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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 12:03 am

Music makers converge

Back Pack Jones returns to The Alamo this Thursday at 6 p.m.


We are set for what looks like a fine week for unseasonably warm weather and incredibly good music. These next two weekends closing out February are brimming with music makers making music for you to enjoy.

First off, let’s celebrate the successful showing of Back Pack Jones at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis a couple of weeks ago. They didn’t win big time by official standards but they were in the thick of it, playing right alongside the ultimate winners and, by all reports, doing what they do best, the very best they could do it. If there is anything bad about these contests (not just blues, but any genre), it has to be the completely subjective nature of judging music performance. From your looks and sounds to what you wear and say or even what the judges had for breakfast all bears on the final judgment of the contestants. We all know that what is one person’s favorite band is another’s anathema, and we know that makes for a poor way to decide who is best and who goes home. When you enter a contest like this that knowledge is present, but we also all know it sucks to lose or whatever you want to call it.

We say all that just to say that Back Pack Jones is a great band, and we are proud they represented us at this widely attended, internationally acclaimed blues contest. Let’s show our support by coming to see the guys during James Armstrong Presents this Thursday at The Alamo, starting at 6 p.m. with food for purchase and the best blues-based bands around.

Norb Andy’s continues bringing it on with our dear friend and wonderful musician Josie Lowder back in town for a visit with a gig at Norb’s on Friday. Josie, still located out east in the Boston area, will do her usual unusual performance that will likely feature an assortment of area musicians joining in for some merry music-making. Sorry about gushing, but for anyone who has experienced Josie playing music, you know the feeling I’m talking about. She just puts it out there in a way of complete abandon coupled with musical expertise that simply is the gift of good music-making we all search for in our listening souls.

On Saturday, Norb’s hosts the return of King T’z, a band featuring former members of Pork and The Havana Ducks, The Delta Kings, Twang Gang and other area favorites. These guys do the blues along with a nice assortment of related material, packing in a fun time with serious musicianship. Based out of Champaign, they stay busy all around the area from Homer to Monticello, Decatur to Bloomington and stops in between. It looks like you might need a cot at Norb’s this weekend or a sleeping bag for a sleepover. Just watch out for the hauntings. You might make a ghastly mistake and make a ghostly friend.

Nothing helps out more than music to ease the troubles, and nobody helps out friends like musicians. You can see this truism in action this Sunday from 2 to 6 as friends and music makers come together to throw a benefit for Jimmy Hurley at the Firefighters/Postal Club on Lake Springfield. Bands include Live Wire, Todd Henry and the Flashbacks, Diversion and Bustin’ Loose. Thanks to Gwen for letting me know about this and for all the musicians everywhere who donate time and talent to let good things happen.

Next week is going to be crazy with Boat Drunks and Liz Fitz and Mardi Gras parties and other exciting events to behold and be at. See you then.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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