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Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 12:01 am

New Year news

Heyward Banks jokes and plays around at the Mason City Comedy Club, Jan. 3 and 4, 2014.


Welcome to good-old, brand-new 2014, folks. Glad you could make it. To quote a favorite songwriter of mine, Greg Brown of Iowa way, “who woulda thunk it?” But here we are and here we go with a new year of the same stuff concerning artists and attitudes, bands and bars, clubs and concerts, dudes and duds, cavorting with karaoke, Best and worst ofs, CDs and energies released, live music and DJs, traveling groups and stay-in-towners, new venues and old haunts, all for your listening pleasure, but only if you come out to see the performances.

With that, I’ll begin where we left off, in that place most often visited, encouraging you, gentle reader, to come on out to see what there is to offer by the performing artists playing in the world during two thousand and fourteen, A.D.

Let’s start off with a laugh and introduce you to comedian Heyward Banks and the venue he’s at, the Mason City Comedy Club this weekend. Banks is a nut, and a genius of a one at that. He’s a singing songwriter, prophetic poet and cutting comic all in one with enough wit to whack a wag out of the park and to keep you on your proverbial toes with righteous references of cultural inferences. If you’ve heard the Bob and Tom radio show, then chances are you’ve heard Heyward Banks, plus he’s had more songs on those funny guys’ records, than anyone else. Mason City is a cool, small town about 40 minutes straight north on Route 29 from Springfield. The comedy club is a hip joint worth a visit to get your new year off on the right guffaw.

While we’re busy busting a gut, when was the last time you made it to Donnie B’s Comedy Club over on South Sixth nestled in the Route 66 Hotel? They kick off 2014 with Dale Jones this weekend, Chris “Boom Boom” Johnson the next (Jan. 11 is already sold out) and the famous Tom Arnold, “star of over a hundred movies, and three good ones” coming on Jan. 17 and 18. There’s good stuff going on here and all you got to do is buy a ticket to see it.

You could hardly go wrong with a show named The Todd Henry and Stan Kupish Show, now could you? Take a couple of seasoned musicians, put ’em in front of a crowd and let the guys play all kinds of oddball songs from the 50s through the 90s and you have Todd and Stan. They describe themselves in this fashion –     “a little bit loungy, a little bit rock and roll,” and that my friends, is what you are going to get. If you pay these two a visit on Friday at Fire and Ale, a nice and tasty venue in Sherman that’s been hosting live music for awhile (bless their music-supporting hearts), your new year will be off to a splendid start.

For Saturday how about a visit to Thirdbase for their “2014 Kickoff Jam” featuring Murder of Crowes, plus Big Guy and the MOB. It’s important to begin your year on a high note and these bands can deliver. Thirdbase has been a great supporter of live music in 2013, especially with the addition of quality blues shows from local and national acts. But first you should get your sweet self out to Loren Shanle’s Walnut Street Winery in Rochester to see one of my favorite local performers, Amy Benton (she starts at 7:30). She’s got it going on and you’ll notice that right away, you just have to what? – yes, go out and experience it.

Now, off you go into the wild, entertaining yonder.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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