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Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 01:02 am

Fabulous February finds

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Big Smith

Better lick your wounds from last week’s Mardi Gras spectacular and spruce up for another superb weekend of live music in the capital city. The nightlife is jampacked with more stuff than you could shake a stick at, if that’s your idea of having fun.

Let’s start with our most recognized and praised live music club (according to you, faithful readers, and your responses in Illinois Times’ annual Best of Springfield poll) and check out the lineup at Marly’s Pub. Beginning with Thursday it’s none other than those jam band-acoustic pop faves 56 Hope Road on the corner stage. The group continues traversing the country playing festivals and clubs with all the gusto of a seasoned band on the loose. Word has it drummer Greg Fundis, our Springfield connection, while on downtime from his duties as timekeeper extraordinaire for 56, connected with guitar virtuoso and Northern Illinois University professor Fareed Haque of the fusion-jam band Garaj Mahal for a few shows in New York City. Congratulations Greg and keep the gigs a-rising and the beat steady.

As we head into Friday, look here Ma, it’s NIL8, those stalwarts of skatepunk-funkfun-rock-all-the-time shaking the timbers at Marly’s. Born and bred in Springfield with ties all over the place (you’d be surprised how far their influence carries) the band based around the Williams brothers marches on, carrying generations along to enjoy the lovely and caring, high-energy madness they produce. Joining the unstoppable NIL8 are two rising stars on the local scene, Music for Big Kids and Hart Felt Sorrow. Topping off the Marly’s weekend extravaganza, here comes 808 featuring Janet and Drew, formerly of that band, what’s their name, F-something or other. Just kidding all you F5 fans, we all know the place will be packed and shaking from the inside out.

Within the bar life of Springfield, the constant challenger to the throne of best live music venue continues to be Bar None. With the heavy hitting lineup scheduled for this weekend, the contender pops a good left hook in presenting the best bands in town. Big Smith, favorites in the Show Me State Springfield bring their downhome sophistication to town on Friday, Feb. 19. From the Sousaphone part of the night to the sight of bearded, bib-wearing virtuosos singing songs like, “12 Inch, 3 Speed Oscillating Fan,” “Bareback Ridin’” and a new one entitled “My Overalls Don’t Fit No More,” Big Smith shows its roots as a true gem of an original band. Come prepared to leave with the new BS CD Roots, Shoots, and Wings, for I’m sure it’s a winner. On Saturday, Bar None touts the acclaimed area rockers the Damwell Betters with opening act the Seething Coast, making a pretty terrific one-two punch of original local rock music. These bands are armed with a good arsenal of thought-provoking, foot-stomping, gut-wrenching tunes to shake up the troops and keep them marching along.

Moving on to other news and venues we find a favorite band of years past hosting a reunion comeback at the Three Legged Dog on the square in their hometown of Jacksonville on Friday. Some 20 years ago the first incarnation of the New Goat Ensemble delighted audiences with a sprightly combination of wonderful songwriting, stellar musicianship and jaunty stage performances. A showing on their home field assures a real hoot. Watch for a Springfield performance sometime soon.

Gee whiz, it looks like I’ve blabbed on too much and ran out of room. Here is a speedy and succinct rundown of what I have left. Friday, Feb. 19: Benefit for Access 4 at Broadway Nites. Saturday, Feb. 20: Pocket Rocket at J.W.’s Lounge, Black Magic Johnson at Trading Post, Antone DeRocchi at Walnut Street Winery in Rochester and the Female Impersonator show at the Station House, plus Ralph and Juanita at Dublin Pub at Vinegar Hill both nights.

Rest easy friends, there is much to do about everything.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com

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