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Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 12:01 am

Fair enough

Screamin’ Vatos blaze away at the Miller Lite beer tent on Friday night, August 15 at the Illinois State Fair.


The large and looming presence of the Illinois State Fair continues shadowing all our entertainment choices for the upcoming weekend. As the fair winds down on Sunday, live music rules the roost on the grounds and off.

I’ve heard through the music-scene grapevine of some grumblings about how the bands are picked to play the beer tents. With the combining of Coors and Miller last year, those two tents got booked by one organization and that understandably affected the deal. If you own the place, you choose who you want to play, and that goes for the Bud tent, too. It’s as simple as that. Also, to look at it from the beer folks’ perspective, they must consider what bands can appeal to a wide range of fairgoers. And what goes around comes around, so expect the winds of change to blow again, as they always do.

In the meantime, do your best to enjoy the fine bands already booked at all the varied venues on the fairgrounds. And if you want to wonder about the state of live music, perhaps a look into how The Honey Bears got booked into the Ethnic Village for two shows a day for 10 days might be interesting. Don’t get me wrong, they do a great job and the public sure enjoys the sights and sounds of the dancing and singing, 20-something females, but I’m just not sure how that fits into the “ethnic” theme, usually a prerequisite for village performers. Just wondering, that’s all. One item for sure not catching any heat at the fair this year is the weather. It’s incredible to see someone bringing a jacket to a Grandstand show.

If want to avoid the fair and Springfield entirely, Pop’s in Decatur has a mighty blues bash going on Sunday featuring some of the area’s finest blues-influenced groups. The SuperSunday Blues Fest hosts Juke Joint, Tombstone Bullet, Voodoo Lounge, Greg Glick, Blues Expression and special guests Dave Lumsden and Travis Aldridge. How blues is that!

Saturday, the Black Sheep Cafe on 11th Street in Southtown does Band Lotto, a first ever show featuring randomly created bands performing mostly new, original music. Back in May, 53 brave volunteers had their names drawn from a box, then were organized into groups of four or five to make a band. Twelve combos were invented and are now planning to perform on Saturday. BSC organizer Brian Galecki expects, “a very interesting night and some good surprises,” and I would concur. All ages are welcome with a mere $5 cover requested.

Our friends in Williamsville at the Paris-Belle house concerts have some sweet stuff scheduled. Visit and like them on Facebook, then contact them at Current concertmaster of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Violetta Torodova hails from St. Petersburg, Russia with a lifetime of classical music performance and studies balanced on the end of her bow. On Friday night, she’s accompanied by Brendon Conway, also an extremely accomplished and internationally respected musician. On Saturday evening comes John Van Orman, known to Springfield folkies as a founding member of the area folk ensemble Finnegan’s Wake. As an award-winner, folk center director, hurdy-gurdy player, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder and world traveler, the man is a fabulous treasure-trove of all things folk-music oriented and a gifted performer as well. Be sure to visit the Paris-Belle Facebook page to see about upcoming shows, such as Harpeth Rising, Tall Trees and others. House concerts are a special way to see performers up close and personal while sharing the experience (and dinner, too) with fellow audience members. This is a wonderful thing folks, go enjoy.

Fair thee well, my friends, or otherwise, as the case may be.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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Friday Oct. 18th