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Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 08:25 am

Music in 2019

Tom Irwin plays George Ranks every Friday night and happens to be the host at JB’s Open Jam this Tuesday, Jan. 8.
photo by Mark Brillhart


I just had to write out “twenty-nineteen” to see if I really believe that it is 2019 and it is here. This is the Year of the Pig in the Chinese zodiac, beginning on Feb. 5. For the Jewish New Year (it’s not until Sept. 29 on Rosh Hashanah), 2019-20 is the Hebrew Year 5780, if you want to take that route in counting time. But we all end up in the same moment no matter how you cut it, count it, fake it or take it, so let’s move on, shall we?

First off, congratulations are in order to Springfield proper (and the Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation in particular) for landing a Levitt AMP matching grant for 2019. That’s good news for all of us who might enjoy attending several live music concerts this summer in downtown Springfield. As of now, the plan is to set up the concerts on the “Y” block and dream of when that spot might become a permanent park with a space for live music and other cool things that I am positive other cities do all the time. As I wrote earlier when we were drumming up support for the grant, Jacksonville did this a few years ago, and after the grants were finished Jacksonville found local sponsors to continue the concerts just because folks discovered how great having something such as live entertainment on a regular basis downtown can actually be. I’m all in.

Another change in the venue weather for 2019 is the move of Black Sheep Cafe and Dumb Records from South Town to downtown. As much as we all appreciated the efforts of every individual involved in the many years of the South Town revival, sometimes it’s time for a move. With Dumb Records and company headed downtown (they’re going into the old Italian Mart space on Monroe across from the USPS facility), they’re in plenty of good company in the form of other venues and businesses that should help all parties prosper and benefit the community. 

I guess the end of the year or the beginning of a new one is a usual time for reflection on the past and a peak into the future, so here we go. I see many new acts arriving on the scene as well as experienced artists continuing to produce good and vital original material. I do wish we had a more centralized way of congratulating or somehow recognizing our original artists and thereby supporting and encouraging a scene based on creativity through songwriting and producing. We have more recording facilities and songwriters in town than ever before, and I would venture a guess that we had more record releases last year than in 2017.

But I still believe we could do more to honor and champion our musicians making original songs, and that’s the only way to truly see the creative side of our city scene build and expand. I’m not sure what that would exactly be, but I see other communities with well-attended and respected award shows based on voting by local listeners and patrons of the arts. I know of the CUMA (Champaign-Urbana Music Awards) in C-U; the MAMAs are a similar thing in Madison, Wisconsin, and Lawrence, Kansas, has its Phoenix Awards for all forms of creative art. I’m sure there are many more, and perhaps the next could be in Springfield, Illinois.

Who knows?   

Ah, it’s good to dream, and as the thoughts become actions, things happen. Welcome to 2019 and a year of great possibilities with mighty fine accomplishments just ahead.


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