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Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 12:03 am

Ending August blast

Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials play the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ festival on Friday night in downtown Springfield.
PHOTO BY Paul Natkin


Well, we made it through the state fair, survived a solar eclipse, and now we’re preparing to wrap up a very exciting and busy August 2017. Don’t stop now, folks, this week and the weekend are chock-full of more stuff than you can shake a stick at.

On Thursday the Nashville-based, Southern rock-influenced band The Steel Woods hit Boondocks for one night only. Out in support of their debut album titled Straw in the Wind, singer Wes Bayliss and guitarist Jason “Rowdy” Cope lead the band through gritty and edgy songs mostly written by these two front guys. All sources say their live show brings the music to an incredible level of rockin’ out. This is one of those times where you can catch a band on the way up and say “I saw them when” years later after they’ve become rich and famous.

The big news for this weekend has to be the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ festival in downtown Springfield. A multiple-time winner in our Illinois Times “Best of Springfield” contest for best music festival, the combination of tasty BBQ and blues is hard to beat. The action centers on the Alamo at Fifth and Washington, longtime home to the weekly “Blue Monday” shows presented by the Illinois Central Blues Club. The Alamo hosts an after-party on Friday and Saturday with the fantastic Kilborn Alley Blues Band from Champaign-Urbana (they tour everywhere) playing from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., with “who knows” showing up to sit in. The big party starts on Friday at 6 with Mary Jo Curry, followed by Albert Castiglia at 7:45 and Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials at 9:45. Saturday at 3 p.m. brings us yet another ICBC Blues Challenge to see who goes to Memphis in February to represent the club at the world-famous International Blues Challenge. Then our resident bluesman James Armstrong plays at 5:45, followed by Eric Gales at 7:45 and Kenny Neal at 9:45. Now that’s some mighty, tasty blues! The BBQ is up to you to discover.

On Saturday, a mere 10 miles west of town at the Clayville Historic Site near Pleasant Plains, the Clayville Folk Music Festival presents their annual concert in conjunction with a Cruise-In Car Show and the second annual Clayville Art Fair. The action kicks off in the morning when cars drive to Clayville from New Salem, with the car judging going from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The art fair features area artists displaying their wares, including pottery, photography, paintings, clothing and watercolors. The music starts around noon with the Don Buedel Memorial Old-Time Music Gathering, hosted by Don’s son, Clay, and featuring a collection of pickers and players on fiddles, banjos, mandolins, guitars and maybe, if we’re lucky, a jug or two to blow in (not to drink from, please).

At 2 p.m., the Broadwell porch stage kicks off with Blake and Austin (original bluegrass-folk), Two Dudes (popular songs on guitars and vocals) and The Lei Abouts (a bunch of ukuleles doing cool tunes). Other performers are Southern Pike (bluegrass/gospel) at 4, The Templetons (family bluegrass band) at 5, Tom Irwin & Theresa O’Hare (you know us) at 6, Last Acre (dad-daughter combo Mark and Molly Mathewson) at 7 and Barry Cloyd (Peoria-based folk singer) at 8. Then Blake Martin and friends (as Dogs without Horses) close out the night around 9 with some wild and wooly bluegrass-y jams. There will be a song circle afterwards going until the cows come home or all the folks go home, whichever happens first.

That works for me. See you next week.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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