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Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015 12:08 am

New Year news

Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters play On the Rox in Jacksonville on New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m.


Hello everyone and welcome to almost 2016 – or maybe it already is the New Year by the time you read this. Whatever your situation, let’s open to it with open arms and let the world on in.

The New Year means a celebration the night before with New Year’s Eve occurring on a Thursday this year. Many, if not most, bars, clubs, restaurants and other public establishments of that ilk will offer bands, special dinners and whoopla of a celebratory nature. Please check our Pub Crawl for a thorough listing of happenings in the bars. As you might imagine, it’s one of those things that is just too much to mention them all, so also go looking on you own.

Outside of the watering holes and booze houses, the glorious First Night Springfield takes a rightful place as our leading celebration of the coming year. Presented by the Springfield Area Arts Council for 29 straight years, we were the first city in Illinois to host a First Night and should be very proud not to have dropped this wonderful event as so many other places did through the decades. This is an extraordinary run that transforms our historic downtown into a happening place with over 30 performances on eight stages running from 6 to 11:15 p.m., with a 7:45 to 8:30 pause to enjoy a big fireworks show at 8. Many thanks to the hard working volunteers and the council board, plus a special congratulations to first-year director Jon Austin for doing an excellent job keeping the organization on a good footing while moving forward in an unsteady time of assistance for arts groups. More information on First Night and all things Springfield Area Arts Council related (including how to become a board member) is available at

New Year’s Day proper, probably the most overlooked holiday of the year (quite possibly because of the focus on party the night before) receives well-deserved treatment in our neighboring city of Jacksonville. This is one of those events you don’t believe until you show up in downtown J’ville and see hundreds of people going in and out of the bars, partying and listening to live music. Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters, Off the Wall and other popular groups play live music at various clubs mid-day and early evening. Some bars offer free food and drink specials to celebrate this neat and nearly unique Jacksonville tradition.

I do have sad news to report for the beginning of a new year, as on Saturday, Dec. 19, Sam Giordano, Jr., original proprietor of The Rock Shop music store, passed away. Sam, who was just 53, was a good friend to me and many other musicians as well as being an accomplished guitarist and all-around funny, good guy. When he started the store some 30 years ago it quickly became a meeting place for like-minded musicians. When Todd Rushing bought the place after working with Sam for several years, it continued to grow while remaining a spot for working musicians to gather, buy stuff and share stories. Sam’s wife, Lori, along with family and friends, hosted a Celebration of Life on Monday, Dec. 28. You are and will be missed by all who knew you, Sam.

I’ll take this bit of your time to thank Illinois Times for the chance to write my little ditties once a week broadcasting the news of music makers and to recognize the readers who make it worthwhile to tell the tales. I really appreciate doing what I can to help out the scene, while being in it as well. It’s a cool thing. Happy New Year to all.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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