click to enlarge The Casey Donahew Band plays on Sat., Feb. 16 at Boondocks.
The Casey Donahew Band plays on Sat., Feb. 16 at Boondocks.

I’m telling you what – I had a whale of a time last Saturday night right here in lovely, downtown Springfield. From first being one of “those guys” not wanting to leave the house, I hit the Paul Collins Beat Bedrock 66 show, had a visit with the Blue G’s at Norb Andy’s and made a final stop for a midnight date with Elvis at the Butternut Hut.

No brag, just fact, with a nod to all that things are hopping in the downtown venues again after a seemingly slow wintertime. To add to my exciting night, I met Paul Collins as he smoked in front of the Hoogland just as we got there and had a nice chat about guitar amplifiers, heard the awesome Jill Manning sing and the incredible Jaigh Lowder play with the Blue G’s at Norbs (missed the full G’s, but they have a CD out that’s just wonderful and a release show coming up soon) and jammed out with Rick Dunham as Elvis Himselvis for a few tunes in the Hut’s music room with a band of young guys who weren’t even born when Elvis died. And all during that time Dwayne Dopsie was doing his Zydeco thing at Donnie’s for what I heard was a marathon show of several hours. And we haven’t even mentioned all the other shows going on around town.

Now here we go again with another jam-packed, action-added, fun-filled night on the streets of Springfield. This week starts with Valentine’s Day on Thursday and by the looks of the Pub Crawl you can make at least four or five open mics that night if you and your honey are into that kind of thing. But my guess is most folks will wait until the weekend to get the “Valentining” into busy schedules and why not, that’s still when the happenings happen the most.

For modern country music fans, you can hardly go wrong with at visit to Catch 22 to catch Brushfire in the bar down under on the Fifth Street strip this Saturday night. Last year Brushfire, you may recall, won a national band contest that put them on stage for a night at one of Nashville’s hottest venues. The band continues to pack ’em in, with an in-your-friendly-face attitude for the mod-country crowd. If contemporary Texas country is your style, Boondocks hosts the up and coming Casey Donahew Band on Saturday night. With Donahew described as “a youthful Robert Earl Keen fronting Reckless Kelly” and his band’s new album Double Wide Dream burning up the Billboard charts, the Texas native seems poised to hit the big time some time soon.

We seem to be on a country tangent here, leading us to Whiskey Tango in the friendly confines of Norb Andy’s this Saturday night. The band, since last featured in Illinois Times, added Danny Kerwin on bass, mandolin and vocals, plus Amy Edwards on vocals to increase the rowdy, honky-tonk mayhem created by Doug Gholson, Cliff Edwards and Bill Steele.

Not in the music department, but certainly in the exceptional entertainment area, experience the incredible comedic improvisation of The Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company at the Hoogland on Friday and Saturday nights. Cast members include Mark C. Holden, Johnny Molson, Patrick Russell, Mary Kate Smith and Mary Young. Their plan, if you can call it that, concerns the audience offering scenarios or even just one word ideas to the comedy ensemble and they, off the top of their hilarious heads, take it from there to who knows where.

Sounds like a sweetheart of a deal to me this weekend. Have fun, make merry and, oh yeah, please be mine.  

Contact Tom Irwin at

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