Last year at this time, I compiled a short
wish list of items that, if delivered, would allow our hometown to
not suck, or at least to continue sucking with much more excitement
and fulfillment. A few of my dreams came to pass, but most ended up
in the wastebasket of hopeless wishes, soon to be thrown on the
garbage heap of forgotten ideas. So this year, instead of searching
for the light at the end of the tunnel, let us bask in the glory of
what was and is.
Like some strange beast spewing good music
from both ends, the mighty Hilton Springfield continues to be our
bastion of live music. The top of the building has held steady with
new, original rock, rap, funk, and blues bands; the bottom books
mostly roots rock and rockabilly acts, with world-renowned artists
stopping by now and then. Both bars favor local acts, which is very
nice of them.
Several other nightclubs — among them
Buster’s, Norb Andy’s, Marly’s Pub, MoJo’s,
MC Tap, and the Trading Post — consistently book area talent.
Expressions in the Dark, a collection of
poets and musicians, is a monthly gathering of cutting-edge artists
performing in a tranquil and enticing atmosphere. In the wilds of
rural Pleasant Plains, the Cabin Concerts have blessed us with a
series of performances by world-class acoustic artists.
Our music organizations — for instance,
the Illinois Central Blues Club, the Springfield Jazz
Society, and the Sangamon Valley Roots Revival — have survived
another year and excelled at hosting national, regional, and local acts
at various venues and events.
Metal music, once a bastard child of the
Springville music scene better kept locked in the closet, has come
out into the hall, thanks to support from DJ Metal Chris, Club 217,
and Viele’s Planet.
The Hoogland Center for the Arts is beginning
to blossom, with various organizations and individuals booking
diverse artists for performances there.
We still don’t have an all-ages venue,
but some of us do believe in miracles.
And — I’m not making this up
— I’ve heard more people defending the local music
scene than ever before, and though I must admit that most of the
praise comes from out-of-towners amazed at the diversity and talent
available at little or no cost to the consumer on any given night
in Springdale. Things are coming around.
Now if we could just find a way to resurrect
the Orpheum . . . but, I guess, some wishes won’t ever come
Springfield heads the list this week in fine entertainment, for
sheer diversity and quantity if nothing else.
Highlights of the alcohol-free
event include bluegrass beauty Wil Maring at the First United
Methodist Church, the Alternative Rock Teen Dance Club in the old
On Broadway, silent movies and other things at the Hoog (the hip
name for the Center for the Arts), and classic big band and reggae
at the Chase Bank. Ken Carlyle, sans the Cadillac Cowboys, is a blast from the
past for locals at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (no hip
Let’s give a plug
to the midnight fireworks — but never, ever listen to the
synchronized radio music accompanying the display. Pretend it does
not exist and let your mind make up its own music, please.
For those seeking
alternatives to the big alcohol-free celebration, most of
Springfield’s regular music clubs are hosting bands, usually
a favorite performer, and a few are jumping into the
live-entertainment business just for New Year’s Eve. All
taverns have the option of staying open until 3 a.m. on this
special night, so if you’re waiting for the bouncer to toss
you at the usual time, keep one eye on the clock (especially if
you’re seeing double), or you may end up past your pass-out
The Brat Pack hangs at the
Hilton, Late Arrival makes its way to Spillway Lanes, Jill Manning
and the New Beaver Valley Band roll into Freebirds, and Jumbo
Elliot and Springfield Shaky duke it out at a battle of the bands
at Café Kanichi-Wa. Razin’ Kane and the Urban Jazz
Project do the American Legion Post 809 thing, Early Warning covers
the Springfield Firefighters’ Club on Lake Springfield, and Mark Hurley is flying
solo at Knuckleheads.
See the ever-faithful and
(almost) always accurate Pub Crawl listings for further proof that
Springfield is a happening place this New Year’s Eve.