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Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 12:03 am

Christmas cutbacks

Music by Chel (Sarah Sgro) holds an album release party at the Curve Inn on Thursday night with Kapital Sound plus Monkh and the People.


With Christmas falling on Sunday in 2016, as you might imagine, our weekend entertainment scheduled is crimped and cramped into mostly Thursday and Friday nights. But, hey, that’s okay, it’s Christmas Day! Who is going to argue about that?

First off, let’s take some time to send congratulations and high-fives to Mary Jo Curry, whose James Armstrong-produced album hit seven weeks on the Roots Music Report Charts, a verifiable, radio-reporting national chart. The well-respected system covers national and state radio plays from American roots music based programs and separates the music into categories such as Blues, Rock and Folk with sub-categories as well. She’s charted very well for weeks now, and that’s pretty wonderful, incredible and all-around terrific, as MJ’s husband, guitarist Michael Rapier, attests to in his detailed Facebook post about the album’s success. For some perspective, Mary Jo lists at 10 for this week on the Illinois state chart (she was at 7 last week), right ahead of Wilco (Schmilco) at 11, Ivas Johns, the Southern Illinois singer-songwriter with a Gary Gordon-produced album at 13, and Chicago Farmer, an occasional Springfield performer from Delavan, at 16. In case you’re wondering, Illinois native John Prine holds the 2 spot and Chicago’s Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials are number 1 this week. Way to go, Mary Jo, and all involved.

Springfield native Sarah Sgro, otherwise known as Chel, an up-and-coming St. Louis contemporary pop artist, has a new album called Proof out on the market. She held a release party at St. Louis’ Blueberry Hill not long ago, and now album release party number two happens at the Curve Inn on Thursday. Two bands, Kapitol Sound plus Monkh and the People, kick off the show starting at 7 p.m., then Chel (some folks still call her Sarah) does a complete performance of Proof (available on iTunes and Spotify) right after the opening acts around 8:30. For a good taste of her sound, check out Music by Chel on YouTube.

Off the Wall, 2016 recipients of the Illinois Times’ “Best of Springfield” award for Rock/Pop Band, says “thank you” to fans (affectionately referred to as Wallers to those in the know) with the Third Annual Waller Appreciation Party on Friday at the Capital City Bar and Grill starting at 8:30 p.m. The band is giving away a house party performance to a lucky fan as part of the appreciation part of the Appreciation Party. I hope the winner invites me to the house happening. I really like to hang out with these guys.

On Friday night, singer and songwriter and accomplished guitarist Chris Miller, our good friend from Latham by way of the old Romany Club, plays the Walnut Street Winery in Rochester. Chris, by the way, is a brilliant and modest guy who writes particularly excellent songs and now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. When he makes his way back up to the home turf a couple times annually, we get lucky enough to see a live performance of his songs accompanied by some sweet guitar picking, and usually a guest artist joins in the fun.

Well, it just wouldn’t be the season proper without an “It’s a Very NIL8 Christmas” show. The 2016 event is at Bar None on Friday with The Timmys and Attic Salt. Go and count your blessings as sugar plum fairies dance all around your head while you hit the mosh pit or whatever happens at these wild and crazy, fun-loving shows.

Here is a Christmas greeting: Ho, ho, ho. All those in favor, say, I, eye, aye.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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