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Wednesday, May 14, 2008 11:40 pm

Playing in the park

Young bands perform at Saturday’s Showcase in Centennial Park

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Five Oh Four Plan is among the bands that will perform on Saturday in Centennial Park.
Untitled Document A few years ago the Springfield Parks Foundation, in cooperation with the Springfield Park District, began producing “Music in the Parks,” featuring live music by area bands once a month, May-September, in various city parks. Local sound guru Ric Major — a stalwart of the central-Illinois music scene since the 1970s and owner/operator of Middle Option Music, a recording studio and live-sound-reinforcement business helped develop the shows, providing the sound system, booking bands, and basically serving as the contact between district officials and musicians. He recently signed on with the district to help expand our live-music park experiences.
Besides Music in the Parks for 2008, Major has helped come up with Alive After Five, a new event that features bands in the Douglas Park band shell, 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays twice a month during the summer, starting on June 11. Much to Major’s delight, at least two Saturday showcase concerts for high-school and twentysomething bands have been added as well. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for many years, especially to work with young bands,” Major says. “It gives these guys a chance to perform on a real stage with a nice sound system.”
Derek Harms, the new director of recreation for the Springfield Park District, contacted Major, asking him to choose the bands, produce the shows, and make everything come together. From his years of experience on the local scene, Major knew what bands to get for the adult shows, but finding the youth groups took some searching. “I went out to the battle of the bands at Lincoln Land [Community College]. It was an eye-opening experience,” Major says. “I passed out some forms and let the bands know we were doing this showcase concert.”
Then using the most popular form of communication for today’s young musicians, he hopped onto MySpace and contacted Indecision, one of the bands from the college concert whose members expressed interest in performing at the showcase. From there the word spread to other local groups in the MySpace network, and soon Major and the park district had enough performers for two shows. The first concert is at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 17, after the Springfield Park District-sponsored Summer Jamboree at Centennial Park. The second is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14, in the Douglas Park band shell. In keeping with the youthful sentiment of the showcase series, most of a band’s members must be under 24. Both showcases are filled, but the possibility of another concert exists. Any band interested in performing should contact Major at ric@ricmajor.com or at www.myspace/middleoptionmusic.
“We’ll be walking a fine line working the rules as we go along the first year,” Major says. “I see it as a great opportunity to connect the community with the local music scene — and that’s what it’s all about.”

Performers scheduled to play in the Showcase in the Park, 5-8:15 p.m. Saturday, May 17, in Centennial Park include Brandon Carnes, Go Away Orange Pogo Stick, Gingerbread Throwdown, Five Oh Four Plan, and Indecision. For more information, go to www.springfieldparks.org.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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