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Thursday, May 19, 2011 05:38 pm

A-May-zing music


Trillium performs Sat. May 21, 7:30pm for the Prairie Grapevine concert series.

As I looked for an event to highlight in this week’s column, it was shocking to see the amount of stuff happening. Without even picking a favorite and likely missing something to boot, here is a short but sweet preview of the many music events this merry month of May weekend.

Many of the shows are outdoors and of course dependent on the weather for success, but here’s one that is inside and delightful. The press release for acoustic combo Trillium sounded intriguing with instrumentation including violin, mandolin, guitar, banjo, bass and hammered dulcimer plus vocals, a song list ranging from Celtic to Dixieland styles and musicians with impressive professional pedigrees. I saw them at FARM, the Folk Alliance regional conference near Chicago last October, and what a wonderful sound they create. Now the delightful group plays the Prairie Grapevine concert series this Sat., May 21, 7:30 p.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Woodside Road.

I hardly know where to begin with the upcoming outside events, so let’s head close to home and go to Clayville, the historic stagecoach stop a few miles east of Pleasant Plains on Illinois Route 125. The stately brick edifice and surrounding grounds became a rescue operation for a concerned and motivated group of Plains citizens just a few years ago. Now the restored and revitalized place holds all kinds of events, including reinvented versions of the spring and fall festivals, once a staple in our community. Besides pioneer craft demonstrations, Civil War encampments, the Whip Guy and the Dulcimer Guy, this modern-day Clayville festival includes a beer tent with The Oohs on Friday night and Texas Groove on Saturday. Organizers have really done an outstanding job bringing the community together to save this important and nearly lost site for present company and future generations to enjoy and savor.    

The Springfield Area Highland Games and Celtic Festival brings a storied history plus plenty of fun and excitement to the Chatham Community Park on Saturday. Along with Highland dance, bagpipe band and ancient athletics competitions, a Ladies Haggis Hurl, Kids Kettle Toss, storytelling and traditional foods of the Highlands, live music abounds. In a pre-party concert the Dave Littrell Band plays the Pub in the Park on Friday night, then on Saturday during the festival proper, clear the way for the Fake McCoys, Bogside Zukes and Exorna playing traditional Celtic folk with pride in the pub. And for bone-chilling, hair-raising, foot-stomping music, nothing beats a massed group of bagpipes and drums marching across the field in full sonic performance.

Heading to downtown Springfield, the Old Capitol Art Fair becomes a mecca for modern music with a bevy of original rock and folk acts accompanying the venerable art fair event. Ben Bedford, Micah Walk Band, Eva Hunter Band and Damwell Betters play on Saturday with Chicago Farmer, the Blue G’s and Dave Littrell Band on Sunday. Supporting original visual art with original audio art sounds (and looks) like an excellent concept. All hail the artists, long may they run.

Sunday on Capitol Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets Springfield PRIDE presents the Gay Pride Festival on Harvey Milk Day, celebrating our diversity from noon to 6 p.m. with entertainment, dancing and vendors, plus food and beverages. Featuring music acts, Michigan-based Ella Riot, Ben Bedford, Carla Sloan, Christian McCoy and Josie Lowder, along with local and national organizations committed to supporting and educating the LGBT community, this first annual event is sponsored by the Phoenix Center and other wonderful and humane groups.

Once again, I’m out of town, but leaving assured our community is well stocked with entertainment options this weekend makes the going easier.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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