click to enlarge Bones Jugs play Bar None on Thursday, June 16, at 8 p.m. - PHOTO BY SNK PHOTOGRAPHY
Bones Jugs play Bar None on Thursday, June 16, at 8 p.m.
Bones Jugs play Bar None on Thursday, June 16, at 8 p.m.

Welcome to mid-June in central Illinois. The weather is heating up along with the music scene, save for the occasional thundershower that washes out a performance.

Here comes the Sangamon County Fair with plenty of hot, modern country in the grandstand lineup that should appeal to fairgoers in tune with contemporary country-pop music. I think we can safely say that live music saved the fair. Years ago, as the county fair was slipping away in a financial morass, organizers came up with the one-price admission idea that gets you in the fair with carnival rides and music shows included. Between the beer tent revenue (plenty of good local bands playing there) and how they’ve constructed the BIG Ticket and VIP portions of the grandstand shows, the fair survives and, dare we say, flourishes, all through the power of live music and smart thinking. I like the sound of that.    

It’s short notice, but our friend Christy Bennett and her Fumee Gypsy Project drop into Dr. Ugs Drugstore Café on the square in Virginia this Thursday for a 7 p.m. concert. Virginia (and Ugs in particular) makes for a good stop before or after a visit to the fair. Also on Thursday, back in the Patch at Bar None, Bones Jugs takes the corner stage. The very cool, old-school jug band from Champaign-Urbana has folks using jugs, bones, xylophone, banjo, kazoo, drums, bass, guitar, banjo, steel drums and just about anything including the kitchen sink to play fun roots music based in early 20th century ragtime, jazz and jug band styles.  

And in support of you hot-off-the-press readers of Illinois Times, here are a few more downtown Thursday night live music experiences. Johnnie Owens and Friends fill the Brewhaus with jazzy jams and soulful singing every week while just down the alley on Fifth Street The Alamo hosts James Armstrong Presents with this week’s guest, Tommy Tunes and the Two-Step Troubadours. Joel Honey keeps on rockin’ in the free world with his weekly show at Boone’s Saloon while several open mics and karaoke experiences fill the remaining calendar listings.

The Friday Night Blues at Third Base continue with performances by Mighty Mo Rogers and Luca Giordano while Papa Cherri roosts over at the Koo Koo’s Nest. In other blues news, King Neptune returns to the Walnut Street Winery in Rochester on Saturday for another old-time blues show. Next Thursday, June 23, guitar whiz, super songwriter, Americana man and bluesmaster Joel DaSilva comes back to town to play at the winery. Fresh from his recent Blue Monday Alamo gig, DaSilva returns after a flurry of gigs throughout the upper Midwest plus a run to Canada. Check out Joel’s latest CD, Durty Howlin’ Blues, on his website and Facebook page and see all his tour dates. I talked with him last week after a show at Buddy Guy’s Legends, where the legend himself complimented Joel on his good playing and welcomed him back anytime. That’s a really cool thing to hear.

If you are planning ahead this summer, look for the Bedrock 66 Live! Music Festival at the Downtown Bacon Throwdown II on July 22 and 23. Along with some good local stuff like Western Empire and The Deep Hollow, expect top-notch touring Americana and rootsy music artists, including Motel Mirrors, Nikki Lane and Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. The weekend after (July 29 and 30) brings us the Downhome Music, Art and Beer Festival, moving from its usual first weekend in August but playing the same area at Seventh and Washington with tons of the best local rock bands.

Be cool, man, be cool.  

Contact Tom Irwin at

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