend. On Saturday at the Third Base Sports Bar on the south side of town, come listen to some incredible blues as Vince Johnson and the Plantation All-Stars featuring Johnny Holiday drop in for an unforgettable show with openers James Jones Trio. Johnny played the role of Carl Perkins in the I Walk the Line film about Johnny Cash and Vince blows a blazing harmonica, playfully called the “Mississippi Saxophone” down South. Half the band is from Chicago and half are native to Memphis, giving them a full band from two of the most influential blues cities in the world. You could catch them five nights a week down on Beale Street in Memphis or you could mosey on over to Third Base on Saturday. The choice is yours.

The other exciting blues act comes in town on Monday for the weekly Blue Monday at the Alamo, sponsored by the Illinois Central Blues Club. Gina Sicilia hails from Philadelphia and recorded her debut album in 2006. Since then she’s steadily climbed the national blues steps, opening for Johnny Winter, Joe Bonamassa, Shemekia Copeland, Beth Hart, and James Cotton along the way, while releasing four well-received records and reaching nearly 60,000 fans daily through various social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Her latest, It Wasn’t Real, came out on April 30 and is already causing a stir in the blues community and beyond. Gina’s on the road constantly with her very busy, highly touted promotional tour, traveling throughout the Midwest before heading out to the American Southwest and even off to Italy in September.

As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, there is more than enough going on this weekend all over town and these are just a few suggestions that reached me. Please check our IT listings and go have a memorable weekend as our 2013 summer time begins.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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