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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 12:03 am

January jams are open

Off the Wall debuts Ashley Reilly being in the band, Saturday, 6pm at the Curve Inn.


Well, that month seemed to fly by. Maybe it was the political activities keeping things moving or the ice scare one weekend followed by temps in the mid-60s the next. Whatever is going on, 2017 seems determined to be an interesting year, to say the least, and I always say the least I can say (Thanks, Raoul, for the play on words revision).  

I’ve written before about the necessity of open stages for increased vitality and growth of a music scene, and as we get into another year, here’s one more chance to boast on the richness of our music community as shown in the variety of venues allowing anyone (within reason) to get up and perform. I include venues since it’s not only the intrepid musicians getting out on a weeknight and hosting, but adventurous club owners and managers willing to open their establishments to the unknown factor of all-access stages that make this notion happen.

To clarify a few things, the open mics are generally geared toward solo and duo acoustic acts while jams normally have house drums and amps for full-band participation. Usually there’s a signup list on a first-come, first-play basis, and generally the host plays a short set (sometimes a little too long, ahem) before the opening of the stage (this can be a figurative space as at George Ranks or a literal one like Bar None). The host then readies the guests for playing, allowing for a somewhat-set performance length, and then guests are off to do their thing.

You can finish, start or go in between your “open mic and jam” adventures this week with Mr. John Stevens at the Walnut Street Winery in Rochester from 2 to 5 on Sunday afternoon. The closest thing to an open jam on Monday is the Illinois Central Blues Club’s Blue Monday at The Alamo. Many years ago there was always a standard blues jam after the regularly scheduled band performance, but it’s best now to check ahead with an ICBC member in the know before expecting to play.

Tuesday gives us a sweet variety with John Brillhart hosting at George Rank’s (Americana), Dan Rohde running Lt. Dan’s Open Jam at the Brewhaus (rock and more), and the long running, nationally known Torch Tuesday at Bar None (hip-hop). Wednesday continues the roll with The Cardologist’s noon-time brown bag special, Frank Parker’s Jambalaya Jam at 411 Bar (jazz and blues), Wide Open Mic at Bar None (it’s really wide open), and Trail’s End in Curran featuring a different host weekly (mostly Americana, acoustic and electric). Thursday goes wild with the forever-running Open Mic with Antone at The Palomino Club in Taylorville (acoustic fun), Roger Wilco and the Starship Troopers hosting at Starship Billiards (you name it), Open Jam with Casey Cantrall and friends at 411 Bar (Dead jams and more), and the award-winning Sam and Kortney (they do it all) in charge at the Blue Grouch. There might be more and they come and go, but open stages are an integral and important part of a happening scene.

JD Wilson, a good buddy, fine guitarist, terrific songwriter and North Carolina transplant does his rescheduled Walnut Street Winery gig this Friday. Go see him. Off the Wall debuts a new look and sound to complement their winning combination with the addition of Ashley Reilly as a full-time member of the band. They’ve added a bunch of new songs and do their first full show at the Curve Inn on Saturday evening. And there’s some dude named Dwight Yoakam playing Boondocks on Sunday.

See you in February, folks.

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