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Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:09 am

Three Fridays and a Wednesday

“American treasure” Phillip Walker plays Starship Billiards on Friday

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The Last Vegas play Marly’s Pub on Friday, July 20.
Untitled Document In his press release Phillip Walker is billed as “An American Treasure.” Take a few moments to browse his biography at www.phillipwalker.com, and you may want to add the word “Unsung” to the accolade. Walker — to let you know some highlights — was born in Louisiana in 1937. His family moved to Port Arthur, Texas, when Phillip was 8 years old. When he turned 16, Clifton Chenier, the great zydeco/blues performer and accordion master, hired him as a full-time guitarist. Walker has been playing ever since — more than a half-century of playing guitar for a living. Along the way has Walker worked with Ina Beatrice “Bea Bopp” Gilkey (who became his wife), Little Richard, Etta James, and Fats Domino and recorded for the Smoke, Hightone, Rounder, Blacktop, and Alligator labels, among others, and traveled the world as a sideman and with his own group. It’s truly a privilege to see and experience someone of this caliber and experience, and all accounts indicate that Walker still puts on one whale of a show. Make it a date for 9 p.m. Friday, July 20, at Starship Billiards (2301 Stevenson Dr., 217-585-8888). The concert, sponsored by the Illinois Central Blues Club with support from the Illinois Arts Council and Starship Billiards, is free to boot. How about that!
For you wild rockers out there, check out The Last Vegas at Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280) on Friday, July 20. The Chicago-based group has ties to the local scene through Rory Davis, who once played with the band and now performs with Thunderbeast, one of the opening acts (the Damwell Betters round out the bill). Now out promoting a new recording, High Class Trash, The Last Vegas got their song “Raw Dog” on the Guitar Hero II video game (no, I don’t have one) and play the official theme music for NASCAR’s Kyle Busch. I tend to agree with Davis’ succinct and articulate assessment: They “are kicking some serious ass lately.”
Here’s one more cool show for Friday, July 20: the Korn Kountry Jamboree at the Capital City Bar & Grill City Nights Theatre (3149 S. Dirksen Pkwy., 217-529-8580). The evening begins with an acoustic set by Southside Johnny and Zach Johnson, two excellent and spry blues pickers. Next up are the Creek Road Ramblers, a Peoria group, and the Bourbon Bluegrass Band, featuring Luke Turasky. On Wednesday, July 25, there’s more rock/blues-based stuff from singer/songwriter Michelle Malone, who plays the Underground City Tavern (700 E. Adams St., 217-789-1530) stairs. Even though last time in town she forgot that we were to do an interview (they say she’s a bit on the wild side and hence lacking in everyday structure and organization), I’ll forgive her as long as she belts out a blistering version of “Tighten Up the Springs,” which she will likely do regardless. Opening for Malone is stellar singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist and all around pop-rockin’ guy Will Kimbrough. He be good, as they say in the business.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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