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Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 05:50 pm

Downhome is downtown

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The Downhome Music Festival promotes local original bands such as Dave Littrell Band, Gypsy Collabo and Prairie State Heartache (above) and debuts Sat., Aug 6, 2-11 p.m. at the corner of Seventh and Washington.

Howdy folks! Allow me to introduce you to the latest and greatest downtown music fest. Illinois Times Now Playing readers meet the Downhome Music Festival. Debuting this Sat., Aug. 6, on the corner of Seventh and Washington streets from 2 to 11 p.m. and featuring a string of local performers on two stages, the fest intends to encourage and support locally grown, all-original, area music in more ways than one.

It is nice enough that local bands doing all-original music have the opportunity to share self-penned tunes with a viable audience on an expansive, outdoor stage with a good sound system. But organizers of this event really sweetened the pot. For those of you shelling out the cash to see groups perform, be aware most local original groups get little or nothing for the great honor of entertaining at other downtown festivals.

Not to put down any of the other fine downtown events at all. A frequent reader of this column would, surely, be aware of my longtime support for local music shows, such as SOHO Fest, the American Music Show at the Taste of Downtown, Old Capitol Blues & BBQs, the Mother Road Route 66 fest and others. But have I mentioned yet that all the proceeds from the $5 entrance fee of the Downhome Music Festival are to be divided equally among the artists performing? Pretty cool huh? Bands are encouraged to sell tickets in advance (not much time this year since the planning stage took longer than expected) and keep the money collected. Tickets are also available at local downtown businesses and the host bars.

And yes, I am honored to play in this one, at 3:15 in the afternoon, with the Raouligans, our regular Sunday Night at the Brewhaus band, along with many of the top original groups in town filling out the day, including Dave Littrell Band, Gypsy Collabo, Micah Walk, Prairie State Heartache, Go! Tsunami and others. Throughout the years I’ve played many of the other festivals too, with some, little and no compensation, and have been happy to do so. It’s just a little happier here, knowing there’s a chance of a payoff at the end of Downhome and that original, local band music gets support monetarily as well as for the glory of exposure – at least conceptually. Because, of course, it’s possible, even probable, that by the time the gate money is counted and divided between all the bands and then split again among individual band members, the pickings will be mighty slim. Fortunately for you listeners, as through the ages, musicians tend to play to play, and often even pay to play, allowing for the music to march on, regardless of its validity as a personal paying proposition.

The brainchild of Shane Turnage of the Celtic Mist Pub, Nate Short of the Brewhaus and Josh Catalano of several bands, bars and booking combinations, with high-end help from Celtic Mist Pub head Michael Conneely, the Downhome Music Festival plans to become an annual event. With two stages for continuous live music, a workable concept for paying bands, two city blocks blocked off for roaming party-goers, local food vendors involved and a children’s area to encourage family participation, the newest event aims to do things right. In joining the ranks of downtown music happenings, the festival forges a new style of organic encouragement to Springfield’s longstanding tradition of fostering a fertile and robust original music scene.

Nice meeting you, Downhome. Looking forward to seeing you around town.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

Experience the first annual Downhome Music Festival, Sat., Aug. 6, 2 to 11 p.m. Seventh and Washington.. See the Facebook page or go to www.downhomemusicfestival.com for more information and a complete band schedule.

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