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Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 12:03 am

December doings

The Blue Gs, along with The Deep Hollow, play The Curve Inn on Saturday night.

 

Welcome to our first “Now Playing” of December 2016. Yes, indeed, you read that right. We are fast approaching good-old two thousand and seventeen, with New Year’s Eve leading us into First Night Springfield and plenty of other celebrations to bring us off and running into the new year as prescribed by our Western European calendar.

Our society makes this time of year a special one, and music is key. The first sign of Christmas, even before a thousand lights go up or a gift gets stuck on layaway or a dead tree is hauled into the house, must be those familiar songs blasting through store speakers and across the radio waves, luring us into holiday submission. Most of the time I go willingly into the Advent abyss, aided by respect for the songwriters, ancient and current, who labored to create various versions of our holiday music catalog.

I have a favorite Christmas songbook done in the popular Whatever for Dummies series that not only presents music, chords and lyrics for more than 50 songs, but also relates stories about the tunes. My favorite carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” originally began as a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, penned while HWL waited for word on his son’s status as a casualty in a Civil War battle. Many others wrote music to the poem, first put to paper in 1864, but Johnny Marks, best known for his ditty about a red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph, came up with the sweet chord progression we associate with the song today. “Jingle Bells,” called “One Horse Open Sleigh” when first published in 1857, likely takes the cake for our most popular secular number. The singalong song was written by James Pierpont for a Thanksgiving celebration at his church before it was re-released on sheet music with the new title to become the standard we know today. My Grandma Hodgen, born on Dec. 2, 1895, used to say anyone who truly spent time in a one-horse open sleigh in winter weather would not be as jolly as the characters in the song.

Now it’s time for some “Now Playing” action. Get set for the acoustic duo of Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett from the legendary rock band Little Feat (opening act The Deep Hollow) performing on Thursday, Dec. 1, at The Legacy Theatre for the WFC Foundation in conjunction with the Springfield Boys Club and Girls Club and The Matthew Project. Read more about this show in “Band Spotlight.” Let’s head to Friday, where some scheduling decisions definitely must be made. The Gus Pflugmacher Trio, one of the longest running musical acts in town, with Gus gallantly at the helm, plays at Robbie’s from 5:30 to 7:30, while father/daughter team Molly and Mark Mathewson sweetly serenade the world at The Cardologist at the same time.

Shortly after that on Friday night, Michael Taylor lands at an old haunt as Norb Andy’s brings back consistent weekend live music (Jerry Setnicky performs on Saturday). For more Friday doings, The Loops roll into the Curve Inn; Sunshine Daydream resurrects the Dead at the Brewhaus; Old Shoe slips into Bar None with Springfield native Greg Fundis on the drums; and The Brotherhood gets together at Third Base. At The Legacy Theatre, Joseph Hall presents his award-winning, truly stunning Elvis Rock ‘n’ Remember tribute show with a version of “Blue Christmas” likely in the set list.

In an exciting night at the Curve Inn on Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m., The Blue G’s and The Deep Hollow come together in a set-swapping, musician mixing, intertwining evening of entertaining area Americana music.

Get set and go toward the new year without fear.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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