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Wednesday, May 13, 2009 06:49 am

Moonlight and music in May

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Keith, Lucky and Rodney of the Moonlight Rhythm Rangers.

Won’t you join me in celebrating the middle of May by participating in the varied and diverse collection of exciting events offered to our community by various organizations and performers for your entertainment satisfaction. In other words, check this stuff out, dude!

Once again the Moonlight Rhythm Rangers are galloping to the rescue of country music, with the latest mission performed at Bar None on Friday night. Fronted by the illustrious Rodney Patterson and the debonair Keith Voegele, the little group with the large name sticks to a tried-and-true, all-American song list consisting of country classics, fitting originals and a few zesty zingers. The secret weapon of the bucolic-based band is none other than the Singing Sergeant himself, Greg “Lucky” Patterson, a talent to be reckoned with on the drum kit and a country crooner of celestial standards to boot.

The Mule Kickers, a brand new outfit featuring instrumentation on guitar, fiddle, banjo, doghouse bass, mandolin, harmonica and drums, perform their very first show ever on the same bill with the MRRs. The five-piece combo covers country music from “all three Hanks” plus tunes by Robbie Fulks, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Old Crow Medicine Show to give you a drift of which side of the barn they’re leaning on. So dust off your worn cowboy boots and pull out your snappiest snap shirt and come hear some you-know-what kickin’ country music in downtown Springfield. Yee-haw.

On Saturday at the Nelson Center in Lincoln Park, the Springfield Park District hosts a family-oriented, summer-kickoff event called Summer Jamboree with plenty of free kid activities including a wind tunnel, giant slide, Velcro wall and other contemporarily cool, fun gizmos like that from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We here at Now Playing central are interested mostly because of the high school jazz band invitational concert from 2 to 4 p.m., but hey, who could pass up a Velcro wall without at least a leap? The concert features Springfield Area Youth Jazz, Glenwood High School Jazz Band and a five-piece group from Southeast High called Jet Black. The original idea, according to Ric Major, soundman in charge of organizing bands (and last week’s GirlFest go-to guy), intended to include several area high school jazz bands, but through whatever causes, only the three above-mentioned groups ended up playing. Hopefully next year more school bands will use this fine opportunity to hone performance skills outside of the band room or gymnasium on a professional sound system in front of a varied and captive audience. The Summer Jamboree closes with a Movie in the Park presentation of Wall-E at dusk. Get more details at www.springfieldparks.org or 217-753-2800.

I take it for granted that most locals are aware of WQNA 88.3FM and its eclectic and original programming hosted by volunteer community DJs. With such shows as Soul Express, Wacky Radio, Crop Circles, Metal Mayhem, Country Classics, Real Deal Hi-Fi Blues, Esoterica and Jazz Take Out, this isn’t some national public radio system supported by listener donations and government funding or calculated corporate radio sustained by ubiquitous commercial advertising while culling songs from a not-so-clear channel far, far, away. No, WQNA: The Edge is a small, mostly independent station operated by the Communications and Media program at the Capital Area Career Center thankfully filling a gaping hole in local radio programming. You can have a fun time and help do your part to financially support the little station that could on May 22 during WQNA Radio’s annual spring Trivia Night, at Knights of Columbus Hall #364 near the corner of Iles and Meadowbrook. For more information visit www.wqna.org or call Jim Grimes at 217-529-5431 ext. 164.

As per usual, this is only the tip of the entertainment iceberg. Get out there and see it before it melts in the summer heat that is sure to come way too. soon.

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