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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 03:36 pm

Merry music musings

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Deep Lunar Blue plays the Chillfest at the Illinois Building at the State Fairgrounds Fri. Dec. 17.

I hardly know where to start or what to cover with so much going on this season. Things could be worse. Here are only a few of the many inviting events happening this weekend.

On Friday Tony Turasky plays holiday host with Chillfest at the Illinois Building on the state fairgrounds. For those of you out of the loop it’s the edifice just inside the main gate guarded by a giant Abe Lincoln wielding an axe and inside is an underused theater space that makes for a mighty fine concert venue. In years past Mr. TT gave us the Harvest Hoedown around Thanksgiving but for 2010 opted to move the gala event to the Christmas season trading in the turkey fixings for a free hot dog and chili buffet to enhance the local lineup of live music. The holiday hootenanny runs from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. and includes performances by Luke Turasky Band, Deep Lunar Blue, Ol’ Red Shed, Telegraph 3am and Wabash Run.

Hank Helton, a former longtime member of The Emerald Underground, returns to the Celtic rock arena with a new group called Skibbereen debuting at J.P. Kelly’s Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. Hank covers vocals and guitar along with inspiration and direction, and recruited his longtime cohort Steve Emmons on keyboards, accordion and guitar (he also plays with Helton in the blues/jazz ensemble Real Time) with Mark Sanders on drums (formerly of Mr. Opporknockity fame and presently with PJ Summers Band), Eric Tinsley on bass (played and plays in several outstanding local acts) and Megan Turner on vocals and violin (also catch her in the traditional acoustic folk and Celtic act Thistle n’ Thyme with Joel Woehrmann and William Furry). The Elk’s Club Pipe and Drum Corps are scheduled to drop in for a walk through of bagpipes and drums to authenticate the experience in true Seven Nations fashion. Fáilte (welcome) to Skibbereen as the latest member of the growing Celtic scene in Springfield.

For those who enjoy a dose of live music while shopping, head to Penny Lane on Saturday where Micah Walk plays at 2 p.m., yours truly at 4 and Sarah Schneider at 6. Along with the delectable live tunes enjoy free food and drinks while perusing the always interesting merchandise at Springfield’s last bastion of proudly displayed and defiantly marketed counter culture.

Last summer The Station stood poised to rock the Midwest with one of the most potent personnel lineups in any band around. Health issues forced the quartet of Dave Littrell, Dave Carter, Howard Frietag and Jeff Cunningham to put plans on hold for a while. This Saturday at Marly’s marks the return to live performance with all systems on 10 and maybe even up to the elusive 11. Low Phatt opens the night featuring Cunningham and Littrell along with second bassist Chris Warren and drummers Mike Newberry and Gregg Fundis.

Next Thursday, Dec. 23, a Romany Club reunion of sorts happens at the Walnut Street Winery in Rochester when Chris Miller, Mike “Hobo” Coble and Joe Dawkins team up for an acoustic song swap and general good time for all. Miller is up from Nashville for the holidays, Coble returned to central Illinois from Austin, Texas, a few years ago and Dawkins recently moved back to town after several years of expatriate living in Minneapolis-St. Paul. All three incredibly literate and powerful songwriters cut their performance teeth at the tiny but mighty Romany Club back in the 80s and lived to tell the tale.

And besides all that remember to keep checking the regular calendar for other lovely holiday events around town that come just once a year in the holiday spirit of making merry with music.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.