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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 12:03 am

Show me shows

The Suitcase Junket (Matt Lorenz) performs Friday at Bar None for a Bedrock 66 Live! concert. Dave Littrell opens the show at 8pm.


We survived the great ice scare of last weekend with a few cancellations and a little rescheduling, which resulted in bonus attendance at the gigs that remained, attended by brave and reckless souls determined to experience live music at all costs. This weekend is bursting with in-town and out-of-town music all over town.

The annual return of the WUIS Bedrock 66 Live! concert series is always a good sign of fine things to come. The 2017 kick off happens this Friday at Bar None when Matt Lorenz, starring as The Suitcase Junket, arrives with his baggage in tow. Lorenz, a Vermont native with a penchant for interesting and odd sounds and songs, has released three albums as The Suitcase Junket since 2009. He plays solo, accompanying his peculiar, throat-singing style with a rebuilt and repurposed electrified guitar plugged into old, noisy tube amps. He does the percussion part with an assortment of odds and ends including an old beat-up suitcase, an empty gas can, a cast-off cooking pot, and a circular saw blade that sounds like a ringing bell plus a box containing bones, silverware and other assorted goodies to make noise in rhythm. To top off all the strange sounds, his songwriting is a beautiful and restless form capable of creating spaces and places worthy of a visit to blow your mind. Dave Littrell of The Station, The Deep Hollow and Dave Littrell Band opens the show at 8 p.m. with his original tunes and style.

Excitement goes underground Saturday night with an enticing and provocative show at The Radon Lounge featuring an array of the arts with live music, poetry and book readings along with good coffee and an arcade. Ben Bedford, my best buddy and good pal, plays a set of his original American story songs filled with mysterious and potent images backed by a strong voice and intricate finger-picked acoustic guitar. Rebecca Rego & The Trainmen, an indie-rock-Americana band out of Champaign, comes to knock out songs from Lay These Weapons Down, a recently released album produced by Beau Sorenson, who has worked with the likes of Bob Mould, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Death Cab For Cutie, Field Report and Elsinore. Also on the bill, Mike Butler of Vonne (formerly The Locals) appears in his first solo appearance at The Radon Lounge.

In the literary department, poet Johari Idusuyi, the woman who taught us by action to calmly read books during raucous rallies by a certain President-elect who claims to not read books (and we believe him), all while being accosted by his fans who seem to not care for books that don’t begin with a capital “B” and come already written by God, offers up readings of her poems to the Radon faithful. Local author Jonathan Meyer brings his science fiction book Cosmic Fate (available at Barnes & Noble) for public perusal with plans to sign purchased copies and do a reading. The mystery of The Radon Lounge’s location is best solved by online communication methods ( or Facebook page) or by simply asking someone who previously attended a show where the heck the place is.

International Blues Challenge time is right around the corner, so expect upcoming fundraisers to help our winning musicians get on the “Road to Memphis,” like this one on Saturday at The Alamo for Bo Ricketts. A North Side Chicago native, Bo impressed our Illinois Central Blues Club judges with a cool-handed, one man show that captured the Solo/Duo prize, and now we’re ready to support his attempt to impress the judges at the IBC in Memphis. Onward to the contest, and upward to the toppermost.

Let the shows begin.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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