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Wednesday, June 10, 2009 06:37 am

Don’t miss Bluestone’s debut performance

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I received an e-mail last week from Jacob Shane, better known to central Illinois music fans as Jake Shane, the young blues picker who represented the Illinois Central Blues Club at the 2007 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Shane won the duo/solo competition in Springfield and performed during the annual contest, where players from all over the world vie for a prestigious title and headline concert spot.

The e-mail explained Shane’s latest venture, a band of fellow college freshman-aged musicians from Chatham and Springfield calling themselves Bluestone looking for a mention before they performed at their first official gig this Saturday. The guys booked a practice date at Fat Willy’s in Chatham last Wednesday night to knock out a few tunes for an hour or so in a performance atmosphere. I missed the actual show, but we sat around and talked for a while about getting gigs, setting up equipment, future aspirations and daily dreams. After the band left, once they figured out what I was doing, the patrons of the bar generously offered comments on the musical performance I had missed. All opinions were on the positive side of things, ranging from observations on understanding the difficulty of playing in front of parents and acquaintances to “that kid wailed on that Hendrix tune” on through personal stories of other first-time experiences that are better left in the colorful local bar.

I got a copy of the band song list and the only Hendrix-related number was “All Along the Watchtower,” the often-covered, Dylan-penned classic, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of tunes listed, considering Bluestone considers itself a blues band. Here was Neil Young’s “Motorcycle Mama,” Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” mixed in with blues standards “Malted Milk,” “Key to the Highway” and “I Just Want a Little Bit” and topped off with “Johnny B. Goode” and “Shake Your Money Maker.”

The guys practice as often as their busy schedules allow, using, with permission, a space in the Chatham Presbyterian Church. My favorite band story concerns a neighbor of the church calling the Chatham police to report strange sounds emanating from the usually quiet house of worship. All was square when the peace officer got the official story, but hey, that’s rock-n-roll when the cops show up at practice, no matter what the reason.

Here are some personal details the band members shared with me. Shane attends Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., enrolled in the well-respected music business program with plans to continue playing in the industry. His major influences are classic blues players like Robert Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughn and singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Bassist Aled Fain studies biochemistry at Loyola University and counts among his music influences Victor Wooten, Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorious. Guitarist Mason Baran attends Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, taking classes in jazz performance with the goal of teaching at a college level and playing music all the time. He admires the work of Wes Montgomery, Pat Marino and Brad Paisley. Drummer Jordan Holquist goes to University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, focusing on aerospace engineering while drumming to classic rockers like John Bonham, Keith Moon and Neil Peart. Holquist aimed the highest of all the bandmates, declaring a desire to “be an astronaut” and currently runs his own painting business during the summer.

The only other date on the books right now is at the Chatham Sweet Corn Festival during the Illinois Central Blues Club showcase. The guys are hoping to pick up a few more summer shows, juggling schedules and asking around, but whatever happens to Bluestone, I think they will always remember the first paying gig.

Join Jake Shane and Bluestone at their debut performance, Saturday, June 13, at the Alamo in Chatham from 9 to midnight.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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