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Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 12:01 am

Rhonda and the rest

Rhonda Vincent and The Rage perform Sat. during the 28th Annual Greater Downstate Indoor Bluegrass Festival at the Crowne Plaza, Nov. 7, 8 and 9.


The first full weekend in November comes roaring in like it has nothing to do but impress us with an exciting and full plate of entertainment goodies to drop in our collective laps. Let’s get to going on it, shall we?

What better way to bring in the eleventh month than the long-running, well-produced and always entertaining Greater Downstate Indoor Bluegrass Festival at the Crowne Plaza Nov. 7, 8 and 9. Going on year number 28, the event’s longevity alone is an incredible thing, but the music is even more exciting. Tack on the extras of an acoustic instrument sales show and music workshops, along with the chance to get up close and personal with world-class bluegrass performers, and you have one of the most incredible shows of the year. I’m telling you folks, you don’t necessarily need to be a big bluegrass fan to get a good deal out of this show. They have package deals plus one-day and evening-only tickets to fit all-comers. The best bargains needed to be purchased a few weeks ago, but even the door prices are a steal. All things considered, the best reason of all to go (nothing against you other guys), in my humble opinion, is simply Rhonda Vincent and the Rage.

Born and raised in Missouri, Rhonda comes from five generations of musicians, including her generous and sustaining father who just recently passed away. She continues to rack up bluegrass awards, miles on her bus and adoring fans – and she does it the best way possible, by making good and true music while being an honest and caring artist. When we spoke last week, the conversation resumed where it left off a few years ago, talking about music, life on the road, family, friends and fans. Her outlook on traveling for a living is refreshing and keeps her focused on the rewards of the road that encompass playing music as a life choice.

“It’s a tradition to play in Springfield for this festival,” she says. “Meeting up with people we know wherever we go makes each place unique when traveling. It’s like catching up with old friends and making new ones at each place.”

As her career, or better said, her life in music, continues to climb, she spends lots of time on her well-designed tour bus and keeping up on her Facebook page, personally posting on a near-daily basis. (She tweets, too.) Her most recent single, Only Me, a duet with none other than Willie Nelson, who just happens to be a big RV fan, debuted at number one on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. She’ll be playing at the festival twice on Saturday (her band is renowned as one the best in the business), so make your way there and say, “Hi, Rhonda. You are awesome,” or something like that, if you would please.

Two house concerts on Saturday night make for a tough decision on someone’s social calendar. The Tall Trees, featuring our Ben Bedford and Indiana’s Tim Grimm, with Tim’s sons Connor (bass) and Jackson (guitar and banjo) joining in the music mix, play at the Paris-Belle House Concerts in Williamsville. Email your gracious hosts at for further information. Stephanie Urbina Jones, a singer-songwriter originally from Texas, plays at a home near Washington Park for our other wonderful house concert. Stephanie celebrates her Hispanic heritage with gusto and passion, known across the country as a fiery and fulfilling artist destined for bigger things and a great joy to soak up live. Email for all the specifics.

As always, please visit our listings for all the other outstanding music happening here.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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