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Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 12:03 am

Fabulous February music

Mike and the Moonpies rock the country at Boondocks on Friday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m., with Jason Boland and the Stragglers.


2018 rolls along its merry way on this roller coaster ride of time, but rest assured that no matter what, the live music offered in town is consistently good and plentiful.

On Friday, Austin, Texas, bar-band breakouts Mike and the Moonpies conjure up a rockin’ country sound at Boondocks as part of a cross-country tour supporting Jason Boland and the Stragglers. The mighty Moonpies are releasing a new record on Groundhog Day and are pleased as punch to be back at Boondocks to tell the folks all about it. Called Steak Night at the Prairie Rose, the fifth record by the band reflects the group’s “old soul honky tonk” sound with nine of the 10 songs penned or co-written by Mike himself, otherwise known as Mike Harmeier. The new single, titled “Beaches of Biloxi,” garnered some glowing words from Rolling Stone Country in a recent premier preview, and these guys are blowing up all over with a chance to drive it home with a jam-packed 2018 touring schedule.

Remember Donnie’s Homespun Pizza, the cool music venue and restaurant/bar from not that long ago in the Vinegar Hill Mall? Well, it’s gone for good in Springfield, but the original site is in Decatur near Millikin University and regularly hosts live music along with yummy pizza. This Friday night our friends in The Paper Boats bring their “alternative folk” music and high-end acoustic sound to the venue. Pleasant Plains native Blake Martin along with fellow musicians Mirabelle Skipworth and Isaac Wieser make up the hard-driving and sweet-sounding trio. Expect plenty of originals with folk standards weaved into the set and a sound reminiscent of younger, modern acoustic groups, such as the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons.

On Saturday night the Paris-Belle House concerts welcomes our very own Amy Benton to the beautiful confines of the lovely Williamsville abode. Your hosts offer concerts throughout the year when touring artists pass through the area and fit into the Paris-Belle style, with occasional concerts featuring local acts. Amy goes to Nashville quite frequently for co-writes with friends and published writers, and among her music career accomplishments, Amy has had songs broadcast on radio station WSM (home of the Grand Ole Opry) and played the famous Bluebird Cafe. Did I mention the sunny personality and winning smile that accompanies the clean guitar playing, sweet singing and melodic writing of catchy tunes that comes along with the Amy deal? To find out how to attend the concert, send a message to paris-belleconcerts@outlook.com.

To rock out with your heart out on your sleeve, look no further than the triple bill at the Curve Inn on Saturday, featuring area bands Betty Whitesnake, Level Sixx and The Phantom Lordz (a Metallica tribute). We’ve got some major metal talent in these combos, and the settling of the dust will take some time after this one is over. Be sure to check out Level Sixx doing a special set at 7:30, as things are on the move and may not ever be the same. Yes, I’m being purposefully mysterious, and that’s fun for us all.

If you’re looking for a Sunday Funday happening, head to the countryside outside Palmyra to the Vixen Hill Winery and take a listen to the smooth acoustic sounds of California Jeff with special guests Lenny & Molly. This is a rescheduled date from Jan. 7, and as the tongue-in-cheek claim made on the online Pub Crawl page says, “imagine how much better Jeff must have gotten with all of the extra time to practice.” So we should go see if it’s true.

Let the February action begin.

Tom Irwin can be reached at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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