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Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 12:03 am

Mighty music making

RIckey Allen Meredith features his Solo Acoustic 70s Show Friday, Jan. 11 at Walnut Street Winery, 8pm.


Here we go full-force into a schedule of life in all lanes as the holidays are completely behind us and 2019 is in plain sight. There are plenty of our regular music makers lined up for this weekend as well as a few surprises in store for you. Come on, let’s go.

The first of the year is always a good time to comment on the abundance of open mics, jams and stages available to those who care to partake. These ubiquitous events normally take place on off nights such as Tuesday or Wednesday and give musicians a chance to sign up for a short set of three to five songs (usually) while checking out the other players. The host (usually) gets paid for opening the show and keeping the line of musicians moving in an organized fashion (unusually).

They’re excellent places for music makers to gather and a good sign of a healthy and happy local music scene. Folks starting out get a chance to feel what it’s like working on a stage and more experienced players can try out new songs or concepts. I’ve known plenty of groups that originated in a conversation or improvisational moment at an open jam. What the host (or hosts) brings to the situation by how they work the player’s list and time allotments, how long they play themselves before opening the open mic and what kind of instrumentation they expect –  along with what the venue offers in terms of stage, lights and sound -- makes each place quite different, while offering the same basic service. Since they all have a different feel, go out and take a look at the several listed in our Pub Crawl to find which has the various opportunities that can best fit your needs. I highly recommend using the open mics to meet fellow musicians (and we need listeners, too) while taking the time to knock out a few tunes for the fun and goodness of doing so. See you at an open jam near you.

Thursdays in Pub Crawl looks a little slow this week, but that’s okay, because Friday appears ridiculously busy and Saturday packs a wallop as well, with Sunday afternoons still going strong. You know your music scene is brewing and bubbling when the gigs are going gaga and it’s only the second weekend in January.

Chris Vallillo scheduled another fabulous concert for the Music at the Museum series (Thursday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m. Illinois State Museum auditorium), this time with autoharp virtuoso and legendary performer Bryan Bowers. It’s not often autoharp and virtuoso are used together and Bryan, a rare and gifted musician, is one of the few who makes it happen. Be sure to check out all the super shows booked on the second Thursday of each month for 2019..

Our Pub Crawl lists many local favorites playing the usual spots, but we have a few new kids in town. Rickey Allen Meredith, a member of the popular Twang Gang band back in the 1990s (remember them?) is back on the scene playing acoustic shows. On Friday at the Walnut Street Winery, Rickey presents his “70s Solo Acoustic Show” well-described on his Facebook page, which you should go like (please). Big Shots Bar on Peoria Road hosts Matt Ellis 6, a singer-songwriter-guitarist from the Champaign area who lists his likes varying from grunge to country, rock to blues, with originals in there, too. Matt makes it around playing his acoustic guitar to plenty of places in central Illinois, and here’s a chance to catch him in town.

Here’s to happy music listening to the music makers.


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