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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005 04:57 am

Adieu, elevator shoe

Band’s last show is Saturday at MC Tap

Back in 1997, jazz saxophonist Frank Trompeter was fascinated by electronica and trip-hop and began wondering how those sounds would translate into live music. Along with drummer Ted Keylon, Trompeter began an experiment that became the band elevator shoe. After the addition of bassist Bruce Williams and guitarist Ocean Alexander in early 1998, the group began performing regularly at local bars and coffeehouses.
In late 1999 Trompeter mentioned to his friend Trina Madonia that elevator shoe had learned a song from one of the mix tapes she had lent him, and he was going to sing it. Instead, Madonia asked to sing the song. “She had never been in a band before, and I didn’t even know if she could sing,” Trompeter says. By the end of 2000, elevator shoe’s focus had shifted, as Madonia became the frontwoman, singing most of the band’s numbers; the rest of the song list comprised the instrumentals that had previously been the band’s focus. With Alexis Rogers as the new guitarist and Scott Neuweg taking over on drums, the band’s familiar lineup was complete by 2001. In the fall they released their first CD, Occupancy by More Than 119 Persons is Illegal, and became one of the best-attended live shows in Springfield as the first rock/dance band to play in Jazz Central Station (called Gumbo Ya-Ya’s at the time). On the Roof, a live performance recorded by Ric Major during a 2003 JamFest performance, became the group’s next CD release. In recent years the band has continued to perform, but finding time for rehearsal and agreeing on show dates has become increasingly difficult as its members have reached out in different directions. “We felt the band had run its course,” says Trompeter, “and we wanted to quit while it was still successful.” The group may have strayed from Trompeter’s original vision of a live trip-hop band, but it carved out a niche in Springfield’s music scene that won’t soon be filled. “We accomplished a lot but not what I set out to accomplish,” Trompeter says. “Trina allowed us to be a palatable mixture with a progressive edge that wasn’t so far out there no one would like it.”
elevator shoe featuring Trina Madonia performs a final show at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at the MC Tap (2901 Chatham Rd., 217-726-5633).

Happy anniversary to F5, consistently one of Springfield’s favorite bands since their first gig at Bootlegger’s on Dec. 13, 1996. They’ve weathered a few personnel changes but have remained committed to playing contemporary hits in a way no other local group has. Illinois Times readers certainly like them — F5 has won the Best Band category more times than any other combo in town. The celebration is 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at Buster’s (1120 Sangamon Ave., 217-522-0552).
The blues head back home on Friday, Dec. 16, when Bourbon Street (1031 S. Grand Ave. E., 217-788-5808) hosts Studebaker John and the Hawks, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. The historic bar at the corner of 11th Street and South Grand Avenue, known as Bruce’s Tavern for many years, was the original home of Blue Monday, the weekly get-together of the Illinois Central Blues Club. The ICBC, by the way, celebrates 20 years of existence in 2006. Studebaker John, an old-school harp man and slide guitarist based in Chicago, deftly mixes classics and originals with West Coast swing, New Orleans R&B, blues-rock, and, of course, good ol’ Chicago-style blues. Expect to see some familiar names from past Blue Mondays, including Jason Ricci, Rockin’ Jake, and Nick Moss, performing at Bourbon Street in the next few months.
Big bands rule, but, unfortunately, they are slowly becoming extinct — so, I say, honor the musicians who grew up in the era. They are real players playing some of the best music ever written, recorded, and performed, and it’s really great dance music as well. Diversity, led by the magnificent John Sluzalis, plays Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 and 17, at the Lime Street Café (951 S. Durkin Dr., 217-793-1905). On Sunday, Dec. 18, the Bowling Alley Big Band swings low in a Springfield Jazz Society-sponsored Christmas show at Spillway Lanes (1025 Outer Park Dr., 217-546-5221), 6-9 p.m. Also on Sunday, from 5-8 p.m., at VFW Post 755 (2211 Old Jacksonville Rd., 217-546-9515), the Don Smith Band plays a retirement party honoring Don Howard, longtime host of Sunday Bandstand, a WMAY (970 AM) morning program dedicated to that glorious big-band sound.
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