Here comes the Illinois State Fair. From parking cars on our lawns to finding two-way streets going only one way, from bars open late to an increase in the fly population (there’s a barfly joke there somewhere), to a municipal tax revenue bump and filled hotels, the impact of the fair somehow reaches us all. Here goes a quick and totally incomplete look at a few fair happenings, along with other non-fair shows around town.
Even though the Grandstand lineup doesn’t appeal to my tastes, it’s really okay for what it is. They’ve got a little something for almost everybody and that’s about the best that can be done. Outside the big stage, here are some nice nuggets worth discovering around the fair.
The Kevin Lucas Orchestra, one of the winners of the 2011 Billboard Magazine Songwriting Contest in the Americana/folk category performs in the Twilight Ballroom at 7 p.m. Sun., Aug. 14. The St. Louis/southern Illinois-based group, a genre-bending outfit covering what they call “adult contemporary rock with a world music flavor,” keep winning awards and gaining popularity wherever they roam.
Also on Sunday, Cassy and Alyssa Gaddis, once the Gaddis Girls and now called Chasing Hope, perform at 10 a.m., before Gov. Pat Quinn’s official program and again at 1 p.m. on the Lincoln Stage. In 2008 the talented sisters partnered with the National Guard to create a patriotic and powerful video to “The Price of Peace,” a song penned by Alyssa when she was 12. The girls now reside with their parents in Nashville, continuing to pursue a life in the entertainment business dedicated to, as Cassy’s 2009 song says, “Making a Difference.”
Somehow a very cool and hip, all-original touring band called Tommy & the High Pilots slipped into the Shed beer barn schedule at 8 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 17. The busy quartet from Santa Barbara tours nonstop and recently released Sawhorse Sessions, a stripped down EP recorded in St. Louis. These guys are good and worth a listen.
Outside the fair gates the tradition started long ago by our city fathers allowing bars to remain open until 3 in the morning during the fair still puzzles and amazes many of us, but by and large nothing really changes all that much with the extended hours.
Local rock/pop wunderkind Brandon Carnes, joined by area musicians Phil Sgambelluri, Jordan Fein, and Eli Newman debuts his latest band, Big Storm, by releasing a new CD EP called Follow Through. The all-new band performs Thursday at Bar None with Dustin Sendejas and Jaik Willis and Friday at the Black Sheep Café with Lanny Ad and Like...with Jetpacks.
Whiskey Tango, a fairly recently formed local band featuring Bill Steele and Cliff Edwards from the Skruz, Doug Gholson from Mr. Opporknockity and Larry Caulk from Big Fur, Moonlight Rhythm Rangers and the Blue Ribbon Revival, claim their music has “redneck style” and is “Hell Yeah Yee Haw rockin roll” and who would deny that? The guys got together for fun at a party, had a blast and then became a band, just like that. Check them out at The Creek in Chatham, 9 p.m. to midnight on Fri., Aug. 12.
Skibereen, a local Celtic rock and world music band featuring Hank Helton, Steve Emmons, Megan Turner, Mark Sanders and Steve Myers, play McGurk’s Irish Pub in the Soulard area of St. Louis on Sat., Aug. 13, at 9 p.m. The club rates as one of the top Irish bars in America and usually brings in musicians from Ireland to stay and play for a couple weeks at time. Good luck to the Skibs and congrats on a very big gig.
Until next week, “fair” thee well.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.