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Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 12:03 am

Celebration choices

Paul Bonn and the Bluesmen do some blues work at 411 Bar and Grill on Friday, Willow Ridge Winery on Sunday and The Alamo on Monday.


Hang onto your horses and your hats as we roll into a big weekend full of celebrations!

On Friday, St. Louis-based blues entertainer, composer and singer Paul Bonn brings his stellar band, the Bluesmen, to the 411 Bar and Grill downtown. These accomplished musicians play all over the country and are spending 2017 celebrating 50 years as a professional music act. They’ll also be at the Willow Ridge Winery near Shelbyville on Sunday afternoon and will be the featured band this Monday at The Alamo, hosted by the Illinois Central Blues Club.

After 97 years, the Knights of Columbus Council 364 (located off Iles and Meadowbrook) decided it was high time their annual family event took a new direction, and they looked to Germany for inspiration. This Saturday, from noon until 10:30 p.m., welcome Oktoberfest as the new annual K of C happening. The festival features real American-German bands from the area including the Funf Dicke Deutscher Band from Peoria at noon and the Heidelberg German Band from Quincy at 3. Juke House brings some All-American jump blues to the scene at 7:30 to close out the party. All the usual Oktoberfest items will be waiting for you, including bunches of beer and brats plus other tasty, German-style delights along with kid’s activities and all the good stuff needed to make a fall festival fun.

I’ve had a lovely run at George Rank’s on Friday nights for a few years now with no end in sight, since I’ve passed all the “prove it, pivot nights” so far with JR and company. Lately Jim Coleman’s been cooking up a storm and the always amazing Danielle just celebrated a bartending anniversary at the round bar. This weekend we celebrate the birthdays of my good friends Peter Romano, “the mayor,” and Mark Brillhart, “from whence all goodness comes,” or so I hear.

We’re having a celebration this Friday for my new album, All That Love, with a full-band show featuring Owen Irwin on electric guitar. It’s not quite a release party since I’ve had CDs and LPs out for awhile, but on Friday we go live for sale on digital platforms like iTunes and Amazon, plus we kick off our national radio promotion campaign. On Saturday the Illinois Central Conductors come all the way from Wapella to take the floor at Rank’s as Clyde Leggett and Greg Hale. The show features friends Jay and Kimberly Larson along with other musicians. These guys play the songs that matter by folks such as John Prine, Fred Eaglesmith and the Grateful Dead, plus they do more songs about trains than any other band I know, and that’s a good thing.

Please send celebratory birthday wishes out to Mike Burnett on Thursday, Sept. 7. Mike is definitely one of the hardest working and most enduring acts on our scene, as evidenced by his ubiquitous presence every week in Pub Crawl. He’s off on his birthday, but go wish him well this weekend when the Blue Suns play Friday at Lime Street Cafe and Saturday at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. On Sunday afternoon Jeff Kornfeld joins his old pal (and I mean old) at Brookhills. Play on, Michael.

Come join in celebrating Penny Lane, Jerry Garcia and Joe Utterback at the annual Joe and Jerry Tribute Party and Penny Lane Customer Appreciation Concert this Sunday in Douglas Park. Come early and stay late for the frisbees, fun and frolic, plus live music featuring hour sets starting at 1 p.m. from Square of the Roots, John Brillhart, Isotopes and Sunshine Daydream, with the standard bearers of Grateful Dead tribute in town, Perfunctory This Band, hitting it around 7.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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