click to enlarge Leap into March music
Chris O'Leary, newly signed Alligator Records artist, brings his band to Knights of Columbus Hall on Meadowbrook for the 38th Birthday Bash of the Illinois Central Blues Club.

I've been writing this column (and very thankful to do so) since August of 2000, but I don't remember an Illinois Times issue appearing in the stands (let alone online) on a leap day, but here we are in 2024 doing just that. We have a good selection of fine music for you to experience in this first weekend of March, so let's look at what is there.

Thursday evenings are fun, especially hanging out with Samba Llamas at Pease's at BUNN Gourmet (5-7 p.m.). Buzz and the band have gone through several configurations over the decades, but this current lineup wins the Llamas longevity award, and for good reason.

In a nice companion show, Date Night at UIS and UIS Music presents A World of Percussion as performed, narrated and demonstrated by Brant Roberts. The obvious percussionist will "showcase a range of styles and sounds that can only come from percussion instruments, featuring music from around the world" all the while "telling the stories of different locations through sound" at the UIS Studio Theatre (6:30-8), and that sounds amazing to me.

Friday night is, per usual, off to the races starting when the Liz Fitz Band, joined by guitarist Joel Gragg, lands at Boone's as part of Friday Night Jazz & Blues (5:30-7:30) sponsored by the Springfield Area Arts Council. Devin Williams, an excellent performer of Delta blues fingerpicking songs, stops by the Bird Tavern (6-9), while Kentucky native, singer and songwriter Chris Knight hits Boondocks for his rescheduled performance from earlier this year, with special guest Cody Lee Moomey,

Without getting into all the other wonderful Friday music, let's move to Saturday beginning early with Kevin Aldrich doing "lovely, heartfelt coffee shop music" at Stella Coffee & Tea (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).

The big show of the day must be the annual Illinois Central Blues Club Birthday Bash, as one of the oldest and most active blues clubs around celebrates 38 years of spreading the blues news with an event at Knights of Columbus Hall on Meadowbrook Road. All year long the ICBC brings in world-class and top-notch local blues music at The Alamo's weekly Blue Monday show. Now for its own party the ICBC has outdone itself and will feature a real-deal zydeco heritage group and Grammy nominee, Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers. Along with them is The Chris O'Leary Band, a group newly signed to famed Alligator Records whose namesake is a longtime performer, songwriter and harmonica player who worked with Levon Helm of The Band for years. Saturday looks to be quite extraordinary. You can get tickets or a table in advance at the Facebook event page or buy tickets at the door. Those doors open at 5:45 p.m. with the music kicking off at 6:15.

In another Saturday celebration, Terra Ferment (downtown on Sixth Street in the old Andiamo location) whoops it up for a four-year anniversary by opening up the downstairs space for "A SubTERRAnean Show" with Jay and Kimberly Larson playing at 5 and Kate Laine at 8. It's a neat space down below and a unique upstairs bar featuring many interesting styles of beers.

Sunday contains a bunch of the usual awesome Funday shows, along with a phenomenal concert out at Danenberger Family Vineyards featuring Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears with Shane Guerrette as the support act. This is one of those shows where, if you know who they are you're thrilled, and if you don't know, you can look up both artists and get ready for a spectacular night of music. Doors open at 5, the show starts at 7 and tickets are available online at the Facebook event page.

Let's march on through the month, shall we?

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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