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Thursday, April 3, 2014 12:01 am

No fooling around this April

Famed jazz drummer Barrett Deems (born in Springfield on March 1, 1914 and died in 1998) was honored last Sunday at Sangamon Auditorium during a performance by the SFJazz Collective.
Oh, how I wait for April Fools’ Day to fall on a Thursday again. But alas and alack, we have a few years left to go. So I won’t announce that Recycled Records has relocated to White Oaks Mall inhabiting the former Abercrombie & Fitch space. Nor will I get to proclaim that the Hoogland Center for the Arts will now be called the A.B.E. so everyone will pronounce it correctly. No breaking news that the city council agreed on something and that something was to establish a minimum wage for working musicians to be equal to the hourly fee charged by city attorneys or CWLP linemen or taxi drivers, any of which would be a great improvement. Nope, this week we will just talk about all the good music happening in our fair city and save the fooling for later.

First, I’d like to do what I like to do least, and announce events that already happened. Even though I didn’t get to it last week, it’s well worth the ink to credit Bob Vaughn and the good folks at the Sangamon Auditorium for honoring Springfield native son and jazz drumming great, the late Barrett Deems last Sunday during the SFJazz performance. Deems, who would have been 100 years old on March 1, played with some of the best from the big band era, doing stints with Jimmy Dorsey, Red Norvo and Dixieland swinger, Muggsy Spanier, plus many others. Billed as “the fastest drummer in the world,” for several years he toured the world with Louis Armstrong. Quite a character and worth looking up, his YouTube videos reveal an incredible talent from a bygone era.

Out at the university last Friday, UIS Music Department faculty hosted an Ethnomusicology Recital featuring a range of interesting instruments including a trio of Chinese ones, not often seen, heard or pronounced in these here parts played by UIS students from China. The concert is done, but there will be more in the future and I will do my best to keep you informed. Also, any community musicians looking to play in a classical format should contact the department about joining the band.

Recently somewhere, I overheard a newcomer to Springfield, who came expecting a negligible nightlife and became a highly complimentary fan of our music scene. In a tone of mild disbelief, the woman stated with happy amazement that she had no idea there were this many good bands and musicians playing out all the time at so many different places. Here are a few examples from this week’s listings.

It’s been awhile since we heard the combo of Real Time playing jazz, swing and just doing their thing with that neat-o Hammond organ sound. Catch Steve Emmons, Hank Helton and Bob Wagner at Robbie’s Friday evening, 5:30 to 7:30. I remember hearing them jam away under Andiamo at Charlie’s Place several years ago. Fun times for sure.

Alt-country, rockin’-folk, original group Iron Orchard rolls in from Macomb to play Guitars and Cadillacs on Saturday with our pal John Brillhart opening the show. Harmony Deep, in their fairly new configuration sans Brian Curtis, plays at Lime Street on Friday and Saturday night. The inimitable Norb Andy’s hosts Juke House on Friday and Sarah Schneider on Saturday for a fun, can’t-miss weekend in the coolest venue anywhere.

On Saturday, The Mud Bugs swamp-i-fy Pier 55 as Shakedown 66 covers The Cove, while Bossa Azul sambas into It’s All About Wine and Novocaine injects some rock into Mowie’s Cue.

Now that’s just a few of the many, so be like our new friend and go get amazed by the talent in the Springfield music scene. I’m not fooling.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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