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Thursday, July 12, 2018 12:03 am

AA Fest A-OK

The Blue G’s play the Amaranth Apple Festival on Saturday, July 14 at 3pm in downtown Springfield.

Per usual, there are many happening things going on this weekend (and during the week for that matter), so get yourself together and get out to experience what you can while you can.

In the plethora of activities occurring within our community over the next days, few can compare with the size and complexity of the Amaranth Apple Festival, held downtown on Friday evening and Saturday all day and into the night. Many, many people (that’s what’s said these days when you want to talk about something but no one else really does) have asked me, “Where did they come up with this name and what does it mean?” I mean, many, many people every day ask me this. Well, the complete and utter truth (something not often attempted after such an illustrious lead in) is that it came from the writings of Springfield’s hometown poet, Vachel Lindsay. The previous names of the festival included Taste of Downtown, Bacon Throwdown and American Music Show, so bringing in the poet definitely adds pizzazz and spruces up the title, but the concept of hosting live music downtown while restaurants offer specialty food items from booths on the street remains unchanged.

The food and drink is your choice, but the music is brought to you by a committee and they’ve delivered a nice variety of local, regional and national acts to fill the bill. Friday features the lovely sights and sounds of singer Brooke Thomas accompanied by Chris Warren as the native offering, followed by the funky and fantastic JC Brooks Band from Chicago, with a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tribute band called Free Fallin closing out the night. The TP group wears proper apparel and performs the music to best reflect certain periods in the career of the late, great singer-songwriter, intending to recreate the “power and passion” of Petty’s music.

Saturday afternoon starts off with our very own acoustic rockin’ bluegrass boys The Blue G’s at 3, then heads into electric rock ‘n’ roll from Andy Logan and the O.C. 75s before careening into some Memphis-type modern soul by Jonny P, with both groups hailing from Nashville. Then comes longtime New Jersey rockers John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band as mid-evening headliners followed by Nashville-based SIMO as closers, a “psychedelic soul modern rock band that also incorporates extended improvisation into its live sets.” Cafferty is best known for his work with the film Eddie and the Cruisers, turning the hit soundtrack from that 1983 platinum success into a lifelong career. SIMO, fronted by virtuoso electric guitar guy J.D. Simo, has played Europe extensively and opened tours for Gregg Allman and Deep Purple (plus many others) during decades of rocking in the free world. Other live music shows, poetry readings and open mic opportunities happen at the Lindsay Lounge area on the northeast lawn of the Old Capitol grounds during festival hours. This may not be quite what Vachel had in mind as a result of the amazing appearance of an amaranth apple in his Golden Book of Springfield, but it’s a pretty cool thing that hopefully will prove to be a tasty and fruitful step in the right direction.

Before he heads 1,000 miles east to start life anew, let’s wish Springfield singer-songwriter and gentle soul Alec James a fond farewell with a final local show on Saturday at Trails End Saloon in Curran from 4 to 6, featuring friends and cohorts Kate Laine and Peaches and Bacon. We wish the best to you on your adventures, Alec. Please write more songs and share them with us sometime.

It’s so hot, and as the poet Robert Plant once said, “You need cooling, baby I’m not fooling.”

Contact Tom Irwin at


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