Whatever Productions and open mics
Here we are rolling into November; getting ready to fall back an hour and plunge into near wintertime. What better excuse do you need (if you need one) to get out and see some live music?
Last Saturday night was a special moment in Springfield culture and music history. At the Curve Inn, before the Loops played a crazy good Halloween show, folks honored Len Trumper of Whatever Productions. Who is that, you ask? Does anyone remember the 70s and 80s when real touring bands came to Springfield and played venues like the Armory, Nelson Center and Ice Chateau? Well, me and plenty of others do, and it defined our music memories of growing up in the area. And Len, with a group of mostly young volunteers, is the man who promoted the shows, meaning he found the venues while doing the advertising, organizing and bookings that brought big-name bands like Black Oak Arkansas, Ted Nugent, Kiss, The Eagles, Van Halen, Rush, Boston, Styx, Reo Speedwagon, AC/DC, The Cars, Waylon Jennings, ZZ Top, Bob Seger, Charlie Daniels Band, Kansas and Dan Fogelberg to Springfield. Len worked hard, took chances, and made it happen. And he did it not for profit, because he mostly broke even or lost money, but because he believed it was good for the community to have something real and fun and important going on.
This recognition of Len and his contribution to our local scene has been a long time coming, and, as usual, it was due to the work of a faithful few. Ric “Skippy” Major, longtime local soundman and keeper of the Curve Inn stage area who worked with Len back in the mid-70s, told me about the celebration and kept it secret from Len until the day of the show. Randy Miller was also instrumental in organizing the event that included Mayor Jim Langfelder proclaiming Oct. 28, 2017, as “Len Trumper Day” and Ami Merchant, proprietor of the Curve Inn, did her part to make it happen as well. Yeah, it was cool as can be.
Now that the “Best of Springfield” issue is over and done with, we know the winner of the “Best Open Mic” was Kortney and Sam at the Curve Inn. But since the Curve’s beer garden gets a little chilly in the colder months, the open mic goes on a cold hold until springtime and warmer weather. So if you’re in the market for another place to play, Tuesday nights feature John Brillhart and Geoff Ryan at George Rank’s in a long-standing and well-attended 7 to 10 evening hosting. Rank’s offers Jim Coleman’s Tuesday tacos as a benefit other places can’t offer. Other Tuesday open mics pop up on a regular basis as well.
Wednesday gives us Dan Grover’s Acoustic Jam Night at Guitars & Cadillacs, Kortney Leatherwood in charge at Weebles, and the Wide Open Mic at Bar None. Out at Trails End Saloon in Curran, a different musician hosts weekly, with the singing Sarah Schneider on Nov. 8. For a jazz-based open jam, look to the esteemed New Orleans native Frank Parker at 411, downtown on Washington Street, bringing on his long-running Jambalaya Jam on Nov. 8, as well as Frank Trompeter doing his Freewheelin’ Jazz Jam Session on the first Wednesday of the month. Next week on Nov. 15, Abe’s Old Hat delivers the only open mic (called an “open pic” here) in town held inside an antique store. I’ll be there to get this one going. Check out these mid-week doings after the Downtown Holiday Walks during the upcoming season.
Here’s to November and beyond.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.