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Thursday, June 18, 2009 12:04 pm

Fair play in New Berlin

Still Kick’n, opens for national country act Lady Antebellum, Thursday, June 18.

The Sangamon County Fair is already underway, but if you’re a prompt and punctual Thursday reader of Illinois Times (why of course you are!) only one day of spectacular entertainment has passed you by. Peggy Lowder and Royal Pain at the Miller Rock beer tent and Hells Bells, the AC DC impersonation — excuse me — tribute band have already played out at the sweet little gem of a fair in quaint New Berlin in the far western reaches of Sangamon County.

Tonight it’s Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters
at the Miller Rock Tent and Cadillac Ranch at the Budweiser Beer Pavilion and a full lineup on through the weekend of, as they are titled on the SCF Web site, “beer tent bands.” Is it just me or does that phrase just roll off the tongue? Let’s all say it together, shall we, “beer tent bands.” See what I mean, it’s just magical. Or maybe I need some sleep.

This year one of the “beer tent bands” makes the big leap into being a “grandstand band” and I’m guessing they like the sound of that even better. Still Kick’n, the venerable local outfit now riding high as the top area country band (at least by my figuring) opens for national country act Lady Antebellum, Thursday, June 18. (Yes, that is tonight for all you aforementioned timely readers. For the rest of you belated perusers, oh well, better luck next time.)

Led by Pat McCue, the band not so long ago added Kelsey Hickman on lead female vocals as the group continues to perform under the same name while weathering the rough waters of personnel changes. The dynamic member-altering moves really bequeath the band a whole different feel, giving new life to old songs and adding that fresh relationship spark to the musical experience for both the musicians and the audience. With a schedule full of summer festivals, including a return to a “beer tent band” slot at the Sangamon County Fair on Friday, June 21, plus a few shows at an Illinois State Fair beer tent (no grandstand shows there as of yet) the group is “still kickin’,” a wag could say, after all these years.

Of all the entertainment at the fair, my personal favorite act is Cross Canadian Ragweed on Friday night at the grandstand. These guys are a whole lot of Southern-style rock and with a little bit of country roll, playing what is known to those in the know as the Red Dirt Sound from out Oklahoma way. They’re making headway into the show business scene selling records and concert seats, but you won’t see them working the Nashville style of country music business. The rockin’ quartet gets down and dirty with some real playing and jamming and, without focusing on hats and biceps, hits and hooks, does it for the notion of the music. But that’s just my two-cents worth and you’re welcome to add yours and go crazy over Jason Aldean on Saturday night. I’m perfectly fine with it.

Come to think of it, quite honestly my favorite grandstand show every year is the Demolition Derby. All that car smashing is music to my ears and it’s certainly a guaranteed lively floor show with plenty of action. If only they all had black SUVs like the one that almost ran me off the road the other day it would be just perfect. I wonder if a guy could have any luck with a band named Demolition Derby. It would be like the famous band name joke that has the hapless musicians deciding to use the moniker of Free Beer and Chicken to draw a crowd. Yes, I do need some sleep.

One last fair note to remember: your paid admission into the fair covers all the amusement rides and grandstand shows, as well as entrance into the beer tents for those of legal drinking age.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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