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Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009 10:17 am

Bedrock 66 and a political statement

Chris Scruggs

October starts on a high note and crescendos over the next few weeks with some righteously happening entertainment. Not that September was off key, but things are sounding sweet for good music in October.

Kicking off the month on Friday, Oct. 2 is a stellar Bedrock 66 concert series show at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  The heritage of Chris Scruggs, one of the featured artists, makes for easy associations and name-dropping. Besides being a bonafide, true-blue performer and world-class musician, his grandfather was Earl Scruggs, the uncontested father of bluegrass banjo picking and half of the famed Flatt and Scruggs group. His mother is Gail Davies, renowned country singer with strong folk and roots music connections and Nashville’s first female country music record producer. Scruggs played Springfield before as a sideman with Rosie Flores and BR549 and with his own group. I remember he tore into one of my favorites, the old Tennessee Ernie Ford classic Shotgun Boogie, when playing lap steel and guitar with Rosie, and almost stole the show it was so good. His latest album, Anthem, is garnering rave reviews as a really terrific record loaded with great songs.

Also on the bill are the Smart Brothers, a snappy trio of brothers being somewhat vague about their sibling relationships, but extremely clear in expressing music that is sincere, performed well and absolutely wonderful. Jay, Lou and Mickey spent time on the streets of San Diego working out songs and practicing the assortment of instruments they are known to carry with them wherever they go, including but not limited to, ukuleles, harmonicas, guitars of several varieties, basses, mandolins octave and other, a xylophone, kazoo, accordion, slide whistle and percussion do-hickeys galore. Check out Songbird on YouTube to give you a good idea of what they’ve got going on. Unless you are just a complete stick-in-the-mud, I couldn’t see how anyone would not like the sounds of the Smart Brothers, and that coupled with Chris Scruggs and his top-notch band should make for an extraordinary night of music.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 5 in UIS Brookens Library Auditorium, Anne Feeney and David Rovics are playing politically-based songs in concert then intend to engage the audience in a discussion of issues during the October Political Art and the Public Sphere (PAPS) event. Dr. Richard Gilman-Opalsky, who coordinates and hosts the series as assistant professor of political philosophy at UIS, also drums with End Times Trio, a local freejazz ensemble playing Oct. 1 at the plaza.

Feeney, a full-time, political singer-songwriter, rambled through Springfield a few times before, most recently as a performer at the Mother Jones Banquet at UIS in 2008. She pulls no punches and makes telling-it-like-it-is a passion and a mission. Rovics sits in the same saddle, performing all over the country, singing out for progressive issues and gaining support from folks like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Pete Seeger, Amy Goodman and many, many others. In these times of computer connections, global communications and corporate conglomerations, it’s uplifting to realize and understand what a person with a voice and a song can accomplish. If you’re looking for a discussion, you’ll get one at this event. The previous PAPS screened The Battle in Seattle, and I heard the debates afterward lasted longer than the film.

Other upcoming events include the Food for Blues outdoor blues concert, Oct. 3, at the Lake Springfield K of C Hall, Backyard Tire Fire, the rockin’ trio from Bloomington now making quite a splash nationwide, playing Marly’s, Oct. 8 and Tom Russell, the venerable singer-songwriter-entertainer Oct. 15 at the Hoog, for the next Bedrock 66 concert.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.


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