click to enlarge Looming plays the Downhome Music Festival Saturday evening Aug. 2.
Looming plays the Downhome Music Festival Saturday evening Aug. 2.
Looming plays the Downhome Music Festival Saturday evening Aug. 2.

You simply cannot understand the great joy that I and others of my age feel about the wonderful collection of warm weather, downtown music festivals now available for public consumption.

We fondly remember, while shaking our heads, the heady years of Lincolnfest-ering, when that misguided Frankenstein’s monster of a music festival went from fantastic to foolish in a few short but incredible years. Then, after decades of festival drought, including some unsuccessful attempts to establish ongoing events, we seem to have reached a festival equilibrium of nicely themed, properly scheduled, separately organized, diverse, but locally connected and designed, string of festivals coming at us all season long.

This weekend brings us the Downhome Music, Beer and Art Festival, a delightful event covering three of my favorite things, now in its fourth year of existence. Held on Seventh Street between Washington and Adams, near the main host bar Celtic Mist Pub, the fest also includes as part of the happening, the recently refurbished, beautiful Brewhaus, nearby on Washington. DHMBAF, as no one has ever called it, is the brainchild of Shane Turnage, barkeep of Celtic Mist and Josh Catalano, local singer, songwriter and musician, and leader of the Dirty Thoughts, an all-original, area rock band.

Shane and Josh envisioned the festival to be the downtown festival devoted to exposing original music groups and one that also pays the bands to play. The artists split the take from the door after expenses, plus they’re allowed and highly encouraged to sell tickets and keep all those profits without question. So, a band can work hard to pre-sell a bunch of tickets, pocket that dough, do the gig and get paid a week later after all the admission cash is tallied and split. It’s a very nice plan and proposition. As some wag put it, “This festival is like a charitable donation to musicians,” something I am always here to support.

So with that premise, the intrepid pals built a network of participating bars, breweries, artists and various vendors to create a mini-town downtown on Seventh to offer those three favorite things of music, beer and art to a participating and pleased public. As with any event, the kinks get worked out as the years pass, and Downhome is rolling right along, joining the other festivals that make our time here more enjoyable and entertaining. For a full lineup of acts and schedules on the two Friday night stages and four (count ’em, four) Saturday stages (two outside on the street, two inside the bars), check out the Downhome website and Facebook pages. A quick Google search of Downhome Springfield will get you there.

And while you are here at your friendly Illinois Times, peruse Scott Faingold’s cover story all about the Downhome bands with the complete skinny on the festival scoops. I’m going to get to reading as soon as I get my hands on a copy of the paper. You do know IT is free and available all over town, don’t you? I’m just saying, I talked to someone not long ago who wanted to know where to find a copy of the paper and how much it cost. Who knew? Isn’t that amazing, especially in this time of dying print and online interaction, that you can pick up “free” papers full of wonderful information you can read whether your batteries are charged or electricity is handy? Ah, but that’s another story all its own.

As always, as these festivals happen (same with the all encompassing Illinois State Fair coming soon) it’s easy to forget all the other wonderful and exciting live music bits going on all around us at bars, lake clubs, plazas, town celebrations and other venues. But there they are, everywhere you look and listen, if you take the time to do so.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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