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Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 07:49 am

Thanksgiving Eve is a big party night

Rachel Rambach

For those of you who have a tradition of slaving over a hot stove on the night before Thanksgiving preparing a fabulous feast for family and friends, perhaps you’ve not noticed the Wednesday night before National Feed Your Face Day has steadily climbed the party barometer to become the greatest, most popular and best-attended night out on the town of the calendar year.

Aha, you say, now I know why my dinner guests seem a little dog-eared and blank-eyed for the early part of the day. That’s right, they’ve been out whooping it up, because those in the know know, Thanksgiving Eve is the best night of the year to get up and party down. The reasons are obvious and simple if we apply some lucid deductive reasoning. Most people have Thanksgiving Day off (many get or make it a four-day weekend) so recovery time is ample with a free and very large meal usually in the works around mid-day. Then to top it all off nightclubs now know the potential party extravaganza at hand and book bands on a Wednesday night just to make the pre-holiday, holiday worthwhile.

If you don’t believe me, check the Web. Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest bar-going night of the year, drowning out St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Halloween and any other annual party night you’d care to mention in consumption and revelry. It’s become so popular that in the last few years the night received its own popular title of Thanksgiving Eve, but as of yet, no greeting cards, napkins, hats or other holiday paraphernalia have been reported in the national media or seen in Walgreen’s (or the CVS store across the street).

The benefit of all this hopefully informative gobbledygook to the readers of Now Playing is simple: We get several more opportunities to experience live music on this most inconspicuous, yet decidedly fashionable of holidays.

The big event this year is Harvest Hoedown at the Illinois Theater inside the Illinois Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The all-ages event sponsored by Turasky Catering brings 56 Hope Road back to Springfield with, as always, favorite son and drummer Greg Fundis in the percussion seat. The band is still hitting the road hard, performing its unique style of original folk-funk-rock music with a definite acoustic bent. It’s good stuff for dancing, listening, musing or just plain, old-fashioned rocking out. Second on the bill, Bourbon Bluegrass Band hangs around the acoustic music well, drinking up songs from John Hartford, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Drew Emmitt and standards from the bluegrass and folk-rock canon then pouring them out for you. Opening the show are the Channel Cats, featuring John Reilly and Danny Kerwin showcasing more acoustic, country-oriented, traditional tunes for your listening pleasure.

The rest of these bar shows all start around 9 p.m. (you know how those musicians are) and go to around 1 a.m. (there are laws in this town) with the late-night joints yet to report in on live music action. Then again if you’re heading to a three o’clocker are you really concerned about the band?

Perfunctory This Band presents the music of the Grateful Dead with a one-of-a-kind, PTB twist at JW’s Lounge and the Outnumbered go crazy at the Koo Koo’s Nest. In an Athens, Ill., double bill, Saturday Night Special takes aim at the Boar’s Nest and Bluesmattics dust their brooms at the Longbranch. The award-winning Dirty Ernies get things swinging at the Caddyshack, and Prairie Rose sails into Pier 51 Lounge. Old buddies, but relatively young men, Josh Reilly and Matt Meinart, do the acoustic duo thing at Trail’s End. Springfield’s very own lovely and talented Rachel Rambach will long be remembered for playing the Alamo.

That’s not all folks but it’s all I got. Enjoy your holiday and the night before.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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