I’m not really sure why, but let’s say the nearness of the dates drew me to attempt to vaguely tie the holidays of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and St. Valentine’s Day together. Our first connection concerns what’s commonly known as the Lincoln Love Couch in historic Edwards Place, home of the Springfield Art Association. There sits a quaint couch on which, rumor has it, Abe successfully courted Mary Todd, cupid called and love bloomed for the ambitious and desirous couple.
In the book Abe Lincoln Laughing, edited by P. M. Zall, I found an interesting bit of Abespeak concerning a woman and music. According to a letter written in 1864 by a certain singer named Lillie de Hegermann-Lindencrone, one day when visiting with the President he says to her, “I think I might become a musician if I heard you often, but so far I know only two tunes.” Then she coyly replies, “ ‘Hail Columbia’? You know that, I’m sure.” “Oh yes, I know that for I have to stand up and take off my hat,” “And the other one?” counters the coquettish Miss Lillie. “The other one?” says the Great Emancipator. “Oh the other one is the one when I don’t stand up.”
For some weird reason lately I’ve been putting Elvis and Abe together. It started last Thursday during the Pecha Kucha Night at the Capital City Bar and Grill when Lincoln look-alike Lonn Pressnall related personal experiences similar to what I think Elvis imitators seem to go through concerning odd adulation and media fascination. The link here is Rick Dunham as Elvis Himselvis performing on Feb. 11 from 9 to midnight, at Floyd’s Thirst Parlor for a Lincoln’s birthday-eve party in anticipation of Valentine’s Day because we all know Elvis was such a loving guy and Rick works at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum as an actor.
Mark Vincent, a terrific talent on the piano, plays jazz classics in a classic way with the Swing Street Jazz Ensemble at Robbie’s for the Uptown Friday Night from 5:30 to 7:30. That will surely be a heartfelt show and our correlation must be the Lincoln statues in front of Robbie’s reminding us of Abe and his charming and loving family.
On Sunday, Feb. 13, a pair of wonderful music happenings demonstrate the magnificent breadth of artistry stretching through our fair city on a given day. At 2 p.m. at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, experience a (pre) Valentine’s Day Concert with Nathan Carls and the upStandard Citizens featuring classic love songs by the likes of Sinatra, Bennett, Crosby and Martin. Carls, a resident of Beardstown (site of the famous Almanac case won by lawyer Lincoln), performs in many regional theater productions and uses the all-star band of John Sluzalis (drums), Rob Killam (bass) and Terry Brennan (piano) with Carrie and Parker Carls also participating in the performance. Then at 4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church (home of the Lincoln family pew) enjoy Amasong, Champaign-Urbana’s premier lesbian/feminist chorus, accompanied by percussionist Chad Dunn and followed by an audience talkback led by founding choir director Kristina Boerger. For more information especially about the group’s documentary, Sing Out, go to www.amasong.org.
Now dispensing with our fun but silly Lincoln and Valentine parallels, let’s send congratulations to the band the Sugar Prophets and blues duo Brooke Thomas and Mike Burnett for good showings while representing our area at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis last weekend. Brooke and Mike made lots of great connections, wowed the crowds and had the experience of a lifetime. The Sugar Prophets reached the finals with eight other bands culled from the original 220 entries before succumbing to the Lionel Young Blues Band as the eventual grand champ.
Sending lots of Lincoln and plenty of love to you all this weekend.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.