Where to find live entertainment in the capital city
The nightlife of Springfield and surrounding communities is diverse and robust. Blues, folk, jazz, rock, country, hip-hop, dance music, open mics and karaoke are all well represented on any given night in central Illinois and the capital city. Solid local acts playing original and cover material mix with national touring bands on the road from St. Louis to Chicago or between Indianapolis and Kansas City to create a fertile atmosphere for vibrant entertainment.
The blues are alive and well in Springfield, influenced by the city’s proximity to Chicago, one of the world’s great blues music locales. Every Monday night starting around 8 p.m., the Illinois Central Blues Club sponsors a different band and an open jam at the Alamo (115 N. Fifth St.). Local, regional and national acts have enlivened this wonderful music experience during the 30-plus years of Blue Mondays. Watch for special blues events regularly sponsored by the active ICBC at different venues in town, such as Casey’s Pub, housed in the Knights of Columbus Hall (2200 S. Meadowbrook Road).
Jazz in all its varied forms is represented at certain nightclubs and restaurants. Robbie’s (4 S. Old State Capitol Plaza) hosts a different local group each Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Uptown Friday Night, sponsored by the Springfield Area Arts Council. On the near west side of town, the Lime Street Cafe (951 S. Durkin Dr.) serves up jazz-styled musicians with an occasional foray into classic rock ’n’ roll.
Local, regional and national touring acts of various genres take the stage weekly at several clubs around the city. Boondocks (2909 N. Dirksen) presents contemporary country bands often still on the music charts, while Bar None (427 E. Monroe) hosts a variety of acts that run the gamut from singer-songwriter types and indie-rock bands to Americana groups and hip-hop artists. The Curve Inn (3219 S. Sixth) books live, local music in a heated outdoor venue every weekend from 6 to 10 p.m., then continues the entertainment inside until 3 a.m. with a DJ. The city’s all-age venue, the Black Sheep Café (1320 S. 11th St.), matches local groups with touring indie and punk rock bands several nights a week.
Look for much-appreciated local bands and musicians of all flavors, including rock, bluegrass, blues, country and pop music at Boone’s Saloon (301 W. Edwards), Brewhaus (617 E. Washington), Charlie R’s Steak House (2442 S. Sixth), George Rank’s (1800 S. Sixth St.), Guitars and Cadillacs Saloon (2724 Peoria Road), Thirdbase Sports Bar (410 Maple Ave.), Trading Post Saloon (731 S. Durkin Dr.), Butternut Hut (215 N. Second), The Forty-Niner (518 Bruns Lane), Koo Koo’s Nest (3045 E. Sangamon Ave.), Blue Grouch Pub (510W. Maple), Capital City Bar and Grill (3149 S. Dirksen Parkway), Crows Mill Pub (1220 Toronto Road), Long Bridge Golf Club Clubhouse (1055 Camp Sangamo Road), Mama Lee’s Sandbar (6111 Mechanicsburg Road), Mowie’s Cue (1277 Toronto Road), Brookhills Golf Club (5350 Old Jacksonville Road), Win, Lose or Draught (7004 Kingsmill Ct.), Weebles (4136 N. Peoria Road) Boar’s Nest (Rt. 29, Athens) and Craft Beer Bar (430 Monroe St.).
Three out-of-town wineries and a specialty wine shop also offer musical entertainment weekly. West of Wise Winery (Rt. 97, Petersburg) and Walnut Street Winery (309 S. Walnut St., Rochester) regularly host touring and area musicians. Hear live music at Hill Prairie Winery (RR 1, Oakford) every Sunday afternoon and at holiday festivals during the year. It’s All About Wine (1305 Wabash Ave.), a specialty wine shop, hosts acoustic acts on Saturday evenings.
If laughter is what you’re after, look no further than Donnie B’s Comedy Club (3455 Freedom Dr.) or head north of town to the Mason City Limits Comedy Club (114 E. Chestnut, Mason City). Both clubs feature nationally known touring comedians every Friday and Saturday night, with occasional open stages for the aspiring comic.
Fortunately, no matter what night of the week you develop the urge to sing your heart out in front of a crowd, karaoke machines and competent hosts await your command at The Curve Inn, Koo Koo’s Nest, Sluggo’s (2660 W. Lawrence), Burger Bar (2765 S. Sixth), Cafe Brio (524 E. Monroe), George Rank’s, Boone’s Saloon, Crows Mill Pub and several other bars. If you prefer your public performance with instrument in hand, check out popular open mics all around town, including at Trail’s End Saloon (Rt. 54, Curran), Blue Grouch Pub, Coonrod’s Bar (1035 N. MacArthur Blvd), George Rank’s, Weebles and Bar None, which also hosts the area’s only hip-hop open mic night every Tuesday.
Care to put on your dancing shoes, find a DJ and shake your booty all night long? You’ll find contemporary Top 40 and other recorded-music delights on the dance floor at the Club Station House (306 E. Washington) every night of the week and Bar None on Saturdays.
For a complete listing of what’s going on around the capital city, check the arts and entertainment listings in Illinois Times, the city’s free weekly newspaper, which also publishes Capital City Visitor. Look for the numerous IT newsstands throughout downtown, as well as at area hotels, restaurants, stores and government buildings.