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Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 12:03 am

New year music


Casey Cantrall and friends host the Jukebox Open Jam every Thursday at 411 Bar & Grill, from 8:30 to midnight.

With New Year’s Eve behind us, we can now comfortably head into 2018 with a full January weekend on the books. Let’s start off the new year with a look at some of the many area artists and local venues that make our community a better place to be.

On Thursday night, singer and guitarist Casey Cantrall hosts the Jukebox Open Jam at 411 Bar and Grill. Casey is joined by J.J. Bradley on keyboards, Trey Tholan on bass and Dan Lograsso on drums, plus various other local musicians. There are plenty of open mics in town but few that offer a full-band backline “to players of any genre or level of experience.” This venue has supported live music since it opened and continues to have weekend bands along with regular Wednesday night jazz jams and the Thursday night jam.

The Craft Beer Bar, on the corner of Fifth and Monroe, has been called many names through the years, but I’m only talking about venue names here, folks. I remember it best as the Wooden Nickel where I played many a gig and watched many a fellow musician do the same. After several years as a dance club doing DJ stuff, the longtime watering hole under the management of Morris Cooper (formerly of Floyd’s and way formerly from the Brewhaus) has slowly and thoughtfully brought live music back to the front of bar. This Friday night, Larson, Larson and Harte (as in Kimberly, Jay and Tim) rock out on some groovy, good music. Morris hosts a blues night on the last Wednesday of the month and consistently books live music into the friendly confines of the hallowed hall during the weekends.

 On Saturday night Deep Lunar Blue kicks off the new year with a show at Crows Mill Pub, another live music venue with a long history of performances going back to the late ‘70s and the Crow’s Mill School days. DLB plays originals, Dead, Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Young and lots of other cool covers featuring J.J. Moffatt playing drums, Casey Cantrall doing guitar and vocals, Jay Bohn on bass, Tony Turasky on guitar and vocals, plus an assortment of other musicians popping in and out of the mix. A few weeks ago, on Dec. 16, DLB held their eighth annual Christmas bash at the Butternut Hut. I hope you heard about it and went there, as this writer fully failed to mention the always fun event that has grown to become a classic night in our music scene’s happenings.

Out in Rochester, the Walnut Street Winery continues to host consistent live music every weekend, and the first weekend of 2018 is no exception. Stuart Smith, our good friend and brilliant guitarist from Winchester, brings his acoustic show to the WSW on Friday. Recently Stuart, a fellow member of The Motivators during the band’s (probably) final configuration, has formed his own group aptly called the Stuart Smith Band and played out at Danenberger’s last year (yes, a few weeks ago, in December of 2017). I expect we will see much more of this talented guy in 2018. On Saturday night, Loren, proprietor of the winery, brings in Matt Ellis to entertain the folks. Based out of Champaign, Matt, interestingly enough, lists his influences on his Facebook page as “Grunge, Rock, Country, Blues, Original.” Along with his own tunes, Matt goes from Soundgarden to Merle Haggard, Nirvana to B.B. King, Alice in Chains to Chuck Berry. I’m all for that kind of mix-and-match set up.

As usual, there’s a bunch more where that came from in this week’s “pub crawl.”

Tom Irwin can be reached at


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