click to enlarge Billy Bacon with an extended 2011 version of the Screamin' Vatos.
Billy Bacon with an extended 2011 version of the Screamin' Vatos.

As we travel through this old world, I think we can safely say music moves us in many ways and thereby, in many ways is a main mover of human emotion, carrying some spark that mends, muses and motivates. In other words, music is cooler than a popsicle or last Sunday night's outdoor temps while warming whatever it is that attracts us to the tunes.

In sad news, we cope with the loss of Billy Bacon, who at the way-too-soon age of 62, passed away at his home on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Billy was a force in everything he did and lived life large and looming. From our music scene perspective, he played in several bands, but will be remembered for founding the long-running, local cover band Screamin' Vatos in 1993. Known for their Santana interpretations, as well as for playing songs like "Low Rider," and other classic rock and soul numbers with horn and Latin-percussion based backgrounds, the Vatos usually had eight to 10 members in the band at any given time. Through the years some 50 area musicians travelled through the band ranks, as conceived, promulgated and organized by "the one and only," William Joseph Bacon.

Thursday night, Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy (named for the Kansas-based radical leader of the late 1800s temperance movement that led to Prohibition, known for literally taking her hatchet to taverns) make their Springfield debut, as the Wichita-based band rolls into the Butternut Hut. Brothers Jarrod and Zachary Starling provide the acoustic guitar and drums-washboard percussion, respectively, and they're joined by Dallin Bulkley on standup bass, Garrett Briggeman on 5-string banjo, Josue Estrada on trumpet and Tyler Grubbon on both mandolin and trombone (not simultaneously) to create a interesting mix of instruments and styles, to say the least. You need to hear them to really understand the DIY-powered diversity of rockabilly pushing punk into bluegrass combined with western swing hanging with ska horns all blaring and blowing and driving and daring in one fell swoop.

Dumb Records is in full swing as a live music venue this weekend, filling the performance space next to the record store with bunches of good stuff. Friday delivers a sweet assortment of central Illinois original groups including Nectar, The Telephone Junkies, Sadface Killer and Idle Oath. Then on Saturday, DB Entertainment presents Satisfy, promoting his debut record, Take a Deep Dive Into What I Go Through, with supporting acts 36 N Brimstone, Meezy Killafield, C.Smith and more, all touted as "central Illinois' finest in hip hop," and we have no reason to doubt this claim.

Looks like there's a new kid in town as the Unemployed Architects from Pontiac, by way of Bloomington, drop into the Trading Post Saloon on Friday night. I've never heard of this combo before, but they say they've got a couple of different singer-songwriters who "come together to really encompass a wide range of sound" and the band has an "uncanny flare for covering tunes of the past, present, and future." I'm intrigued by that, plus the places they've played previously (House of Blues, Castle Theater) give credence to the very good possibility that here lies an ambitious and provocative music act worthy of further exploration.

Whenever I see Rockhouse playing on the Northend, I'm in, and a Saturday night gig at the Main Gate (on Sangamon across from the fairgrounds, in sight of the very large Abe in front of the Illinois Building) is a wonderful winner of a way to spend a winter evening.



Well, that covers my special space for the week. See you soon.

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