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Thursday, July 1, 2004 04:49 pm

Now playing 7-1-04

Abe Lincoln Continental Viele’s Planet. Saturday, 10pm.

Hello fellow Americans, ready to celebrate 228 years of independence? Put that bottle rocket where it belongs, and let's get (fire)cracking.

Begin your holiday weekend with a Thursday evening stop at Cecil's beer garden to experience the uplifting sounds of elevator shoe featuring the stellar vocals of Trina Madonia. You won't find a more pleasing sound in the city nor a more pleasant place to absorb those delightful vibrations emanating from the stage. Bask in it, baby.

Midlife Crisis doesn't play out a lot, so you need take the time and make the effort to see this talented bunch when they do. Fronted by Patti Deneer, a world-class vocalist originally from Seattle, the group performs a variety of popular music. Catch them at Robbie's Uptown Friday Night gig this week and/or at Plae Dae, a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored picnic at Bridgeview Beach July 8.

Viele's Planet, Springfield's firmly grounded heavenly body of rock music, features not one but two CD release parties this weekend. The first disc out of the gate is by State of Mind. The quartet, just recently selected as one of the five finalists in the Illinois State Fair Battle of the Bands competition, formed in 2002 to play original, blues-based rock & roll. Ruff Neck opens the Friday night show. Saturday, the only band in town courageous enough to name themselves after our favorite son and a car (at the same time, no less) lets loose with their first piece of music-filled plastic. Abe Lincoln Continental recorded their seven-song EP in Williamsville at the "Red Room" with Joe Tury and is fully prepared to unleash it upon an unsuspecting world. Helping ALC with the entertainment duties, in no particular order, are Mugshot, The Timmys, and Hot Boy Ltd.

Friday, Bread Stretchers once again welcomes the acoustic pop-punk sounds of Even in Blackouts. The Chicago group is fronted by John "Jughead" Pierson, founding guitarist of Screeching Weasel, a tenderly named band forever etched in the punk portion of people everywhere. Midnight Fall, Resident Genius, The Pacemakers, and BHS fill out the all-ages-allowed bill at the little sub shop by day, rock & roll club by night, nestled comfortably on the corner of Monroe and Fourth.

Say a prayer and wish good luck and fabulous fortune to local trumpeter Chad Minier as he heads off into the sunset for a July tour with Blind Pig Records bluesman Hamilton Loomis. Minier, when not traveling with music luminaries across the Western Plains, sits in with elevator shoe and NIL8 plus fronts his own "Project" and "Quartet."

Here are some upcoming musical extravaganzas scheduled in July. Banks and Shane dish out patriotic bluegrass at the "Ameren/CILCO Summer Serenades" on July 8 in lovely downtown Springfield. Hot Tuna smokes 'em out on July 9 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. On July 10, BR549, Mandy Barnett, Robbie Fulks, and the Horton Brothers boogie on at the Hilton's "Roof Top Roots Fest." July 17 and 18 marks Lincoln Land Community College's inaugural "Summer Fun and All That Jazz Festival" with Nancy Wilson and John Pizzarelli. Finally, our very own Groove Daddies headline the "Taste of Downtown" on July 26.

May you relish the feelings of freedom and languish in the love of liberty while enjoying this holiday weekend.

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