click to enlarge Rockin’ Johnny Burgin shakes, rattles and rolls the Walnut Street Winery on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.
Rockin’ Johnny Burgin shakes, rattles and rolls the Walnut Street Winery on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.
Rockin’ Johnny Burgin shakes, rattles and rolls the Walnut Street Winery on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.
As we wrap up another February, March looks to be a fun-filled month of entertainment options. Anchored by Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day as party-pleasers, several other unrelated concerts and shows fill the calendar with assorted goodies.

With Easter being a bit later in the season this year, Mardi Gras or Carnival, the party feast before the 40 day fast before Good Friday, is also a bit later, since the events are intrinsically connected. Mardi Gras, literally translated as Fat Tuesday, is always the day before Ash Wednesday, and lands on Tuesday, March 4 for 2014. Of course, St. Patrick’s Day is always on March 17, and that’s on a Monday this year, so we have another weekday party celebration. Since we like to celebrate our holidays big-time on the weekends before or after the official date of events like Mardi Gras or St. Patty’s Day, get ready for an overlap of the two wild times next weekend.

Local samba-style group Bossa Azul likes the Carnival approach, taking the Brazilian side of the world’s most famous party to Norb Andy’s on Friday, Feb. 28. Several other venues are hosting Mardi Gras parties this weekend with local cover bands presiding. Frank Parker’s Jambalaya Jam at the Brewhaus is our only Mardi Gras event on Fat Tuesday proper. Then next week on Sat., March 8, Dwayne Dopsie drops into Donnie’s Homespun for a real deal, New Orleans-style, Mardi Gras sendup. On Friday, March 7, The Emerald Underground Celti-fies Robbie’s, firing the first salvo in the upcoming Irish celebrations, followed by Switchback, a touring Celtic-Irish folk duo, playing the Hoogland Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 8 to righteously continue the early St. Patrick’s Day hoopla.

Outside the realm of official calendar celebrations, the Walnut Street Winery features a couple of stellar Chicago performers and a right good local duo as well this weekend. On Thursday, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin takes on the intimate space as a blues trio with yours truly sitting in on bass guitar. Johnny was looking for a fill-in bassist and since I’m already a huge fan of his, I figured I could have the best seat in the house to watch one of my favs.

On Friday, the venue hosts the fantastic acoustic duo, Ralph and Juanita, featuring one of most extensive song lists around, performed with pizazz and aplomb. Saturday, acclaimed Midwestern singer-songwriter and accomplished guitarist Jim Green comes to Rochester accompanied by fellow music artist John Michaels. Green, who sets up his brilliant songs with astute, percussive fingerstyle guitar work, seldom seen among the singer-songwriter set, says his greatest guitar influence is the astounding Michael Hedges. Green, a former street musician, has garnered airplay on NPR, Chicago’s WXRT and was voted as the city’s Guitar Idol 2004.

Donnie’s Homespun hosts another two-day indoor music festival this Friday and Saturday with the debut of the Homespun Jubilee Fest, featuring more than 30 music acts in three separate areas of the Vinegar Hill Mall venue, including the newly opened Julia’s Kitchen.

Gwen Harris has organized a stupendous fundraiser for the Lancaster family who lost nearly all their possessions in the Washington, Ill.-area tornadoes last November. Included on the bill at Boondocks, Sunday at 2 p.m. are Nigel Dupree, Full Throttle Saloon stars, the Girl-a-Thon band and the Michael Layne Band. Lucky ticket purchasers can hop on a bar bus tour with the Full Throttle Saloon folks on Friday and Saturday set to hit several hot spots around town. Check the “Sturgis Rockin’ Boondocks” Facebook page for more information on how you can help.

Legendary labor singer and activist Charlie King plays the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation on March 8 celebrating his 50th year in the business of music performance. He’s one of the greats.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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