Last Friday I was in Chicago and decided to ride in Critical Mass, which is a monthly bicycle ride in which cyclists basically take over the streets of downtown Chicago. It started ten years ago as a way to enhance awareness of cyclists and their needs and has resulted in making Chicago one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation. It was interesting to be a part of it ten years later, as some people still see it as a way to raise bike awareness and some see it as a chance to act like idiots. I randomly ran into Nate (of local band Bailey) and watched in awe as a polka band (with tuba and all) biked the 20 or so miles with the rest of the group. It was a cool experience though and made me wish that CU was a little more bike-friendly. Apparently there is a Critical Mass in CU, and apparently, only like, six people participate. Well, maybe it’s time more of us do.

Tonight, there is no place I’d rather be at than Foellinger Auditorium. Ryan Adams has long been one of my favorite songwriters and I’m more than excited that he will finally play in CU (after many years of me wanting to bring him to the Canopy Club – thanks UIUC, for having lots of money to burn). Say what you will (and many publications have over the years) about Ryan’s moodiness or prima donna status, but when he’s on, he’s really on. Recent shows have showcased a ridiculously tight band in the Cardinals, so if the monitor mix is okay, we should be in for a long set. And yes, I realize that the Smashing Pumpkins are at ISU tonight as well, but listening to recent recordings has made me glad that I saw them in the ’90s.

For those of you heading elsewhere tonight, you might want to check out the new Club E’llusions, which is occupying the old Nargile space. Tonight the club will host a huge hip-hop show to benefit Planned Parenthood and its mission to educate the community about sex education. Agent Mos will headline a group of artists that includes the combo of Text, Cypha MC and Tone. Showtime is 7 p.m. and the cover is $5.

The Illini Union Courtyard CafÇ is back in action Friday with Backyard Tire Fire, the Bloomington, Ill. rock band that has become a Midwest touring machine over the last few years. They will share the bill with one of my favorite local acts, The Beauty Shop. Expect to hear several songs off of The Beauty Shop’s forthcoming album. Stop by around 8 p.m.

Over at the Iron Post in Urbana Friday night, a surf/rockabilly party will unfold with bands Kentucky Knife Fight and the Trashingtons (seriously, that’s the name). The show will start at 9 p.m., with a $5 cover and Hawaiian shirts will be the smart choice for wardrobe. You know Paul Wirth will be wearing one to get into the spirit. He’s a spiritual guy.

On Saturday night, DJ Tim Williams will throw down his magic on the turntables of the Highdive. If you are a student and enjoy his DJ stylings or even just his hair, get to the Highdive before 10:30 p.m. and show your student ID to gain free admission. ($5 for everyone else.) Also, did you know that Tim Williams has an independent record store in Monticello? Neither did I. But attendees of the Friday night Pygmalion show at the Canopy Club got a taste of it with a remote store featuring records, CDs and T-shirts. Check out the real store (Any Frequency) at 220 W. Washington in Monticello or call 762-7700 for more information.

Speaking of the Highdive, it seems that the club will be handling more live shows starting this winter, and the rumors you’ve heard floating around downtown are true. The owners of Cowboy Monkey are steering it away from live entertainment in 2008 and focusing on being a regular restaurant. “Unfortunately each side of the business model has hampered the other’s ability to fully succeed to a certain degree. With the ultra-lean winter months looming ominously, it became time to refocus and try a new approach that will (hopefully) be much more cost-effective,” said CM/Highdive booking agent Ward Gollings. This writer, for one, is heartbroken. You too? Send me an e-mail.

– Mike Ingram approves this message. He can be reached at forgottenwords@gmail.com.

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