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Thursday, June 3, 2004 12:14 pm

Where to go for live entertainment and fun

The entertainment nightlife of Springfield and surrounding communities is diverse and robust. In other words, if you want it, it’s here and it’s excellent. Blues, folk, jazz, rock, country, dance music, and karaoke are all well represented on any given night in central Illinois and the capital city. Solid local acts playing original and cover material mix with national touring bands on the road from St. Louis to Chicago or between Indianapolis and Kansas City, creating a fertile atmosphere for vibrant entertainment. Jazz, in all its varied forms, is represented at several nightclubs. Robbie’s (4 S. Old State Capitol Plaza) hosts a different group each Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Loft (620 S. First St.) invites you upstairs into an intimate setting for mostly jazz, plus blues and a variety of other music styles. On the near west side of town, the Lime Street Cafe (951 S. Durkin Dr.) delivers the best in area jazz musicians every Friday and Saturday night. For a taste of small combo jazz, drop by the Caucus Room at the Inn at 835 (835 S. Second St.) on Thursday nights. For a real treat of local jazz talent, watch for jam sessions, concerts, and special events sponsored by the Jazz Society of Greater Springfield. The blues are alive and well in Springfield, not a little influenced by the city’s proximity to Chicago, one of the world’s great blues-music cities. Every Monday night the Illinois Central Blues Club features a different host band and an open jam at the Alamo (115 N. Fifth St.). Both local and national acts have enlivened this wonderful music experience during the 20 years of Blue Mondays. If to rock is your desire, look for these venues and their specialties. At Mojo’s (225 E. Monroe St.) you’ll find a variety of local, regional, and national acts that run the gamut of rock music from singer/songwriter types and indie rock bands to hip hop combos and original touring groups. Down at the Underground City Tavern (700 E. Adams St. in the Hilton Springfield), bands perform original roots-rock music with an occasional acoustic singer/songwriter tossed into the mix. Look for events sponsored by the Sangamon Valley Roots Revival, featuring national hillbilly, Western swing, rockabilly, and other roots-rock artists. Head up to Jazz Central Station (700 E. Adams St., top of the Hilton) for Friday- and Saturday-night bands, featuring hip-hop from Chicago, blues from around the Midwest, and funk and groove from all over. Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza) mixes local bands with out-of-town groups specializing in ’80s classics and other popular genres, including an occasional Celtic/Irish-influenced combo. Look for well-loved local bands of all flavors, including rock, bluegrass, blues, and popular music at the Trading Post Saloon (731 S. Durkin Dr.), Newt’s Raceway (4232 Peoria Rd.), NitWhits (2765 S. Sixth St.), and CafО Kanichi-wa (1117 S. Grand Ave. E.). Care to put on your dancing shoes, find a DJ, and shake your booty all night long? You’ll find contemporary Top 40 and other recorded-music delights at Karma (625 N. First St.), Catch 22 (11 W. Old State Capitol Plaza), Fusion (11 W. Old State Capitol Plaza) and Teasers (3036 Peoria Rd.). For oldies and variety, visit Chantilly Lace (2660 S. Fifth St.) or Rockin’ Robin (2909 N. Dirksen Pkwy). Alternative beats and lifestyles fill the dance floor at the Station House (306 E. Washington St.). If laughter is what you’re after, look no further than the Funny Bone Comedy Club (2837 W. White Oaks Dr.) or head north of town to the Mason City Limits Comedy Club (114 E. Chestnut, Mason City). Both clubs feature nationally known touring comedians every Friday and Saturday night. Fortunately, no matter what night of the week you develop the urge to sing your heart out in front of a crowd, karaoke machines and competent hosts await your command at several nightclubs and lounges, including the Firehouse Tavern (430 E. Monroe St.), L & L Stockyards (3045 Sangamon Ave.), Lake Springfield Tavern (1221 Stevenson Dr.), and Gas House Lounge (302 S. Dirksen Pkwy.). If you prefer your public performing with instrument in hand, check out the popular open mics around town available most weeknights at various clubs, including the six-year open stage tradition on Thursday nights at Andiamo! (204 S. Sixth St.) and the unplugged Songwriter Circle at the Underground City Tavern on the second Wednesday of each month. Though there are no specific country music bars in Springfield, country bands regularly scoot their boots in the rock & roll clubs. Larger venues in the area for the tear-in-my-beer crowd include the New Salem Country Opry (Petersburg) for local and regional acts and Nashville North U.S.A. (Taylorville) for national touring country-music shows. For coffee shop style acoustic musings look for evening performances at Sun’s Up Koffee Kafe (1001 N. First St.) and the Original Acoustic Lunch at noon, weekdays at the Trout Lily CafО (218 S. Sixth St.) Enjoy the daylife and the nightlife as well in Springfield’s ever-growing and always interesting entertainment scene. For a complete listing of what’s going on, check out the Pub Crawl and Calendar in the Night & Day section of the weekly Illinois Times.