Happy winter solstice, and merry whatever to you all. It’s that time of year, of course, and one of the best ways to enjoy the holidays is through music. Perhaps enough is enough of the holiday stuff, but getting out and about to see what local musicians have to offer is a real gift to all.
James Armstrong Presents is a bimonthly gig, from 6 to 9 on Thursdays at the Alamo, featuring food and drink specials plus area talent. The upcoming show is an early Christmas present of Last Call featuring Jonny Clausing. Jonny does the blues well, playing the real deal since he was a youngster, mixing a taste of Chicago’s South Side with a main dish of rural blues. You might know him better as Southside Jonny. Jonny always lays it on the blues line, every time. Speaking of James Armstrong, he will be doing the Christmas week “Blue Monday” concert as usual, except it’s on Tuesday, Dec. 26, since Christmas falls on a Monday this year.
This Friday on Maple Street, two of Springfield’s favorite bands (as picked by Illinois Times readers) play different bars on the same street during the annual “Keep ‘em Warm” event. Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters, annual winner of the best cover band category, takes on The Blue Grouch, while Off the Wall, consistent winner of the pop/rock category, hits up Third Base Sportsbar, with both venues providing donations boxes for new gloves, hats and socks to be delivered to the Washington Street Mission on Saturday morning.
Friday evening seems to be a duo’s night out. Old Friends, playing at Walnut Street Winery, features a couple of old friends and members of the Fabulous Hoedads, Bruce Horn and Jerry Erickson, who have been playing together longer than they can remember. Another pair of old friends, Sam and Kortney (as in Draper and Leatherwood), play the Trading Post with some mighty-fine picking and grinning on the cool side of rock covers. These guys spend a couple nights a week hosting open mic nights, so it’s a pleasure to catch just the two of them doing what they do so well. Continuing in the duo department, father/daughter combo Al and Kathy Kitchen do up Arlington’s in style. Kathy can flat-out sing with the best, Al plays all the cool country songs, and between the two of them, they tag-team the hell out of a night. We love ‘em for it. I will toss one more duo out there, and this is a couple. A couple of what you ask? Ha! It’s me and Theresa O’Hare playing at George Rank’s in a holiday duet special. She will reprise her piccolo part on “Reindeer Doo Doo,” my scatological Christmas composition, and play on other seasonal hits. We’re now done with the duo doings.
On Saturday at the Walnut Street Winery our friend Chris Miller comes up from Nashville, Tennessee, to spend holiday-time with us picking his trusty Martin and singing his wonderfully composed songs. Springfield native and longtime friend Joe Dawkins joins Chris to add his excellent song choices and particularly pleasing playing to the mix. Celebrate the NIL8 way at Bar None on Saturday as the seminal Springfield punk band hosts a “Xmas Party” with special guests Boon and Attic Salt. At the Curve, Smashtag hosts their Kris Kringle Jingle Mingle party with special guests in a special time for friendship and fellowship. For a day after Christmas gift, Murder of Crowes hosts at the John Brillhart Open Mic at George Rank’s.
I’m sending my Christmas greetings to all out there. See you next week, heading headlong into 2018.
Tom Irwin can be reached at email@example.com.