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Thursday, Sept. 16, 2004 05:21 am

music notes 9-16-04

Eddie Van Halen

• A hearty congratulations to Sharon Graf, assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois at Springfield, on capturing first prize at the Illinois State Old-Time Fiddle Championship, held Sept. 5 at Rockome Gardens near Arcola. In an old-fashioned fiddle-off, Graf defeated her 2003 nemesis, David Smith of Aurora, and about 30 other participants for the blue ribbon. Graf teaches sociology and anthropology and also coordinates student-music activities on the UIS campus.

• They're calling it the Best of Both Worlds Tour as R. Kelly and Jay-Z combine their platinum-selling talents for a 40-city fall tour of the United States. Between the two singers, about 55 million records have been sold worldwide, and they've separately won numerous music-business awards. If you want to go see them, head to the Savvis Center in St. Louis on Saturday, Oct. 23. Tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets or you can get them by calling 314-241-1888.

• Just when you thought it was safe to come out, here they jump again, as middle-aged rockers Van Halen finish the last leg of their 2004 tour. Ticket prices are in a reasonable $60-to-$80 range. Almost makes one want to try for the Golden Ring seat, available only through an auction with a minimum bid of $90. In all fairness, the proceeds of the auction help benefit a charity for runaway kids, so bid away. You'd better hurry, though -- Van Halen performs at the Assembly Hall in Urbana-Champaign next Tuesday, Sept. 21. Get your tickets by calling 217-333-5000, or visit the nearest Ticketmaster outlet.

• Hang on to your balls, bowlers -- it's the glorious return of the Bowling Alley Big Band to the lounge at Spillway Lanes just north of the Town & Country Shopping Center on Outer Park Drive. They've got 17 pieces swinging from 6-9 p.m. Sunday with nothing to spare. Yeah, these cats are the real thing. It gets no better than this, so strike up the band, strap on those dancing (or bowling) shoes, and get to the church on time for BABB's long-awaited return.

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