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Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 12:03 am

Sounds fair enough

Betty Whitesnake plays Moonstock 2017 in Walker’s Bluff on Sunday.


We’re closing in on the final days of the 2017 Illinois State Fair, and from all reports, all has gone fairly well. Soon the dust will clear, the flies will fly away, and our entertainment scene will return to normal as the memories of fun times carry us through until next year.

As always, there is live music galore at the fair, from the Ethnic Village to the Lincoln Stage, from the Grandstand to the pop-up areas around the grounds, from the beer tents to the other beer tents, and more. My personal favorite upcoming show is the Sunday night John Mellencamp concert, not because of JCM, but the opening act. Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter, kicks off the show, then joins Mellencamp on stage for several songs during his performance. I interviewed her back in June, but now I can’t find my notes. Well, who cares anyway; she’s one of the best artists out there and keeps the Carter flame alive in spirit and in song.

Last week brought a couple of interesting personal coincidences involving the upcoming concert. On Tuesday I was in Bloomington, Indiana, playing a songwriter’s showcase, and the guy next to me did a song about seeing the same “pink houses” as “some other songwriter,” but not having the same commercial outcome with his tune about those houses. I hear Mellencamp shows up at local restaurants and contributes a great deal to his hometown community. Then, on Friday, as a guest of Kevin Hays with Old Crow Medicine Show, I was backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and who do you think was the first act? Yes, indeed, it was Carlene Carter. She was fantastic on her two songs and I got to meet her afterwards for a selfie and short visit. Yes, I was star-struck. I’ll be on the road Sunday, Aug. 20, playing gigs in New York City, and will miss the whole shebang.

The live music excitement continues at the Curve Inn’s “South Side State Fair” when Thursday features a big night of guitars. Toronto’s Galen Weston Band, supported by our Groove Daddies and David Lumsden Band, joins with Springfield native Greg Pasenko to create a six-string extravaganza to remember.

Now let’s leave the fair behind and take a Saturday trip to Allerton Park near Monticello for a concert by the Jerry Douglas Band. You’ve likely heard Mr. Douglas even if you’ve not heard of him, since he’s been the premiere live and session Dobro player in Nashville for decades. He’s out promoting What If, his just released album on Rounder Records. Jerry is, and always will be, known as one of the greats, so if you can make it, then go.

The biggest news this week eclipses the fair, concerts, ramblings and just about everything – and that would be, of course, the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. You’ve been hearing all about it, but for us the big news is that local band Betty Whitesnake plays Sunday at Moonstock 2017. The festival, held at Walker’s Bluff, a winery in southern Illinois right in the path of eclipse totality (where the sun is covered by the moon for the longest length of time), runs Friday to Monday. Lots of bands are playing, including the real, live Ozzy Osbourne performing his song “Bark at the Moon” at 1:20 p.m., just as the eclipse begins totality (for about two and a half minutes), then Mr. Oz does a full-blown concert. Pretty wild, but pretty cool, and the boys in Betty Whitesnake are pretty stoked, and rightfully so.

It all sounds fair enough to me.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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