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Thursday, May 24, 2007 11:39 am

Hot licks

The music never stops during the summer months

Untitled Document It’s that glorious time of year when central Illinoisans whip out the sunscreen, find the bug spray, dig up the flip-flops, dust off the portable chair, and otherwise prepare for a delightfully fun-filled summer, complete with an abundance of outdoor live music activities. Downtown Springfield is one hopping place these days, and things really heat up during the warmer months. Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, on the south side of the Old State Capitol Plaza, listen for performances by a wide variety of local artists. On Washington Street between Fifth and Sixth, the SoHo Music Fest kicks off the festival season with more than 20 performers, 4 p.m.-midnight June 1 and 2. The 21st Annual Washington Street Jazz and Blues takes the same location on June 23 to showcase area jazz and blues bands in one of the finest festivals of its kind in these here parts. Just around the corner, on July 7, is Springfield’s very own Taste of Downtown. Not that long ago, a festival of this size and gist was only seen in faraway burgs. Now a Springfield summer is not complete if you don’t sample the cuisine from 25 downtown restaurants and dance in the streets to bands on the American Music Stage. The Old Capitol Blues & BBQs, the final official summer downtown whoop-de-do, on Aug. 25, features a baby-back-rib cook-off, plus a mix of local, regional, and national blues acts. Get away from the asphalt jungle and head for greener pastures when the world-renowned Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon gets those bells a-ringing June 3-9 at the International Carillon Festival, in Washington Park. It’s so easy to take the mighty bell tower for granted and forget how lucky we are to be the proud custodians of this precious instrument — or at least that’s what all those out-of-towners that come each year for the festival say. Don’t forget the Music in the Park series, featuring concerts on the third Sunday of each month through September. Each show pairs a couple of our finer area bands by genre in the bucolic surroundings of a city park for your entertainment pleasure. Thought you’d get through the summer without a visit to a beer tent? Hah! It’s not likely to happen around here, buddy. In fact, it’s considered unpatriotic, uncivilized, and unthinkable. The Illinois State Fair, obviously the big daddy of beer tents in our neck of the woods, continues its history of libation stations staffed by local bands. Feel free to locate and patronize your favorite music group at various and sundry county fairs, homecomings, festivals, shindigs, burgoos, summerfests, chautauquas, bashes, outings, gatherings, and celebrations in every central Illinois village, hamlet, burg, parish, township, and rural community worth its weight in Roundup Ready soybeans.
Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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