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Thursday, Dec. 23, 2004 07:43 pm

now playing 12-23-04

art1675

No one is saying Springfield seems a little peculiar at times, although I can certainly see where one could get the idea, but no one is saying so.

So what if we are the capital of a proud and populous state and still have a miserable recycling program, underfunded public libraries, a poor mass-transit system, and a segregation line as obvious as the shiny nose on the bust of Abraham Lincoln in front of his tomb?

We also do other things in a backward, odd manner. One of my favorites is the "kids will be home syndrome." You see, in other cities such as Champaign and Urbana, home of the University of Illinois men's basketball team and a college of some kind, when the kids (that's students) leave town for the holidays, the nightclub scene is decimated. The same goes for any college town such as Charleston or Macomb -- even Jacksonville and Bloomington-Normal are affected by the mass evacuation of bar-going music lovers. But where do they all go? Seems that many return to their home of origin in our lovely little prairie capital and make our bar scene one hopping place to be during the holidays. How else to explain the presence of NIL8, one of the longest-running and most prolific units in Springfield band history, at Viele's Planet on Christmas night? Then there are those ever-lovin' cats in Black Magic Johnson, getting their Christmas pudding to go and heading over to the Underground City Tavern to ride the Yuletide wave. Other bands have shied away from the big night but are taking advantage of the holiday boom. Prairie Rose (bless the Kitchen family) have the 25th off, but they've worked in a nice Christmas Eve gig (6-9 p.m.) at George Ranks. Kerri Grant, one of the best solo acoustic singer/songwriters you'll see anywhere, pops into the Underground City Tavern for a day-after-Christmas show.

Whatever a Neanderthal Alien is will be at Jazz Central Station on Thursday and Sunday night, doing whatever a freeform-jazz jam band from Amsterdam does. Most places have the old TBA lined up, meaning that they'll probably be closed but could be open, and, hey, maybe a band will wander in, set up, and play as a last-minute gift to the listening public.

Anyway, it's our little town and we get to live in -- and with -- it.

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