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Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006 12:16 am

The Peter Principle

Nice Peter does his thing at Marly’s on Thursday

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So you wrote a couple of funny songs at which people laughed, and now you want to start your own band. You’ve figured out that being onstage is cool — there’s plenty of free beer, and you get lots of attention when once no one knew your name. So what’s a feller to do? Go get a band and a catchy name, learn some songs, and play everywhere you possibly can, just as fast as you are able. So far this plan is working for one Peter Shukoff. He and a high-school buddy wrote a funny song called “Dumpity Dump Dump” a few years ago (available as an MP3 at www.nicepeter.com). That was enough to get young Peter excited about making it in the music business. Since then he has produced several CDs, toured the United Kingdom, and plays constantly around the Midwest. Shunning the practice-a-lot philosophy preferred by other musicians, Shukoff went straight for the stage, mixing those silly songs with distorted covers and lots of improvisational chatter. A few examples of his ability to write crudely, rudely, and ever so cleverly are “Spanglish,” an ode to a girl mixing Spanish and English, and “Fat Italian,” which explains in graphic terms the consequences of eating too many pasta carbs. Nothing is sacred in the Nice Peter catalogue, as other song titles demonstrate. We have the “Bush Song,” the “Mystery of the Clit,” “Smoke That Weed,” and “Tru Gansta” — you get the idea. Along with those originals, the band has covered “Hey Jude,” “Rainbow Connection,” and, I’m afraid, many other classics that possibly bear little resemblance to the original recordings. Now add to those songs Shukoff’s God-given talent for improv, and you have quite a show. He likes to make fun of patrons, discuss the weather, expound on the political scene, and pretty much expose those within listening range to the meanderings of his mind while keeping it all in a song. It may not be for everyone, but everyone should try Nice Peter once.
Nice Peter does his thing at Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280), 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. The cover charge is $3.

Fans of the late, great Johnny Cash should tune their radio dials to WUIS (91.9 FM) at 3 p.m. every Saturday in February to catch the wonderful program about the larger-than-life artist. Last week was the first episode of Cash: The Legend, but just in case you forgot (as I did), this is your gentle reminder. FaceLift, a local heavy-rock band, will be taking a break from performing for the next few months to record a new CD. Fans and friends alike who may feel a longing for the group’s raucous live show should get their fix on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Forty-Niner Bye-Bye (518 Bruns Lane, 217-787-4937). The show starts at 9 p.m. and runs till 1 a.m. The No Name Bar (101 E. Adams St., 217-528-5100) kicks off a monthly jazz series on Thursday, Feb. 9, with “Real Time.” The bar, located in the State House Inn, will be hosting live jazz bands on the second Thursday of each month. It’s a fine room and a great opportunity to experience live early-evening entertainment, which, if the grapevine is operating properly, seems to be a great need here in the capital city. Answering that need are Lisa Rusher and Larry Roerig, the creators of “In Bed by Ten,” another early-evening entertainment opportunity. Rusher and Roerig are with MICE, the organization that brings live music to places in which it is not usually allowed. The enterprising couple has rented the old St. Nicholas Hotel ballroom (Fourth and Jefferson streets), hired the finest in local talent, and brought in Turasky’s Catering to supply food and drink. Acts are booked through December on the third Wednesday of each month, 6-7:30 p.m.

The next show, with the indomitable Springfield Shaky performing acoustic blues, is Feb. 15. Here’s a tip: The entrance door is on the north side of the building, on Jefferson Street. Another tip: Ask your friends who were of concert-going age in the late ’60s and early ’70s whether they can remember seeing live bands in the ballroom during those heady, hazy days of yore. Congratulations are extended to Sandbox 101, celebrating a year of playing out in public. All are invited to the rock quartet’s graduation party, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Frankie’s (2765 S. Sixth St., 217-523-0308).