Blues, barbecue, burgoos and you

click to enlarge Blues, barbecue, burgoos and you
Photo by Michael Goza
Soul Experience does their thing Saturday from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ festival downtown.

If the forecast holds true, this week was a scorcher. But does that stop the intrepid music fan from making the rounds to experience live music? Of course not, though please take precautions to stay ahead of the heat in all the ways you know how.

Hot as heck or not, it's time to enjoy the excitement and entertainment that is the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ fest. Held on the west side of the Old State Capitol on Fifth Street between Jefferson and Adams streets this Friday and Saturday, the OCB&BBQ consistently takes the cake in the music festival category in our annual Best of Springfield readers' poll. My weather indicator does show Friday and Saturday will be the coolest days of the week, so let's take it and run.

The lineup for this, the 19th year of the festival, is exceptional and more blues-specific than in some years past, and that's OK by me. Organizers included a good mix of local blues-drenched groups along with a killer collection of nationally-acclaimed, award-winning blues acts.

For example, Friday gives us our very own chart-topping blues radio group, the MJ Curry Band, to kick things off at 5:30. Then up-and-comer Gabe Stillman, who was a 2022 Blues Music Foundation nominee for Best Emerging Artist, comes on at 7. The Albert Castiglia Band, nominated for multiple awards by the Blues Music Foundation in several categories, closes out the night at 9.

Saturday, the entertainment begins with two of our finest blues and soul acts as Chris Camp and his Blues Ambassadors hit at 3 p.m., followed by Soul Experience featuring Reggie Britton (he's waaaay back!) at 5. Chris O'Leary, who worked for many years as the guy in Levon Helm's Barnburners, the band that followed The Band, (and also won a few awards in his time), brings it on at 7. Next up, set to close out the fest, is Selwyn Birchwood, an Alligator Records artist who hails from Florida. He calls his music (very award-winning as well) "electric swamp funkin' blues" and you need to experience the sound to understand the meaning of that phrase. And when you do, you will. Don't forget (the smells won't let you) there's barbecue around to aid in appropriate appetite quenching. Along with the excellent use of alliteration and rhyme, blues and barbecue go together well, working exquisitely on many levels. Tickets are only available at the fest, so just show up, buy your ticket and head in for blues, barbecue and other delights.

No matter which side of the burgoo table you sit on (I think it's yummy stuff – usually), there's generally good live music at most area burgoos as the 2023 Chandlerville Burgoo proves well enough. The always-on-it Exit 52 headlines this Friday night and a couple of very experienced and very good bands land this Saturday with Geezer going noon to 3 and The Elderly Brothers playing from 6 to 9 in the evening. If you need to look up where Chandlerville is, do so and be sure to visit the cenotaph of Mr. Chandler in the hilltop cemetery and take in the view while you're there.

Now you need to look at the Friday night and Sunday afternoon listings (Saturday is good, too, but the others are bonkers) just to fathom all the super-duper music happening in one weekend in our area. See you next time for Labor Day weekend, as we bring our summer season to a close.

About The Author

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin, a sixth-generation Sangamon County resident, has played his songs and music for nearly 40 years in the central Illinois area with occasional forays across the country. He's contributed to Illinois Times since 2000 by writing Now Playing, a weekly music column, as well as features stories and other articles...

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