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Wednesday, May 2, 2007 01:41 am

Park closed

Celebrated Springfield band pulls the plug on Saturday

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Untitled Document Call it the end of an era, the beginning of the end, the start of something new, or whatever other cliché you want, but the native Springfield band Park is no more. The group, together for more than 10 years with relatively few personnel changes, made its mark in the national indie-rock, emo/pop/punk world, garnering much praise from fans and critics alike.
Ladd Mitchell joined the original Park trio around 1996 and basically became the band, even though he would never admit to it. He worked as frontman, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and primary songwriter and was the only member to play in all four incarnations of the group. Recently, though, after more than a decade of unrelenting dedication to the cause, he decided to leave the band for personal reasons. “Ladd had some life-changing experiences,” says Miles Logan, Park’s percussionist, who joined the group in 1999, at the beginning of the climb to national acclaim. “It was his choice. I’m sad to see it go, but we’ve moved on with a fresh start.”
Regardless of where they are and what they’re doing, members of Park are gathering in Springfield for a final show on May 5, along with dedicated and dejected fans from around the country. The influx of messages on the band’s Web site and MySpace page express feelings of grief, combining anger with hope, denial with shared memories, and sadness with reluctant acceptance. The electronic correspondence shows the widespread influence and popularity of the band and sheds light on how Park reached that level coming of age during the days of Internet expansion.  A friend and fan known simply as “eileen,” hung out with the band during last year’s tours, interviewing and taping the guys onstage and behind the scenes. The resulting official Park DVD, Weathering a Summer, will be for sale at the last show and online. Plans are in effect to film the final concert and combine the footage with previous touring moments for a live performance DVD to be offered later in the summer. Fans can find the hotel room with the camera to pay their final respects and deliver last remarks on their relationship with Park on film for posterity.
“We could have done a final tour,” says Logan, “but to do one show in Springfield with all our hardcore fans from all over, that’s very cool.”

Park performs one last time at the Route 66 Hotel & Conference Center (625 E. St. Joseph St., 217-529-6626), 6:30-11 p.m. May 5, with Midnight Fall, Farewell to Twilight, and Game Night. Tickets, which are $10 in advance and $15 at the door, are available at  www.myspace.com/park.  

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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