click to enlarge ClusterPluck drifts up from St. Louis to play Homespun Republic (formerly called Donnie’s Homespun) on Thurs., Feb. 26.
ClusterPluck drifts up from St. Louis to play Homespun Republic (formerly called Donnie’s Homespun) on Thurs., Feb. 26.
ClusterPluck drifts up from St. Louis to play Homespun Republic (formerly called Donnie’s Homespun) on Thurs., Feb. 26.
Definitely the hot topic last week was the coldness in the air. I know making the trek out into the mighty Midwest tundra seems unbearable, but for heaven’s sake, is it really all that bad? What could be a better diversion than a night of fine entertainment to melt away the frosty feelings of late winter’s evening chill, along with several inches of snow.

From the working musician’s standpoint it’s surely an inconvenience to play gigs in snowy, freezing weather, if not downright dangerous. The toll taken on acoustic instruments and electronic equipment, plus the average hazards of hauling gear in icy conditions is enough to make even a music-maker consider a night on the couch watching “Saturday Night Live.” Ask any of your musician friends about working in winter and tales of weather woes will proceed with the speed of slicing sleet and the force of freezing rain.

I remember well driving to Chicago through a blizzard to play a gig some years back. Any sensible folks would have canceled, but we felt the need to take six hours to make a normal three-hour trip for a job that paid less than you can imagine. We arrived, harried and hurried, and most definitely worried that no one would show up for a band they hardly knew in the middle of a snowstorm. But I learned a valuable lesson about audiences that night. If they want to attend, they will. Within minutes of show time, cabs whizzed by, folks jumped out and the bar filled up as scarves, hats, jackets, coats, sweaters and all other means of protection from the elements were stripped and stored, all in preparation for a night of merriment at the bar with live entertainment in progress.

I’m now going through reverie after reverie of crazy drives in the snow just to make it to a gig. From a convoy of vans on a trip through an Iowa blizzard with Zeus in 1977 to a wild ride with Mr. Opporknockity to make a Taylorville show during a blinding snowstorm circa 1999, to last Friday’s George Ranks performance played while watching the beginnings of the nearly foot of snow that fell on Springfield, many are the winter wonderland adventures of being on the job. All that was said, of course, only to encourage you listeners to make every attempt to show up as well, since playing music to an empty room lessens the thrill and negates the effort of making the gig in the first place.

But, this weekend’s weather should be better than the last and certainly warmer than this week, so take the time to review the Pub Crawl (and the ads from venues advertising entertainment), make informed decisions and get out there to break the chill. And always, be sure to be safe before being silly.

At Boondocks, Stoney LaRue rides in on Friday and the ridiculously good band, Blackberry Smoke, blows in on Saturday. Homespun Republic (formerly Donnie’s Homespun) features a three-day blast of fine music acts. ClusterPluck (be careful saying that after a few), the edgy bluegrass band from down south, plays Thursday. The Bedrock 66 Live! concert series kicks off its 2015 season Friday with a terrific assortment of bands you’ve likely never heard, but will be glad you did, including New Madrid, The Tossers and Continental. Thursday night the Pinnacle Club atop the mighty Hilton hosts Ed Clark on solo piano. Bar None presents Black Queen with special guest Beth Ackley on Friday. The Curve Inn brings you great early evening music with the Fireside Relics on Friday and the Shunpikers on Saturday.

No matter what the weather, the music plays on.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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