So many summer concerts, so little time. From big festivals to tiny venues and from hard rock to bro-country and from new wave to hardcore to hip-hop, here’s an overview of some of the best music heading for the area.
The award-winning Boondocks continues its winning streak this summer with rising Delaware-bred, African-American country star (yes you read all that right) Jimmie Allen (June 22); Koe Wetzel (“Fuss and Fight”) from East Texas (June 29); Oklahoma-based country hitmakers (“Down Here”) Turnpike Troubadours (July 6); and if that isn’t enough star power for y’all, bona fide Hollywood legend Billy Bob Thornton will return for his third Boondocks appearance backed by the Boxmasters on July 28. (http://boondockspub.com/calendar/ )
Hoogland Center for the Arts (www.hcfta.org) is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll this summer, though not necessarily in that order, beginning with what may be the ultimate “battle of the bands” in the form of “Beatles vs. Stones – a musical showdown” (June 29) featuring cover bands Abbey Road and Satisfaction standing in for, well, you can probably guess. Next, Rick Dunham, who has been Elvis Himselvis longer than Elvis Presley was Elvis Presley, will continue to do so with the 70s concert (June 30). On the country side, there’s veteran Grand Ole Opry star Jon Conlee (July 15), followed by an old-fashioned, banjo and upright piano “Hootenanny!” (July 28-29) promising “some of our nation’s favorite sing-along tunes.”
Downtown Springfield Inc.’s second annual Amaranth Apple Festival (July 13-14) will do its part to fulfill the utopian promise of Vachel Lindsay’s vision via performances by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band (of Eddie & the Cruisers fame, for all you ’80s nostalgists) along with Tom Petty tribute ensemble Free Fallin, with additional appearances by SIMO, Jonny P, JC Brooks Band, Andy Logan & the OC 75s, Blue G’s and Brooke Thomas with Chris Warren. Later in the summer, Down Home Music Fest is scheduled for July 27 and 28, with the 11th annual Black Sheep Fest to follow in August. Keep your antennae aloft for lineup announcements.
Elsewhere in the region
The Sangamon County Fair (http://www.sangcofair.com/) in New Berlin has once again enlisted the help of the reliable talent buyers at Boondocks in booking headliners Midland (“Drinkin’ Problem) (June 15); and Chris Lane (“Fix”) (June 16). This year’s Decatur Celebration (Aug. 3, 4 and 5) will feature hip-hop superstar T.I., along with Grammy-winning country artist Gretchen Wilson and “American Idol”-derived rock band Daughtry (visit http://decaturcelebration.com/ for dates and times). The Castle Theatre in Normal will present shows by indie-folk godhead Ani DiFranco (June 6); two consecutive nights of Americana heroes with The Mavericks and songwriting legend Ray Wiley Hubbard on June 8 followed by Steve Earle & the Dukes on June 9; 90s alt-rock smart alecks Cracker (June 21); 90s alt-rock pop tunesmith Matthew Sweet (July 11); and erstwhile Fabulous Thunderbird Jimmie Vaughan (July 26); (http://www.thecastletheatre.com/) Finally, the Peoria Civic Center will present popular Christian singer-songwriter Lauren Daigle (July 21).