What do a fifties doo-wop group, a world-class female jazz vocalist from Chicago, a thing called Girl-a-Thon, folksingers from Portland, Ore., and Sparta, Ill., a fourth of the Doors, along with a group from Holland playing old-time American country music have in common? Well nothing really, other than performing soon in central Illinois at a venue near you, giving me an opportunity to expound with exuberance on the excess of entertainment in town.
The Legendary Drifters a representation of the Drifters, one of the most dynamic and influential singing groups from early doo-wop and rock-n-roll, perform this weekend at the South Side Pub inside the Travelodge hotel on South Sixth. Sadly, all the founding members of the four-time Grammy-winning Drifters have passed on to sing songs like “Under the Board Walk” and “Save the Last Dance for Me” in doo-wop heaven. But lucky for us Hollywood Logan, a longtime member of the touring Drifters, along with Paul Rudy, revived the group to keep the spectacular sounds and sweet style of the genre alive and performing. Debbie Ross and Groove Daddies also perform during the celebration weekend.
Dee Alexander is simply a treasure. Appearing this Friday and Saturday at Remy’s on Monroe, the gifted vocalist owns a room when she takes a stage and leaves the audience in appreciative awe. But don’t take my word for it; Chicago magazine recently called her the best singer in the Windy City and the Chicago Music Awards named her 2008 Entertainer of the Year. Of course no one reaches such heights without excellent accompaniment and the Chip Stevens Trio backs her well, complimenting and supplementing with aplomb and finesse.
What’s a Girl-a-Thon and what might it do? Gwen Harris, the lone female member of the musical Harris family of Bustin’ Loose fame organized the show as a benefit for and to raise awareness of breast cancer. Also conceived as a contribution to Guitar Town, Drum Fest and Bass Berg, three events held this year featuring local and mostly male musicians celebrating their individual instruments, Harris felt an all-female show would be a fine and fitting addition to the area music scene.
Starting at the Fieldhouse around 1 p.m. on Sunday, the all-day extravaganza features Summer Roberts as emcee and a backup band including Harris on lead guitar, Caprice Sidener on guitar, Tina Thornhill covering bass, Patty Kniss doing drums, Kyla Kruse playing keys and Ellie Mae Squires on congas, with Brooke Thomas, Lori McKenzie and Lorrie Eden adding vocals. Also on tap are Missing Muse with Peggy Lowder, Josie Lowder and Stacie Taylor, Thornhill the band, “Hurricane” Ruth Lamaster, Suzie Stephens, Suzy Spain, Tammy Ushman, Terri White, Cutright Girls, Triple Threat and several other female performers of all ages, sizes and talents. Truly an empowering experience, Harris intends on Girl-a-Thon becoming an annual event and including more female performers each year.
Yikes, we’re down to the wire, so here goes everything. The Gordons (my heroes) play the Lincoln Memorial Garden Indian Summer Festival at 2 p.m. Sunday along with other mighty fine acts this weekend. Chico Schwall (another folk singer hero) returns from Portland, Ore., for a show at the Trout Lily Café at noon, Tuesday. On Saturday night at Bar None, Miss Mary Ann and the Ragtime Wranglers of the Netherlands (a former Sangamon Valley Roots Revival act) play after Jodyboss of Springfield opens at 8. Ray Manzareck from the Doors (really!) and bluesman Roy Rogers play the Castle Theater in Bloomington on Oct. 16, sponsored by our good friends at the Whip radio station.
Perhaps by next week the flow will slow and the slide subside and we won’t have so much to do. But hopefully not.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.