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Thursday, June 30, 2011 01:41 am

July music explodes

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The Detroit Cobras perform at the Taste of Downtown Friday July 8.

There are a couple of dandy weekends coming up, the first with a bit of Yankee Doodle in it counting the Fourth of July celebration and the next a yummy treat during the Taste of Downtown, so let’s get down to business.

On Friday, talented singer-songwriter Pete Sander hosts another Homegrown Folk showcase at Bar None starting around 7 p.m. A monthly event since January 2011, the concert features some of the area’s finest songwriters in a listening environment performing in the round. This time I have the honor of joining Pete along with two of my favorite area writers. Filling out the bill are Josh Catalano, front man for Damwell Betters and Lazer Dudes, as well as being a wonderfully prolific songwriter in the acoustic realm, plus the legendary Ken Carlyle, who as a gifted bandleader took us to amazing heights with the Cadillac Cowboys, here showcases his terrific talents as an insightful songwriter and fantastic acoustic guitarist.

All over central Illinois the rest of the weekend becomes a pre-party for Monday’s Independence Day celebration. Events include, but are not limited to, the Sparks in the Park in Rochester, Rock the Dock at Lake Springfield Marina, Lakeside Music and Arts Festival in Decatur, Pork Meets Cork at Union Park, Toys for Tots Music Festival at Firefighters Postal Lake Club, Capital City Celebration at Fifth and Capitol and Second and Capitol, big doings in Jacksonville and Chatham and nearly every other village, town, burg and settlement you could shake a bottle rocket at.

Most events host live music (if not, they should) with Still Kick’n winning the award for playing the most times with two performances (Fri., Pork Meets Cork and Mon., Capital City Celebration). Tina Thornhill (Fri., 7 p.m. at Pork Meets Cork) shares honors with Dave Littrell (Fri., 8 p.m. at Rock the Dock) for the only performers likely to play mostly original music (sigh). KFD and the ReJuveniles (5-8 p.m. and 9 to midnight, respectively at the CCC on Sunday) hands down take the most creative band names category with Hairbangers Ball (Rock the Dock) close behind. Walking away with the cooler-than-cool award, the Springfield Municipal Band (6:30-8:30 p.m. Mon., CCC on Second Street) performs all those stately, star-spangled classics of Fourth of July celebrations from yesteryear. The technological advancement prize and the best choice of words in a promotion award goes to Rock the Dock by promising to be the “biggest… (baddest, most unbelievable) fireworks around” featuring “over 30 minutes of choreographed fireworks set to a soundtrack.” The humanitarian honor goes to Micky Shomidie for organizing the Toys for Tots fest, featuring nine rocking bands in the first annual fundraiser for this popular children’s charity.

The weekend after brings us the Taste of Downtown and kicks in the incredible American Music Show on Friday and Saturday, where Springfieldians are expected to watch critically acclaimed, national touring bands, along with a few local stars-for-a-day. Here come the Detroit Cobras who are on the Buddy Holly 75th birthday album along with a couple of no names like Paul McCartney and Lou Reed. Then there’s Elizabeth Cook, nominated by the Americana Music Association for Entertainer and Album of the Year (yup, that’s a big deal) competing against a fellow nominee by the name of Robert Plant. Oh yeah, some band called the Handcuffs return featuring drummer Brad Elvis of the legendary Elvis Brothers, plus Mike and Ruthy who once played with Pete Seeger’s grandson in the Mammals (I saw them in Merlefest several years ago and thought them magnificent) also perform.

So Happy Independence Day and prepare for the best. There’s a bunch of good music to enjoy in the weeks ahead.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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