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Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 08:16 pm

New Year’s news

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Frieda Lee with the Travis Wesley Trio performs at Remy’s on Monroe on New Year’s Eve.

It’s out with the old and in with the new as we hop on board the 2011 train to continue our wondrous trip through time and space. Every civilization develops a calendar of sorts and they all seem to like celebrating when another year rolls around. And why not, with human beings being the original party animals, we like to get the ball rolling or dropping as the case may be, toward the big whoop-ti-do.

Here in the little town on the prairie we too like to make a fuss about the old year ending and a new one just begun. According to a quick look at celebrations held by people around the world who participate in the Gregorian calendar (which due to the forever forceful and fairly friendly Western way of living is just about the whole planet) Springfield follows the accepted way of celebrating. Most nations subscribe to hanging out with friends and family, eating certain foods, participating in music or other entertainment functions and shooting off fireworks. That about describes First Night in a nutshell and covers most other New Year’s Eve commemorations as well.

In Scotland, home of haggis (not a required nor recommended NYE dish) and Auld Lang Syne (the most sung song of the night), Scots like the idea of a New Year’s celebration so much they call it Hogmanay and keep it going for a couple of days. And in case you’ve ever wondered, the words to the oft-repeated standard song first collected by Robert Burns in the late1700s and made ubiquitous by bandleader Guy Lombardo and others in the 20th century, roughly translate as “old long ago” or “the old times.” So basically what we sing about is to not forget the past and especially our “old acquaintances,” but likely you do what I do and everyone else does and mumble through it, happy to be singing along with company, reveling in the beauty of being and experience without a clue to the words or their meaning.

Without going into great detail on all the NYE music shows out there, rest assured there is a plethora. First Night Springfield, once thought to be a possible casualty of budget cuts and other variations on apathy, lassitude and ignorance, is back stronger than last year, doing more entertainment in less places with several never-before exposed acts. We are certainly blessed by the existence of this event and should bend over backwards to not take it for granted. Please take the time to thank Penny Wollan-Kriel and company at the Springfield Area Arts Council for all the effort and planning. And don’t forget the generous corporate and otherwise sponsors for donating that incredibly, over-rated, but entirely essential monetary factor. Most importantly though, let’s remember the fireworks are at 6:30 p.m. this year.

On the bar scene we have Bustin’ Loose at the Firefighters/Postal Club out by Lake Springfield and Cabin Fever and Friends at the Blue Moon in Dawson. The Easy Street Band does the Eagle’s Club on East Ash and Prairie Rose lands at Gallagher’s. White Lightnin’ rings in the New Year for the folks in Salisbury at the Last Chance Saloon and out east at the Old Thirty-Six Inn in Riverton come see The Posse with opening act comedian Mikey Brant. In lovely downtown Springfield, The Emerald Underground holds court at Celtic Mist while Ms. Frieda Lee with the Travis Wesley Trio performs at Remy’s on Monroe. Over at Marly’s Shenanigan’s takes the corner stage and Caitie Girl’s hosts the Dan Rivero Trio. Other places are doing other things and the DJs run rampant through the town and all around.

Not much left to do at this point but wish everyone a hearty and healthy Happy New Year and go watch the fireworks.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.