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Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 12:01 am

This “Best of” business

The Blue Gs captured our Best of Springfield award for Americana/Folk group for 2013.


Long before I wrote for Illinois Times, for a couple of years I was up very early every Thursday to deliver thousands of freshly pressed papers to make an extra buck or two. The Best of Springfield delivery days always demonstrated the incredible impatience, fueled by anticipation, of our anxious readers. People wanted to know who won.

Downtown shop owners and passersby would grab papers out of my hands as I unloaded from my van. State offices were no different. Our public servants met me at the door to get an IT as soon as I could cut the plastic yellow straps that held the bundles. I felt like Jimmy the Newsboy on Election Day back when newspapers were the main source for news and on every corner.

My first personal experience with BoS occurred in 1992 when we won for Best Folk Band – we, being Bruce Williams, Brad Floreth, Tony Berkman and I, with Raoul in there somewhere. The mainstays of that mostly, un-folk-like group were as surprised as the members of the folk community in Springfield. The issue of winners in befuddling categories continues in this 2013 issue of BoS.

Debbie Ross recently wrote to us wondering why she keeps winning in the jazz category since she is not a jazz singer. Debbie, all I can say is it’s the same reason NIL8 scored high in hip-hop, the winning band in Americana disbanded two years ago and the top original band plays mostly covers. The choices are made by the voters, and as we all well know as members of the democratic process, voters cannot always be trusted to make reliable, intelligent, informed decisions. Oh, and congratulations Debbie, for winning Best Jazz Group/Artist ... again.

Since technically there is no right or wrong when voting, as long as you follow the guidelines, anything can happen. But if we want the entertainment part of BoS to be taken seriously and used for what it is, a referendum on the work of serious artists doing the best they can, hoping for the best and possibly getting enough votes from properly participating, engaged and interested readers to win or get mentioned in Best of Springfield, then it’s up to us to pay attention and vote accordingly. Then again, it’s still an open popularity contest and those who convince enough people to “vote for me” will always win in whatever category they choose.

Anyway, have fun looking at the 2013 results. Congratulations to the top vote-getters and all that were mentioned, plus those who didn’t make much of a splash but are out there doing their thing to entertain the public and enjoying themselves in the process. And as always, a reminder that we are open to your suggestions meant to improve the process to make the Best of Springfield, the best it can be for you, our readers.

Here’s some different “Best of” news from Chris Sorenson, a local guitarist in the band Flight who recently won the Best in Shred contest hosted by music store Sam Ash, guitarist Steve Vai and online photo app Instagram. As regional winner, Chris heads to the Castle Theater in Bloomington, Ill. this Saturday to perform the song as an opening act for Steve Vai. The tune, an original instrumental, called “Bell’s Ringing,” was written a few years ago and inspired by the unexpected passing of Bella Piper, a family friend. In the crazy and cool category, Bella knew Vai well in her younger years when she was involved in the music business, and now, Chris plays a song for him, inspired by her. Cool stuff.

That’s the “best” I can do for his week.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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