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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 12:45 pm

Doings around town and elsewhere

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Stacie Collins plays the Old 36 Inn in Riverton on Friday, Feb. 17.
Continuing my travels this week, I’m writing in Flagstaff, Ariz. and then heading to Pagosa Springs, Colo. Adventures abound from powerful poetry readings at the Mineshaft Tavern in Madrid, N.M. to stellar music happening at the Low Spirits in Albuquerque as creative folks gathered last weekend to pay tribute to the work of Kell Robertson.

The legacy of the ornery poet, irascible songwriter and brilliant wordsmith continued in performances of several of his songs and readings of his poems, as folks shared stories of inspiration and consternation attached to knowing Kell. Jason Eklund, my connection to the late bard, played songs written by and for Robertson and Mike Good, better known as Blonde Boy Grunt, joined by Bob and Kevin as the Groans, regaled the audience with honest renditions of many Kell songs. Kevin Hayes of Old Crow Medicine Show added his versions, and along with several others, Tammy Gomez, Tony Moffat and Mitch Reyes contributed readings, poetry and song to the celebration.

My thought on staying with this is not so much to promote Kell’s work, deserving as it is, but to focus on a life of creativity and the resulting human understanding he attempted to expose and uplift. Like his contemporary and acquaintance Charles Bukowski, Robertson stayed subterranean as much as possible and wrote about darker parts of humanity to illuminate the goodness buried in our existence. His legendary honesty and directness often became confused with rudeness, pushing some away from his simple, tough writings. Though elements of shocking frankness occurred in much of his work, his belief in the overall decency and compassion of the human spirit carried the main message.

Back in Springfield, why not go visit Joe Cooke with rocking band in hand this Friday, Feb. 17 at Frankie’s 49er as Thin Ice takes the stage. Joe, an extraordinary guitarist for decades, recently got news that a song of his, “Let It Go Around,” may end up on Petra’s newest release, thanks to a longtime connection with the popular Christian rock band’s lead singer John Schlitt, formerly of Head East. Thin Ice does a mix of rocking country and classic rock with two former members of Pork and the Havana Ducks: Rick Wass on bass and Steve Kelton on drums and vocals. Hey, where else can you hear Journey, Whitesnake, Jason Aldean, Big and Rich, the Beatles, Rick Springfield, Guns and Roses, and many other popular artists all from one band?

The run continues out in Riverton as the Old 36 Inn hosts country spitfire Stacie Collins on Friday, Feb. 17. Described as “Little Walter meets Joan Jett and Tammy Wynette,” Collins sings and plays harmonica with a “hard-core honky tonk wail” backed by a “slam-bang rock-n-roll band” as she covers new territory in Americana rock. Her rise to national and international fame (Japan spawned a Stacie Collins tribute group) began in 2007 with a record produced by rock legend Dan Baird of The Georgia Satellites and Homemade Sin. The success of “The Lucky Spot” propelled Collins to another level with worldwide airplay. Another Baird produced disk, “Sometimes Ya Gotta,” came out in November of 2010, embellished with the admirable talents of guitarists Warner E. Hodges (Jason & the Scorchers and Homemade Sin), Eric ‘EBO’ Borash (Radney Foster) and Dan Baird, along with drummer Jimmy Lester (Los Straitjackets and Webb Wilder) and bass by Stacie’s rocker husband /writing partner, Al Collins (Jason and the Scorchers). Shortly after her Riverton appearance Stacie embarks on a world tour, so take your chance to see her up close and personal while you can.

Thanks to Dooley, Reggie, Keith and Owen for rocking the Brewhaus while I’m gone. Over and out and on my way home.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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