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Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008 01:40 am

It’s not always fair

The capital city is crawling this weekend with flies, strangers, and musical acts

Andra, Antje, and Caroline (left to right) are the members of Tin Horse.

When the Illinois State Fair is going on, many things around here change: Road directions are altered, bars stay open until 3 a.m., strangers are everywhere, and the fly population skyrockets. But life does go on, so here are a few entertainment selections from both inside and outside the fairgrounds.

Tonight (Thursday, Aug. 14) at Marly's Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280), be on the lookout for another big damn show by the Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band. The band — which consists of three people with the surname of Peyton, playing an acoustic resonator guitar, a washboard, and a small drum kit — is out supporting a just-released CD, The Whole Fam Damnily. The Bourbon Bluegrass Band opens the show.

On Friday, Aug. 15, from 8:30 to 11 p.m., check out Tin Horse, a modern-country group booked at Country Junction (formerly Key West), one of the free entertainment theme areas on the fairgrounds that also serves beer. Fronted by three young women who play fiddle, guitar, and keyboards, Tin Horse has a nice opening-act résumé, boasting performances in front of Gretchen Wilson, Diamond Rio, Toby Keith, and Emerson Drive. The women, who have a bit of that Dixie Chick mascara-and-music thing going on, bill themselves as "a Southern rock/country band out of Chicago/Nashville," which sounds confusing but reveals a great deal. Also on Friday, from noon to 2 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m., catch Lori Franke and Miles Station, a high-energy country act from Shipman, Ill., a small town halfway between Litchfield and Jerseyville on Route 16, right down the road from an even smaller town named Miles Station. Cadillac Ranch, a very good local country group with an outstanding female vocalist, completes the "women of country music" lineup with a show from 3 to 5 p.m.

Now it's another day and we're off to see the infamous and legendary David Allan Coe at Club Chrome (3075 Normandy Rd., 217-585-9655) on Saturday night. Coe, who displays Confederate flags on his guitar and promotional posters, also goes to great pains to declare his nonracist beliefs and isn't quite sure why skinheads and others of their kind flock to his live shows. But whatever you think about him personally, professionally the man has had a successful run, with several major hits as a performer and songwriter, and puts on one terrific live show attended by all kinds of folks.

On Sunday, Aug. 17, let's scoot back to the fair to catch four of my favorite area bands under the Miller Lite beer tent. First off there's the impeccable and enduring Elvis Himselvis, playing 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. during the Chilli Cook-Off. Following that larger-than-life entertainer are the Eva Hunter Band at 4 p.m., the Damwell Betters at 5:30 p.m., and the Micah Walk Band at 7 p.m.

There is so much more music at the fair that I haven't mentioned, from the grandstand concerts to the ever-popular Ethnic Village and the other free stage areas that host music shows all day long and into the night. It's certainly one of those times when there's too much to do all at once. Oh well — that's the way the funnel cake crumbles.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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