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Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 02:15 pm

Third Floor opens doors

The Eva Hunter Band performs with NIL8, Pleasure Chest and more at the Third Floor Festival.
As the Hoogland Center for the Arts continues to be a major force in area arts events and a blessing upon our collective artistic sensibilities, a certain element of the local scene remains out of the loop. Stellar community theater presentations abound and miscellaneous entertainment occurrences appear including touring music concerts, comedy acts, dance shows and whatever else seems feasible and able to draw the necessary crowd to accommodate the appropriate hosting sponsor and pay for the space. But large quantities of local live music created and supported in Springfield are sorely missing from the marquee.

Fortunately the folks at the Center noticed the dearth of these music performance acts at the Hoogland and are doing something about it. Welcome, Springfield, to an inaugural event this Saturday featuring area-based creative musicians and visual artists called the Third Floor Music Festival located on, appropriately enough, the third floor of the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

“We felt local musicians weren’t getting enough chances to perform at the Center,” said Nikki Overcash from the HCFTA. “Our deputy executive director, Lara Lebeck, and others here are fans of the local music scene but understand it’s not easy for bands to rent a space and put on a show themselves. So we’re hoping this event will help out.”

With eight bands and seven acoustic acts scheduled to perform between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. and several area visual artists displaying their wares as well, I think it’ll be very beneficial. The bands play in Theatre Three, while acoustic performances go on in the more intimate Club Room. The acts are staggered time wise to keep the music constant while the art objects – including photographs, paintings and comic books – are displayed in the Club Room. Festival-goers can roam between the two rooms, partaking in libations, listening to various musicians and checking out the art. Cost is $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

“We’re thinking someone who comes to watch one band might see someone else that they wouldn’t normally, just going out to a club,” said Overcash. “This could expose them to other music, and with such diversity included, everyone should get a different kind of crowd than usual.”

Lofty goals indeed, but worthy ones for sure that are obviously achievable and extremely sensible and without a doubt advantageous to the community. Area stalwarts such as Eva Hunter Band and NIL8 play the band stage with blues groups Pleasure Chest and Tombstone Bullet, plus hipsters Gypsy Collabo and newcomers Jodyboss as well as rockers Blackfeet and the Luzhin Defense. The acoustic show side lists favorites Missing Muse and Micah Walk, songsters like Jessica Jolly and Brandon Carnes, plus singer-songwriters Chris Maxey, Ashley Riley and Spencer Stokes. If all goes well, and there’s no reason to think otherwise, the Third Floor Festival will become an annual Hoogland event.

And since I’ve mentioned the Hoogland Center for the Arts a jillion times in this article can we please come up with a pronunciation-friendly, easily touted nickname for the HCFTA? Something like the “Met” in NYC, we could call it the “Hoog” (rhymes with rogue). How about a slogan that says “It Happens at the Hoog” or “The Hoog is a Hoot” or “Welcome to Hoog Heaven,” or anything that makes it more mindful to remember and less of a mouthful to forget. Plus I’m tired of correcting those determined to give “Hoogland” the central Illinois treatment that gave us the incorrect pronunciations of Athens and Berlin and a constant joke for visitors. I suppose there’s no correcting proud ignorance, but please remember that two “o”s together in a word of Dutch origin makes a long “o” sound as in Roosevelt. Maybe someday my jokester pals from other cities might stop calling it the “Hooligan” Center. But no matter what we call it, let’s be thankful and feel fortunate for the place and the space.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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