click to enlarge Fourth and more music
Paul Niehaus IV plays the Blue Grouch this Saturday.

This week's issue of IT is out a day early because the Fourth of July lands on Thursday, our usual out and about day. That change reminded me of the weekend before last when we were out for a gig and a friend who knew I wrote for IT suggested we should put out the paper on Tuesday so readers would have time to prepare better for the upcoming weekend events.

Now I'm certain that change won't occur, but if others are in the same pickle (sweet or otherwise) of feeling sometimes stuff happens before plans can be made, please remember that our calendar listings are online weeks in advance of the actual events. Of course, the acts can change and some folks don't get their dates into the system until the week of, but just take a look for yourself sometime to see who is playing where in the future. In the meantime, I'll just stick to what's "now playing" each week here because that's the best way to keep track of all the goings on.

With that said, gear up for a pile of action this week, as the aforementioned Fourth falling on a Thursday gives us an unusual midweek Wednesday night party time, plus a full regular weekend of entertainment options. I'm guessing lots of intrepid employees took Friday off work to make for a Yankee Doodle Dandy of a weekend, so let's take a gander at what's up for Independence Day Eve and beyond.

For a lit firecracker of a start on Wednesday, watch out as Springfield son Zack Fedor with his group The Long Goodbyes, plus Positively 4th Street, have a blast at the Curve Inn, while Off the Wall blows it up in Dawson at the village park. Dave Littrell takes off like a bottle rocket at Obed & Isaac's, Al Kitchen and friends pop it at Motorheads, Mike Burnett sizzles at Dublin Pub and After School Special sparkles at Coz's Pizza.

Moving on to the Fourth proper, one of my favorite annual events is my distant cousin (by marriage) Clara Irwin's Strawberry Party at the Elijah Iles House. Live music makes any party better as the lovely and lively, old-time fiddle and banjo duo Peaches and Bacon deliver the goods here.

UNCHAiNED sets the stage at Trade Winds before the big fireworks display at Knights Action Park, while downtown dazzles at the Levitt AMP music series when Tennesseans Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown are joined by Springfieldians the Colin Helton Band to light up the evening sky. The Curve Inn explodes with Earth to Mars (Bruno Mars tribute) and R&B Ladies Live Edition as Brushville brings it to Franklin for the village's annual Fourth of July celebration in the town square park.

Moving to the weekend, there's so much going on I don't know where to start, but here are a few among the many terrific shows happening. Friday sends us Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band along with John Till and Josie Lowder at Danenberger Family Vineyards, Fairweather Friends at VFW 755 and Jeff Berendt upstairs at Harvest Market.

On Saturday, Hippies from the Heartland go groovy at the Railyard, Joel Gragg jogs over from Indianapolis with the Filaments to join with Paul Niehaus IV up from St. Louis at the Blue Grouch and American Legion Post 809 hosts Rudy Boswell & The Stone Cold Band.

On Sunday, the Boat Drunks float out to Hill Prairie Winery near Oakford, Square of the Roots figure in at El Taco Guapo and Hank Greenwalt covers the bases at Elks Lodge #158.

Have a happy and safe, long holiday weekend.

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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