The weekly shows, always good and ever faithful
No doubt about it, with Y’allapalooza at the Prairie Capital Convention Center bringing in several country music stars (watch for touring bus traffic jams) and the Hilton hosting the annual Midwest Tribute to the King Competition (want to ride in an elevator with an Elvis imitator?) the area around the mighty Hiltonian and the PC-3 on Friday and Saturday is going to be quite interesting. The best entertainment value for your dollar this weekend could be just standing on the corner watching all the whatevers walk by.
On the other hand, the regular music scene is bursting with good vibrations in the bars and clubs. At this time I would like to present my annual pitch of the outstanding weekly shows going on around the area.
Every Friday for well more than umpteen years, the Springfield Area Arts Council has graciously sponsored the Uptown Friday Night music series hosted by the good folks at Robbie’s. From 5:30 to 7:30 each Friday evening, the best and brightest of local groups do their thing from blues to bebop and beyond. Last week Zach Radwine, a 20-something keyboard player, led his trio through a sparkling set. This week Virgil Rhodes and Footprints, one of the area’s most experienced and familiar jazz groups, takes the spotlight. Black Magic Johnson, a popular local blues band, is scheduled for the week after. And on it goes through the years.
Sunday afternoon music sessions are clearly an institution at the Hill Prairie Winery, a family-owned grape farm just this side of Oakford, which is right past Atterbury, on the other side of Petersburg, about 20 miles northwest of Springfield on Route 97. For several years now the Lounsberry family has steadily booked central Illinois’ finest musicians for the Sunday afternoon spot. Take this week for example, when the River Ramblers, the most authentic bluegrass band you’ll find just about anywhere, plays from 2 to 5. Last week Robert Sampson did the gig, with the Suns of Circumstance and Ken Carlyle on the books in the weeks to come. May I recommend a bottle of Prairie Dew, a Hill Prairie staple, to go with the tunes?
Where would the Springfield music scene be without the Illinois Central Blues
Club? I shudder just to wonder. Every week the group hosts the ICBC Blue Monday
Jam at the Alamo starting around 8:30 p.m. featuring national touring acts,
regional bands and local groups. This week the Groove Daddies, one of central
Illinois’ finest rock bands, don their blues shoes and make merry music. Over the next
several Mondays, groups from Mississippi, Texas, Canada and Illinois are
scheduled to host the jam, now in its 23rd year.
Before heading down to the Blue Monday Jam, be hip and stop by the Brewhaus around 5:30 for Frank Parker’s Jambalaya Jam. Between bites of complimentary jambalaya and sips on a cold one, listen to the vast array of talented area players gracing the stage, ably led by Frank, Henry Miles and other local luminaries of jazz. The music is wonderful, but the real charm comes through the interaction of veteran and novice players and in seeing the traditions of jazz performance pass from one generation to another.
Now to conclude with something entirely different, meant to directly compliment the always good and ever faithful, locals-at-the-weeklies shows. On Monday (Jan. 19) Tomorrows Bad Seeds takes a night off from touring with the Legendary Wailers to play at Bar None (Fifth and Monroe) about 9 p.m. The five-piece combo merges a variety of sounds from reggae to rock to hip-hop to punk forming a unique blend of world-ready music. TBS claims to “create a refreshing and vibrant sound to captivate any crowd” while being “one of the hottest rising bands in southern California.” There is only one way to find out the truth for ourselves and, fortunately, Bar None offers us the chance to do so.
Watch for me on the corner of Seventh and Adams, trying to catch LeAnn Rimes walking arm in arm with an Elvis look-alike.