click to enlarge End Times Trio plays The Pharmacy Jan., 19, 7 p.m. - PHOTO COURTESY END TIMES TRIO
End Times Trio plays The Pharmacy Jan., 19, 7 p.m.
End Times Trio plays The Pharmacy Jan., 19, 7 p.m.

With so many cool events this weekend, there’s no time to be cute or clever, so let’s get right to the meat of the matter and proclaim the host of happenings going on.

First on the list comes the Road to Memphis benefit (Boondocks, Sunday, 7 p.m.) for all blues travelers heading next week to the International Blues Challenge. For the first time ever, we (I am including all of you in this momentous occasion) are sending a female-fronted contingency representing our local group, Illinois Central Blues Club. Heading down to ostensibly and justifiably win the whole shebang are – drumroll please – Brooke Thomas with Shayla Logan backed by the Blue Suns (there are boys in the band) for our band showing and Monica Morris accompanied by Josie Lowder in the solo/duo category.

The annual event hosted by The Blues Foundation, invites blues performers from all over the world to compete for the best of the blues award. The artists perform in venues, on stage, before judges who vote on ability, originality, stage presence and that ever popular “magic mojo” that defies definition but validates victory. Winners continue through the semifinals and finals; others don’t.

The trip is fun, worthwhile and costs money. Performers must stay in a hotel, feed themselves and make their way there on their own dime. The ICBC helps, but you can help just by showing up at Boondocks on Sunday to hear good music and donating to the cause. The blues event features the above-mentioned competitors, plus Back Pack Jones, another area act that’s headed to Memphis (they won Champaign’s Prairie Crossroads Blues Society competition this year and placed in the semifinals last year), along with a blues jam (bring your instruments), a 50/50 drawing and barbecue on hand by Meatsmack. Support your local blues person and look for a cover story on the Memphis-bound performers in next week’s Illinois Times.

Boondocks scores big this weekend with local country icons Next of Kin on Friday and genuine Nashville country star Phil Vassar on Saturday. Check out an upcoming schedule that includes the Randy Rogers Band, John Corbett and Joe Diffie, plus Kelsey Hickman and Jenny Campbell (formerly of Still Kick’n) with the Adam Craig Band, Jan. 25.

Over at Donnie’s Homespun on Saturday night, Old Shoe, takes the stage before finishing out January with a cool string of Colorado dates. The Chicago-based, Americana band headlined our Friday night Taste of Downtown concert last summer and features the drumming talents of local hero Greg Fundis. On the move in 2013, the group released a new studio CD, opened for Bruce Hornsby, as well as Leftover Salmon, plus continued hosting their very own festival, ShoeFest. Walk on, Old Shoe, walk on.

This Sunday, come stretch your ears a bit and experience the edifying sounds of End Times Trio at The Pharmacy at 7 p.m. Featuring Mark Schwarz on guitar, Frank Trompeter on saxophone and Richard Gilman-Opalsky on drums, the trio plays music roughly described as freejazz. Basically, the group improvises over a prescribed idea to create a vision of sound unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Come prepared to be surprised and very likely pleased. It’s not for everyone, but everyone should experience what’s going on there.

Other Sunday news (a very busy funday this week) includes a triumphant return by Wayne “the Train” Hancock to Dr. Ugs on the square in Virginia, Ill., plus the Hard Road Blues Band rolls into Brookhills for another successful show. Next week, Springfield’s hip-hop scene gets a big boost by a showing of national acts, Ras Kass and Copywrite, at Bar None’s Torch Tuesday on Jan. 21.

Over and out, Roger wilco.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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