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Thursday, July 17, 2014 12:01 am

July jam gems

Legendary iconic punk band Black Flag plays Donnie’s Homespun on Sat., July 19.


I’m glad I’m not in town this weekend (we’re playing the Belgium Beer and Mussels Festival at Schlafly’s Tap Room in St. Louis – personal plug!) only because the wide and wonderful music entertainment choices are too many and too good for my poor brain to take.

First, let’s give a hearty thanks to all who made the Taste of Downtown a swinging success, including the fairly fine weather for July. Congratulations for a first-rate program that exposed so many deserving area musicians, putting our familiar folks up on the big stage.

This weekend’s huge outdoor extravaganza takes us down south a few miles, to the burgeoning village of Chatham. The long-running Jaycees Sweet Corn Festival (41 years and counting) continues to thrill and chill in the summer heat with a weekend lineup of local favorites. With the famous Illinois Championship Cow Chip Throw on Saturday and neighborhood corn-shucking doings on Thursday, in between why not catch New City Road and Brushville on Friday night for the best in local, modern country music? On Saturday afternoon, the Illinois Central Blues Club supports the blues tradition at the fest, featuring sets from Pork Pie and Northend Allstars, Hard Road Blues Band and Kicked to the Curb. Appropriately enough, as the sun slips into the west, After Sunset sails in followed by Off the Wall, one of the area’s hottest bands this summer.

Catch another Friday-Saturday one-two combo, this one at the unlikely venue of Fashion Afrique (414 E. Monroe). On Friday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., see Pieces, featuring the latest works by art photographer Laura Kay Coffey and multimedia artist Mark Schwartz. While you’re there, hear live music by the Frank Trompeter Quartet, including Frank singing and playing, pianist Tombe Kemayo, singing guitarist Julie Hulvey and percussionist Gordon Carvahlo. On Saturday night from 7 to 9, End Times Trio with Frank and Mark, plus founding percussionist/drummer Richard Gilman-Opalsky, perform “sound paintings” using “trialectical musical improvisation” for all you radical listeners out there.

Strangely enough, here’s another African tie-in. This one actually happened in Nigeria. The Henhouse Prowlers, a Chicago-based bluegrass quartet, often found prowling the henhouses of Springfield, were visiting Nigeria a few weeks ago. The snappily dressed and particularly good pickers learned the local African hit “Chop My Money” by Nigerian rap superstars P Square. While playing the lively song on the Fourth of July, Peter Okoye of P Square came to sing along and brought down the house – with a Chicago bluegrass band playing a Nigerian rap song, accompanied by the lead singer of the original band. What a truly wonderful world it can be. See it here:

Wow, I say, as the seminal, hardcore punk band Black Flag plays Donnie’s Homespun on Saturday as the only stop in downstate Illinois on the iconic punksters summer Victimology Tour. The group began nearly 40 years ago, and went on to carve out a historic spot in the punk-pop-metal music scene. Greg Ginn, founding member and driving force, leads the band through its paces, accompanied by the latest vocalist, Mike Vallely, with opening acts New York punk duo Cinema Cinema and HOR, Ginn’s electro-psych side project. A “don’t miss” show for those interested in seeing history going down.

A glance through the Pub Crawl shows a plethora of popular Springfield bands playing all over, plus a few surprises on Friday, such as visitors, Like … With Jet Packs at Bar None and legendary locals Cats on Holiday at Four Seasons Sports Complex. You may need to make your choices with an “eenie-meenie-minie-mo” close at hand.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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