The Gin Mill presents Wayward Motel for Kate and Josh Catalano's going away party this Saturday starting at 6 p.m.

Here we go rip-roaring into the second weekend of March, loaded with anniversary parties, going-away parties, CD release parties and plenty of pleasantly played party gigs. So let's take a partying peek at what's happening around town right now.

Friday delivers a night well worth celebrating when Jeb Brown Productions hosts its 25th anniversary shindig at Boondocks starting at 7 p.m. featuring the Kendell Marvel Band, Dallas Moore Band and special guest Branden Martin along with Channing Wilson and Matt Poss. With a slight bit of a wonderful twist, Jeb, who runs the Backroom Listening Lounge in Riverton that seats about 50 folks, needs to use Boondocks, the mostly country, live music venue that holds several hundred, to have space to commemorate his time in the music-booking business. If you're not familiar with his name, I could almost guarantee you've seen a show in the area that was booked because of him. From concerts in Elkhart to the many in Riverton, plus quite a few in between, Jeb introduced us to acts just starting out in music, as well as fully established artists.Thanks for all the great music you've brought to us and for us through the last quarter century, Jeb. Here's to 25 more years.

On Saturday we have another celebration, this one of the bittersweet variety as the Gin Mill hosts a going-away party for Kate and Josh Catalano with a show by Josh's band, Wayward Motel. As their Facebook event page states, they "were presented with the opportunity for a new life on the East Coast and we took it, but "are going to deeply miss our hometown and all our friends." We will miss you guys, too. The party starts at 6 p.m. and children are welcome until 9. Wayward will play old songs, new songs, cover songs and other songs.

For the foreseeable future, the band will continue to play when possible and keep up its robust recording and song release schedule. Josh has had a profound and lasting impact on the local music scene through the many original bands he's originated, played in and recorded with during the last 25 years or so, including Mugshot, Damwell Betters, Lazer Dudes, the Dirty Thoughts, Western Empire and Wayward Motel. He also was behind the scenes while on the stage, founding and running the popular and prestigious Downhome Music Festival, our only all-original, live music summer fest. And for years he had a hand in managing venues around town, booking bands and shows, helping make the scene happen. Also, with his successful video and graphic design company, he's been the web designer, poster creator, logo inventor and iconic photographer for many local companies and musical artists. His creative force in our community will be sorely missed and we wish him, Kate and family the best of luck in their new adventure.

On Saturday night at the Blue Grouch, acclaimed and award-winning area bluesman Robert Sampson will celebrate the release of his latest CD, They Call Me Lefty Preacher. Robert has performed music and written songs most of his life and is extremely proud of the work on this inspired recording. He's booked a superb band for Saturday, featuring Jeff Cunningham, Mike Wallace and Dan Grover. Purchase the CD at the Grouch or catch up with Robert at Trails End in Curran on Sunday afternoon, The Alamo for Blue Monday or at any of the other many gigs he plays. Congrats on the CD, Robert, and on your ongoing brilliant journey in a long life of music.

See you all for St. Pat's party planning next week.

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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