As we thaw through a snowy and cold week of February, live music keeps coming on hot and heavy to warm your bones and melt your mind. Always we see all kinds of music everywhere in town, but this week Americana leanings take the prize for pure quantity and quality.
A fairly new term for genres, the Americana moniker was created to identify music loosely based on country, blues, bluegrass and folk, maybe with some pop, soul and jazz tossed in for good measure. The identity issue arose in the 90s with no set word to describe this blended style of mostly American roots music that continued to grow in popularity by artists and audiences. Now we have Americana organizations, charts and record labels all with sub-genres of their own. Any way you look at it, Springfield is hosting an incredible number of artists that fit under the broad Americana umbrella this weekend.
Let’s start with the Bedrock 66 Live! concert offering of Hot Club of Cowtown on Saturday at Casey’s Pub. This swinging trio ranges from Gypsy jazz to Western swing using acoustic guitar, fiddle and bass with amazing vocals to express standards and originals in a very musical fashion. The group has toured with Bob Dylan (fiddler Elana James played with Bard Bob for a time) and Willie Nelson, represented the U.S. State Department on international tours, and received raving accolades from nearly every major media outlet. Yes, they are pretty fantastic. Opening the show is Burr Oak String Band, another fantastic group, this one local, featuring Mark Mathewson, Ann Bova, Randy Smith, Erich Schroeder and Steve Staley.
A recent addition to the Bedrock 66 schedule, Casey’s hosts nationally renowned singer-songwriters Grant-Lee Phillips and Steve Poltz on Monday, Feb 15. Known as fearless tunesmiths, excellent guitarists and relentless road warriors respected as Americana stalwarts, these guys are touring throughout the Northeast and Midwest in February.
Next up, Bar None continues a run of being a top Americana venue in town with nationally touring act The Urban Pioneers with Jukebox Casanova on Thursday and Bloomington-based Old Smoke Band with Trina Madonia on Friday. Bluesman King Neptune plays Piedmont-style, finger-picking blues on Friday at Walnut Street Winery, as the Casey Cantrall Trio settles into The Butternut Hut for a variety of rocking tunes. Friday keeps rolling with The Riverboat 5+1 doing Dixieland music at Lime Street Cafe, while The Kitchens sing country classics and more at Charlie R’s Steak House.
On Saturday, the beautiful barrage of Americana music keeps on with Fireside Relics playing a cool style of offbeat standards and original roots music at Third Base, while Juke House raises the jump blues ante at Lime Street Cafe. Lowder and Manning pair up terrific songwriting with superb musicianship at West of Wise Winery near Petersburg, while the Radon Lounge nearly takes the Americana cake with The Hollow Ends, Amy Benton, The Deep Hollow and Arvin Peebles.
I do believe I qualify for the Americana badge (we won that category in IT’s “Best of” in 2015 and a few other years) as we celebrate my one year anniversary show at George Rank’s this Friday with a 6 to 9 show. I’ll take a break, then switch to bass to back up my buddy, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin with Steve Dougherty on drums and vocals, to finish out the night with gut bucket, authentic, Chicago-style blues. Stop by and say hello, get a bite of Frankie’s good food and grab a cold one.
Be sure to look up the plenty of other music making going on all over town in all kinds of styles, especially my favorite of just plain old good.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.